Chinese language has a notoriety
for being a difficult language to learn. Like learning any language, learning Chinese has its challenges. As a language learner, placing yourself in an ideal learning environment is key to learning the Chinese language. Let’s have a look at both the difficult and easy aspects of Chinese.
Difficult Aspects of Learning Chinese
Writing Chinese script
Chinese is a difficult language to learn primarily because of the pictographic script. This is in contrast to most other languages including English which uses phonetic script. In a phonetic scripts, the symbols represents sounds. This makes reading easier as there are not as many symbols to memorize.
On the other hand, Chinese is a pictographic script, which means that there are many characters to memorize. In fact, there are about 3,500 characters in standard Chinese. In English, if you come across a word that you have never heard of, you will at least know how to pronounce the word. In Chinese, if you come across a word that you have never heard of, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to guess exactly how it sounds like.
Another major difficulty for foreigners in learning the language are the tones. There are four tones in mandarin, five if you consider the neutral tone as well. This means same syllables with different tones can mean two completely different things.
Most beginners struggle with tones when starting to learn Chinese, but it is very important that you get a good grasp of tones. Here two examples of possible mistakes:
- 1. Mā (妈) : Mother vs mǎ (马) : Horse
- 2. Wèn (问) : Ask vs wěn (吻) : Kiss
Easy Aspects of Learning Chinese
Chinese has few grammar patterns—all of which are straight-forward. Moreover, there are no tenses in Chinese language. Chinese words do not change forms like English verbs. This is something Chinese learners can be grateful for.
Pinyin is the standard system of romanized transliteration of Chinese characters. It is an enormous help for Chinese learners. One great thing about pinyin in this digital age is that, you can type pinyin into your computer and they will give you character suggestions. This means that you can text or write emails in Chinese without needing to know each stroke of the character.
As long as you know the pinyin and recognize the character you are looking for, you can type in Chinese.
How to make learning Chinese easier?
The easiest way to learn Chinese is by immersing yourself in the language and the best way to immerse yourself is by traveling to China. Furthermore, the absolute most ideal way to learn Chinese is through one-on-one immersion classes at CLI. CLI offers a culturally vibrant environment for you to immerse yourself in Chinese language while taking one-on-one lessons with top-notch Chinese teachers. For more information about CLI, please visit www.studycli.org/about. See you in China.