Learning the Language in China
The Chinese economy is growing and one of five people on Planet Earth speak Mandarin Chinese. Hence, learning the language is a great objective. Many people are put off learning Chinese because of the difficulties they associate with the language. However, it is not as difficult as many imagine. Here are some suggestions for how to approach and learn the language. The Chinese language simply needs to be approached with the right mind-set and determination to learn.
People are often worried about being able to write the characters. Although it is great to be able to read and write Chinese, it is not necessary to learn characters in order to be able to speak. In fact, many foreigners living in China speak excellent Chinese, but cannot read or write. Decide what your priorities are. If you want to become fluent and immerse yourself in Chinese characters, then you will need to learn them at some point. Otherwise, you can easily learn to speak Chinese without being able to read it.
Mandarin Chinese has four pitched tones and a “toneless” tone. The reason for having these tones is probably that the Chinese language has very few possible syllables - approximately 400 - while English has about 12,000. For this reason, there may be more homophonic words , words with the same sound expressing different meanings in Chinese than in most other languages. Apparently tones help the relatively small number of syllables to multiply and thereby alleviate but not completely solve the problem. Learning Chinese in context, therefore, is very important.