Learning Chinese, Mandarin or Putonghua , is fun. I have one goal — to have you enjoy the learning experiences here, whether it is a few minutes a day or you spend a few hours reading this guide. Let’s get started!

Day - 1 Your First Five Words and Ten Characters in Chinese!

English: Hello

Chinese Pinyin: nǐ hǎo

Chinese Characters: 你好

English: To

Chinese Pinyin: lái dào

Chinese Characters: 来到

English:  Friend

Chinese Pinyin: péng you

Chinese Characters: 朋友

English:  The U.S.

Chinese Pinyin: měi guó

Chinese Characters: 美国

English:  Welcome

Chinese Pinyin: huān yíng

Chinese Characters: 欢迎

Congratulations! You just mastered Your First Five Words in Chinese! Those are also your first Ten Chinese Characters! And Surprise!! They are also your first mastered sentence, in Chinese! All together, they mean “Hello, friend. Welcome to the U.S.!” 

As this moment, please focus on the Pinyin, but not the Characters. Those Chinese Characters look like coming from alien worlds, right? No worry! You will get there later. And to give you a peace of mind, I assure you that only 3000 Chinese Characters would be good enough for you to communicate with any of your Chinese friends, well, at least those educated ones. 

So now, even without me telling you those Chinese Pinyin, or the pronunciations, can you make them vocals? 

Yes, you can! 

We know that in any language, a baby learn in the sequence of “Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing”. In this tutorial (if you following this far!), we learn Chinese in “Speaking, Listening/Reading, and Writing.” All you need to know is English, whether English is your first language or not. 


Let's dive into Pinyin a bit more!

You may ask me. 

“Hey Steve! I can pronounce that ‘Hello’, or ‘ni hao’, but what are those weird little bars or symbols on top of the letter ‘i’ and ‘a’?” 

You are right on track! 

Simply put: those are tones for you to pronounce a Chinese character. Believe it or not, there are ONLY five of them and you have seen them all even in the first three words you just learned! 

And when you check the Pinyin of any Chinese character, you will always find these “little bars or symbols” on top of a vowel. To be more specific — they are always put on top of the FIRST vowel English letter.  

Let’s recap: 

English: Hello

Chinese Pinyin: nǐ hǎo

Chinese Characters: 你好

English:  Friend

Chinese Pinyin: péng you

Chinese Characters: 朋友

English:  Welcome

Chinese Pinyin: huān yíng

Chinese Characters: 欢迎

The FIVE tones

Majority of Chinese characters, such as “你” pronounced as , have only one tone! And yes we focus on mastering the 80% of the important things first and leave those special and less-utilized rules for a later stage.

These tones are defined as First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Soft Tone. Yes, you read me right, they are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tone and a Soft Tone. Note that some of your Chinese Friends may let you know a complete different and more complicated system to describe these tones. Don’t get tricked. Again, any educated Chinese people understand what “First Tone” means when you discuss Pinyin, or the pronunciation, for Chinese Mandarin or Putonghua! 

In “你好”, pronounced as “nǐ hǎo”, both are the 3rd tone;

In “朋友”, pronounced as “péng you”, it’s the 2nd tone and then the Soft tone;

In “欢迎”, pronounced as “huān yíng”, it’s the 1st tone followed by the 2nd tone.

Congratulations! You just completed your Day-1!

Day - 2 to Basic Chinese Mandarin


More The FIVE Tones

Welcome to Day-2! Let’s dive right in!

You may ask —- what exactly do you mean by “The Five tones?” 

Let’s master it.

The 1st Tone (such as huān) : It’s exactly the same as how you pronounce of tone the “a” in Apple;

The 2nd Tone (such as péng) : It’s exactly the same as how you pronounce of tone the “a” in What, when something surprised you!

The 3rd Tone (nǐ hǎo): This is a bit tricky. Think of you say “Okey” but you are not 100% OK or you still have questions. That’s a down voice and then a up tone. Like “Okey, so?”  

The 4th Tone: It’s exactly the same as how you pronounce of tone the “ey” in “Hey”.

The 5th Tone: It’s light tone. The feeling is like the “ya” when you say “How are ya?” in a casual manner.


Day - 3 to Basic Chinese Mandarin
First 10 Numbers

Before learning how to speak your 10 numbers in Chinese Mandarin (Putonghua), let’s see how many characters you have mastered! 

12 in total! And yes, good job! You can say 12 characters in Chinese Mandarin! Again, please don’t worry about things like “oh, my pronunciation is not perfect or even sounds weird!” Again, no one is perfect, you are learning Chinese Mandarin as a second language. None of your educated Chinese friends would mock you in any sense. Just like you won’t do the same to them while they speak English, correct? 

Let’s now focus on what we have today —- your first 10 numbers in Chinese!

1 —- One —- Yī
2 —- Two —- èr
3 —- Three —- Sān
4 —- Four —- Sì
5 —- Five —- Wǔ

6 —- Six —- Liù
7 —- Seven —- Qī
8 —- Eight —- Bā
9 —- Nine —- Jiǔ
10 —- Ten —- Shí

Now, before we taking a deep dive into “Pinyin” in the next day. Please try your best to just say loud out these numbers! Just one thing to highlight for today. For that “u”, it’s like the “oo” in the word “Wood”. 

You may ask —- what about the “J” and “Q”?  You are right on track! While I will go over it in the next day, I can tell you these are probably the very first challenge you are facing while learning Chinese, especially Pinyin. 

Reason? Because in American English, you have never got the opportunity to say something similar. 

The good news is that, if you are a fun of a Disney movie named Mulan, you have highly possibly learned something called “气” (Pinyin: Qì). 

See that number 7? The only different is the tone. 7 has the 1st tone while 气 has the 4th.  

And “J” is very similar to the “J” in Jungle.  

I see a big question mark on your head already! 

“What? 气 and 7 are pronounced all most the same, with just different tones?” 

Well, it’s seems intimidating now. But this is actually the secret for you to master Chinese Mandarin. You will get to there! 

For now, please review and practice these numbers. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect at this moment. 

Congratulations! You now can speak 22 characters in Chinese Mandarin! 

Day - 4 to Basic Chinese Mandarin

A Deep Dive into Pinyin ---- Part 1

With the 5 tones in mind, let’s take a deep dive into Pinyin directly! 

Let’s start with something you already know —- The 26 English letters. 


a —- [ɑː] like in Smart

Hey adding in one more character here 啊:ā á ǎ à 

Note: The tone and phonemes is important here.

b —- like in Banana

c —- like Ts in tsunamis

d —- like in Dad

e —- like in Early

ē é ě è

f —- like in Father

g —- like in Google

h —- like in Hello

i —- like in Kid

ī í ǐ ì

j —- Jinger Duggar 

k —- like in Kind

l —- like in Love

m —- like in Mother

n —- like in Nancy

o —- like in What but in British Accent!! 

ō ó ǒ ò 

p —- like in Peter

q —- like in “气”!!Mulan! 


r —- like in Raise

s —- like in Sun

t —- like in Tom

u —- like in Wood or Google

v —- N/A but in Pinyin, while later you can type in Pinyin by yourself using Google Pinyin, this will give you the phonemes of “yu” 

ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ

We will get back to it later.

w —- like in Wood


x —- This is probably one of the most challenging sound you can make as an English Speaker. Don’t let it stall you here. It’s very similar to “s” but lower your tongue a bit more. Do I need to make a Youtube for it? 🙂 

y —- Yield

z —- Zoo

For now, please focus on what you know! We learn things from what we know and find the similarities. We don’t put ourselves into a brand new world and go completely out of comfort ZONE! Please stay within it —- at least for now.