Chinese is one of five languages which is most difficult to learn for westerners. But why is this the case?
- Strokes instead of letters: A word is formed of 1-3 characters, each consisting of 10 strokes on an average while characters do not represent sounds. If a character is unknown, its pronunciation is unknow as well.
- Pronunciation: Everything sounds similar! Manadrin has 40 times fewer sound combinations than English. Sounds used in Chinese are unique from other languages (chi, zhi, ji, qui, chui, etc.).
- Meaning: It’s difficult to grasp word meanings Many Chinese words can’t be directly translated to English. A word may have multiple meanings or change its meaning based on successor or predecessor words. For example: ‘laugh out loud’ means the same as ‘smile’ in Chinese.
As with most things in life to reap big rewards big effort is needed. Learning Chinese makes you smart!
According to research in brain science, it has been discovered learning Chinese makes you smart. Mastering the characters and pronunciation in Chinese requires brain functions that otherwise would lie fallow.
As your brain might think, when learning Chinese you become a child again. You can’t build on previous knowledge such as the alphabet or familiar sounds. Instead your brain has to establish completely new processes and connections from scratch, like for example linking the stroke combinations of a character to a visual image.
In other words, when learning Chinese you tap into new areas of your brain power that boost your creativity, concentration skills and visualisation skills. That’s why many seniors have started to learn Chinese – not primarily to enhance their CV but to train their brain and have fun.
Learning Chinese opens new doors!
China is the world’s 2nd largest economy, the biggest exporter and the fastest-growing consumer market. To achieve this China has undertaken much effort to embed herself in the world and communicate with it. For example, past few decades Chinese people started to learn English in kindergarten. On the other hand, the West has only started to take interest in the Chinese language very recently.
To communicate effectively with China means that their people, culture and markets are suddenly also accessible to you. You can be a connector from the West to bring two distinct worlds closer together.