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Why Start Learning Chinese When You’re Young?

By Yann, published on 03/10/2018 We Love Prof - IN > Languages > Chinese > What Are the Advantages of Learning Chinese when You’re Young?

The Chinese language is pretty complicated. For one, it’s not even a single language but rather a massive group of related languages that are spoken by over a billion people. Within this group of languages, we find what most people (ourselves included) refer to when we talk about Chinese is Mandarin Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese is probably what most people are thinking of when they say Chinese. After all, with 960 million speakers, it’s the most common language spoken in the world. Of course, with 960 million different speakers, there are plenty of variations and people who speak one dialect mightn’t be able to understand a speaker of another at all!

However, there is a standardised form of Mandarin which is used by the Chinese government, taught in schools there, and is also the version of the language you will learn if you study “Chinese” or “Mandarin” in the UK.

Keep in mind, however, that in Hong Kong, Cantonese is far more common than Mandarin!

With so few primary schools in the UK offering Chinese lessons, it can be difficult to get a good level in the language before they leave obligatory education. Thus, learning a language like Mandarin, Russian, or Arabic, requires a lot of drive and a lot of effort.

In this article, we’re going to have a look at the advantages of learning Mandarin Chinese from a young age. In addition to being a huge economic power, China is also home to a rich and fascinating culture! There are plenty of good reasons to learn Chinese!

Learning Chinese: More Time Speaking Chinese

The biggest problem when learning a language isn’t a lack of motivation, it’s not having the time to learn one! Chinese is a pretty complicated language and learning how to read, write, and speak it can take a lot of effort!

Where do they speak Mandarin? Keep in mind that they don’t speak Mandarin everywhere in China. (Source: skeeze)

In order to achieve an intermediate level in Chinese, you need to practise for at least an hour each day for 3 years.

To learn Mandarin Chinese, you’ll probably need to take some lessons focusing on concepts such as:

  • Intonation in sentences
  • Chinese vocabulary
  • Appropriate greetings to use in different social situations

Learning during the day is better for memorising new concepts such as grammatical rules and new vocabulary. However, only kids and teenagers tend to be free during the day or in the afternoon. Children can start learning Chinese in classes from a young age. You can get Chinese lessons either from language schools, Chinese associations, or schools.

China’s known for more than just Chinese characters, it’s also home to a rich and diverse culture, famous philosophers like Confucius, and incredible monuments like the Great Wall of China. In fact, more and more young people are choosing to travel inside China in order to learn the language and immerse themselves in the language. It’s the best way to quickly learn a language and discover a new culture.

Stimulate their Creativity with Chinese

We have to say that Chinese since language and culture are linked, there’s a lot to be discovered. The artistic nature of Chinese writing lends itself to art and artistic kids will be fascinated by both Chinese and Chinese art. If they’re interested in it, they’ll learn to read and right in absolutely no time at all. This will also help them work on their memory, which is more difficult the older you get.

How long does it take a child to learn Mandarin? Children should be encouraged to explore the culture surrounding the language that they’re learning. (Source: PublicDomainPictures)

Chinese writing includes close to 60,000 characters! Even the greatest Chinese writers don’t know them all and only 3,000 are necessary on a daily basis.

Furthermore, psychologists agree that studying languages can stimulate a child’s creativity. You have to see Chinese traditional painting which brings together art and literature. Getting started with Chinese at a young age is a great way to introduce them to the culture.

Children will be fascinated by traditional Chinese painting. The most popular styles include:

  • Gongbi
  • Baimiao
  • Mogu
  • Xieyi
  • Shuimo

Some styles are better for younger artists to practise. A lot of young people also enjoy writing their name in Chinese with the help of a bilingual dictionary. Developing their creativity and getting them interested in the language is one of the biggest advantages of learning Chinese from a young age.

Why should you learn Chinese? The cuisine is as much a part of the culture as art and music. (Source: igorovsyannykov)

Develop Linguistic Reflexes by Practising Mandarin from a Young Age

Mandarin is one of the United Nations’ official languages, showing just how important it is. With 960 million speakers, more people speak Mandarin natively than any other language. For English speakers, Chinese is one of the more difficult languages to learn.

You need between 3 and 5 years of study to understand the basics of Chinese writing, reading, grammar, and conversation. On the other hand, mastering phonetic transcription or speaking can take a very long time. Starting from a young age will, therefore, give you more time to master these.

To learn to speak Chinese fluently, it’s better to do an intensive language exchange or language stay and immerse yourself in a Chinese-speaking community or stay with a Chinese-speaking family. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, you need to work on the spoken and written forms of the language in order to master it. Starting to learn Chinese before further education is a good way to master the language in a few years.

“It takes two years to learn to speak and sixty to learn to keep quiet quiet” – Ernest Hemingway

As we said, the Chinese language (of which Mandarin belongs to) is actually made up of many languages including Cantonese, Wu, and Ping. Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language and used in everyday life. These are a few things you should definitely know about Chinese:

  • It’s a tonal language.
  • It tends to be monosyllabic.
  • There are no conjugations.
  • It uses a lot of suffixes and particles.
  • Chinese is an SVO language, meaning subject-verb-object.

Learning more about the Chinese language and culture from a young age can give you a head start on learning the language.

Improve their Career Prospects by Learning Chinese at a Young Age

While the goal of learning a foreign language is often for travel, you can also use your linguistic skills professionally. That said, it’s rare for 14 or 15-year-olds to really have their entire career path laid out already.

Where can you learn Mandarin in China? If you want to speak Mandarin fluently, you should travel to China. (Source: schaerfsystem)

However, by starting with Chinese before they reach this age, they can familiarise themselves with the language and culture before they start their A Levels. There are 960 million native speakers, after all…

Did you know that in recent years, more students are opting to study Chinese at GCSE and A Level?

There are a number of ways for under-18s to learn Chinese:

  • Private Chinese tutorials
  • Online Chinese lessons via webcam
  • Free Chinese lessons provided by a Chinese association
  • Evening group classes at universities
  • Basic Chinese lessons

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius

To improve your level in Chinese, the best thing is to travel to China. There are summer camps for younger kids that blend sports and study. For older kids, there are language exchanges and language stays.

By doing all this before they reach 25, they’ll be well on their way to mastering the Chinese language.

More Information on Learning Chinese at a Young Age

Where Can You Learn Chinese While at School?

When it comes to schoolchildren learning Chinese, they can either attend private classes, join a Chinese association that provides classes, attend night classes for beginners at universities and other schools.

Whether you want to improve your speaking, prepare for an exam, learn pinyin, improve your pronunciation of the different tones, learn more about the language and culture, you can learn Chinese with the help of a private tutor, whatever your age.

Language learning is a lot easier when you have someone helping you, especially if they have an in-depth knowledge of the Chinese language and Chinese culture.

The best thing about learning how to speak Chinese with a private tutor is that they can tailor their lessons to you. When children learn Chinese in school, they learn in order to pass exams. While these exams do test reading, writing, listening, and speaking, they’re a one-size-fits-all approach to learning and if a child is interested in learning Chinese grammar, speaking conversational Chinese, or gaining fluency in their new language, their teacher at school can’t really stop the whole class to help them out with this. However, a tutor can!

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