12 July 2012, 11:20
Mandarin a sweet prospect for many
LONDON. July 12. KAZINFORM With China now the world's second largest economy and increasing its influence all the time, it's no surprise that Mandarin is becoming the language to master, Kazinform refers to CNN.
Just look at the case of the American lawyer who left his job, upped sticks and moved his family to Western China to study the language, the recent launch of the New York Times' Chinese language site, or even Bloomberg's ranking of Confucius' tongue as top business language, excluding English - they all point to the importance of communicating with this economic superpower on its terms.
But the reality is speaking Chinese is tough going. It's very hard to be understood, even after putting in hundreds of hours learning it.
"When you go to different parts of China, though people are all speaking Mandarin, their vocabulary, their use of the language, could also be different from what you learned," said Dr. Meng Sue, from the University of Hong Kong's School of Chinese.
From a practical point of view, just getting started may be tedious.
"I think that if you want to achieve a very basic level it takes around 50 hours," said Helen Cheung, Program Manager at Executive Communications Educational Centre.
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