你好 “knee how”  (take a wild guess what this means)

“So you’re learning Chinese, it must be hard.”
“How can you read all those characters?”
“I keep hearing about all those complicated tones”

Speakcheats  Chinese is easy, you're just learning it wrong

Don’t make walls out of gateways

I’ve heard all of these excuses and more when I say Chinese is easy. Of the languages I’ve learned, 中文 “jong wen”, Chinese is by far the easiest I’ve come across.   Why you ask?

Well:

  • (Time)  Subject-Verb-Object grammar makes things simple.  It’s a way that English can make sentences, so that isn’t anything more than a poor excuse.
  • Compound nouns are very simple.  Ex:火 “hwo” (fire) + 山 “shan” ( mountain )= 火山 (volcano).  English does the same thing:  popcorn, firefighter, bathroom, etc.
  • But, but, but the characters, how will I ever learn all of them?  This is “ma” (horse).
    Wonder how to say  媽媽, 嗎, 瑪, 碼  these?  Does the right side look familiar?  In my experience, a lot of compound Chinese characters with two parts can be divided into the semantic(meaning) left side and the pronunciation right side. This makes it much simpler to learn than most people think.
  • Speaking of semantics, once you know the basic characters, you can develop a sprachgefühl( feel for the language) and figure out what a is trying to say. Ex: “new” means female. Now if we combine the last two points, what do you think 媽媽 means?  We have something female and sounds like “ma ma”.  Hmmm, I wonder…..
  • As for tones, English has them too. Ex: yes (neutral); yes?(rounded); yes! (rising); yes, but (falling);   Even though you are using the same word, notice how they don’t all sound the same, you can hear all four tones.

If these points don’t show how Chinese is easy, bring up other difficulties, and we’ll find ways to overcome them.

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