Chinese has a reputation for being a very challenging language, although thousands of people have managed to learn it anyway. It is unique in many ways. Unlike many European languages such as Spanish and German, which share a common ancestry with English, Chinese is radically different from them. Therefore, you need the right attitude and dedication if you intend to learn Chinese quickly. A mandarin course in Singapore may take more months to learn compared to other languages, but this should not discourage you from getting to know one of the most popular languages in the world. Millions of people have learned the language despite facing the various challenges we are going to discuss today.
Biggest challenges in learning Chinese
Use of Characters in Chinese
English uses 26 alphabetical letters, which are quicker to grasp compared to the estimated 50,000 characters used in Chinese. You will need to know approximately 2000 characters to read a newspaper although you may need to know approximately 8,000 characters to read most books comfortably. It can take several years of practice to memorize these characters and comfortably use them while reading and writing Chinese.
You Cannot Learn Chinese without a Class
You can learn most European languages by simply listening to the radio, an audio clip, or watching a video, but this is impossible while learning Chinese. Chinese students have to follow a structured curriculum that involves the conversion of the Chinese characters into Roman alphabet known as Pinyin before moving to the other complex stages. The characters are made of one or more components, which you should know how to use before you can read or write. Therefore, you cannot just download an application or watch a TV show and assume you are going to learn Chinese well. Additionally, most information and translation available online might be misleading, hence the need to get a reputable tutor to teach you Chinese.
The Chinese Writing System is not Very Phonetic
You can easily guess the spelling of any English word by looking at it, but it can be difficult to properly pronounce a Chinese word by just looking at the characters. You will also have a problem looking up a Chinese word in the dictionary if you do not know how the characters look. A beginner student may have a problem getting the phonetic aspect of many Chinese characters, but this will change as you continue to know more characters as well as the rules and patterns used while writing them.
You have to Learn Various Tones
Chinese is a tonal language meaning that a slight mistake in the intonation may give a very different meaning. Chinese uses four common tones that must be used correctly to avoid altering the meaning of a sentence. This means that you have to memorize various intonation patterns in addition to the characters for you to convey the right information when speaking Chinese.
Learning the Chinese language might be challenging at first, but it always gets easier once you familiarise yourself with a few characters. You can also rely on a learning platform like ‘Multibhashi‘ that is tailored to meet your needs and help you understand the most essential parts every step of the way. You may also consider reading several Chinese magazines, watching videos with subtitles, and listening to the radio for you to learn the language quickly. Don’t forget to learn every day until you achieve your goal.