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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chinese is Easier to Learn than Other Languages?

There is a wide belief among the Western world that the Chinese language is one of the more difficult languages to learn. Understandably so, because the Chinese sounds and tones are considerably different from other Romanized language that Westerners are used to. If English is your primary language and you attempt to learn other Romanized languages, such as French or Spanish for example, there will inevitably be a lot of cues in spelling or sound that will enhance the memory, making the second language easier to remember.

Ms. Wendy Lin, one of our favorite textbook authors over here at ChildBook, will beg to disagree that the Chinese language is more difficult to learn. She reminds learning Chinese is just like learning any other language. Like any language, Chinese has its easy and hard parts to learn. But for today, let us look at why Chinese is also easy to learn:

Chinese is easy to learn because:
  1. Verbs do not need to have plenty of tenses. Chinese people would say: “I buy apples last week.” And “I buy apples tomorrow.”
  2. Nouns are not singular or plural. “One pen” and “Ten pen” are both correct.
  3. Gender is not used in spoken Chinese, unlike in English, French and other Western languages.
  4. One character could stand for multiple English words. For example, the animals in the Chinese zodiac are represented in Chinese with only one character, while in English, each animal in the Zodiac has its own separate name.
  5. It is easy to learn numbers, months, dates and weekdays. To count to 99 in Chinese, you only need to learn the numbers 1 to 10. The rest are combinations of 1 to 10. For dates, you need to learn the character for month, add to the numbers 1 to 12, and you will be able to refer to all 12 months of the year. It is the same for “day” or “weekday”.
  6. To be able to ask questions, the structure is the same for the regular sentence, you just have to add one suitable question word. For example, add “ma” to make a sentence into a question that requires the answer “yes” or “no”. There are more question words that can be inserted into a declarative sentence that will convert the sentence into a question.

To see more study aids that help make learning Chinese easy, memorable and sustainable, do see Ms. Wendy Lin’s series of materials at ChildBook: “Practical Chinese Textbook Series”, “Daily Chinese”, “Learning Chinese Coloring and Activity Book”, “Practical Chinese Learning Games 10 in 1” and “Games for Learning Chinese.”

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Blogger Matthew said...

I'd agree that Chinese is probably easier for children to learn. It is much more difficult for adults.

Not sure how easy it is to teach kids the characters though...even Chinese kids take a long time to learn that.

August 20, 2009 at 7:37 AM  

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