Master the Basics of Learning Chinese in 5 Minutes!

Are you interested in learning Chinese but don’t have hours to spare each day? Don’t worry, you can start learning the basics of this fascinating language in just 5 minutes a day! In this article, …

Learning Chinese in Just 5 Minutes

Are you interested in learning Chinese but don’t have hours to spare each day? Don’t worry, you can start learning the basics of this fascinating language in just 5 minutes a day! In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to learn Chinese quickly and efficiently. Let’s get started learning Chinese in 5 minutes!

1. Master the Basics

Before diving into more complex aspects of the Chinese language, it’s important to start with the basics. Here are a few key elements to focus on:

  • Learn the Chinese phonetic system, known as Pinyin, which uses the Roman alphabet to represent Chinese sounds.
  • Familiarize yourself with the four tones in Chinese, as they play a crucial role in distinguishing the meaning of words.
  • Start building your vocabulary by memorizing common words and phrases.

Here is a list of Pinyin representing the sounds in the Mandarin Chinese language. It includes the initial consonants and final vowels. Note that some combinations may produce different sounds due to tones, indicated by numbers 1-4 (for example, “ma” in different tones can mean different things).

learn mandarin

Initial Consonants:

  • b, p, m, f
  • d, t, n, l
  • g, k, h
  • j, q, x
  • zh, ch, sh, r
  • z, c, s

Final Vowels:

  • a, o, e, i, u, ü
  • ai, ei, ui, ao, ou, iu, ie, üe
  • an, en, in, un, ün
  • ang, eng, ing, ong

Examples of Pinyin Syllables:

  • ba, bi, bo, bu
  • da, di, de, du
  • la, li, le, lu
  • ma, mi, me, mu
  • na, ni, ne, nu
  • ge, gi, go, gu
  • ka, ki, ke, ku
  • ha, hi, he, hu
  • ji, ju, jie, jue
  • qi, qu, qie, que
  • xi, xu, xie, xue
  • zhi, zhu, zhe, zho
  • chi, chu, che, cho
  • shi, shu, she, sho
  • ri, re, ro
  • zi, ci, ze, zo
  • si, se, so

Tones: Each syllable in Pinyin can be pronounced with one of four tones, indicated by a diacritic mark above the vowel:

  1. ā, á, ǎ, à
  2. ē, é, ě, è
  3. ī, í, ǐ, ì
  4. ū, ú, ǔ, ù

Remember, the correct pronunciation of Pinyin syllables also depends on the tone. For example, “ma” with the first tone (mā) means “mother,” while “ma” with the second tone (má) means “hemp.”

2. Practice Daily

Consistency is key when it comes to learning any language, including Chinese. Set aside at least 5 minutes each day to practice what you’ve learned. This could involve listening to Chinese podcasts, watching short videos, or even engaging in simple conversations with native speakers.

Here’s a suggested schedule that you can follow:

learn mandarin schedule

Day 1-2: Introduction and Basics

  • 5 minutes: Learn and practice basic greetings (你好 – nǐ hǎo), and common expressions like 谢谢 (xièxiè – thank you) and 对不起 (duìbuqǐ – sorry).

Day 3-5: Numbers and Simple Phrases

  • 5 minutes: Focus on numbers 1-10 and basic phrases like 我是 (wǒ shì – I am) and 你是 (nǐ shì – You are).

Day 6-8: Introduce Yourself

  • 5 minutes: Learn to introduce yourself. Practice saying your name, where you’re from, and what you do.

Day 9-11: Everyday Objects and Activities

  • 5 minutes: Learn the names of common everyday objects and practice simple sentences related to daily activities.

Day 12-15: Food and Dining

  • 5 minutes: Learn basic food-related vocabulary and phrases. Focus on ordering food in a restaurant or asking for the bill.

Day 16-18: Directions and Locations

  • 5 minutes: Learn basic directions (left, right, straight) and practice asking for and giving directions.

Day 19-21: Time and Dates

  • 5 minutes: Learn how to tell time and discuss dates. Practice saying days of the week and months.

Day 22-25: Family and Relationships

  • 5 minutes: Learn family-related vocabulary and phrases. Practice talking about family members.

Day 26-28: Hobbies and Leisure Activities

  • 5 minutes: Learn vocabulary related to hobbies and leisure activities. Practice talking about your interests.

Day 29-30: Review and Recap

  • 5 minutes: Review what you’ve learned over the past month. Practice all the phrases and vocabulary you’ve covered.

Remember that consistency is key. Learning a language, even in short daily sessions, is about building a habit and gradually expanding your knowledge.

3. Utilize Online Resources

The internet is a treasure trove of resources for learning Chinese. Take advantage of online platforms, such as language learning apps, websites, and forums, to enhance your learning experience.

These resources often provide interactive exercises, flashcards, and pronunciation guides to help you improve your skills.

