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Why learning Chinese is so hard and how I’m (trying to overcome)

Date: Thursday 29th September

Location: FCO Airport (Terminal 3)

Today it was my final day in Rome. To be frank - I'm going to miss the lasagna, the rich accent of Italian locals and the scenery. The landscape is breathtaking; the Wizard of Oz like trees and marble pathways make you feel like you're part of game of Thrones. The pride of the city will never leave me, the remarkable street culture melanates your skin like a good beach day. Five out of five stars for this solo trip.

I visited the Colloseum; an oval amphitheater in the centre of Rome; it is the largest of its kind. It had me reflecting on what it means to 'fight' - for what you want (in my case, it's fighting to understand Mandarin.)

Why am I finding it so hard?

I should really cut myself some slack; it is only day three after all. The challenge is not so much understanding subjects: (you 你, me 我, they 他们, he 他 or she 她) nor is it difficult understanding and learning objects like: phone 手机, bag 包 or watch 手表; it's the grammar that is throwing my motivation into the dirt.

I am not one to give up easily; I've made a commitment - to myself, to you... to us. But if I am going to get past this, I've concluded I need two things:

  1. Spend a tonne of time revising the grammar over and over again.

  2. Get a tutor, partly to convince me learning this language is worth doing when I don't feel like it, and secondly, to help me better understand Chinese grammar.

Why is Chinese grammar so hard?

Some of it is completely different to English.

For example: using '几' the structure is: subject + verb + 几 +measure word +noun.

It's meant to be used used to replace the answer. For example:

你有几个孩子?equates to: you have (how many) kids? Or, how many kids do you have?

It's not that it's hard, it's just hard to remember to add 几 and remember its meaning, and to put it in the right place.

What characters did I write today?

A few: Fire (火) Mouth (口) and Earth (土) and Wood (木). That is probably where the challenge is also. Hearing the words are okay but remembering the characters on paper can be difficult.

What are my (long term) goals?

  • To be able to watch TV in Mandarin.

  • Recognize characters on paper and while typing

  • Hold conversation. Respond swiftly.