Why You need To Build Your Passive Vocabulary In Chinese

Everybody is eager to learn a new language as fast as they can. However, this cannot be accomplished overnight, and it requires constant hard work and practice.

Vocabulary acquisition is one of the most significant and interesting areas of language learning. In order to understand spoken or written Chinese, we first need to understand a large number of words. However, when it comes to learning a new language, active vocabulary is nowhere near as important as passive vocabulary. Here’s why.

Fluency Comes From A Better Understanding

There is no secret that the most fluent speakers of any language have the highest level of understanding. The main reason for this is that, in any language, you usually spend more time listening to what people around you are saying, compared to speaking. This is important because you can’t exactly reach a proper fluency in any language if you can’t understand what you or others are trying to say.

By focusing on speaking first instead of building your passive vocabulary, you’re trying to learn how to speak correctly from the start. This is not bad. The only problem is that you will lack context. The lack of context breeds very little familiarity with the Chinese language, which means that you’re not learning how to communicate effectively – you’re just trying to say words without knowing the meaning behind them.

What most people do when trying to learn Chinese is that they try to learn a few words first and just stick to them. This is counterintuitive. We say this because you’re limiting yourself by knowing only a few words.

Instead of doing that, the better way would be to spend more time learning about Chinese by reading and listening. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak the language well yet. That’ll come eventually. While it’s only natural to be afraid when you are unable to speak when you want to, it’s scarier to speak and yet not have a good understanding of what you’re saying and that of the other people around you.

You’ll Be Ready When You’re Ready

The process of learning any new language, including Chinese, shouldn’t be rushed. Sure, you might have a deadline, but that just means you’ll have to spend more time doing the right things instead of taking shortcuts. Before taking any exams like the HSK test in Singapore, ensure you are fully prepared and ready. This includes developing a better understanding of the language first. This is because speech and fluency will come eventually.

You will be ready to speak the language, when you are ready!


Try focusing more on improving your understanding of the language by reading Chinese literature, learning more about the Chinese culture, as well as listening to Chinese media. Consider signing up for Chinese courses in Singapore to increase your passive vocabulary. The more you immerse yourself in Chinese, the better your understanding will become. As a direct result of this, your fluency will increase, and you’ll become a much better communicator.

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