Learning Chinese: Is it for you?
Most people would like to learn a new language. The idea of being able to communicate with people in their native dialect is incredibly appealing, especially if you have big plans to travel around the world. Most students take a foreign language during high school, but unfortunately, many students do not continue with their language skills after graduation.
If you want to be a world traveller and learn to communicate in a foreign land, one of the most beneficial and widely-spoken languages you can learn is Mandarin Chinese. While the thought of learning Chinese might be overwhelming, the truth is that Chinese is an incredibly influential language and learning, it has many benefits.
Learning Chinese will take time
If you decide to learn Chinese, understand that learning a new language takes years to perfect. You cannot merely take a semester of 100-level college Chinese and expect to communicate fluently with native speakers. It doesn’t work like that. Instead, you’ll need to dedicate time each day for several years to studying and practising your speaking skills. If you want to be able to communicate effectively and fluidly, you must have the dedication necessary to continue studying for an extended period of time.
Chinese is a tonal language
Another factor to consider is that for most English speakers, the initial shock of learning a tonal language can be overwhelming.
What is a tonal language, you wonder? A tonal language means that the meaning of a word can change based on how you say it. For example, the word “ma” can be said five different ways and means five different things based on how you say it. If you decide to learn Chinese, you will need to master four tones plus the neutral tone, which is an unaccented way of saying a word. While it is possible to master your tones and become a fluent Chinese speaker, remember that it will again, take time and dedication.
Consider visiting China
Finally, if you consider learning Chinese, think about the possibility of visiting China. Most colleges have study abroad programs that enable students to visit overseas for a few months or even a year. This approach is a fantastic way to improve your Chinese.
While learning in a classroom is an excellent way to latch onto the basics of Mandarin Chinese, the truth is that nothing can substitute studying Chinese in an immersion situation. When you are forced to speak nothing but Mandarin, learning the language becomes easier since you are forced to remember words you have learned and need to figure out what someone is saying to you. If you cannot participate in a study abroad program, consider taking a brief trip to China. Even spending two weeks overseas is one way you can improve your language skills.
A large number of Atira shaped by Scape residents are Chinese, so this may be a good opportunity to make some new friends and learn about Chinese culture. Regardless of your experience learning other languages, the choice to study Chinese is a very personal one that requires time, dedication, and commitment. If you believe you have what it takes to learn Chinese, go for it! Get started today and open up a world of new opportunity for yourself.
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