China is like a pretty, innovative girl with a beautiful character. Or, a rich, handsome guy with a great physique. Simply put, it is the crush of many people. But let’s say this crush speaks a different language from the one you speak. In fact, a highly-beneficial international language that has great prospects and wide use. Would you just give up on your love and say, ‘s/he is beyond me!’? Or invest your time to learn this new language, enjoy its rich benefits, and win your crush’s heart? 

With new research studies suggesting that China will topple France as World’s most visited country by the year 2030, the need to learn to speak Chinese becomes more across the world. Especially as the Asian pride increases its dealings with African countries, Nigerians who want to make great use of Nigeria’s relationship with Beijing must start to learn Mandarin from now.

Apart from being a seedbed of business and wealth, the land of dragons possesses a beautiful culture that is different from many other countries. Interestingly, although the Chinese culture has been existing far before this time, it remains contemporary in China and Chinese natives take it along with them wherever they go.

The Chinese culture is inseparable from its language, which is why the best way to learn Chinese is to go abroad, visit China, and explore its culture. Getting a Chinese native to teach you Mandarin can also help speed up your language acquisition. Native tutors make their students understand certain aspects of the Chinese culture while they study the language and provide great help with learning the tonal complexities of Mandarin. For non-native tutors of Chinese, many of them have been to China. Hence, they also possess requisite experience and skills in teaching Chinese efficiently. In fact, most of them even provide insights that can help their students to travel to China also whether for university studies or business.

The Chinese Dragon
Culturally, the Chinese dragon symbolises power, strength, and fortune. It was the symbol of authority of Chinese Emperors in ancient times. Source: Unsplash

You will be doing a great disservice to yourself to visit China without learning to speak Mandarin. According to some estimates, just about 10 million people in China (which is less than 1%) speak English. You may not have many troubles if you will spend your weeks in 5-star hotels and big supermarkets and big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau where Foreigners frequent. However, if you want to frolic in the local areas where cultural beauties lie and relate with the locals and enjoy festivals and cinema shows, you will need — at least — basic fluency level in Mandarin.

Fortunately, the gains of learning Chinese drown the pain. With a good language teacher, such as can be found on Superprof, your Chinese learning adventure will not have to be tedious and humdrum. By following the tricks and hacks to changing your English tongue to Chinese, you can — in no time — attain a great level of confidence reading, writing, listening, and speaking Mandarin.

But, hey, you cannot sacrifice the Chinese culture!

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Breathe-in the Chinese Culture; Breathe-out the Chinese Language

The culture of any place is the totality of its identities. While it is good to learn the English culture while learning the English language, it is not so important. But that is quite different when you learn Mandarin. The experience of the Chinese is invaluable to a great Chinese language journey.

The complexities of learning the Chinese language is halved when you have a good grasp of the culture. That is why it is extremely difficult to learn Chinese by just logging on to a free website online or download a language app and chewing Chinese characters. You can, however, find a blog on Chinese culture or get books on Chinese history and culture to supplement your Mandarin lessons.

Except you want to spend your weeks in China in strict business areas, perhaps you have an international conference to attend, you will be handicapped by your lack of experience in the Chinese culture and its language if you intend to visit China for a grand tour. If your travel to China is with a tourism company, yes, you will have a tour guide who will communicate with you in English. But that’s all you get. Your fun and experience will be restricted to what s/he tells you, what s/he shows you, and what s/he wants you to know. However, if you armed with, even, just a basic level of fluency in Chinese, you can enjoy more fun and have a better experience discovering Chinese people and their ways.

Do not follow a man who is running away.

– Kenyan proverb

It is unwise to join the bandwagon to say that learning Chinese is hard when not learning it is even harder. Did you ask how? There is nothing to lose by learning Mandarin. Even if you decide to stop learning it mid-way, the time you’ve used in learning the little you have learnt will still not be considered lost. Beyond the academic and economic benefits of learning the language, consider the social and health gains. Plus, learning Mandarin is not even as difficult as touching your nose with your tongue. Did you just try to do that? Haha! So why are you not learning Mandarin?

