If you’re interested in learning Mandarin Chinese, now is a great time to start! Mandarin has become increasingly popular as a second language, with more resources and opportunities available than ever before. After studying Mandarin for over a decade alongside French and Spanish, I highly recommend starting your Mandarin journey now.
East Asian culture is beloved worldwide, offering a wide range of appealing aspects like cuisine, fashion, business opportunities, and entertainment. While Japanese and Korean may be slightly easier to learn, I suggest starting with Mandarin for the following reasons.
Learning Mandarin Chinese is a great language to improve your brain
Learning Mandarin Chinese is an excellent way to boost your cognitive abilities and improve your brain function. Studies have shown that learning a second language can enhance neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to form new connections and reorganise neural pathways.
Unlike English and many European languages that use an alphabet, Mandarin is written using characters called hanzi (汉字). Memorising the meaning and pronunciation of each character may seem challenging, but the process of memorisation paired with application and use in various contexts can be a great workout for your brain.
Using various tools and resources to help you learn each character and use it in a sentence, can enhance your cognitive abilities and improve your brain’s performance.
Connection to the most populated people in the world
As we all know, China is the most populated country in the world with over 1.4 billion inhabitants. From my experience, Chinese people are very friendly and helpful. I’ve found that being able to speak someone’s native language, enables them to open up more and engage. Being able to speak Mandarin, opens up many opportunities for travel, work, business and more. With China’s immense scale of trade with almost every country, being able to speak Mandarin can provide access to untapped areas that those without the language skills cannot.
Chinese culture values fostering relationships, or “guanxi” (关系), and prioritizes being connected. I think this is one of the main reasons why Chinese students tend to stick together. Not only because of the language barrier and cultural differences but because of the shared values.
At my church, we are blessed to have a vibrant Chinese community of believers. I love attending their fellowship gatherings to improve my Mandarin and connect with them on a deeper spiritual level. This is what I love about learning Mandarin – it helps you connect with people and cultures in a meaningful way, and provide valuable opportunities for personal growth.
Gateway to the one of the oldest and richest culture
China has a rich history with artefacts and documents dating back 4000 years. Learning Mandarin is a great way to explore China’s history, traditions, arts, and cuisine, so if you have an appreciation for Chinese culture then start learning! This can be a fun and immersive way to learn a new language.
I love cooking Chinese food. In order to cook the most authentic dishes, I look to Mandarin written recipes. Initially, it was annoying having to keep translating so many ingredients. Now, I can easily breeze through a recipe and cook a good Chinese dish – it’s great! I talk more about how I use the APP 小红书 specifically to improve my Mandarin in this post.
When I was studying in China, we were very blessed to have a physical church to worship at every Sunday. It was a wonderful time not only to hear the word of God, but to fellowship with fellow believers who came from all over the world. Unfortunately, this weekly opportunity was excluded from Chinese nationals who were only permitted to worship at Chinese churches (as opposed to international ones). Speaking to the Chinese students on campus however, revealed to us their great desire for hope and salvation. Many of them were facing hardships in life and had no direction. Sad of all, they had never heard about the Lord Jesus Christ and his power to save!
As a Christian, there are times when I feel the pressure to improve my Mandarin speaking abilities in order to speak about Christ. My university dissertation looked into how Chinese students engaged with the local church. The great hospitality and love shown by the churches to the students that attended greatly moved them and drew many of them to be saved! At first they joined because it would be a great way to make friends and improve their English, but they got so much more from it!
So knowing certain religious terms and phrases in Mandarin can help to better illustrate and present the gospel to Chinese nationals.
Start learning now!
If you’ve ever considered learning Mandarin Chinese, there’s no better time to start than today! In a previous post, I shared some of the tools I use to continue improving my own language skills, and I hope they can be helpful for you as well.