How to Learn Chinese in 6 Months – Reader Comment
For the benefit of the readers of this blog, I’m posting a poignant comment sent in as a response to the post on learning Chinese in 6 months. It helps to provide a additional perspective on foreign language learning of Chinese:
Truett Black said...
I've studied and taught Mandarin for more than 20 years. I am a Chinese to English translator and interpreter and have done business in greater China for the past fifteen years. I live in Taiwan and Mandarin is my daily language of commerce.
I can say, with absolute certainty, that a native English speaker could achieve only marginal fluency in Mandarin in 6 months, but nothing more. You may be able to hold a very simple conversation, but you will not be able to do anything really useful with the language (e.g. conduct a business meeting, make a telephone call) until you've studied it and used it on a daily basis for about a year.
There are several problems with learning Mandarin to communicate in Mandarin fluently (e.g. grammar, tones, writing). All can be overcome, but not in six months.
If an executive wants to learn some basic Mandarin prior to coming overseas, I'm all for it, but he won't make much progress until he/she is actually living among Chinese speakers.
Sent in on October 18, 2008 at 11:41 AM
More on the difficulties and cultural aspects of learning the Chinese Lingua Franca are available at: