The high price of Mandarin Learning


Mandarin, like learning any language takes work, perseverance, sometimes money and most importantly practice. While many people like to think about what it cost to learn Mandarin, there are better questions. Like what is it worth to learn Mandarin?

Mandarin is spoken by nearly 1 billion people in some form or another. Standard Mandarin is the official language of the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China, and Singapore. Just the great number of people is a great reason to learn Mandarin.

Another reason to learn Mandarin is it is the most accessible of all the tonal languages. Other tonal languages do not have as many speakers and therefore will not have as many resources. Most people think about money when they think about learning a language, especially when language learning software costs so much. The beautiful thing about the internet age is that many resources can be found cheap or even free online. The last thing you should consider when deciding to learn Mandarin, or any language, is money. If you don’t have the money to take a course, maybe you can do some tutorials online and switch your shopping to a store owned by a Mandarin speaker. Many times ethnic stores have deals on spices, gluten free, and other ingredients that regular stores don’t.

But no, the high price of Mandarin learning is the fact that it is going to change you, and to learn it well will change you more than a half-hearted attempt. Every time you learn a new language, you are adjusting the way you see things, and learning Mandarin puts you in touch with one of the oldest cultures on Earth, and connects you to the thought processes and speech habits of 950 Million people.

Mandarin Learning takes work. Stretching your mind to enter in new words for pot, plant, one, two, three, or running demands something of you that you haven’t done in years, unless you are under 6 years old. Language learning is a holistic learning experience when done well and Mandarin is no exception.

As an English speaker, you will also have to add entire categories to the way you think about things. Is my tone right (hint: pretend your teacher/language partner is singing, and try to sing Chinese at the start)? Is this someone I use a high greeting to (strangers, older people, bosses, and such), or one of the other varieties? Many other languages have different vocabulary and grammar depending on who is talking and who they are talking to. One of my college professors learned a language similar to Mandarin, and at the end of 2 years he was fluent, but everyone told him he spoke the girl’s version.

The high cost of learning Mandarin is that you are going to grow. You are going to be changed. You are going to have to stretch your imagination, and your understanding of what you know, to include things you haven’t thought of before. But the cost is worth it. So spend the sweat, the time and the energy, and enjoy the rich fruits of learning Mandarin!

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