Yesterday, I visited the Chinese New Year celebrations held at the Town Hall in Oxford. It was a nice event for Chinese living locally and it gave me some great practice speaking Mandarin.
All last week, the Times (UK) started a series on learning Mandarin. It had cds and podcasts with introductory lessons in every issue. iTunes has a load of free podcasts for people who want to learn Chinese. Even several secondary schools in the UK are adopting Mandarin as a second language instead of French and German. More than ever, it is easier to learn Chinese. Back in the early nineties when I was learning Mandarin at DLI, I would have a bunch of photocopies of the People’s Daily that I would read over and over. Eventually, someone would copy us some new articles. Now, The People’s Daily is online and there is no shortage of Chinese material to practice with.
To be honest with you, this popularity of Chinese (outside of the 1 billion people who already speak it) is starting to bother me. My party trick of rambling off some Mandarin now and then may become common knowledge. People will start to see that Mandarin is not difficult to learn at all. Even the Chinese teachers will tell you?spoken Chinese isn’t difficult to learn, but written Chinese sucks to try to learn.
Check out the podcasts. Find the free resources out on the web. Specifically, look for resources published in the last year, because there was a lot of rubbish Chinese lessons out there until just recently.
I’ll have to resign myself to be one of those guys who says, “Yeah everyone speaks it now, but I learned it before it was cool.”