If you’re interested in learning Chinese or Japanese (or any other language) then you should find a lot of valuable advice and information here. Also, If you’re planning to move to mainland China for work or study I offer advice to help you settle into your new lifestyle there.
This blog is my ongoing project to help introduce people to the languages and cultures of Asia. I want to promote better understanding between Asia and the rest of the world. I believe this understanding is greatly lacking and it will be critical in the years to come. My main focus is on China and Japan since that’s where I have the most experience. Though I’ve been studying Chinese and Japanese for a while now, I won’t claim to be even near fluent. However, my goal is to become fluent in a few years, and I want to present the methods I’m currently using to reach this goal.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’d really like to learn a new language someday”, but never make the effort to actually learn it? It might be their dream to learn a new language, but if they never discipline themselves to take the journey they will definitely fail.
The biggest obstacle to learning any language, or anything else for that matter, is forcing yourself to practice. Whether that means forcing yourself to study late into the night, sitting down to study the book, taking extra time to attend a class, listening to language podcasts every day in the car, trying not to listen to your native language, or even spending a year or more in the foreign country to immerse yourself. There is an enormous variety of ways we can accomodate our language learning journeys. We each have to find our own ways that work specifically for us. However, we all need some guidance too.
Knowing a language is not like taking a multiple choice test on a scantron sheet. Language is more fuzzy and subjective to people’s expression. You can’t just take the textbook, read it, and believe that you can speak the language now. Being able to know a language basically requires a comprehensive knowledge and collaboration of reading, writing, and speaking. To the beginner, the thought of learning a new language is a daunting task. This is why so many people either never start learning, or they begin taking the first steps and quickly give up. If you can discipline yourself to learn then you’ve already passed, what I believe to be, the largest barrier on your journey to fluency.
Discipline in anything doesn’t come easily though and might take a long time to develop. You need to break down the mental barriers that have been placed in your head all your life, and realize that you definitely can learn this language to fluency. There is nothing stopping you but yourself. Especially these days with the internet and all the resources and connections available through it. If you want to learn a language then you can. If you want to learn to build a skyscraper then you can. If you want to learn to fly a plane then you can. If you want to become a quantum physicist then you can. But there is one rule that we should remember, summed up by Jim Rogers as “You can do anything in life, you just can’t do everything.” So, what I’m trying to say is you will get out whatever amount of effort you put into it and it’s not impossible or too late to start.
If you came here as a complete newbie to learning Chinese or Japanese, a third-year “beginner”, a seasoned intermediate level, or already fluent…then that’s great! I hope that everyone, no matter what level you’re at, will find something valuable here. Maybe stumbling upon my site will help you take the next step on your language learing adventure.
千里の道も一歩から。 A thousand mile road begins from one step.