With the increasingly global economy and the reemergence of China as an international business and cultural hub, there has never been a better time to learn Chinese. Most people who are interested in learning have two questions: “Is it hard to learn Chinese?” and “How long does it take to learn Chinese?” Based on government sources and anecdotes, Three to five years is a good estimate of how long it takes to learn Chinese fluently, but there are so many factors involved.
While there is no doubt learning Chinese is worth it, time is money, and although we would all love to have limitless time to improve our language skills, the truth is that our personal and professional lives leave little time to learn a language. It’s a hopeful question that we often get from beginning Mandarin students. And because the last thing we want to do is dampen someone’s enthusiasm, we say yes, of course, it’s possible to reach fluency in the Chinese language, and learning how to speak basic Mandarin may not be as hard as you think. But we’ll quickly add it’s only possible with the right methods and great persistence.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how much time will it take for one to learn Chinese at the beginner to intermediate level:
- Depends on how much time you can commit to give in a day: While you don’t necessarily need to spend 10 hours a day for 72 days, if you want to achieve a conversational level without taking a decade, you should at least put in 30 minutes to an hour daily. Putting in this amount of time is also the most beneficial for long-term memory. When memorizing large amounts of information over an extended period of time, you risk everything you learned being put into your short-term memory.
- Have you tried learning any other language in the past: If you’ve previously learned Mandarin before, you’ll have a much easier time relearning the language. Even if you completely forgot how to speak Mandarin. Psychologists have shown through ‘The Forgetting Curve’ that there is information stored in our long-term memory system that we can recover again, even after 10 years. All this means is that you’ll be able to learn much quicker if you’ve previously been taught Mandarin.
- Depends on your level of motivation: It’s easy to be a motivated go-getter in the early stages of learning, but eventually, you might find that your steam has run out. This is especially true if you take on too much in the beginning (like studying for 10 hours a day). In other words, it’s important to have fun with learning Chinese!
- Your Attitude: Your attitude also plays a huge role in how fast you learn Chinese. If you approach language learning with a positive attitude and see it as a fun and fascinating opportunity to broaden your horizons (and to sound like a pro when you perform a comedic segment, you’ll be more open to learning. You’ll be more motivated to study and learn as much as possible, and the entire process will be more enjoyable and, consequently, faster.
There are numerous tactics and strategies that are shared online on how to learn Mandarin faster. But we’re going to narrow it down to the 3 most effective tips.
- Start with the most common Mandarin words
- Speak with a native speaker
- Make it a lifestyle habit
Some people are better at learning new languages than others, but there seems to be a common thread when it comes to learning Chinese. Many people have credited learning Chinese in China with jump starting their understanding of the language.