How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese?
Everyone always asks, “How long does it take to learn Chinese?” Hopefully, you’ve already answered the question of which Chinese language to learn, and so you’re really asking how long it takes to learn Mandarin. (By my estimation, it would take substantially longer to learn Cantonese considering the differences in the language). So, the question then becomes, “How long does it take to learn Mandarin Chinese?”
To answer this question properly, you’re going to hate that I really need to give you the standard answer that: “It depends.” Truly, how fast you learn Chinese will depend not only on your present skills and level of dedication, but also will depend upon your definition of “learn Chinese.”
(When does one ever stop learning a language? How do you know when you have “learned” Chinese? Really, how long does it take to learn Chinese? Of course, I’m going to share with you my personal experience, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone within that time frame).
The factors that influence how quickly you can learn Chinese are numerous. Once you have an understanding of these factors, then you can easily estimate for yourself how long it will take you to learn the language.
So, permit me to kind of start off in a survey format. As you answer these simple questions, you’ll get a better idea of how long it might take you to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese.
- How much do you enjoy solving puzzles?
- Do you enjoy listening to music?
- How dedicated are you to reaching your goals?
- Would others say that you have great problem-solving skills?
- Do you have the musical ability to be a contributing member of a choir?
- How often do you accomplish what you set out to do?
- Would others say that you are a disciplined person?
- Do you enjoy the trill of accomplishing something great?
At first, these questions may seem like they have little to do with learning to speak Mandarin. But you will soon find that mathematic skills, problem-solving skills, musical ability (which can be learned), and dedication are the factors that contribute to the speed by which you can learn Chinese!
Only you can determine whether or not you to learn Chinese fast! However, properly preparing for the journey and how much you focus on the most important factors in learning Chinese, will determine how soon you reach your goal. That being said, let me share with you my experience in learning Chinese.
I began speaking after six months and was able to have relevant daily conversations with people in China. (I actually began attempting to speak after three months, but did not yet have the tones mastered so no one could understand what I was saying at first)! As I became more and more proficient in the language, however, my in-laws eventually informed me that it will take the average person more than ten years to truly have mastery of the language to the same degree that a native speaker does! So, you can see that there is quite a span of time between half a year and ten years!
How short or long this journey is truly depends upon you. By focusing on the skills you need for the journey, remaining dedicated to the task, and having the environment for listening and observing the language and culture, you will be on your way to success in studying Mandarin!
You can know how to learn Chinese—easy! Just be sure that you learn Chinese PinYin online and practice each of the four tones in what I call the “PinYin Song”. When you have mastered these two essential skills, then you’re ready through dedication and the right environment to successfully complete your journey!