There are a few things you should know before learning Chinese. In fact, if you don’t pay attention here, you might start something you can’t finish or not start something perfect for you. You need to think about the effort required, what your goals are and So let’s get started.
Learning Chinese is Easy
We say this all of the time and it is true. The grammar is really simple. Chinese doesn’t have any articles. The nouns are just there. The nouns don’t have a gender. No memorizing der, die and das. The grammar is simple. The basic pattern is subject, verb and then object. If you want to ask a question, pop ma (嗎 or 吗) on the end. Your sentence is now a question.
Learning Chinese is Harder Than You Think
So now it gets confusing. I just said that learning Chinese is easy and I believe that it is. It is also hard, because it means changing your life. It means daily study. It means not doing something else and studying Chinese instead. You need to be prepared to really make an effort or you are wasting time.
One of the more difficult parts of studying Chinese can be the tones. Chinese is a tonal language which means that the tone you use when saying the word changes the meaning of the word. In English, we use tones to add emphasis and emotions to what we are saying. If we want to convey that we’re unsure that we’re saying something correctly, we raise the tone making it a question. This changes the meaning of the last word in the sentence.
You Need Goals
A project like learning Chinese requires a bit of management. Walk in with some goals in mind. Do you want to become an interpreter or do you simply want to learn how to greet people and say thank you. Think about this in advance and take a course that fits your needs. You can always change your mind.
When developing goals, consider how important reading and writing are for you. If you plan on living in Beijing and Shanghai, you probably don’t need to learn characters to survive. If you will live in a small town, then you may want to memorize some basic characters. On the other hand, if you plan on translating legal documents, you really need a solid plan to memorize several thousand characters.