The Chinese language is one of the most difficult languages in the world. If you had friends who learn Chinese, you may hear them complaining about standard Chinese tones and complicated characters. We can divide Chinese language learning into standard Chinese, as known as Mandarin, and Chinese variants such as Cantonese. Certainly, the number of non-native who learn Chinese language is increasing since Chinese has been one of the most widely spoken languages.
The non-native-learning-Chinese didn’t pop up recently. It dates back to 16th century when Westerners started to learn and teach Chinese as a second language. The Chinese learners’ number is surging in recent decades. In 2010, about 750,000 non-native speakers took the Official Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK, Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi), which is six times higher than the number in 2005. Undoubtedly, more Chinese educational institutions and resources are established all around the world. Schools and universities provide Chinese lessons; online resources and classes to learn Chinese online.
More and more people want to learn Chinese, and there are lots of “How to Learn Chinese” materials on the internet. However, before learning this foreign language, ask yourself WHY do you want to learn Mandarin? The reasons can be benefit, interest, boredom, your favorite actor/actress is Chinese, or you just need to survive in Chinese-speaking countries.
What’s your motivation for learning Chinese?
What are your intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for learning Chinese? Motivation or purpose in doing something can actually affect your learning results and learning ways. Educators have to know students’ different motivations. As a learner, you should also know your learning purposes as well, then you can find suitable ways for yourself.
If your purpose to do something is because you are truly interested in or passionate about it, then you have an inner motivation. That means, you are a huge fan of Chinese language, cultures, movies, or music and you have a desire to master this language, without external rewards. Usually, learners with intrinsic motivation tend to be more successful. We learn fast when we are happy, right?
Take myself as an example, I am an English learner and I am not always an intrinsic one. When I was a kid, I was sent to English cram school. I didn’t like this foreign language at all; learning English seems to me like an extra homework and more annoying, exams. If we got low grades, teachers would punish us so I don’t really like learning this language deep down. However, in my high school age when no one would punish me for getting low grades, I started to have an interest in English music and movies. Only then did my inner motivation to learn deeper and better about English grow.
Same as learning anything new, intrinsic learners study or learn something due to personal satisfaction and fulfillment. It is because of interest and curiosity, not external rewards or punishments. Surely active learners would be more effective in acquiring processes.
That’s why we always want to pursue what we really love. Intrinsic motivation is usually stronger than extrinsic ones. “Do what you love and love what you do.”
If your purpose for learning Chinese is extrinsic, or instrumental, then the benefit and external rewards Chinese may bring to you are something you care about. For example, compulsory to learn Chinese language at school, working tool, potential profit, and market, or student visa is a better option than working visa.
For extrinsic learners, the learning process would be less interesting than intrinsic ones. If you were an extrinsic learner, you may easily find excuses sometimes not to practice your Chinese. Maybe you are busy in daytime that you can’t go to Chinese classes or simply Chinese is not attractive enough for you.
Of course, learning motivation can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. We can make our extrinsic motivation into an intrinsic one, too. You must find some ways to love what you are learning, start with funny and short Chinese videos or Chinese songs. Chinese movies you may be interested in are good materials, too. If you couldn’t always go out for classes but still want or need to learn Chinese, try to get an online tutor. Learn to speak Chinese on your phone or PC whenever you are free.
No matter you are an intrinsic or extrinsic learner, Chinese language learning can be a long journey and it will be easier if you truly like what you are learning, or find out suitable learning approaches for you. If you are looking for free online Chinese materials, sign up our free trial to learn Mandarin and download the Chinese App for more Chinese language materials and to learn Mandarin online.