“Learning Chinese is hard” has seemingly become a popular world-wide catchphrase. So, is Chinese really that hard? Chinese Language professor Cao Xiuling from Jiangxi thinks that whether a language is hard or not depends on one’s personal experiences in study and communication. You should take all aspects into consideration before coming to a conclusion on the difficulty of the language. She also intoned that non-language factors can override language factors. Non-language factors include attitude, interest, and motivation, while language factors include grammar, sentences, pronunciation, and vocabulary. Many learners choose to learn Chinese for their love of China and its culture.
“Many people in our school are learning Chinese for different reasons. I tried to learn Chinese because I traveled there two years ago and had a fantastic time.” said Emily, who minored in Chinese at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Zheng Yuzhou, a Korean who studies in China and has participated in the second session of a Chinese Bridge Competition (a Chinese language competition) said: “I began to love China and wanted to learn Chinese after becoming interested in the Chinese TV series Princess Huan Zhu.” A Scottish student who was interviewed explained that : “Although it could be hard to learn Chinese characters, the picture-like characters are very interesting when you learn them one by one.”
As previously mentioned, non-language factors can override language factors in language learning. As long as you love to learn and want to learn, anything is possible. Interest should be the pre-requisite for almost all learners. Becky Wang, a senior Chinese teacher from eChineselearning.com (a premier online Mandarin Chinese school) said: “Interest is crucial to language learning. If you have passion to learn, difficulties can be overcome. Many of my students learn Chinese with passion. They learn quite well and make fast progress. Becky Wang’s student Jane described her experience of learning Chinese excitedly: “I was introduced to China through a Chinese friend , and I soon fell in love with it. Chinese is not hard to learn actually for it has its own order and is very interesting, from pinyin and tone to characters. And it is easier to pronounce Chinese vowels and consonants than to pronounce most European languages. As for the large quantity of Chinese characters, you should learn the most commonly used ones and most of them are picture-like characters, so it is quite easy and interesting to learn. Therefore, I think the claim ‘It is hard to learn Chinese’ is just an excuse not to learn and I fully intend to continue to deepen my understanding of Chinese .”