What People Think of Mandarin Chinese
When I first took a Chinese course in university, I was surprised at the reactions of my friends and family. On one hand, they encouraged me and some of them expressed admiration. They were fascinated at the idea of learning a language that seems so foreign. Most of them congratulated me on taking on a difficult task. Some of them even mentioned that they would enjoy learning, and being able to speak Chinese.
A little while later, I saw a different side of the matter. They gave me quizzical looks and said things like “but you will never really be fluent, now will you?”, and “Chinese is an almost impossible language to learn. Knowing a couple of phrases is good, but keep your expectations low.” I was surprised that there could be two sides to the issue. I was even more baffled at seeing that Chinese is perceived as being absolutely impossible, when in class I was discovering that Chinese can be as easy or easier to learn than European languages such as French or Spanish.
It is true that Chinese can be a difficult language to learn, but I have discovered that the people who profess to have tried to learn Chinese and failed have almost always 大阪買樓 attempted to learn Chinese through memorization. This is a dead end. My Chinese teachers have always been very clear with me that in order to learn Mandarin, a student has to speak. To learn Chinese fast, a student has to learn to speak a lot.
This is because the challenges of learning Mandarin Chinese lie primarily in the pronunciation of words and tones. This is actually good news rather than bad news for language learners. Instead of having to memorize countless verbs, and read through books of complicated grammar, all you have to do is speak. If you regularly have conversations with native speakers of Mandarin Chinese, you will discover that you are able to learn this language incredibly fast.
And it all has to do with the way that people learn languages. More specifically, it has to do with the way that children learn languages. Children are amazing language learners, they are sponges that just seem to soak up language. Part of this is because of their brain chemistry, and part of it, or most of it, is because they have absolutely no fear. They speak without being afraid of making mistakes. When they do make mistakes, they do not get discouraged. They just keep trying. This is absolutely the best way to reach fluency in any language.
When my University Chinese class had a speech competition, my family and friends were amazed. They saw that not only could I speak conversational Chinese, nearly all of my classmates were able to rattle off complex sentences. Their reactions were very different. “It sounds just like Chinese in the movies”, said many of my friends. “Do you even know what you just said?” Said some of my family. I really did know what I had said. I had written the speech. And I was able to deliver it confidently.