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    I am only fluent in English.

    I have a sprinkling of words and sentences in German, which I remember from my GCSE level studies.

    However, I am really wanting to become a polyglot and am willing to dedicate a lot of time and effort in achieving this.

    Is it impractical to jump straight in to an Asian language, specifically Mandarin?

    At first, I want to speak and listen; not too bothered about reading or writing, so that negates some of the 'difficulty' of learning the Chinese characters/script.

    Or should everybody begin learning the mainstream European languages first?
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    (Original post by Isambard Kingdom Brunel)
    I am only fluent in English.

    I have a sprinkling of words and sentences in German, which I remember from my GCSE level studies.

    However, I am really wanting to become a polyglot and am willing to dedicate a lot of time and effort in achieving this.

    Is it impractical to jump straight in to an Asian language, specifically Mandarin?

    At first, I want to speak and listen; not too bothered about reading or writing, so that negates some of the 'difficulty' of learning the Chinese characters/script.

    Or should everybody begin learning the mainstream European languages first?
    It's not so impractical to learn Mandarin now at all - to be honest, the only way I see learning a European language first as helpful is it can make you appreciate just how simple the grammatical structure is in Mandarin.:dontknow:

    The biggest challenge with spoken Mandarin is the pronunciation - they use sounds which we aren't naturally able to make, so you have to dedicate a lot of time to learning to produce those sounds. Also the tonal aspect of the language makes it harder - the same "word" has different meanings depending on its tone. E.g. "ma" can be mother, horse etc. depending on how it's said, and its context. You have to be able to listen out for and speak in 4 different tones (5 if you count the "neutral" tone).

    Once you get over that aspect, Mandarin is otherwise not too difficult to be fair (though I have to stress that is a big aspect to overcome). Grammatically it has a simple structure, and I have found myself being able to commit most words and phrases to memory a lot more easily than with the European language I learn (Spanish - frustatingly forget words ALL the time).
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    How are you going to be learning?

    To be honest, it depends what language you already know. If you speak English as a native, then to learn a Romance language for example isn't that much of a stretch, but Mandarin, woah. Still possible though, and suffice to say there is no easy way to learn a language.

    OP, see if you can download the Michel Thomas courses for Mandarin: http://www.michelthomas.com/learn-mandarin-chinese.php

    I am using the course for Spanish, along with the Pimsleur course and they are both excellent although they have opposing methods. Pimsleur basically just focuses on repetition with phrases until it's stuck in your head, Michel Thomas gives you a good understanding of how the language works so you can construct sentences by yourself. Both can be used together very well in my opinion and they teach the vocal aspect of a language so good for you if you're wanting to learn that first. Also use Memrise on the internet, gives you mnemonics for remembering stuff and is especially handy for Chinese characters.

    I don't have any experience with Mandarin, but from what I've been told by someone who does and lives in China, it is horrendously difficult. As the poster above says getting over the pronunciation aspect seems to be the biggest challenge from what I've heard.

    As for general rules, the thing with learning a language is it's just gonna be hard and tedious a lot of the time. You have to put the effort in and that's it. Also there is no substitute for living in a place that speaks it.
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    Do a language you are interested in. It will keep you motivated even when you can't be ****ed. Financial bonuses will not be enough. Pick one of a country you love or you love its culture, etc.

    Choose a language you have access to. There is n point learning a language if you can't get access to newspapers, websites, TV because you need that to practise and learn. Seriously, that is one of the most important points to language learning.

    Right down every word you don't understand and after reading/talking, go back, look up all the words, and try to put them in context and use them a few times. It will help put them in your memory better.

    It wil take a long time and be a struggle. It takes years of hard graft before you will be anywhere near fluent and there is no easy way.
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    It is the language-learning methodology which I do not understand fully.

    Is a book like '15 minute Chinese' going to be sufficient to getting me started, and enabling me to construct sentences together?
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    If you have a nintendo ds then I found that I actually learnt a lot of vocabulary with 'My Chinese Coach'. If you use this with a decent book on the basics of grammar then it would be a very good starting point. The problem arises after you have learnt these basics where unless you manage to find some really good resources on the internet you will probably have to start forking out for conversation classes etc. to proceed any further.

    Another point is that are you going to learn how to read and write it, or just speak it?
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    (Original post by Doskey)
    If you have a nintendo ds then I found that I actually learnt a lot of vocabulary with 'My Chinese Coach'. If you use this with a decent book on the basics of grammar then it would be a very good starting point. The problem arises after you have learnt these basics where unless you manage to find some really good resources on the internet you will probably have to start forking out for conversation classes etc. to proceed any further.

    Another point is that are you going to learn how to read and write it, or just speak it?
    I just want to speak it, and understand it orally. If I ever move to Beijing for school then I will obviously need to learn to read and write also.

    For the time being, I want to engage with Chinese friends in the polyglot community, so no real need to write it.
 
 
 
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