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TheWind

Looking to start another language

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TheWind

Hello 

I'm looking into starting another language once I reach a certain level in Chinese. I was wondering what other languages are significantly easier to pick up after having learned a fair bit of mandarin?

An example would be how Spanish is relatively "easy" to pick up for native English speakers

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Tomsima

any other chinese languages or dialects eg cantonese, shanghainese, minnanhua etc. are all supposed to be good ones. or so ive heard, ive never actually got to a level with mandarin where i feel good enough to take on another language confidently. i did start with cantonese last year, i stuck it for a solid month, before i realised how much it was interfering with my mandarin. 

 

aside from just lexical/grammatical similarity, you may also want to consider cultural/historical similarity as an easing factor, in which case any countries with significant historical interaction with china will probably be 'easier' than say european languages. In which case you could consider japanese, korean, vietnamese.

 

im sure you probably could have guessed all that, so more importantly you should ask: what am i interested in learning? and how good is the availability of learning resources? 

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DavyJonesLocker

I'd first go with the language you are interested in. In my view "motivation" is the primary factor in learning a language. It trumps everything else when focusing towards the end goal.

 

In absolute terms of "easiness" for a native English speaker , Spanish is way way easier. I am god awful at languages but got conversational at 6 months part-time in Spanish, something I could barely do in a year full time with Chinese. With Spanish, I found it much easier to figure out text with a much lower word recognition rate that I could with Chinese. 

Now that you have learnt Chinese to your comfortable level I'd imagine you would have a good start on Japanese . However I'd be skeptical that it's easier than Spanish even with your Chinese background. 

 

Of course there are other factors to consider such as availability of teachers, native speakers to talk to, teaching material , listening materials (e.g dialects) 

 

This Link  and the FSI guide are interesting. 

 

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TheWind

Yeah I agree with you both on the whole "choose what you're interested in"

I'm interested in Japanese, but didn't know how much would carry over from Chinese. Also interested in Spanish (and it'd probably be the most useful for me), but having studied Chinese as my first foreign language - I cant help but think it will be easy in comparison. 

To be clear - I'm not not super advanced in Chinese (teaching myself HSK4 now) but after this, i feel I will  be at a point where I can still continue to learn Chinese as well as start picking up another language in my free time.  

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Dawei3

Japanese has some shared vocabulary with Chinese, but it's grammar is totally different.  So knowing Chinese can help you with some Japanese vocabulary.  Notably, a Japanese friend of mine told me that knowing English grammar helps him learn Chinese (because English & Chinese word order are often similar).  

 

As a native English speaker, I think Japanese is easier to pronounce than Chinese.  It's relatively easy to sound out a Japanese word.   

 

Also, because tones aren't essential for understanding Japanese, it's initially easier for this reason too.   

 

However, as you move up in Japanese, you have to learn Honorifics, i.e., which words to use with people depending on their importance.  You might not personally care whether someone uses the right honorifics with you, but you still need to learn the words so you can understand what people say to you.  (Chinese has just a touch of this in the word for you, ni and the polite nin).

 

One simple way to see a similarity between the languages is the numbering system.  Japanese numbering is based on Chinese, albeit pronunciation is slightly to significantly different.    (San is 3 in both)

 

John Pasden did an excellent comparison of Japanese & Chinese here:  http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2008/06/25/learning-curves-chinese-vs-japanese 

John notes that initially Japanese grammar seems like a bizarre alien code.  In contrast, I've always thought Chinese grammar "makes sense."  I don't always get my Chinese grammar right, but it still makes sense to me.  

 

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dtcamero

as someone who speaks both japanese and chinese, i say that japanese is the obvious choice for a third language after english and chinese.

 

one third of japanese is just english

another third is 2-character chinese words

the remaining third is originally japanese vocab that starts with a chinese character implying the meaning of the word.

 

so how easy is that? many chinese students study abroad in japan and get the equivalent of HSK6 in 1 year.

 

sure the grammar is a little tricky at first, but you get the huge payoff of knowing a language spoken by the 3rd largest economy. 

 

fundamentally though you learn a language to speak to people... who do you want to speak to (/get hired by / get a date with etc.) and what language do they speak?

you should learn the language of the country you are most interested in culturally, because that interest is what's going to keep you studying longer, which is how you get good enough that your hobby eventually becomes useful.

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Flickserve
2 hours ago, dtcamero said:

 

as someone who speaks both japanese and chinese, i say that japanese is the obvious choice for a third language after english and chinese.

