With China becoming a worldwide superpower in business and tourism now has never been a better time to embrace this country's culture and language for potential careers and for social pleasures. How do you get started? Let's take a look.
Is Chinese too difficult?
For many citizens of European countries and from the Western world learning Mandarin seems impossible. Learning a new language is hard enough let alone having to understand tones and a completely different alphabet than we are used to.
But you must look at it from the other side. From Asian cultures learning a European language like English or German, they have the same problem and challenges but they learn and study and become fluent.
You can too, take on something that is hard and very alien to your norm and you will surprise yourself at what you can achieve.
Chinese culture is rich and fascinating and when I decided to study more about Chinese culture it started opening my mind to the language more and more because suddenly I realized it is not alien or strange at all. It becomes a part of your thinking and life. You start to feel natural the more you discover and instead of having the dread of the unknown and scared to fail you start to embrace the culture and language hand in hand.
Two major difficulties that we find when learning Mandarin is the necessity to learn Chinese characters and the four tones in Mandarin can be quite confusing at first and rather mind-blowing in my case.
By immersing yourself with audio content that is a little simpler than most dialogue this will help your ear even before studying the Chinese characters.
By reading the Romanized version Pinyin this will give you exposure to the sounds of words and that along with listening to good audio content will help you when you jump into learning the characters and pronunciations.
The Chinese Characters
Chinese characters consist of some components which represent a meaning like telling a story. Each meaning will give a suggestion to the sound of the character. Obviously, this takes time to recognize, and sometimes it is not always so simple or even reliable but it is a good base to start off when learning.
A common question people ask me is if it is better to study simplified characters or traditional characters when just starting out. My first response will always be it depends on where in China you plan on visiting, living, or working. What do you need to learn the language for or what are your motivations?
If you are going to be living and working in Mainland China you should learn simplified. The majority of Chinese people in the world use the simplified system and it will put you in good stead for your future in China and learning the language.
But if your company, for example, is based in Taiwan or Hong Kong I would definitely recommend you to learn traditional characters in these environments.
Chinese Ethnic Groups
The Chinese Government actually has 56 recognized ethnic groups but 92 percent of the total of China is made up of the Han ethnicity group.
With the Chinese population around 1.3 billion people, it is important to realize that within each ethnic group has its own social customers, dress, language, and social customs.
Chinese Culture & Family
If you plan on living and working in China it is nice to know how important family life and family members are to the Chinese people. You may think this would be an obvious statement as all countries and people love their families. However just like Italian culture the Chinese go above and beyond to look after their elders and make the family name and honor proudly.
Most families in China focus on the youngest children and the whole community is built around then and focusing on their needs. Parents, grandparents, children 3 different generations tend to all live together and many also work in family businesses together, passing it onto the next generation.
Festivals and celebrations of this unity are extremely important and bring extended family gatherings a time to spend even more time together and enjoy the love and atmosphere of being happy, healthy and well.
Get learning so you will be ready to jump into some of these celebrations and dramatic Chinese festivals and be able to communicate with the locals.
If you want to immerse yourself into this beautiful language please click to enquire now.