Why Is Chinese So Hard To Learn?

Chinese is notoriously hard to learn, and with good reason. It is the bane of many Asian students, who spend day and night studying it. Likewise, many westerners and foreigners alike struggle to comprehend the language, even after months and months of constant learning. But why is it so? Why is Chinese so hard to learn? In this article, we shall discuss the possible reasons behind this phenomenon. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter! Without further ado, let’s begin.

#1: High Stroke Count Per Character

Source: https://www.thatsmags.com/china/post/13288/most-complicated-chinese-characters

One aspect of Chinese that drives many crazy is the number of strokes required to write a single character. Each Chinese character has an average of 12 strokes, making it more complicated than its English counterparts. because of the complicated nature of each character, many struggle to write its characters when first starting out. Furthermore, the Chinese language has 8105 unique characters! Compared to the English’s language mere 26 alphabets, Chinese is a monster. It is exactly because of this that learning new words in Chinese is difficult and require a higher form of memory. Not convinced? The above image contains one of the most complicated characters in the Chinese language. Try writing that.

#2: Words Can Have Vague And Numerous Meanings

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A single character in Chinese may have different meanings, many of which might be vague and hard to apply. Unlike that of English, many Chinese words do not have a direct meaning and may only be used in certain conditions. This makes it very difficult for a learner or beginner to differentiate when to use a word and when not to do so. Thus, phrasing and conjugating words become challenging and require much skill to accomplish. For example, the phrase “反弹” means rebound. Yes, you might think that rebound only probably refers to the rebound of a credit card or basketball. However, “反弹” also can mean backlash or repercussions! As can be seen, Chinese words often have abstract meanings that can be hard to grasp.

#3: Words That Sound The Same Can Have Different Meanings

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This adds to the confusion of the Chinese language. Different characters with different strokes can sound the same! Yes, you read it correctly, many characters sound the same. As such, many phrases may sound identical and may be difficult to differentiate. Again, this makes conversation very difficult to conduct, as a listener might have to infer the phrase’s meaning by considering and analysing the immediate context of the conversation and the relevant sentence structures in which it is used in. This intuition is not so easy to pick up and it may take years before it clicks in your mind.

Conclusion

In short, Chinese proves to be a infamously difficult language to learn, not just because of its complexity, but also because of its unintuitive nature and heavy emphasis on memory. Of course, learning Chinese is not 100% rocket science and can be achieved. It would just take more time and effort to master compared to other languages. If you did enjoy this article, do consider giving it a like! Do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t done so! Thanks for reading!

Why Exams Are Useless

Exam” is a four-letter dirty word no student wants to hear. Ever since its inception, it has been associated with stress and competition. Many students dread the daily trip to school all because of it. It’s also frightening to see the school curiculum revolving around exam preparation and nothing more. In my opinion, examinations themselves are not the problem as they also serve as a method for students to gauge their learning ability. What renders exams useless is the way society views exams. To most people, grades are all there is to an exam and failure is not an option. As a result, many take an exam for the sake of taking it or just to attain a grade to show off to everyone. As result, exams become “do-or-die” as students feel stressed due to the fear of failure and humiliation. This completely defeats the purpose of examinations. In this article, I will discuss how and why exams have become useless in the modern world. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to the newsletter!

Reason #1: Unnecessary Stress

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Because of the way society views examinations, students are pressured to excel and succeed. It’s now all about the ‘A+’ on the report card and nothing more. In the mind of a student, his/her success is wholly dependent on his/her educational qualifications. As a result, many students go to extreme measures just to obtain a desired grade. This includes forgoing sleep, long study hours and endless tuition classes. Instead of allowing students to enhance their learning, examinations now do more damage to their mental and physical wellbeing. Only if society learns not to treat failure as the end can learning be possible. Schools should also not focus solely on exam preparation and cut down on the content tested at one time.

Reason #2: The Joy of Learning is Taken Away

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Students are now given piles and piles of homework, forced to study many subjects and take exams they clearly dread. Learning now becomes confined to mere memory, answering techniques and essay writing skills. Instead of cultivating students who are attuned to the world and are enthusiastic to learn, schools produce students who have been trained to become answering machines in every respect – “If A, then B; if question asks X, I give Y.” For the joy of learning to be present in the classroom and beyond, society needs to place less emphasis on the importance of academic qualifications and a person’s learning abilities. Now, students memorize heaps of knowledge just to regurgitate it on the exam paper. In fact, most students forget all the knowledge they have learnt right after an exam and do not follow up on it, unless a future exam requires it. Evidently, most students of the modern world do not possess curiosity or the desire for learning. If you would like to learn more about the importance of curiosity and how it is relevant in the modern world, check out my article at https://bestofwrite.com/2020/12/07/the-importance-of-curiosity/.

Reason #3: Exams Become a Race to the Top

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Instead of learning for themselves, students now, in a sense, learn for others. Due to the fact that society places so much emphasis on academic success, exams become a platform to show off their intellectual prowess. Students work themselves to the bone just to beat each other and become the best among their peers. Learning now becomes all about winning. Because of this, those at the top start to become arrogant while those who are struggling at the bottom are looked down on. The truth is, life is not all about winning or losing. It is better to be at the bottom and be contented than be at the top and be unhappy. All men strive for happiness, do they not? There is no point in learning if it brings no happiness. Rather than focusing on having their students achieve academic excellence, schools should focus on cultivating the joy of learning in students. It is better to have average but enthusiastic and happy students rather than disgruntled and insecure students who have ‘A+’s everywhere.