I have started a forum at this blog on the topic whether Chinese or English is difficult to learn. I have two friends who have given their valuable comments which I quote below
"For me to learn a foreign language that has a different alphabet from Latin alphabet, like Chinese, Arabic or Japanese, is so difficult and almost impossible:) I can't get the symbols. On the other hand for Spanish it is easier to learn for me. It has got the Latin alphabet but on the other hand, there are so many details when I compare it to English. I have been living with English for a long time, more than 25 years. So at the beginning it was hard to adapt it, especially its grammar. Fortunately, a long time ago I studied Italian and it helped me a lot. Anyway now it time to practise and make it a part of my life. I strongly believe that children can learn Chinese more easily because they have afresh memory about symbols (from Ozlem of Turkey)
"As a native Spanish speaker, mi first impression is that Chinese is, by far, more difficult than Spanish. But after studying Chinese, I realized that Spanish has a more complex grammar than most of the languages. Chinese has a simple grammar, it is very logic and a Chinese speaker doesn't have to worry about conjugating the verbs depending on the person and on the time. Personally, I have studied Italian and Chinese, and with less time of studying Italian than Chinese, I can speak and understand more that with my 2 years learning Chinese. It all depends of the people who are studying the language. For a Latin-based language speaker, like Italian, french or Portuguese, it shall be way easier to learn Spanish. Also for Germanic-based language speakers, like German and English, because of the alphabet. On the other hand, for an Asiatic, learning Spanish must be like hell, with all the complex grammar and the Spanish "r" that is so hard to pronounce . Although, I would really like to hear the opinion of a Russian or Arabic speaker. (from Jose (not his real name) of Mexico)
In this globalisation environment I think it is important for a person to learn as many foreign languages as possible and as Ozlem rightly pointed out, it is easier to learn it while one is young. With South American countries and China becoming increasingly economical powerful, I think Spanish/Portuguese and Chinese would become increasingly important. I think if one is well versed in English, Chinese and Spanish/Portuguese, he can communicate comfortably with 99% of the people in the business world. As a matter of fact, the three languages are respectively the most spoken languages in the world.
Returning to the subject topic, I agree with Jose that Chinese is easier to learn than Spanish. I think Chinese is probably the easiest language to learn in the world. The reasons I say that, some of which are shared by Jose, are:
See, it is so easy to learn Chinese. Why wait? If you have any questions on learning Chinese, please let me know and I will help you.
- Chinese has no grammar. You can structure your sentences as freely as you want, unlike English which sentence basically needs a subject, a verb and an object.
- Chinese verbs do not require conjugation. For examples, "I go", "he go", "it go", "we go", 'I go now". "I go yesterday". "I go tomorrow", in Chinese, 我去 (I go) is applicable to all situations.
- Chinese nouns do not change with genders, numbers nor require an article 一本书，两本书，三本书 （one book, two book. three book..)
- Only about 100 Chinese characters are actively used. I think if you know the 20 mostly used Chinese characters you would be able to recognise 20% of the words in a Chinese newspaper. I only say "recognise" and not "understand".
- Chinese characters are pictographic. It used to be that every Chinese character tells a picture. When you look at a Chinese character you may be able to tell its meaning. Try this 一，二，三. It is one, two, three.
- Chinese characters are alphabetised. or "拼音 pinyin" in Chinese, which literally means pronunciation. It would solve problem of being not familiarised with Chinese symbols. The problem is that one pinyin can represent tens of Chinese Characters and the respective meanings could be contrary with each other, for example the pinyin "", can mean, among many other things, 学，雪，血, being "learn", "snow" and "blood" respectively.