Make Learning Mandarin Chinese Your New Year’s Resolution

Chinese General newyear

Western traditions, especially those involving holidays and events such as weddings, are becoming more popular in China these days. One thing some people are now doing for fun is making a “New Year’s Resolution”, just as those in other countries have done for years. The start of a whole new year is a good time to make the effort to improve your life and plan a better future. Maybe you’ve decided to hit the gym four times a week, clean your attic, or learn a valuable skill that could open doors and change your future for the better.

In Mandarin Chinese, when we make a New Year’s Resolution, we call it a “新年计划 (xīnnián jìhuà)”.

新年计划 (Xīnnián jìhuà) = New Year’s Resolution.

新年 (Xīnnián) = New Year.

计划 (Jìhuà) = map out; plan; design.

Examples :

Wǒ dìng le yígè hěn bàng de xīnnián jìhuà.
我   定  了   一个  很   棒     的   新年     计划。
I set a great New Year’s Resolution.

Wǒ de xīnnián jìhuà shì yào xué hǎo zhōngwén.
我   的   新年    计划  是  要  学    好    中文。
My New Year’s Resolution is learning Chinese effectively.

Whether you are in Shanghai or Sydney, making a “新年计划 (xīnnián jìhuà)” and sticking to it is a good idea in any year.
Recently, an online survey on a language learning website asked respondents what their top goals for 2018 are. Nearly half of all asked said that learning Mandarin Chinese is at or near the top of their list. For some individuals, learning Chinese will help their career opportunities and open doors to a new culture. Many parents are encouraging their children to learn Chinese for their future. A user named Stephanie says “Learning more Chinese is definitely on my list this year.” Trenna wants to help her young son not only speak fluent English but also learn to speak Mandarin in 2018.

Here are three main reasons people are learning Mandarin Chinese as their “新年计划 (xīnnián jìhuà)” of 2018:
1. Career Opportunities.

Imagine how good your resume looks with “Mandarin Chinese” on it. It will definitely stand out from the stack. China is now the largest trading partner of countries such as Japan and the USA, and also with the European Union. Having a working knowledge of Mandarin Chinese will give you a special value in the workforce, as ties between China and the rest of the world become stronger. Publications such as the Financial Times and Forbes have endorsed Chinese learning.

2. Mandarin Chinese is becoming more prominent.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has devoted time to learning Mandarin Chinese for himself and also for his daughter, who is growing up with a Mandarin-speaking nanny. Other prominent families such as the Trumps are also investing in Chinese for their youngest, with Ivanka Trump’s daughter Arabella speaking and reciting poetry in Mandarin for President Xi Jinping.

3. Learning Chinese is an exercise for the brain.

The process of learning Chinese will challenge your brain to work in a way that it perhaps hasn’t before, by speaking in tones and learning the pictograph characters. There is proof that learning Chinese can have cognitive benefits beyond just the language itself, but also improve your brain function and learning skills overall.
So, when someone asks you about your “新年计划 (xīnnián jìhuà)” for 2018, don’t make the same goals of gym, house cleaning or fixing that old car, do something to really change your future: learn Mandarin Chinese!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Read the dialogue below and answer the question.
Jack: Nǐ de xīnnián jìhuà shì shénme?
Jack: 你 的   新年    计划   是    什么?

Bob: Wǒ xiǎng yào yuèdú shí běn zhōngwén xiǎoshuō.
Bob: 我   想      要     阅读  10  本    中文          小说。

What is Bob’s New Year’s Resolution according to the dialogue?
A. Bob wants to write ten Chinese novels in the new year.
B. Bob wants to read ten Chinese novels in the new year.
C. Bob wants to buy ten Chinese novels in the new year.
D. Bob wants to translate ten Chinese novels in the new year.

―Written by Becky Zhang―

Becky Zhang is a teacher at She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

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