MandarinMorning ChineseSchool
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Chinese is not hard to learn
1. Chinese grammar is simple and flexible
In secondary school, many native English speakers are required to study a European second language, usually Spanish or French. Some of the earliest lessons in these languages involve filling out verb conjugation charts, memorizing genders for different words, and learning definite articles. None of which appear in Chinese!
Sure, there are ways to mark if an action is finished or if it’s repeating, but you’ll find no verb conjugation or tenses in Chinese. Simply state when an action has happened.
While there’s a logic to Chinese word order, spoken Chinese is more flexible. Even if you don’t say words in exactly the proper order, your sentence can still be understood.
2. Pinyin lets you pronounce everything
Pinyin is 100 percent phonetic.
Chinese also has very few sounds, especially compared to a language like English. With all possible combinations of initials and finals in pinyin, Chinese has only about 400 sounds. Add in the five tones, and you still only get 2,000 possible combinations. Conservative estimates for English conclude that we use over 10,000 different sounds in everyday usage.
Furthermore, pinyin allows people to type and text in Chinese without having to perfectly memorize every character. Few other languages can boast the ease of recognizing symbols, instead of having to struggle with spelling. And for those of you who think memorizing characters is too daunting – remember that even native speakers only use a few hundred on a daily basis.
3. Context clues let you “cheat”
As for rhythm, if you’d never seen the word before, could you guess its meaning from looking at the word? How about yùnlǜ(韵律) which means musical sound + law or structure. Even knowing only one of those characters gives you some ideas as to the meaning of the word. Language learners can hazard guesses about characters and be right a good percentage of the time. An oft-quoted example: the word for bottle-opener is simply (开瓶器kāi píng qì) is bottle + open + tool. When words like bottle-opener are used, many Chinese learners find themselves able to understand a new word the first time they hear it.