Why I am Learning Mandarin Chinese
I was at a book fair in Seremban a town in the State of Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia sometime in 2010 where I found the perfect book on sewing. My sister and I had had a few outfits ruined and we were set on learning how to make our own outfits (In our corner of the world, custom made outfits are unavoidable for traditional ensembles). I found a book that had all I needed to learn about design and pattern drafting but I ended up not buying it. The book was in Mandarin Chinese, so I dropped it and walked away. Till this day, the fact that not understanding Chinese cost me a much needed skill irks me.
The study of Mandarin Chinese is a discovery of new ideas, culture and history . It is also a discovery of a new horizon beyond the set limits, a broadening of vision so to speak. Personally for me, it is a discovery of self, of my abilities, strengths and opportunities. It is an opportunity to “borrow sense” as we say in Nigerian Pidgin English. A round -about way of saying we can learn from the experiences of other people, not just from the immediate environment but also the Global village that is our world in this century. Language should not be a barrier. It should not cost me the ownership of great books and knowledge but a challenge that makes my experience richer and the journey worthwhile.
Four years after my trip to Malaysia, I found some useful resources and applications online. I discovered a flash card app with a Spaced Repetition System (SRS). The Memrise app was able to teach me how to recognize and read Chinese characters. I would eventually come across many more resources online and on TV. One thing I like about learning new things is the fact that it opens the flood gates for more knowledge and resources. One moment it was as if there was no material and the next moment, I didn’t know what to choose because I had so many options.
Learning Mandarin has also sparked other interests in Chinese Cuisine, Martial Arts (specifically Taichi), Chinese Medicine e.t.c. The knowledge that I can and have learned the basics in Chinese has also increased my confidence that I can learn other languages too. My list is getting longer and I wish I had all the time and money in the world to study as many languages as I want with as many opportunities to use them. It feels as if my world has opened up and it is expanding with every new phrase or skill I acquire and I am excited to see where this adventure leads.