Learning Chinese With We Chat: Essential We Chat Tips

Matthew Brennan WeChat Tips

In today’s WeChat Essential Tip, brought to you by China Channel, we bring you some tips to improve your Chinese using We Chat. Studying Chinese is not easy task. It takes time and commitment to learn tones  (mā, má, mǎ, mà) and characters (妈, 麻, 马, 骂), while also improve your listening.

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Above: Pony Ma, (马化腾 ) CEO of Tencent, owner of QQ and WeChat

Many professionals will often complain they have no time to take language classes. This was especially true when you had to physically go to a school or classroom and take classes, wasting hours commuting. However, thanks to WeChat, you can now take Chinese class while sitting at the airport waiting for your plane or even during your lunch break.

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First, we recommend preparing the following:

  • Laptop with (We Chat Version) and Mobile Version (Ipad or Phone)
  • A Chinese Teacher* with We Chat on desktop and mobile
  • Dictionary on your Mobile Device (Pleco) for Looking up Words and Creating Flashcards (Desktop version dictionary also can work)
  • Paper and Pen

* If you have not yet found a Chinese teacher, there are multiple resources for you to find them. Check out Italki.com or expat forums (Shanghai Expat, Beijinger, Chongqing Expat Club) for language schools.

Setup: When class begins, you will want to do a We Chat voice or video call with your teacher using We Chat on your mobile device. In addition to this, we also recommend you have a laptop with the WeChat desktop version open. Although not necessary to have two devices, it’s better to read articles and homework on a larger screen while also having access to another screen for looking up words or saving flashcards on a mobile dictionary.

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Homework: Prior to class, you can take a picture of your homework, which you did by hand. If the homework involves filling in answers on a sheet (and you don’t have access to a printer), you can use an editing application like Skitch to fill in the blanks with their pen option and then save. On We Chat, send the pictures to your teacher for correction and review.

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The teacher can then send back a picture with all the incorrect answers for discussion.

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Favoriting Files and Tagging: If you take class once or twice a week, chances are you will end up with lots of files from your teacher. You can store all of these in your favorites by tapping on the file and selecting ‘favorite’. Once you favorite the file, you will want to tag the file under something such as ‘Chinese Class’ so you can easily find it later. You could also favorite key words you need to improve on and tag them as ‘Chinese vocabulary.’ The great thing about this feature is it serves as your class notebook – you can easily go back to previous conversations with your teacher and see what your key problems are.

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Dictionary: We are sad to say we’ve yet to find a great Chinese dictionary on the We Chat platform for Chinese learners. (Contact us, if you know of one.) We Chat’s translation services, however, are improving (China Channel will cover these features in a later post). For the time being, we recommend you use a mobile dictionary like Pleco, or a desktop software such as Wenlin, to help review new words, and more importantly store flash cards to help you memorize those words.

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Taking Tests: We all hate tests, but learning Chinese is a memorization game (死记硬背 Sǐjì yìng bèi). Our method for doing tests during class is similar to doing your homework. The teacher will send you a document on WeChat. Once you open it, you can write the answers on a blank piece of paper. Now take a picture of it and send to your teacher on We chat.

Chinese-Test
Above: The ultimate Chinese test

Improving your Oral Chinese: One of the great tools of WeChat is not only being able to send voice clips to each other, but saving and filing them in your ‘Favorites’. When reading a Chinese paragraph to make sure your pronunciation is correct, record yourself saying the paragraph or article. Now, have your teacher record the same article. Save both to favorites. You now can easily compare your pronunciation and tones with your teacher anytime, even offline.

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Paying Your Teacher: Although some platforms such as Italki require you to use their payment system, other teachers will gladly accept WeChat Wallet payment. No more having to write down long bank account numbers or meeting in person to pay cash.

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Western Union, oh my god, please no!

We hope these tips will help you in your Chinese learning. As We Chat official accounts expand their functionality and services, we expect language learning on We Chat to explode (Italki has already ramped up their We Chat official account for Chinese learners of English). China Channel will be monitoring this area and be sure to post an update in the future.  Join us tomorrow for our next article from the China Channel ‘WeChat Essential Tips’ series. Follow us on WeChat by scanning the QR code to follow our official account.

China Channel has no association with Italki.
Join us tomorrow for our next article from the China Channel ‘WeChat Essential Tips’ series. Follow us on WeChat by scanning the QR code to follow our official account.

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