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Brendan’s conclusion is spot on, and I think Ben Ross’s views are also very close to my own.
– Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard by David Moser – …so, you want to learn Chinese?
I’ve tried to teach quite a few people to juggle, and the conversation usually goes like this: Learner: This is too hard! So why is juggling hard, even though 30 minutes is enough to get the basics down?
It’s because it requires the mastery of a new skill, which, our brain reasons, “shouldn’t be too hard.” The logic of the task is quite simple.
For beginners, the learning curve can be a bit brutal.
Mastering tones may be difficult, and memorizing all those characters may be time-consuming, but learning Chinese is definitely worth it.
With much more flexibility than a group program, you can customize your class schedule, location and lesson content, i.e.
(This is, however, where John Biesnecker’s “time-consuming does not mean difficult” argument kicks in, and you still have a long road ahead with the characters and vocabulary acquisition.) I essentially expressed this point a while back when I compared the difficulty of learning Chinese and Japanese: Because the hardest part is right at the beginning, I think advanced learners can sometimes forget how difficult and frustrating it was.
But it’s a key issue I face on an almost daily basis in my work at All Set Learning.
But John also says: …learning Chinese is a long, drawn out series of really easy things — learn a character, learn a word, listen to a song, talk to someone, watch a movie, write an email, 等等. I found learning Chinese very difficult in the beginning.
Although difficulty is subjective, I think there’s an important part of the equation missing here. When I was in high school I played a video game called Final Fantasy II.