Learn Mandarin to Avoid Being Duped in China

They say that you will always find a Judas in every twelve. You can only imagine how many Judases there will be in a country with a population of over 1 billion.

Every big city has crops of fraudsters and con artists who are always eager to have from tourists’ treasures. If you visit China, you may find them in tourist traps in Beijing or on the busy streets of Shanghai or in the markets in Macau. Travelling in China, like in any other place, will come with its risks. But you can earn an extra level of protection from online and offline scam attempts with Chinese language skills.

One great use of Chinese skills in protecting your purse is in bargaining. Either with the taxi man or to access some social features, speaking Chinese can help you earn the goodwill of the locals and tell people that you are a compadre and a lover of the Chinese way.

A crowded market in China
You can get lost in the busy markets in China if you're unable to read signs. More so, being able to speak Chinese gives you better bargaining power among the locals. Source: Unsplash

Having Chinese language skills also protects you from duping yourself — of great meals. With a good level of proficiency, you can enjoy good meals in Chinese restaurants. You can even go on a Chinese date. Just kidding!

But, really, going to China only with your English language skills can suck your naira in no time. You may have to pay for almost everything lest you are stranded or become frustrated.

You can take the first step to achieving your Chinese language goals by choosing from our best tutors to start your language lessons.

Chinese Gestures Are Not the Same as Nigerian!

Communication goes beyond words. It may shock you to know that according to research studies on kinesics, over 65% of human communication is done nonverbally (meaning: not involving words). Gestures are cultural offshoots that can be found in all languages in the world. Just as some allowed gestures in Lagos can be prohibited or scornful in Kano, some gestures found in English language or some of our local languages are strange in Shanghai.

This is why learning the culture of a language is important. You won’t learn acceptable and unacceptable gestures by memorising characters alone or learning new Chinese words. The information on what to do and what not to do can only be known when you study Chinese culture and people.

Consider the use of hand movements while speaking. While it is not a bad practice in Nigeria, you will need to be careful once you set foot in Shanghai or other Chinese cities. You even want to avoid it totally when you are in the rural areas in Chinese lest you offend the locals.

A silhouette of a man
Arms akimbo? Don't be tired. Every place has its list of acceptable gestures and unacceptable ones. You should learn Chinese gestures before arriving in Beijing. Source: Unsplash

You shouldn't go to China with your English attitude of hugs and touches too. Especially with strangers, don't enter into their personal spaces unnecessarily. And don't try to use the chopstick if you are bad with it. It is a cultural item in China and its etiquette are well respected.

You may find it funny, but when you're offered a business card in China, be respectful enough to receive it with both hands. That's right! Carry the tiny little thing like you have been given a folded flag and check the card right in from of the person. If you have yours too, reciprocate by giving the person your card.

We can go on with the list: Don't wink at strangers, don't whistle or catcall, mind how you point your feet, e.t.c. The point is, seeking information on acceptable Chinese gestures should complement your Mandarin lessons if you want to have a hitch-free stay in China.

The Humanist Reason for Learning Mandarin

We need not rehash the social, cultural, medical, and economic reasons for the desirability of Chinese language skills. The huge number of speakers and the increased number of students should be enough.

However, we could remind that one in six people in the world speaks Mandarin and China is a heavyweight in world affairs. Plus, the combination of English and Mandarin is a rare phenomenon and looks pretty good on any CV.

And if we need to say just one truth, it would be that 'although learning Mandarin is harder than drinking ice-cream with a box of pizzas, with Superprof tutors, it can be like eating an Egusi-bitter-leaf soup paired with a hill of soft, smooth pounded yam.

Enjoy!

 

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Muhammad

A Nigerian freelance SEO Writer-cum-Editor and 2019 Writing Fellow of ALWF who blends creativity with rich content to produce sterling copy — persuasive, informative, or expository. He loves nature and trains in Karate, and he loves to help others grow — individuals and brands.