Mandarin is a notoriously difficult language to learn — a labyrinth of semantic tones, elaborate characters and obscure idiomatic phrases. And in China, a land of infinite linguistic diversity, the government has spent decades struggling to unify the country under that one language, not without some controversy.
Chinese tourists rank first in the world, and many foreign businessmen have begun to learn Mandarin. Luckily for them (and you, perhaps), a book named “50 Sentences of Business Chinese” has started circulating on the Internet, and Mandarin learners are finding it particularly helpful given how difficult studying Chinese can be.
50 Sentences of Business Chinese
You've probably heard somewhere before that Mandarin is the “hardest” language in the world. There is a seemingly endless amount of information on the web describing the “formidable” and “daunting” task of getting anywhere with Mandarin, which discourages many aspiring learners.
However, by what standards should we consider Chinese the hardest language?
Let's face it: if you are not a native Chinese person, you probably think that Mandarin is a really hard language to learn. Actually, you probably don't even question it... It seems to be a kind of global consensus that if you are going to learn a new language, Mandarin is one of the toughest.
Mandarin simply looks and sounds so different from English.
The idea that Mandarin - written and spoken - are very different from English has influenced how Mandarin has been taught to non-Chinese learners.
Two of the biggest myths about Mandarin are: 1) Mandarin has tones that English doesn’t, and 2) in order to learn Mandarin, you have to learn all those weird Chinese characters which, to most people, just look like a bunch of random lines.
In practice, learning Mandarin isn't as hard as it seems. In fact, most of these assumptions are based on the way a scholar would approach learning the language, rather than ways that suit most people's real-life learning objectives.