The Best-Kept Celebrity Secrets to Learning Mandarin

Chinese General Celebrity

Sometimes a reason to keep learning Mandarin is to take a good look at well-known people who have learned it, and study the way they achieved fluency. Let’s take a look at these famous people who have taken the time to learn how to read, write and speak Mandarin:

1. Mark Zuckerberg 马克.扎克伯格.

Everyone knows Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and creator of Facebook. He is married to a Chinese woman who also speaks Mandarin. He initially set a goal in 2010 to learn how to speak Mandarin and has been practicing daily ever since. Initially, he said he did it alone at his kitchen table. But then he decided to hire a tutor–who was no doubt a world class teacher. This caused him to increase his learning pace. This shows how invaluable it is to work one-to-one with a qualified teacher, and how this will jump start your Chinese learning better than anything else. Mark Zuckerberg ended up having to study daily for over 4 years before he was able to give his talk in fluent Mandarin at Tsinghua University in 2014. The tutoring obviously worked–he was able to speak with the correct tones, grammar and vocabulary. These three areas are where you really want to focus in your individual study so that your fluency is up to par with native Mandarin speakers.

2. Ali Fukuhara 福原爱.

Ali is famous in Asia as well as around the world for being one of the best table tennis players. She medaled in the Olympics and travels the globe showing off her amazing skills. Ali is from Japan and grew up speaking Japanese. But she also began to learn Mandarin when she was very young, as she studied table tennis in China and was coached by Chinese instructors, surrounded by Chinese athletes and immersed in the local culture. Eventually she went on to marry a Taiwanese table tennis player, named Chiang Hung-Chieh. When she wrote this letter to her husband in fluent Mandarin, Chinese social media lit up, as everyone was incredibly impressed by her Mandarin skills:

Chinese General Celebrity2

Lǎogōng, wǒ zhè liǎng tiān bú zài jiā, yǒu méi yǒu xiǎng wǒmen?
老公,      我  这   两    天  不  在 家,有  没    有   想    我们?

Dear(老公 means husband), I didn’t stay at home these two days. Have you missed us?


The original sentence in the letter is “我这个2天不在家.” In the letter there was a small mistake: “这个2天.” In Chinese, we don’t need to add a measurement word “个” to this sentence. These two days=这两天 (Zhè liǎng tiān).
Nǐ yào hǎohao zhàogù zìjǐ, jìdé cā dōngxi!
你  要    好好     照顾 自己, 记得 擦  东西!
You need to take good care of yourself, and put on face cream!

Wǒmen mǎshang jiù huílái, lěngqì bú yào kāi tài dà!
我们         马上     就   回来,冷气 不  要  开  太 大!
We will come back soon. Don’t make the air conditioning too cold!

3. Kevin Michael Rudd.

Kevin was the Prime Minister of Australia twice, and is now a retired Labor politician. He studied at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he resided at Burgmann College and graduated with Bachelor of Arts (in Asian Studies) with First-Class Honours. He majored in Chinese language and Chinese history, became proficient in Mandarin. His Chinese name is 陆克文 (Lù Kèwén). In 2008, he did a fluent Chinese speech in Beijing University which received great praise. Kevin’s experience shows us that University-learning can achieve great results. His practice with his Chinese teachers and fellow classmates encouraged him to learn each and every day. Kevin’s experience also shows us that a genuine interest in Mandarin is your best friend when it comes to learning the language. Kevin’s mother introduced him to Asian studies by giving him a book which covered all the ancient civilizations. Once he came across China’s history, he was hooked.
In short, there are many ways you can achieve fluency in Mandarin–but here are a few that seem to help the most:
● Create a Chinese-Speaking Environment to Study In–whether that’s a tutor, a classroom, or living in China, learning Chinese is made possible when you immerse yourself in the language. This can be done at home nowadays with the use of tutors, online classes and virtual learning.
● An experienced, native-speaking Chinese tutor can help you with tones, grammar and vocabulary.
● Practice speaking with improvisational conversation with a native Chinese speaker, so that your Mandarin is fluent and natural.
● Clear studying goals and strong motivation are just as important as anything.

―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!
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
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