Lots of people dream of studying and then speaking Mandarin Chinese but they’re too scared to give it a try. Are you one of them?
Today’s post is by Yang who will give you the encouragement you need to pursue your language learning goals.
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Many people think that learning Chinese has to be incredibly difficult for Westerners. This is a misconception that has spread by both native speakers and others. In fact, it may well be easier for a native English speaker to learn proper Chinese that it is for a native Chinese speaker to learn to proper English.
Before we talk about the reasons why learning Mandarin is relatively easy, there are two main issues that many people encounter when learning the language.
When learning any new language, you need to learn how to pronounce the words. But learning to pronounce words in Spanish or French is fairly straightforward as they use many of the same sounds as are used in English. This is not the case with Chinese. The Chinese language uses many sounds that are difficult for the ear of the Westerner to distinguish. Add to this, the tonal nature of the language, and it’s not really surprising that Mandarin seems hard to learn.
Just like with pronunciation, there are many words that are very similar between English and other Germanic and Romance languages. There are no words in Chinese that are similar enough to their English equivalent to help simplify your vocabulary building. Learning Chinese vocabulary must be done from scratch, it’s impossible to learn Chinese by focusing on similarities with English.
But it still doesn’t have to be all that tough!
Pronunciation and vocabulary are basic building blocks of any language, so what exactly makes Chinese easy to learn? One word: Grammar. Simply put, when learning most languages, you have to learn to conjugate verbs, decline nouns, and learn noun genders, essentially learning several different forms of most words. Chinese grammar is so much easier to learn that it makes up for the difficulties with pronunciation and vocabulary.
The easiest thing about Chinese grammar is the lack of inflections. A verb is expressed the same way in the past, present, or future, singular or plural, and nouns are not gendered.
To make things even easier, the line between parts of speech is fuzzy. Most words can be used appropriately as noun, verb, or adjective without changing the word in any way. This makes your new vocabulary quite flexible. The same is true for written Chinese.
Don’t take this as meaning that Chinese is easy, it is quite difficult. The difficulties just happen to be different than the difficulties you might encounter learning many other languages. Don’t feel inadequate if you have trouble learning the language, or if it doesn’t click into place right away.
Reading and writing Chinese present their own unique challenges, and it can take much longer to learn than speaking and listening. Still, the Chinese language isn’t necessarily all that much harder to learn than many other languages.
You are welcome to visit Learn Mandarin Now to find out more tips to learn the language.