Learning a foreign language is an enriching experience, and people are becoming more interested in being able to speak a second language thanks in part to the Internet and affordable travel. Deciding which language to learn, however, can be difficult, and those picking a language to study must decide how much time they have, what they wish to get out of it and how practical it will be. Increasingly, people are looking to Mandarin. Here are five reasons to start learning Mandarin this year.
1. Writing is Not as Hard as You Think
Mandarin has a reputation of being an incredibly difficult language to learn, and this belief is not without merit. Since it and English were developed on opposite sides of Eurasia, they have little in terms of similarities. In addition, the Chinese writing system, which requires people to learn thousands of symbols, is undeniably hard. However, pinyin, which uses standard Latin letters, is widely available in China, and there are plenty of resources available in it. While it is important to learn the Mandarin characters, pinyin writing makes the process of learning the language far easier. There is also another alphabet in common use referred to as bopomofo. This alphabet is especially common in Taiwan.
2. Straightforward Grammar
Mandarin grammar is widely considered to be one of the simplest grammar systems around. Like all languages, there are some complications that can get in the way, but basic Mandarin grammar is noted as being simple, elegant and easy to learn. It is also similar in many ways to English, making the process of learning to speak Mandarin easier than most imagine. Word order is fairly flexible in Mandarin Chinese, and its subject-verb-object composition will ease the burden of learning to speak fluently. Chinese languages do not have gendered verbs, and conjugations are simple. Its vocabulary is also fairly simple thanks to compound words that use two existing words to express a third.
3. Practical Choice
China’s economy has grown at 10 percent per year for the past 30 years, and it shows no signs of slowing. China is already one of the world’s most powerful nations, and the influence of China continues to grow. Those with an interest in business will find the language useful. China is also the world’s most populous nation, and the burgeoning middle class will create opportunities for those who interact with tourists. However, it is China’s culture that makes the thought of learning Mandarin in a classroom especially compelling. As one of history’s most important cultures, China is rich with fascinating texts that have been somewhat ignored by people in the West. Learning Mandarin allows you to discover some of the best that the world has to offer.
4. It’s Fun
Mandarin differs substantially from languages spoken in Europe and the New World, and learning it can be tremendously rewarding. The tonal system allows the language to reuse phonemes, making it a terse yet expressive language. While many regard the language’s tones as challenging, learners often find the fun of using it to offset to practice needed. Word constructions add an addition layer of enjoyment, and it leads to new ways of thinking about language. China is also becoming an important producer of writing, television shows and movies, and those who acquire proficiency will have countless hours of enjoyable practice material to use. Few languages can provide the depth of Mandarin Chinese.
5. It Has Never Been Easier
Thanks to Unicode, reading Mandarin characters is now possible on most Internet browsers, and the Internet provides limitless material to use as practice. Online videos also provide great learning material, and there are countless tutorials online. The Internet provides another great resource: video chatting. There are countless people in China willing to provide help with learning Mandarin for those who help them learn to speak English, and those who are willing to provide help will find free and helpful support online.
All languages provide a window to other cultures, and learning any foreign language is enriching. Mandarin Chinese, however, provides an opportunity to learn much about one of history’s greatest civilizations and one of the future’s most powerful cultures. Learning any foreign language is difficult, and Mandarin Chinese presents a few unique challenges. For those willing to invest the time, however, the rewards will be tremendous.