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Old 02-23-2014, 02:03 PM
 
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Whenever some western boasts he/she can speak 4 or 5 language, it is almost always a bunch of very similar ones which include Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, plus English, French, German/Dutch etc, and it seldom involved any Non-European languages which don't use Latin alphabets.

But is being able to speak 4 European language impressive? Studies show that for an native English speaker, it takes about the same time to learn Chinese or Japanese (2200 hours to be fluent) as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian combined (575 hours each).

Language Difficulty Ranking | Effective Language Learning

Think you are linguistically gifted? Learn an Asian language. What's so special about a Spaniard to be able to speak Italian? It is probably more difficult for a Pekinese to learn Cantonese, and there are tens of thousands of people who can speak both Mandarin and Cantonese.
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Old 02-23-2014, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Vietnamese and Thai would probably be harder than Mandarin, Japanese, Korean for an English speaker.
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Old 02-23-2014, 02:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Vietnamese and Thai would probably be harder than Mandarin, Japanese, Korean for an English speaker.
don't know about this... does that including being fully effective in the written form? Vietnamese is a phonetic language as far as I know, and Chinese is not phonetic (there is no a fixed number of alphabets).

Does anyone know any anglophone who is fully fluent in written Chinese? That would be quite an accomplishment. Many claim to be fluent but can hardly write anything.
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:10 PM
 
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I agree with you botticelli. Most people who claim to be multilingual almost always speak only western European languages. But what about Finnish citizens? Do they count? Their native language is an Asiatic one

Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
don't know about this... does that including being fully effective in the written form? Vietnamese is a phonetic language as far as I know, and Chinese is not phonetic (there is no a fixed number of alphabets).

Does anyone know any anglophone who is fully fluent in written Chinese? That would be quite an accomplishment. Many claim to be fluent but can hardly write anything.
Ex PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd, is fluent in Chinese I believe

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Vietnamese and Thai would probably be harder than Mandarin, Japanese, Korean for an English speaker.
According to the US Foreign Service, the hardest languages for Anglophones to learn is not Thai or Vietnamese, but Japanese, Chinese, and curiously enough, Arabic.
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:30 PM
 
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As an American, it took me about 5 or 6 years of consistent study and living abroad to become fluent in Mandarin - speaking and reading. Writing is the hardest skill to learn, the hardest to retain, and the least useful out of everything so I decided not follow through with it. I am debating on whether I'd like to learn Japanese or Spanish next, but it will probably be Spanish knowing how much a pain in the ass Chinese was/is.
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by guawazi View Post
As an American, it took me about 5 or 6 years of consistent study and living abroad to become fluent in Mandarin - speaking and reading. Writing is the hardest skill to learn, the hardest to retain, and the least useful out of everything so I decided not follow through with it. I am debating on whether I'd like to learn Japanese or Spanish next, but it will probably be Spanish knowing how much a pain in the ass Chinese was/is.
It depends on what your needs and goals are. If it's for the thrill of the challenge or you are interested in all things Japan, learn Japanese. If utility is what you are after, definitely learn Spanish. I'm already a native Spanish speaker, and I'm gonna learn Chinese (currently learning Japanese as I've been interested in the country for a long time) after I finish nursing school because it is the 2nd most spoken foreign language in my region of the US after Spanish. Plus, for me, eastern Asia is my favorite region of the world, doesn't hold a candle to Europe
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Old 02-23-2014, 05:32 PM
 
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Nowadays all young people in China are fluent in standard Chinese/Mandarin (even though they may have "accent").
Therefore the vast majority are "bilingual". Of course, some Chinese dialects are very similar to standard Mandarin.
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Old 02-23-2014, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guawazi View Post
As an American, it took me about 5 or 6 years of consistent study and living abroad to become fluent in Mandarin - speaking and reading. Writing is the hardest skill to learn, the hardest to retain, and the least useful out of everything so I decided not follow through with it. I am debating on whether I'd like to learn Japanese or Spanish next, but it will probably be Spanish knowing how much a pain in the ass Chinese was/is.
If you can speak and READ Mandarin, you might as well go with Japanese.

The kanji (chinese characters) are the bear, and you'll know those, and the katakana and hiragana are phonentic. The speaking itself is both phonetic and easy. You'll basically just transfer most of the nouns over, and add a bunch of honorifics.

In short, the hardest things about Japanese is the different grammar word order, and the KANJI. So, you've basically jumped over the biggest hurdle already with knowing Chinese.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:11 PM
 
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Nowadays I do not consider it very useful to learn a lot of languages though.

If your career or personal life needs it, it is certainly useful. Otherwise just your native language and English will do. If your native language is English, try another major language such as Chinese, Spanish, whatever.

The reason is (1) more and more people in the world are able to speak English or another major language; (2) google translation and alike will be more and more accurate and efficient.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
don't know about this... does that including being fully effective in the written form? Vietnamese is a phonetic language as far as I know, and Chinese is not phonetic (there is no a fixed number of alphabets).

Does anyone know any anglophone who is fully fluent in written Chinese? That would be quite an accomplishment. Many claim to be fluent but can hardly write anything.
Yes that's what I think it is, it must factor in the written form. Vietnamese used to be written using Chinese characters (well back then most Vietnamese and Chinese were illiterate so those characters meant nothing to them) but just it switched over to quoc ngo I guess they tried to phoneticise it. The same would go for Japan using characters. Korean is written mostly using hangul, which i hear isn't that hard to learn. It's actually more like an alphabet (although it's own sort of thing) than Chinese characters, despite looking a little like the latter.

Well considering I've heard many Chinese themselves sometimes struggle, it would indeed. It seems most Chinese students tend to only really learn/use the basic characters unless they are interested in reading Chinese literature or media.
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