Today my mate Nino at MKL wrote about difficulties while learning Chinese and he is asking his readers what difficulties they encountered learning Chinese. First I wanted to write a short comment there, but I guess it’s to much to summarize it in a short blog comment. So I take the freedom of writing a whole post.
During my study of Chinese I encountered a number of problems. I had certain problems in the beginning, that disappeared later and new problems which came up just recently.
At the beginning problems seemed small and motivation was high. However over time I wanted to say more complicated things including passive voice and conditional sentences. Until now these more advanced structures pose a real problem for me and I have not yet sliced through them. I wish I get through them eventually. The slow learning speed is really irritating and causes major headache for me.
School Chinese is not real Chinese. Before I went to China for the first time I had one year of evening school Chinese. And I could say so many things then. At least that is what I believed. Arriving in China was a shocking revelation. I was barely able to understand anything above Ni Hao. However with intensive exposure to the language on that trip I quickly became used to the local flavor of Mandarin Chinese.
Lacking learning material. Many Chinese textbooks are pretty boring compared to learning material in other languages. Why is that I don’t know. The stories are boring and remind me of the seriousness of a funeral speech. Maybe China is a very political country, but they could make an effort and add more fun to the Chinese textbooks. There is indeed material out there that is better and also incorporates more street language, but it takes time to find it. I’ve never written any book recommendations on this blog, but I think I have to do that to help my readers to find the gold nuggets in the worthless river sand. There are a few shiny pearls out there.
Native speakers who can only speak Chinese. While it is easy to find Chinese people here in Germany they motivation to talk Chinese with me is limited. They want to learn German and their German is better than my Chinese, so German is the natural language of choice. I wish there were Chinese people in Germany who cannot speak English and cannot speak German. That would make things easier for me.
Motivation. Motivation is a race for me that sometimes runs fast like a moonrocket, then moves as slowly as a frozen turtle. With the current outlook that I have to stay in Germany after my graduation for work my Motivation is at an all time low. For the last two weeks I didn’t even get my ass up to go to the evening course. This is a really sad story at the moment, but times can change quickly
Time. That is something we never have enough of. After my internship in China in spring/summer 2008 I really stepped up my efforts on my studies. At the same time I had less time for other things like learning Chinese. After that internship my studies became really important to me, so the Chinese learning had to suffer and still suffers because of this very reason.
That’s it so far from my personal perspective. Problems are many as you can see. But let’s not get distracted. China has a great present and future in terms of economics and women. There are many reasons to learn Chinese indeed. Let me add another appealing female reason at the end of this post. And don’t forget to check out the Learning Chinese difficulties post at MKL. Happy learning!