Learning Mandarin Chinese

A few days ago on Saturday I wrote about how I planned on keeping language lust in check and how I would try out devoting a small amount of my time on learning Mandarin as a sort of side project. I have now started learning Mandarin as of a couple of days ago. I still focus the same amount of time on Japanese but so far I’ve had to subtract 1 hour of Japanese listening to make room for 2 hours of Mandarin listening, so not a huge deal I think. Now, Mandarin is definitely harder to pronounce than Japanese is, however there are good online resources for Mandarin pronunciation which make it easy enough. A little practice and I think I’ll be fine. Now my only remaining concern is tones, I know lots of listening will probably help but I am not quite sure on how to go about learning tones of Mandarin words but I will worry about that later.

For now I am learning Zhuyin and Pinyin. One might ask why I would learn Zhuyin as well as pinyin and the answer is pretty simple. Because I think Zhuyin is better than pinyin for associating Mandarin sounds with a writing system; also Zhuyin can act as a reading aid for Taiwanese children’s books which I would like to make use of. The only reason I am learning Pinyin as well is for Mandarin input on my computer and phone and it is also good to know for dictionaries and other learning materials.

I find it interesting that mainland China doesn’t use Zhuyin even though they created it and use Pinyin instead, I don’t understand the reasoning for this. Pinyin has inconsistencies which make it harder to learn than Zhuyin. Zhuyin does present some difficulty since it uses unfamiliar characters to Mandarin learners but I have already learned most of them pretty well in a couple of days. Also I figure if someone is learning Mandarin it’s silly to be worried over the unfamiliar characters since, if someone ever wants to learn to read Mandarin they are going to need to know the hanzi(Chinese Characters) anyway which is a far larger task than learning Zhuyin. Concerning hanzi learning I will be learning the traditional characters for it’s easier to go from traditional to simplified rather than the other way around. The reason for not learning just simplified is so I can read Taiwanese books, websites, subtitles, etc.

Since learning Mandarin is a side project my progress in the language will undoubtedly be slow and I’m okay with that, I’m mostly learning it as a way of keeping language lust at bay, because otherwise I might be tempted to stop learning Japanese altogether in favor of learning Mandarin. Now that is not what I want to I will try out learning Mandarin on the side and see how it goes, if it turns out to be a bad idea then I will give it up and learn solely Japanese and if it’s good then I will continue learning Mandarin as a side project and in the future I may do it again with a different set of languages.