Words on learning a foreign language
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Words on learning a foreign language

Words on learning a foreign language

Welcome to this week’s issue of the Giant Mandarin newsletter. This week’s newsletter is on the topic of learning a foreign language.

In this week’s Elementary–Intermediate Words we focus on words for talking about foreign language study at a high level, including explaining what language or languages you’re studying, what level of language proficiency you have and whether a language you’re learning is your first or second language.

In Advanced Words, we focus on words for talking about the nitty-gritty of language learning. This includes the different parts of learning a language such as vocabulary and grammar, as well as the different contexts in which a language might be used such as a working language.

Finally, in Supplementary Reading we suggest a language learning tool and a magazine article reflecting on the author’s personal experience with losing and then regaining their first language.

Elementary–Intermediate Words

  1. 学习 xuéxí - to study; study 📖
  2. 外语 wàiyǔ - foreign language 🌏

汉语 Hànyǔ - Chinese language (literally, the language of the Han Chinese people) 🇨🇳

英语 Yīngyǔ - English language

韩语 Hányǔ - Korean language 🇰🇷

日语 Rìyǔ - Japanese language 🇯🇵

菲律宾语 Fēilǜbīnyǔ - Filipino language 🇵🇭

法语 Fǎyǔ - French language 🇫🇷

西班牙语 Xībānyáyǔ - Spanish language

德语 Déyǔ - German language 🇩🇪

阿拉伯语 Ālābóyǔ - Arabic language

中文 Zhōngwén - Chinese language (literally, the language of China, emphasizing the written language) 🇨🇳

Generally speaking, 语 (yǔ) can be substituted for 文 (wén) in the above words too.

  1. 水平 shuǐpíng - level of proficiency

初级 chūjí - elementary 👍

中级 zhōngjí - intermediate 🙌

高级 gāojí - advanced 👏

  1. 流利 liúlì - fluent 🤸
  2. 母语 mǔyǔ - mother tongue; native language

第二语言 dìèr yǔyán - second language ✌️

第一语言 dìyī yǔyán - first language ☝️

  1. 语言 yǔyán - language

Advanced Words

  1. 生词 shēngcí - vocabulary item or items
  2. 口音 kǒuyīn - accent
  3. 词汇 cíhuì - vocabulary
  4. 语法 yǔfǎ - grammar
  5. 口语 kǒuyǔ - spoken language 🗣
  6. 听力 tīnglì - listening 👂
  7. 阅读 yuèdú - reading 📚
  8. 写作 xiězuò - writing ✍️

官方语言 guānfāng yǔyán - official language (of a country)

正式语言 zhèngshì yǔyán - official language (of an organisation or event such as the United Nations)

工作语言 gōngzuò yǔyán - working language 👩‍💻

  1. 通用语 tōngyòngyǔ - lingua franca; common language 🌏

Supplementary Reading

  1. Language Reactor: A powerful toolbox for learning languages, which is widely known for the Language Learning with Netflix browser extension for Chrome
  2. Forgetting My First Language, Jenny Liao, The New Yorker

And that’s a wrap. What did you think of this week’s newsletter?

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Thanks for reading and see you next Thursday!

Giant Mandarin (@GiantMandarin) is written by David Wu (@davidwuio).