We have a whole section on Hot Language HERE dedicated to language learning app reviews!


  • Use language learning apps: Apps like Duolingo, Memrise, or HelloChinese can be great for short daily sessions.
  • Set a consistent time: Choose a specific time each day for your 5-minute Mandarin session to build a routine.
  • Keep it fun: Incorporate games, songs, or short videos to make your learning experience enjoyable.

4. Immerse Yourself in Chinese Culture

Learning a language is not just about memorizing words and grammar rules. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture to gain a deeper understanding of the language.

Watch Chinese movies, listen to Chinese music, and try cooking traditional Chinese dishes. This will not only make your learning journey more enjoyable but also help you grasp the nuances of the language.

Here’s a list of movies that can help you learn Mandarin Chinese:

learn Mandarin in 5 minutes

  1. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (卧虎藏龙 – Wòhǔ Cánglóng)
    • Genre: Wuxia, Martial Arts
    • Director: Ang Lee
  2. “Farewell My Concubine” (霸王别姬 – Bàwáng Bié Jī)
    • Genre: Drama
    • Director: Chen Kaige
  3. “Hero” (英雄 – Yīngxióng)
    • Genre: Wuxia, Martial Arts
    • Director: Zhang Yimou
  4. “Not One Less” (一个都不能少 – Yīgè Dōu Bùnéng Shǎo)
    • Genre: Drama
    • Director: Zhang Yimou
  5. “Lost in Thailand” (人再囧途之泰囧 – Rén Zàijǐng Tú zhī Tài Jiǒng)
    • Genre: Comedy
    • Director: Xu Zheng
  6. “Eat Drink Man Woman” (饮食男女 – Yǐnshí Nánnǚ)
    • Genre: Drama, Comedy
    • Director: Ang Lee
  7. “The Grandmaster” (一代宗师 – Yī Dài Zōngshī)
    • Genre: Martial Arts, Biography
    • Director: Wong Kar-wai
  8. “Aftershock” (唐山大地震 – Tángshān Dà Dìzhèn)
    • Genre: Drama
    • Director: Feng Xiaogang
  9. “Red Cliff” (赤壁 – Chìbì)
    • Genre: Historical, War
    • Director: John Woo
  10. “House of Flying Daggers” (十面埋伏 – Shímiàn Máifú)
    • Genre: Wuxia, Romance
    • Director: Zhang Yimou

And here are my personal favorite Mandarin movies of all time:

Kung Fu Hustle

  1. “Kung Fu Hustle” (功夫 – Gōngfu)
    • Genre: Action, Comedy
    • Director: Stephen Chow
  2. “To Live” (活着 – Huózhe)
    • Genre: Drama
    • Director: Zhang Yimou
  3. “Infernal Affairs” (无间道 – Wújiàndào)
    • Genre: Crime, Thriller
    • Directors: Andrew Lau, Alan Mak
  4. “Mountains May Depart” (山河故人 – Shānhé Gùrén)
    • Genre: Drama
    • Director: Jia Zhangke
  5. “Go Away Mr. Tumor” (滚蛋吧!肿瘤君 – Gǔndàn Ba! Zhǒngliú Jūn)
    • Genre: Comedy, Drama
    • Director: Han Yan

Learning Mandarin through cooking is a delightful and practical way to combine language practice with a delicious outcome. Here are two recipes, along with the Mandarin names for key ingredients and cooking instructions:

1. Fried Rice (炒饭 – Chǎofàn)

Fried Rice


  • 米饭 (Mǐfàn) – Cooked rice
  • 鸡蛋 (Jīdàn) – Eggs
  • 蔬菜 (Shūcài) – Vegetables (e.g., carrots, peas, corn)
  • 青葱 (Qīngcōng) – Green onions
  • 生抽 (Shēngchōu) – Light soy sauce
  • 盐 (Yán) – Salt
  • 食用油 (Shíyòng yóu) – Cooking oil


  1. 热锅凉油 (Rè guō liáng yóu) – Heat the wok and add cooking oil.
  2. 加入蔬菜翻炒 (Jiārù shūcài fānchǎo) – Add vegetables and stir-fry.
  3. 加入鸡蛋翻炒 (Jiārù jīdàn fānchǎo) – Add beaten eggs and stir-fry.
  4. 加入米饭翻炒 (Jiārù mǐfàn fānchǎo) – Add cooked rice and stir-fry.
  5. 加入生抽和盐调味 (Jiārù shēngchōu hé yán tiáowèi) – Season with light soy sauce and salt.
  6. 加入青葱炒匀即可 (Jiārù qīngcōng chǎo yún jí kě) – Add green onions, stir well, and it’s ready to serve!