 

 

 

Oh good, that’s helpful for me then. I like japanese culture but chose Mandarin first because of practical needs. 

 

I also get get to see Koreans with little English skills regularly (much more so than japanese) and so I thought about doing some Korean. So it’s a bit of a difficult dilemma.

 

My mandarin is no way good enough but I harbour dreams of it suddenly taking off like a dormant mutant super power. 

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889

If you have an interest in languages and how they are structured, wouldn't it make more sense to study a new language completely different from any you're already familiar with?

 

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TheWind
Quote
10 hours ago, dtcamero said:

one third of japanese is just english

another third is 2-character chinese words

the remaining third is originally japanese vocab that starts with a chinese character implying the meaning of the word.

 

Thats pretty cool I didnt know so much was transferrable. 
 

 

10 hours ago, dtcamero said:

so how easy is that? many chinese students study abroad in japan and get the equivalent of HSK6 in 1 year.

Would you say it's something you could do part-time (5-10 hrs p/week) or do you think you'd to invest a substantial amount of time, like mandarin 
 

Quote
6 hours ago, 889 said:

If you have an interest in languages and how they are structured, wouldn't it make more sense to study a new language completely different from any you're already familiar with?

For me it's more about my own interest in the country, culture and if I ever want to travel there. Also I think it makes sense to choose another language that youre not only interested in, but is also relatively similar to one you know. This way you can save time on learning the language and even start a 3rd or a 4th in due time if youre  up for it. 

 

 

3 hours ago, Publius said:

The writing system is also friendlier. Unlike Korean and Vietnamese, who have abandoned Chinese characters, Japanese still use kanji

I personally cant "hand write" chinese (well). But I have no problem typing it, via computer or phone. Is it one of those things that you need to spend hours upon hours practicing like hanzi? or do you think its much easier to get a grasp on it 
 

 

3 hours ago, Publius said:

Another factor is the abundance of learning resources.

Yeah, I always felt that it'd be easy to practice reading and listening as an avid fan of their culture. 



 

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Dawei3

Hi TheWind, I was just listing some of the challenges of Japanese.  It's hard to actually rate them.  It's like grammatical gender in European languages - it's a challenge, but you can overcome it.  The key issue is what Daveyjoneslocker wrote:  

14 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

"motivation" is the primary factor in learning a language. It trumps everything 

 

absolutely!

 

The linguist, John McWhorter, notes that adults generally have 2 primary motivating factors to learn a second language 1) for concrete reasons, such as a job or school, or 2) for integrative reasons, i.e., to enter a fascinating culture or communicate more fully with another human.  This latter reason can be extremely motivating, particularly with the east Asian languages.

 

When I first started to be able to sustain conversation in Chinese, it was a fascinating process - I felt like I was "entering a fascinating culture" because when you can speak, people bring you deeply into their lives.  My friends often want me to meet their friends and family members.  Their friends want me to meet their families.  

 

With one friend in Beijing, I would usually see her yearly along with her family members and friends.  When I didn't understand something, the table of people would collectively try to translate for me (their English was minimal).  Then one year, just she was available.  However, we managed to sustain conversation for hours.  We were both marveled at that.  It's hard to describe in words.  It was very motivating.  

 

In addition, even though my Japanese & Tagalog are minimal, it's enough to create an instant rapport.  When I meet Japanese or Filipinos at meetings, they're immediately curious as to why I can speak.  In contrast, while knowing a little in another European language also creates a bridge, because multilingual European language skills are commonplace, the impact isn't as strong with the East Asian languages.  

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889

I think I've expressed before here my belief that Chinese rather spoils you, especially if you're the sort -- and who isn't -- that hates conjugation tables and irregular forms and all the other grammatical complications most languages present.

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NinjaTurtle

Hi Wind,

 

I speak Japanese and I am learning Chinese.

 

On 2/1/2019 at 6:40 AM, TheWind said:

Thats pretty cool I didnt know so much was transferrable. 

 

Not so. Chinese and Japanese are very, very different. English and Japanese are very, very different. Do not expect to see a lot of similarities between the three languages.

 

On 1/31/2019 at 6:56 PM, TheWind said:

i feel I will  be at a point where I can still continue to learn Chinese as well as start picking up another language in my free time.  

 

Just as long as you don't get something called "language interference". I took French in high school, then Japanese in college. In college, my professor would ask me in question in Japanese and I would answer back in French! You must make sure your foundation in Chinese is good enough to where you don't start confusing the two languages when you start learning Japanese.

