A Journey Always Starts with One - Start your Chinese Language Learning Today


“A thousand miles begins with a single step.”

千里之行始于足下 (Qiānlǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zúxià)

Before I started to teaching Chinese to my kids when they started elementary school here in the US, I wasn’t aware of the perception that Chinese is considered one of the hardest languages to learn.

The word order is exactly the same in Chinese as in English: Subject + verb + object, one thing less to remember than in Japanese.

There is no gender in nouns, one thing less to remember than in Spanish or French.

There is no verb conjugation, one thing less to remember than German.

There isn’t a need to mark plural forms as in English. Even subject and object take the exact same form.

One is represented by one line 一.

Two is represented by two lines 二.

Three is represented by three lines 三 .

So simple and straightforward, or so I thought, until my son questioned me one day early on into our home Chinese lessons.

“Then how come four is not written as four lines, but looks like six lines 四? And five is not written as five lines, but looks more or less like four lines 五. Six is not written as six lines, but looks like one line and three dabs 六 ?”

“Why does the character write the way it does?” My six-year-old asked me.

This question sent me onto a long quest into the origins of the Chinese language - my own native tongue I grew up speaking and using everyday, yet was totally unaware of its beauty and significance.

There I met the Oracle Bone Script, the direct ancestor of modern day Chinese characters.

Each character is not only a symbol or logo, but each carries a story of creation, a slice of bygone history, a piece of human civilization that brings the character alive.

Here is the curation of the first batch of Chinese characters, starting with ONE 一.


Over to You

What do you find most challenging in your experience of learning Chinese?  Make your comments below.