Handy Things to Know When Deciding to Study Chinese Language
Ever thought of studying a foreign language? Find out what advantages you'll get knowing some Chinese. Would like to warn you first that I'm not an expert in Chinese language yet, and will be expressing views from the angle of a passionate amateur who had lived in China and is still studying the language of this amazing and ancient civilization.
Busting the myth that Chinese language is too complicated to learn
Recent studies show that people who speak more than one language have higher IQ scores because of an increased number of neuron connections in their brain. If you haven’t yet decided which foreign language to study, think about Chinese. It might sound strange, but if you ask any student who’s been studying this language as a foreign one – they will tell you that Chinese is easy and fun. They would say so not to make fun of you, and not because of being sarcastic. It really is so. Have a look at the below features of Chinese which make it easier comparing to other languages:
1) Grammar. In terms of grammar – Chinese language is intuitively understandable. In fact you don’t have to think much about how to say what you want as long as you know some general guidelines. You won’t find any complicated time forms, familiar to you from English, nor will be there any noun cases, conjunctions or sophisticated endings and suffixes which are to be found in Russian and German.
2) Vocabulary. Most words of Chinese language are composed of one or two syllables. Complex words are composed of a number of intuitively understandable words which are easy to remember. For example: the word “computer” would consist of two words “Dian nao” which if translated separately would literally mean: “electric brain”.
On the other hand, there are also some features of Chinese which make it hard to learn by foreigners:
1) Chinese Characters. The whole language consists of more than 68,000 characters. However, the good news is – to read the newspapers or chat with people you would need to know ess than 3,000. The most popular characters are grouped into so called “HSK” lists which you can find online.
2) Pronunciation. As you may know, Chinese language has five tones (high, high rising, low falling-rising, high falling, high falling and neutral). For example if you say “ma”, depending on the tone you would use, the pronounced work might mean “linen, horse, scold “or “a question particle”
3) Writing. Ever wondered how a Chinese computer keyboard looks like? Well, you’ll be surprised, but it is just like yours. But how do Chinese input text? Well there are many tools for that, some of them are embedded into operation systems. All you need to do is to write the pronunciation of the word in Latin letters, followed by a digit indicating the tone, and the computer would automatically change the whole combination into a proper Chinese character. Of course a good knowledge of pronunciation is a must for that. The Latin based alphabet is called “Pinyin”.
Sounds like a challenge, ha? But think about all advantages: you’ll be able to talk to 1,2 billion people on Earth (even though people on China speak on several dialects of Chinese, the Mandarin dialect is considered as standard and is taught at schools, so most people would understand if you address them in Mandarin). Also, knowledge of Chinese is a great thing to add to your resume, as more and more business connections are being established between the East and the West.