Apparently, aside from learning the Chinese language itself, the favorite occupation of Mandarin students seems to be laughing at memes about learning the Chinese language.
There are memes on the measure words, the impossible difficulty of the language, the tones, or the Beijing accent (儿).
Nearly every Mandarin education company participates in sharing memes on social media, and Reddit’s is full of Chinese learning memes too. All adding to the notorious reputation the Chinese language has. And yes, Chinese takes longer than most languages to learn, but it’s not that difficult.
Plenty of learning materials
Mandarin Chinese is one of the world’s most important languages and there are plenty of materials available, either paid or for free. You can search vocab lists on YouTube, you can try Chinese language learning APPs, you can listen to Chinese music or watch Chinese movies on Netflix. And, obviously, you can go to your Chinese community in your city, talk to Chinese-speaking people online, or come to China!
While you mock yourself with memes, think about this:
Nearly half of Italian high-schoolers still spend 3 hours per week, 5 years studying Latin, an ancient language with no movies or music available, nobody speaking it, and no immersion possible.
Not just that: They study from old texts about war and such, no useful phrases like “Can I buy a coffee?“.
It takes a lot of time, but Chinese isn’t impossible
Yes, it takes an average language-learner three-and-a-half months to get reach level 2 in Spanish or French, but almost a year in Chinese. But here are some truths:
- Once you understand tones and Pinyin, new vocabulary isn’t all that hard
- Chinese has simple grammar, and word order follows a simple structure of Subject + Time + Verb + Object
- Chinese verbs have no past or future tense. It’s “I went to the store (我去了商店)” as well as “I go to the store (我去商店)”
- Chinese verbs don’t change between plural or singular. It’s “I am (我是)” as well as “You are (你是)”.
- No frills like the German or French language. There are no male, female or neutral words or articles like “le/la” or “der/die/das”
- Chinese Hanzi characters aren’t impossible and have their own logic
Self-mocking with memes is unhelpful
When students — during the Chinese Hanzi character course — learn that the ‘觉’ from juédé is also the ‘觉’ in shuìjiào, they laugh and complain. And then they learn that the 了 is ‘le’ as well as ‘liǎo’, and that 行 is ‘háng’ or ‘xíng’. Yes, it’s a cruel and unfair world we live in: with learning a language, things don’t always make sense (着 can be read as zháo, zhe, zhuó, and zhāo) — and it’s an unhelpful mindset. The most determined students are the ones that don’t complain, and those are the ones that get furthest.
We know sometimes you feel frustrated and laugh hard with these memes, but we also know deep in the heart that you believe learning Mandarin is a pretty fun and rewarding engagement. Let’s go!