Whether you’re just starting your studies of Oriental or have been studying for a while, it’s of great importance you are conscious of your motivations for wanting to learn the language. The more clearly defined your motivations for learning Chinese, the higher you will end up at reaching Your own goals. Sure, you could be saying, “I already have known reasons for learning Chinese.” You might even have a few apparently good reasons for learning Chinese, such as:
“Chinese is the language into the future” or
“Chinese speakers are in high demand”
“China has 1.3 billion people” or
I’m not saying these are bad known reasons for learning Chinese. They’re fine reasons. The problem is that they are not personal enough. It is very important to have YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL known reasons for learning Chinese because those are the only ones which will keep you motivated you during the long and occasionally difficult journey of learning Chinese. Also, having more specific reasons is way better. A person who’s motivation for learning Chinese is “I’d like to research the effects of China’s Western Development project on ethnic minorities in XinJiang province” could have a much easier time than someone who’s reason is “I love kung-pao chicken.”
Having specific outcomes for learning Chinese may also help you to learn Chinese much more efficiently. You see, if we consider the first three reasons given above, we’ll arrived at the realization they don’t address a few key questions that everyone should ask themselves when making the decision to understand Chinese. In the coming days, we’ll cope with what these questions are and how to answer them. Right now, we’ll just consider two questions as a way to show how getting the right kinds of reasons can help a whole lot when learning Chinese:
1) “Should I learn simplified characters or traditional characters?”
2) “Am I going to just learn conversational Chinese, or figure out how to read and write too?”
In case you have clearly established your individual known reasons for learning Chinese, answering these questions will be much easier, and thinking about these questions will ensure that your reasons are the right ones for YOU. This way, your progress in learning Chinese will be much quicker.
Let’s consider the first question. “I am interested in diaspora literature compiled by Taiwanese authors” might be your reason for learning Chinese. Well, given that they utilize the traditional writing system in Taiwan you will most likely want to learn traditional characters right away. Or your reason may be: “I wish to find a manufacturer of widgets in China without going right through a middleman.” If that is your reason, learning traditional characters might not be so crucial. Many people don’t really think concerning this question too carefully before making a decision on which system to utilize when learning Chinese. With both systems, simplified and traditional, it’s rather a HUGE task to return and re-study all of the characters in another system. So making sure to take into account this kind of question in early stages can really save you plenty of time.
It’s the same if you are trying to decide if you need to just learn “conversational Chinese” or in order to figure out how to read and write the characters aswell. Lot’s of people are scared off by the thousands of Chinese characters and choose to stick with “conversational Chinese” and prevent learning the characters. I would say that this isn’t a good decision for anyone who desires to achieve at the very least an intermediate degree of skill in spoken Chinese. It can be the right choice for some people though, in several limited cases. Like in the event that you just want to impress friends and family by ordering a few dishes in Chinese at the neighborhood ‘Sichuan Palace.’ Whatever your decisions may end up being, having individual and thought-out goals can help you in making your choice.
These are just a couple ways that having thought-out and personal reasons will let you on the path to learning Chinese. Lot’s of other questions will come up all the time. If you have clear motivations for learning Chinese, you will be more likely to make the right choices according to your personal unique situation.