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Learning Chinese with Patrick Frick

The founder of Duang Mandarin shares with us his best tips on learning Chinese.

We want you to learn Chinese from the best! From time to time, we will interview experts with a lot of experience in learning and teaching Chinese to share his or her advice and best practices.

Today, we are pleased to have Patrick Frick join us! He is the founder of Duang Mandarin, a great website and Facebook page providing free Mandarin learning resources, videos, recommendations and community.

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Q: Patrick, you are having a great run and your community is continuing to grow. Tell us what makes Duang Mandarin so unique among all the online Chinese learning resources?

A: Firstly, thank you for having me, it's great to exchange experiences with other Chinese-enthusiasts. As I observed the online Chinese learning community a while, I figured out that many Facebook pages upload word lists, proverbs or pretty pictures. I believe the mini lessons I created are a complimentary tool for Mandarin learners. What's really important to me is to explain grammar rules as simple as possible from a non-native perspective.

Q: Your journey into the world of Chinese started with an exchange semester in Shanghai. Have you always been interested in China?

A: Indeed, I was interested in China since I was a teenager. Probably because of all the Kung Fu movies I watched ;) When I went to China for an exchange semester and I stood on the Great Wall in Beijing, a big dream came true. That moment motivated me even more to study Chinese and eventually work in China in the future.

Q: How did you start studying Mandarin? Were you struggling in the beginning?

A: I started to study Mandarin in a community school to figure out if I like it enough to study it seriously in university. I did never struggle but to be honest, I invested quite some time in studying. Nevertheless, if you are passionate about Chinese it won't feel like a hard time. It's important to make sure to have many different learning sources to get new ideas or different explanations.

Q: When you started learning Mandarin, did you also use online resources yourself? 

A: Absolutely. Especially in the beginning I have spent hours on Youtube. There are great people who create incredibly helpful videos. I also used short listening podcasts that I listened to on my daily commute to work. It is very important to surround yourself with all sorts of learning resources. This will make sure you won't get bored or get stuck somewhere. Additionally, there are more and more useful apps popping up, just like Zizzle.

Q: We all know that especially the Chinese characters are hard. How did you study them? Are you using some special memorization techniques?

A: I love writing Chinese characters. The good news is that it is getting easier after a certain amount of learned characters as the same characters or radicals will pop up in new words. I usually used books to study writing. I selected a lesson on an interesting topic and just copied the text in the book. The words I didn't know I wrote on a list and simply wrote them as often as possible. I believe you can learn many words per week if you invest just 30 minutes per day writing them. Watching Chinese movies with subtitles is also a fun way to test how many characters you can identify.

Q: You are living in Germany right now, not in China. Share with us some tips on how you practice and use Chinese on a day to day basis?

A: I am lucky as I am still in university where I can talk to a lot of Chinese exchange students. Additionally I have around six Chinese learning apps on my phone which I use frequently. I also  made sure that my news feed on social media like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter contains plenty of Chinese language information and news. It can also be helpful to search for language exchange partners in various Facebook groups. If you are adventurous you could change your phone-language to Chinese too ;)

Q: You have tried the free beta-version of Zizzle. Tell us one thing that you would like to give us on our way and one thing that you liked most.

A: What I would like to give you on your way is that you should keep it simple and from a non-native perspective. Information overload can be fatal for learners.

I have tested Zizzle and I think that the method behind it is unique. I have spent quite some time at night swiping through the lovely little stories that explain the characters. What I found very helpful were the listening example phrases in different contexts, spoken with a very accurate pronunciation. Keep it up! :)

Q: What are your next steps with Duang Mandarin? What can we look forward to?

A: I am planning to publish an e-book this year which will include many mini-lessons and a lot of advice on how to learn Chinese in an efficient and fun way.

You can also look forward to new formats of learning Chinese that I will launch later this year. Additionally, Duang Mandarin will establish a real (offline) language school and we will share our students' progress on social media. Stay tuned! :)

It was great having you with us! Patrick, we wish you all the best with your Chinese endeavor and with Duang Mandarin!

Thank you very much, 谢谢

And Last but not least, don’t forget to check out Duang Mandarin and follow him on Facebook.

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