Why learning Chinese is easy
By Dr. Haiyan Fan
From the onset, learning Chinese seems intimidating to most westerners as the Chinese logograph character system looks completely different from the Latin alphabet script system that Romance and Germanic languages use.
At a glance, Chinese characters all look similar - like the squared Tofu shape - yet with a closer look, they are vastly different, each stroke has its own flow and direction. In addition, there are four different tones in Chinese, a concept that is foreign to Romance and Germanic languages. How complicated and confusing!
But just wait...
There is good news...
The gospel lies in the nature of the Chinese language itself, as Chinese is a pictograph language, which means the formation of Chinese characters is highly visual and full of imagery.
For example, let’s start with the simple character that represents the numbers 1, 2, 3, respectively.
一 (yī, one) is one short bar
二 (èr, two) is two short bars
三 (sān, three) is three short bars
木 (mù, tree) resembles the pictorial image of a tree
林 (lín, woods) has two trees in it; symbolic of woods of many trees
森 (sēn, forest) has three trees in it, symbolic of forest
The second piece of the good news is that the process of Chinese character formation is highly systemic, logical and orderly (a well-kept secret even to the majority of native Chinese speakers themselves). Hence, through meticulously designed sequencing of Chinese characters and linguistic building blocks, learning Chinese can be designed for simplicity, for clarity, and for fun.
Chinestory: learning Chinese through stories and pictures is the language curriculum designed to accomplish this goal.