How useful it is to learn Chinese
3 important reasons to be motivated: Why learn Chinese?
We all know that the question “why” brings us to the deepest motivation that permanently brings us where we want to be. Therefore, before you start with Chinese, it really makes sense to ask yourself the question: Why learn Chinese?
Only you can answer the answer to this question. I've come up with a number of answers, but ultimately you're the only one who knows exactly which reason is true. You may not find an answer to the question "Why learn Chinese", then you should think again about whether you want to.
Personally, from the perspective of a sinologist, I would have a few ideas why you COULD learn Chinese, but it doesn't mean that you “MUST” or “SHOULD” learn Chinese, because even if we all know how important English is, can not every person english. These reasons are so personal and unique that you can never generalize.
3 reasons to ask: "Why learn Chinese?"
For those who are short on time, the reasons are summarized as follows:
- Chinese is a lot easier than you think. This language is actually like baby language.
- Chinese broadens your horizons
- With Chinese you are connected to 1/4 of the human race that you hardly knew before.
Reason # 1: why learn Chinese?
Chinese is really a very simple language - it is, for native German speakers, a baby language.
I know it has become almost "common sense" that Chinese is difficult. If the first answer was "Why learn Chinese" because Chinese is easy - you would think I'm crazy.
It's because language learning itself doesn't have a long history. And systematic methods for certain native speakers to learn a certain other language are hardly available at the moment. Regardless of which language school you choose, in most cases you are dependent on your own “language talent”.
But what exactly is a “language talent”? For most Indo-European native speakers, this is nothing more than an instinct with which one tries to apply the experience of one's own mother tongue to another language.
Therefore, we don't actually learn French, English or Spanish much differently than if we were to learn German. Because these work so similarly that you can “guess” a lot.
The other day I met someone who told me that his “secret weapon” is to learn a sentence really well so that he can conjugate similarly every time he learns new sentences - and that is what he intends to do with Chinese. What he doesn't know: He actually assumes that “all” languages are conjugating, while conjugation only exist in most Indo-European languages. Just like that, terms like singular, plural, tenses, cases ... are not available in every language - for example in Chinese.
If you go after that, Chinese is really “difficult” because Chinese has very little resemblance to German or any other Indo-European language.
But if you break free from your old habits and look at Chinese a little more “neutrally”, you will quickly find that Chinese is a very simple language. Because Chinese has no grammar - none that you know as grammar.
That means: conjugation, cases, singular / plural, tenses ... do not exist in Chinese. In Chinese, words are simply put one after the other.
“I eat a piece of apple” means: I eat an apple.
“I eat a piece of apple” means: an apple eats me.
There are also no past tenses, you simply insert a time in a sentence that is in the past to express the past:
I eat a piece of apple yesterday.
Singular and plural also simply work with numbers, e.g. if there are two apples in front of us, then there are two “apples”. Why should you change “apple” when you already know there are two?
From that point of view, Chinese is really a very simple language. Word formation is just as simple: Chinese is itself the Latin for many Asian languages, with the difference that Chinese is still alive. That means everyone can freely invent words because the root of language is still vitally changing and growing in society every day.
Reason # 2: WHY LEARN CHINESE?
Chinese broadens your horizons
If you imagined that you had a TARDIS like the Doctor Who and could fly into the past of mankind, where would you go?
I know that I want to fly to the 8th century, the Tang Dynasty of China, to Chang'an, today's Xi'an, the capital of China in the Tang Dynasty.
Almost everyone knows by now that Chinese culture is one of the oldest cultures in the world. And Chang’an was already a city of millions in the 8th century, with over 80 embassies from other countries and over 100,000 inhabitants with a migration background. A world metropolis in medieval times.
But that's not the only reason why I would fly there - because at that time Baghdad is just as exciting a city, with a long history and an ancient culture.