2. Hot and Sour Soup (酸辣汤 – Suān là tāng)

Hot and Sour Soup


  • 鸡丝 (Jī sī) – Shredded chicken
  • 黑木耳 (Hēi mù’ěr) – Black fungus (wood ear mushrooms)
  • 豆腐 (Dòufu) – Tofu
  • 鸡蛋 (Jīdàn) – Eggs
  • 高汤 (Gāo tāng) – Chicken or vegetable broth
  • 酱油 (Jiàngyóu) – Soy sauce
  • 醋 (Cù) – Vinegar
  • 辣椒油 (Làjiāo yóu) – Chili oil
  • 盐 (Yán) – Salt


  1. 煮高汤 (Zhǔ gāo tāng) – Boil the chicken or vegetable broth.
  2. 加入鸡丝、黑木耳和豆腐 (Jiārù jī sī, hēi mù’ěr hé dòufu) – Add shredded chicken, black fungus, and tofu.
  3. 加入酱油、盐、醋 (Jiārù jiàngyóu, yán, cù) – Season with soy sauce, salt, and vinegar.
  4. 加入打散的鸡蛋 (Jiārù dǎsàn de jīdàn) – Pour in beaten eggs slowly while stirring the soup.
  5. 加入辣椒油 (Jiārù làjiāo yóu) – Add chili oil for spice.
  6. 等鸡蛋熟了即可 (Děng jīdàn shú le jí kě) – Once the eggs are cooked, it’s ready to serve!

As you follow these recipes, practice saying the Mandarin names of ingredients and the cooking steps aloud. This hands-on approach will not only enhance your language skills but also introduce you to the culinary side of Mandarin Chinese. Enjoy your language learning journey in the kitchen!

5. Find a Language Exchange Partner

Practicing with a native speaker is one of the most effective ways to improve your language skills. Look for language exchange programs or online platforms where you can connect with Chinese speakers who are learning your native language.

Here are several platforms and methods where you can connect with language exchange partners:

  1. HelloTalk:
    • Platform: Mobile app (iOS, Android)
    • Features: HelloTalk is a language exchange app that connects language learners from around the world. You can chat with native Mandarin speakers and correct each other’s language.
  2. Tandem:
    • Platform: Mobile app (iOS, Android)
    • Features: Tandem allows you to find language exchange partners for text, voice, and video chats. It supports various languages, including Mandarin.
  3. ConversationExchange:
    • Website: ConversationExchange
    • Features: This website helps you find language exchange partners for both online and in-person language practice. You can search for partners based on location, language, and learning goals.
  4. Language Exchange Meetup Groups:
    • Platform: or local community boards
    • Features: Check if there are language exchange meetup groups in your area. These groups often organize language exchange events where you can meet native Mandarin speakers.
  5. WeChat Language Exchange Groups:
    • Platform: WeChat (commonly used in Chinese-speaking communities)
    • Features: Join language exchange groups on WeChat where you can connect with native Mandarin speakers. You can find such groups through online forums or social media.
  6. Language Schools or Universities:
    • Platform: Local language schools, universities, or language departments
    • Features: Some language schools or universities organize language exchange programs or events. Check with local institutions to see if they offer such opportunities.
  7. Language Cafés:
    • Platform: Cafés or community spaces
    • Features: Some cities have language cafés where people gather to practice different languages. Look for events in your area where you can meet Mandarin speakers.
  8. Social Media:
    • Platform: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
    • Features: Join language exchange or Mandarin learning groups on social media platforms. You can connect with people who share your language-learning goals.

This way, you can help each other practice and gain valuable insights into each other’s cultures.

Learning Chinese in Just 5 Minutes

FAQs on Learning Chinese in 5 Minutes

Q: Is it really possible to learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day?

A: While it may seem challenging, dedicating 5 minutes a day to learning Chinese can make a significant difference over time. Consistency is key, so make sure to practice every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Q: How long does it take to become fluent in Chinese?

A: Becoming fluent in any language takes time and effort. The time it takes to become fluent in Chinese will vary depending on various factors, such as your prior language learning experience, the amount of time you dedicate to learning, and your language learning goals. However, with consistent practice and dedication, you can make significant progress in a relatively short period.

Q: Are there any shortcuts to learning Chinese?

A: Learning a language requires time and effort, and there are no shortcuts to becoming fluent. However, by following effective learning strategies, such as practicing daily, utilizing online resources, and immersing yourself in the language and culture, you can accelerate your learning process.


Learning Chinese in just 5 minutes a day is not only possible but also an achievable goal. By mastering the basics, practicing daily, utilizing online resources, immersing yourself in Chinese culture, and finding a language exchange partner, you can make significant progress in your language learning journey. So, what are you waiting for? Start your 5-minute Chinese learning sessions today and embark on an exciting linguistic adventure!

Fun Fact: Did you know that Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, with over 1.3 billion native speakers?

Originally posted 2023-02-16 09:36:52.

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