Five Reasons To Improve Your Mandarin

Liu-Wen-Bazaar-China-Sun-Jun-01-620x398It is New Zealand Chinese Language Week 2017 from 16-22 October, which is a initiative aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to discover more about the Chinese language and culture. There are many reasons why it’s great to learn or improve your Mandarin, as not only is it one of the most beautiful languages, but it is also the most widely spoken language in the world. It is estimated that 1 in 7 people in the world can speak Mandarin, which makes it one of the top languages (as well as English and Spanish) used to communicate. It is the official language in China, Taiwan and Singapore. However, it is also spoken in various other countries around the world.

It is a fun language to learn. Whether you are learning it for the first time, or are improving your language skills, it’s undeniably a fun and interesting language to speak and write. You can also discover all the films, books, music and art work that are in Chinese. Mandarin is also a great language to have while you are travelling to many Asian countries, plus it can be incredibly rewarding once you begin to recognize more and more characters. It is a pictorial language which makes it even more interesting to learn.

Mandarin is a great skill to have. It’s increasingly becoming valuable to be fluent in Mandarin and English, and it can be one of the things that are recognised by employers. It is good to find opportunities to speak, listen, read and write in Chinese as often as you can, in order to improve your vocabulary. Chinese is written using iconographic characters rather than letters. These characters developed out of cave paintings, which require an incredible amount of creative skill to be written.

It builds your memorization skills. There are over 100,000 Chinese characters, but the average speaker will only need to use 2,000-3,000 (please correct me if that sounds inaccurate). Chinese speakers use both side of the brains, as there are several differences such as tones and characters. When you improve your Chinese, it can also improve your visual recognition and your motor skills. Chinese is a tonal language, where each words definition can change based on the intonation. Similarly to music, Mandarin requires speakers to engage the right and left sides of their brains.

It allows you to communicate with more people. There are over a billion Mandarin Chinese speakers. It is a wonderful opportunity to widen your ability to communicate with more people. An example is when I am walking in University, every few people I walk pass will be speaking Mandarin. It builds a sense of connection, as well as an ability to engage. It is also beneficial when you are travelling or when you are interacting with people who are more fluent in Mandarin than English.

It makes you grow a greater respect for your culture. China has a rich history that goes back over 5,000 years of history and when you were growing up, you would of heard the classic Chinese children stories and wisdom of Confucius from you parents.  Understanding the language, allows you to understand more and more of the culture. You can read and listen to books and films spoken in Mandarin, as well as widening your perception, thinking and knowledge. The grammatical structure, characters and choices of phrases and questions all allow us to gain a better understanding of Chinese culture.

Photography of Liu Wen by Sun Jun for Harpers Bazaar China

5 thoughts on “Five Reasons To Improve Your Mandarin

  1. This is very true. I’ve decided to do a minor in Chinese simply because I realized that I appreciate and enjoy the process of learning a language. And the more I learn about Chinese, the more I know about where my country’s origins, where my family comes from, the difference in the way of expression relative to other (Western) languages, and the way language can shape your thought.

  2. That’s wonderful to hear! I remember when I was younger, I was quite stubborn and didn’t make as much effort as I should of to learn to read and write Chinese, but now a little older I realise how important it is.

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