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What level of Chinese can you achieve outside of China?


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It's quite interesting how all the really successful role models say that with maximum effort, you can reach some kind of fluency in roughly 3 years. Mark Rowswell, Julien Gaudfroy. David Moser wrote the "humility" bit, but was already quite good after 5 years, IIRC. There must be something to it.

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Well, like with learning anything, there's always a distribution of achievement, which inevitably means there will be a minority at the top of the distribution who's achievements surpass those of the majority.

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Just to clarify some earlier posting.

To understand the "dialects" with studying outside of China is near impossible unless you focus on it. These "dialects" are in reality a different language. Shanghainese has less in common with mandarin than Spanish, French, and English have in common with each other. This means as a fluent english person, how good is your spanish or french? you might know a word or two, but would you call yourself fluent in those languages? Thus, even if you are a native at mandarin, you will still be a novice in shanghainese.

I am fluent speaking in mandarin and shanghainese yet am completely clueless in cantonese a so called "dialect" but in reality according to linguists can be considered another language and might even be it's own family of languages.

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Shanghainese has less in common with mandarin than Spanish, French, and English have in common with each other.

Probably similar to the distance between Spanish and French. Similar grammar. A lot of different vocabs for words that are more ancient in origin like pronouns. Similar or same words for more modern vocabulary. Different pronunciations.

There are other dialects, like Cantonese, that are more different from Mandarin.

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One option which I didn't see mentioned here, is to host a Chinese exchange student in your home. I may be wrong about this though, because one of the hopes of the Chinese student could be to speak nothing but English. However, perhaps the criteria of "I want to speak only Chinese in my home" could be made known in the application or selection process. I don't know.

But for the normal, average Joe who has a job, a wife, one or more kids, and the usual responsibilities and resources, maybe this would be a reasonable way of introducing more Chinese into your daily life. Has anyone tried this?

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