 

On 2/1/2019 at 6:40 AM, TheWind said:

do you think you'd to invest a substantial amount of time, like mandarin 

 

Japanese will require a substantial amount of time.

 

On 2/1/2019 at 6:43 AM, TheWind said:

Is is just the honorifics that are difficult?

 

Japanese honorifics are not that hard. They will not pose a big problem for you.

 

On 2/1/2019 at 6:40 AM, TheWind said:

but is also relatively similar to one you know.

 

Japanese is not similar to English or Chinese.

 

The best advice I can give is for you to spend a little time learning basic Japanese and see if you enjoy it. The main thing for me as I continue to study Japanese is that I enjoy studying Japanese. See how much you enjoy it.

 

Another piece of advice: first learn the basic form of Japanese writing called Hiragana. Do not study any other part of Japanese until you have mastered Hiragana. (Do NOT use the "Japanese version of Pinyin" as you learn Japanese!) There are several videos on Hiragana on YouTube. Watch this one first:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXwHenj-tkU&t=140s

 

Let us know when you have learned the first five Hiragana! (There are about 50 basic Hiragana.)

 

よろしく!

 

 

 

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Dawei3

TheWind,  I'm glad you asked this question.  It was very interesting to read everyone's responses.  

 

I'm always amazed at the depth of Publius's responses.  

 

I've experienced the "language interference" mentioned by Ninjaturtle, but didn't know what is was called.  I had learned German in high school & college, but I learned it in the old way, i.e., mainly mindless memorization of verb conjugation, random words, etc.  Now, if I try to speak German, my mind puts Chinese words into all of the gaps (there are lots) and I know would make no sense, so I mostly just speak English with Germans. 

 

A book recommended by munguok, Learner English, gives an example of the different word order and concept communication with Japanese.  It gives as a word-for-word translation from Japanese into English:  "Listener called one as-for, midnight at waking study doing be expectation of person nucleus being reason is probably."  The actual meaning "It must mean that the audience consists of people who are presumably staying up studying late at night."   However,  with the right motivation, you'll be able to learn Japanese or Chinese (or any language). 

 

I'm a big fan of Pimsleur's teaching approach because it focuses on oral communication and it gives you speaking skills relatively rapidly (but any language still requires much effort).  Pimsleur has CDs or mp3s.    

 

 

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dtcamero

if you’re doing this outside of a formalized study program, i’d recommend looking at the kanji koohi forum, which is full of people efficiently self-studying japanese.

its a brilliant resource for new study tools, so you don’t have to go reinventing the wheel or wasting time.

 

in particular i’d recommend looking at this thread that summarizes an optimized learning path:

https://forum.koohii.com/thread-5110.html?highlight=nukemarine

 

i did something similar and passed the japanese equivalent of HSK6 in 3.5 yrs.

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

I'm a big fan of Pimsleur's teaching approach because it focuses on oral communication and it gives you speaking skills relatively rapidly (but any language still requires much effort).  Pimsleur has CDs or mp3s.    

 

I lked it too. Rossetta stone enovkes a lot of derisery remarks and I admit its full of bells and whistles but it is a fun way to learn a language.  I used it early on when learning chinese and found it great to sit there with a coffee clicking through things. Probably not the most optimal way but at least its nowhere near as dull as a large majority of text books written in China. Well my experience anyway

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TheWind
19 hours ago, dtcamero said:

if you’re doing this outside of a formalized study program, i’d recommend looking at the kanji koohi forum, which is full of people efficiently self-studying japanese.

Thanks for the resource, sounds promising, I'll def. look more into it. 

 

19 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

I'm a big fan of Pimsleur's teaching approach

I have heard good things about PimsIeur as well. But I don't think its for me. when I tried this approach for Chinese,  I found myself being put to sleep with it's mono-tone recordings. The information seemed relevant though. But I'll look more into the books you suggested, thanks. 


I think for the time being, I've decided to just take it slow. Being primarily interested in 2 other languages (Japanese & Spanish) I'm going to (and have started) get slowly familiar with their alphabet(s) and some other entry level stuff. 

As long as I can continue to proceed in my Chinese studies at my current pace without being slowed down or having any "language interference" then that'll be good. 

If anyone else has any good suggestions or recommendations on apps/websites/books etc. for these 2 languages that would be super appreciated. 

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