Learn Mandarin Online from Teachers and Students
Allow me to introduce myself, I am Ben from Learn Chinese Now, YouTube's premier learning Chinese channel (well at least that is how I describe it!)
I would like to answer a question that I get asked a lot: "Is learning Chinese hard?" I have been studying Chinese for 7 years, and 4 of those years were spent studying full time in University. In this time I have formed the following opinion on the question.
Learning Chinese is not hard, as long as you are really interested in it. Sure, if you are a businessman who isn't that interested, yet you need to learn some Chinese to get by on business trips to China, then yeah, you will probably find it quite hard. But if you are really, genuinely interested in the culture and history of China, the inner meanings of the characters etc... this is a great asset that can make learning Chinese a lot easier for you.
For me, learning European languages was boring, using the same alphabet to form the words was just like learning another version of English. But when I started Chinese, I found I really could remember the characters and words, because everything had an interesting story behind it!!
For example why is the word for "things" in Chinese dōngxī 東西 (literally: east-west)? That would be because in the imperial palace, the Emperor would enter and exit through the North and South gates and goods or "things" would be brought in through the East and West gates.
Another example is the character for snow 雪 made up of the character for rain 雨 above the character for hand 手, so it is the rain that you can hold in your hand!! I remember thinking "woah! That's so logical dude!" when we studied that in class. Then there are the numerous Chengyu sayings and the stories behind them.
So to conclude, yes getting to a fluent level of Chinese is hard work, but I wouldn't say it is that much harder than a Western language, as long as you are really interested in the culture that the language is steeped in. Sometimes for me in university, I felt I had an unfair advantage over other students, since learning about Chinese culture was my hobby anyway, so studying, doing homework etc... just felt like having fun!
When you study Chinese bear in mind that a lot of it is memorization, endless memorization of characters. A background in music can also help one hear the differences between the tones. But the biggest thing is you must practice with real Chinese people, preferably Chinese people who don't speak any English!! Happy studying and don't forget to check out my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/learnchinesenow
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