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  1. from-China-love-Taiwan's Avatar
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    #1

    Help! I've met a really confusing paradox

    Hello everyone! I'm a native-Chinese speaker who loves learning English.

    What confuses me recently is a strange paradox: honestly, as being a native-Chinese, I HAVE TO ADMIT that English is very difficult to learn and Chinese is easier, I could read Chinese newspapers and books without any problem (sometimes just need a little help from a dictionary), I could talk in Mandarin Chinese without any problem, as naturally as breathing the air. But on the other hand, I ALSO HAVE TO ADMIT that English is rather simple and it is of course MUCH EASIER THAN CHINESE!!!

    Have you got it? It sounds crazy, right? Maybe another Chinese person would criticize this point, “How could you say that English is simple? I learned English everyday and I'm totally drained. English is my nightmare! I'd rather read an awesome maths book instead of reading English books.” Yes. I admit English is hard, because we were not born native-English speaker, because our culture/history/language are quite different from Western world, because there are so MANY English words to learn, tons and tons of horrible English words.........by the way, my English lexical knowledge is still poor. I still keep working on it.

    Yesterday I read an article, written by David Moser (Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan), and the title is "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard". The author listed nine reasons (or "nine evidence"? "nine items"? I'm not sure which saying is correct) to demonstrate why Chinese is damn hard for a westerner adult to learn. I've been deeply shocked by reading this article because I've never thought about this thing before, that is : Chinese is harder than any language in the world.

    I've never thought about it before because I was born Chinese. Nobody around me had ever told me that "Chinese is hard to learn". But this article is so thoughtful that I have to admit all the author said are true. Suddenly I realized something exciting: English should not be hard for me any more because the author of that article showed me a great evidence. Just 26 letters to describe everything you need (In Chinese? thousands of “ridiculous” characters to learn), the phonology/phonetics of English is also much easier than Chinese. Tons of English words? Well, there would be probably more words in Chinese. And the oral English could be easier, we could use some simple words like "make", "do", "take", "hold", "big", "out of" to describe a lot of complicated notions, for example "He didn't make it."(This sentence will become complicated when you seek a corresponding sentence in Chinese. You'll find a lot of sentences to express this idea but all of them are more complicated than "He didn't make it.")

    So is it a paradox? Could I really master English as good as a native speaker one day in the future? I could easily master one of the most difficult things all over the world, why can't I learn a much simpler language well? Thank you.

    If I have any grammatical or spelling mistakes above, please point them out. Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: Help! I've met a really confusing paradox

    All languages have things that are simple and others that are complex. The Roman alphabet is a simple and efficient writing system, but English is not written phonetically, so it is a more complex implementation than, say, Spanish, where sounds are written consistently. Comparing a few aspects of languages and trying to assess their difficulty oversimplifies things. However, yes, you will be able to master English if you try- plenty of Chinese speakers have. We have examples here of Chinese speakers who have reached native speaker level, though the majority don't get that far, but becoming fluent is a reasonable and achievable goal.
    Last edited by Tdol; 16-Nov-2014 at 15:35. Reason: typo

  2. from-China-love-Taiwan's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Help! I've met a really confusing paradox

    Thank you for responding. Learning English had frustrated me a lot, because I always forgot words and my listening competence was not good enough. I know it's not easy, but I still like it. I think the hardest part of learning English is to master English words. There are too many of them. The only way I know to memorize words is reading (primarily books and magazines). But sometimes I think this method is low-efficient. I'm still searching for a good method to master vocabulary.

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    #4

    Re: Help! I've met a really confusing paradox

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,

    You probably already know this, but I would like to bring something to your attention just in case that you do not.

    I have just read * about Jessica Beinecke, an American young lady, who has a very popular Internet show called OMG! Meiyu (translation: OMG! American Language).

    It is a big hit in China because it teaches English learners in China how to say American slang in Mandarin. (For example, "frenemy, "foodie," third wheel," etc.)

    She also has thousands of followers on Weibo (China's version of Twitter and Facebook).


    James


    * Bloomberg Businessweek, November 17, 2014, issue, pages 16 -17.

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    #5

    Re: Help! I've met a really confusing paradox

    Quote Originally Posted by from-China-love-Taiwan View Post
    I think the hardest part of learning English is to master English words. There are too many of them.
    There are a lot, but most native speakers get by without using a huge vocabulary.

  3. from-China-love-Taiwan's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Help! I've met a really confusing paradox

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post

    I have just read * about Jessica Beinecke, an American young lady, who has a very popular Internet show called OMG! Meiyu (translation: OMG! American Language).

    It is a big hit in China because it teaches English learners in China how to say American slang in Mandarin. (For example, "frenemy, "foodie," third wheel," etc.)

    She also has thousands of followers on Weibo (China's version of Twitter and Facebook).


    James

    Thank you for recommendation! I've seen that (OMG Meiyu/OMG美語) on the website of VOA Chinese (Voice Of America, Chinese Edition). I've also found a lot of English learning resources on YouTube. By the way, I love U.S. movies.

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