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Can anyone learn Chinese?

Nowadays, Chinese is the mother language of nearly 1/4 of the world’s population, and Chinese speakers spread throughout the 5 continents. Hence the increasing interest in learning how to speak Mandarin Chinese. However, this is easier said than done. John Padsen, Shanghai-based linguist and founder of AllSet Learning says that learning Chinese is one of the hardest things he has ever done. In his blog at sinosplice.com, Mr Padsen claims that:

“the crux of the difficulty of learning Chinese and many other worthwhile skills is the sheer frustration of the endeavor, and the ever-present fear that one is attempting the impossible”

I am a beginning Chinese learner, and I totally agree with him. The learning curve is brutal for beginners, and this is utterly frustrating. Although I have spent many hours memorizing characters and practicing pronunciation, at this point mastering Mandarin seems like a utopian dream to me.

But not everyone agrees with this perspective. Steven Daniels, fluent Mandarin speaker and collaborator of different specialized publications believes that with the adequate mindset, anyone can successfully learn Chinese. He has often discussed this topic at lingomi.com.

Mr Daniels might have a point there, but I still think that learning Chinese is a difficult and time-consuming process. However, it is also a fascinating language and it is definitely worth the time I am spending on it.

In any case, learning a new language, especially Chinese, can represent a challenge for anyone. But challenges often make one’s life more interesting, so I strongly recommend it to all who have the curiosity. It might seem impossible at the beginning, but don’t give up!


Categories: Chinese Language
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