Why learn Chinese the hard way?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why you would want to learn Chinese the hard way, when having an easy way would be so much better.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to learn Chinese.

Which is not to say that learning Chinese is difficult (that’s a topic for another discussion), rather, that if you want to learn Chinese to a decent level, then you have to be prepared to put in hard work over a number of years.

Yes, years.

‘Learn Chinese in X months’ is going to be false for any value of X less than 24, and will probably be false for many people for any value less than 60.

You might disagree with that, after all, “learning Chinese to a decent level” means different things to different people, and if you are happy with being able to ask for directions, buy things at the market, recognise your favourite dishes on a menu, and make chit-chat about where you are from, what your favourite Chinese food is and confirm that yes, you can use chopsticks, then you probably don’t need to do much in the way of hard work, and it won’t take you years to reach that level.

This is a perfectly valid set of requirements for some people, and there’s nothing wrong if that is all you want to be able to do.

If however you aspire to be able to do most of the things you can do in your native language without your Chinese language skills (or lack of them) getting in the way, then you can’t achieve that level unless you’re willing to put in hard work over a number of years.

This site contains my thoughts about what is required to reach that level of proficiency, general musings on learning Chinese, as well as methods and techniques I have found useful in boosting my own Chinese - techniques that require you to put in hard work, but that pay dividends if you keep at them.

© Copyright 2021 Imron Alston