second language

Westerners discuss the hardest things about learning Chinese【Video】

The various related but often unintelligible Chinese language varieties collectively have 1.2 billion first-language speakers. Of those varieties, Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese or Putonghua, has 848 million native speakers, which is higher than any other language on Earth. It’s no wonder that more and more people around the world are seeing the practicality of learning Chinese as a second language.

However, learning a second language takes time and effort, especially if the intrinsic features of your target language differ significantly from those of your native language. A recent YouTube video titled “Foreigners’ Difficulties of Learning Chinese” explores this exact scenario by asking four Westerners about their own experiences studying the language.

Whether you’ve already dabbled in Chinese yourself or are thinking about it, the short clip makes for an interesting watch for anyone looking to expand their linguistic horizons.

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Pronunciation anxiety: many Japanese people don’t want to speak English unless it’s “perfect”

With the 26 letters of the alphabet, we can make pretty much any sound present in the majority of languages. But Japanese just doesn’t contain certain sounds present in English, like “th” or “v”, and their “r” is somewhere right between our “r” and “l”, making them sound almost exactly the same to Japanese ears.

Since most Japanese people grow up only speaking Japanese, it means that when they start learning English at school, they either have to learn entirely new sounds (difficult) or else try to render English in Japanese sounds (which isn’t accurate). As a result, many Japanese English learners feel a lot of anxiety over the accuracy of their pronunciation. But should that really be holding them back?

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