We all know that Chinese is ‘the hardest language to learn in the world’ (poppycock!). What is the tricky part about it really?
Is it that it’s so “foreign”? Is it that it’s illogical? Is it that it’s technically more difficult to understand? Nope. It’s the map. “Cartographers” have struggled mightily to map the landscape of Mandarin Chinese correctly.
If you want to know how to learn Chinese language without giving in to the narrative that it’s too challenging, you’re going to have to throw out some old ideas. In the same way, we don’t still use the maps the first cartographers made, neither should we continue to follow traditional methods of learning Mandarin. It only takes a few days in a conventional Mandarin class to feel for yourself just how boring it can be.
Analysis is Not How to Learn Chinese Language
To give the devil its due, traditional methods are attempting to be scientific. There is a lot you will learn in a conventional Mandarin classroom that is true, but it’s true in an educational context whose underlying premises are wrong.
For example, let’s look at the three words 盯 dīng, 瞪 dèng, and 凝视 níngshì. All of these mean “to stare,” but each contains a different emotional context (盯 general starting, 瞪 angry glare, 凝视 to gaze with awe). There are two ways to approach this:
- Tell You
- Show You
Guess which one we advocate? 😉
How to Learn Chinese Language? Show, Don’t Tell
Language Acquisition is one of the few disciplines where deep analysis can hurt your acquisition. Analytical thinking is fantasticamazing for delving deeper into mathematics, physics, engineering, etc., academic disciplines. PROBLEM: Language acquisition isn’t an academic discipline (shocker). If it were, children wouldn’t be able to speak until they’ve academically disciplined themselves in a classroom.
If we were to tell you the differences between 盯，瞪 & 凝视 with the reminder that ‘this is going to be on the test,’ then hey, you’ll likely pass the test. However, if you are reading a story where the characters are staring (盯) at a person giving a speech when suddenly a heckler interrupts the speech causing people to glare (瞪) at him you’ll get the idea without needing to activate your analytical mind. The unconscious mind is far more powerful than the conscious mind, so let the elephant do the heavy lifting .
Foundation Building is the Challenge
If you want to know how to learn Chinese language, you must recognize that the most challenging part is the beginning. They don’t even use an alphabet for heck’s sake! It’s best to sink into “beginner’s mind”, while also reminding yourself that your persistence will be rewarded not only because almost all persistence is rewarded but also because Mandarin Chinese is, in reality, and extraordinarily logical language. Consequently, if you spend the requisite time focusing on characters, it will be a delightful treat when vocabulary and grammar acquisition provides a much simpler challenge.
Mapping Mandarin is our entire goal, hence the Mandarin Blueprint name (metaphors officially mixed!). As a result, we released our full Pronunciation Course and the first 80+ lessons of our patent-pending character, vocabulary and grammar course. The Mandarin Blueprint Method free of charge. If you pick up the right map early, you still need to climb the mountain, but you can do so with confidence you not only won’t get lost but will also have an advantage over all those chumps still using the outdated map.