An even more important reason to go there is: With my Chinese, I would still be able to communicate with the people there: Sure, dialects and pronunciations could create obstacles, but Chinese is the only language in the world that Since its creation in the 11th century BC to this day it has been carried on and preserved. In the 3rd century BC, Qin Shihuang (the first emperor of China) united the script, measurements, weight and currency, and all but the currency have survived to this day. * The script in particular is almost 60 years ago, except for small changes remained identical.
This means that when you learn Chinese, you get to know a part of a living and ancient culture that transmits part of its thousands of years of history through the language. You would not only expand in a vertical area, but also in a horizontal area. How cool is that?
Reason # 3: WHY LEARN CHINESE?
With Chinese you are connected to 1/4 of the human race that you hardly knew before.
It is debatable whether it would be “better” to stay in one's own world. In any case, I am one who likes to leave this world to get to know other worlds.
If you're someone like that, Chinese would help you.
We, the modern people, are all consumers of modern media. We live in the information world every day, while at the same time we don't really have many opportunities to hear other opinions.
And if you believe that you are well supplied with German-language and English-language news, films, books, stories and cultures and are happy with it, then it doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense that you start with Chinese or completely different languages. Perhaps you know Sheldon Cooper's saying from The Big Bang Theory: "It's called comfort zone for a reason." and that's not necessarily bad.
But a person only lives once. We live in a time that has never been before: For the first time we were able to get to almost every corner of the world with incredibly little resources and effort and experience and write new stories ourselves. And I personally find it a great enrichment if you would get to know the Chinese world.
Because China is not just an exciting country because of its culture and history. It is also one of the most exciting countries in the world because of its presence.
A few days ago I read a message that a “retro radio” in China made headlines in China's crowd-funding industry, especially winning the hearts of the 1990s. That is, “children” who are 10 years younger than me!
I suddenly realized that I had lived through the time when we didn't have a radio.
I am 33 years old, for 20 years in China I experienced how rapidly a world could change in the last 20 years:
- When I was 3 there was only electricity in the city. When I visited my maternal grandparents in the country in 1987, there wasn't a single lightbulb there.
- In 1987 we got our first refrigerator. Then came all the small household appliances such as rice cookers and kettles.
- In 1988 we had our first television set - and that in color, I only saw black and white later with relatives in the country.
- In 1990 my parents bought the first photo camera. That year I had my first sip of Coca Cola.
- In 1992 my parents bought a video recorder - a sensation in our school where we lived. (My parents were both teachers there).
- In 1994 we had a phone at home.
- In 1995 we bought a VCD player. 1996 Karaoke machines, microphones and speakers, and a refrigerator with double doors.
- I went online in 1997 and had my first email address.
- In 2000 I had my first cell phone and my parents are both online and still have e-mail, OICQ, Wechat and both run their own blogs.
- In 2008 I had my first smart phone in Germany
- In 2010 my mother had her first smart phone.
- In 2013 she registered with Wechat, in that year she also became a loyal customer of Alipay and paid her electricity and gas bills almost exclusively with her mobile phone. She has never owned a credit card, but she can no longer imagine her life without mobile payment.
- In 2015 she became a loyal customer of Didi Kuaiche (similar to Uber) and Xiaozhu Duanzu (Chinese Airbnb). She only goes to the supermarket if the offers there are even better than the online supermarkets. And when she goes to the doctor, she makes an appointment on her cell phone.
And when I'm in China today - like e.g. Last year, I had to find out that I can no longer go along with this digitization. Sometimes I'm not even as fit as my mother, let alone my fellow students from university.
Isn't it incredibly exciting that a country has seen such changes in the last 30 years?
I was lucky enough to see it happen. You can do it too - and yes, it is still far from too late to get to know this country in depth, in your own perception, not from the stories of others, not from books, not with another language, but there, in Chinese, today.
And, did you find your reasons for the question "Why learn Chinese"?
* At the beginning of the 20th century, China introduced modernization because of the colony history. However, the units of measure and weight are well known from earlier times, even if citizens nowadays use other units, they still know them very well.
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