How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin?

How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin? People would like to know how much time they actually need to spend to learn mandarin well.

If someone tells them that mandarin is quite easy to learn and rather simple to memorize, then they would say the one who says these are so smart that nothing seems difficult for him.

So now I’d like to tell you an average person can learn mandarin well in an acceptable period of time.

How to do it for me?

When I first started to learn mandarin, I thought it was the most difficult thing in the world and nothing else is more demanding than it.

I nearly gave up after a month of learning until I met my Chinese teacher: Sarah. I’ve come to find out that I was just using a wrong way and inappropriate resources to learn.

If you are in China, you can go to attend Chinese courses in universities for free. While if you are not in China, you might go to find a Chinese tutor to teach you several times a week.

A good teacher would create a best short cut for you. She could correct your mistakes in tones, intonations, grammars and so on; she would design learning schedules especially for you.

I am an average person; I can tell you that I’ve made much progress with the help of her. Much thanks to her, I still attend her Chinese course every day.

Someone says mandarin is too difficult to learn, it seems impossible for an average foreigner to acquire.

I have to tell you that they might be wrong, and I will dispel that with a few points that makes it easier to learn mandarin. Few months ago, my Chinese teacher has told me similar things.

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The days of the week and months in Chinese are ridiculously easy

In English, the days of the week all have complicated origin stories. They are named by the Anglo-Saxons in memory of the gods they worship. For example:

Sunday: The day of the Sun. It is the “Sabbath” because Jesus was resurrected on Sunday.

Monday: The day of the Moon. It was originally called Moonday, which was dedicated to the goddess of the moon.

In ancient times, Westerners believed that the profit and loss of the moon would affect the growth of crops and also affect medical care.

Tuesday: Originated from Tiwesday. It was said that Tiw is the god of war in Norse mythology.

While in Chinese, the days of the week are named sequentially. It is as easy as the weekday 1, weekday 2, weekday 3 and so on. You only have to memorize the Chinese characters of weekday (星期).

It is also the same for the month names: month 1, month 2, month 3, and so on. You still only need to memorize the Chinese character of month (月).

Read More: How long to learn 8,000 Chinese characters?

How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin Chinese?

Days of the week:

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)一(yī) Monday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)二(èr) Tuesday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)三(sān) Wednesday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)四(sì) Thursday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)五(wǔ) Friday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)六(liù) Saturday

星(xīnɡ)期(qī)日(rì) Sunday (星(xīnɡ)期(qī)日(rì) when written, 星(xīnɡ)期(qī)天(tiān) when spoken)


一(yī)月(yuè) January

二(èr)月(yuè) February

三(sān)月(yuè) March

四(sì)月(yuè) April

So on and so forth. You see how it works to form the months in Chinese.

How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin? Do you think it is really difficult to start learning Chinese?

There are no verb conjunctions in Chinese

If you are an English speaker or a French speaker or any other western language speaker, you are very familiar with verb conjunctions.

You don’t need to change according to the time and the speaker, like “I eat rice”, “I ate rice”, “I will eat rice”. In Chinese, you just need to add a simple character to express your meaning.

For instance:

I eat rice 我吃饭

I ate rice 我吃饭了

I will eat rice 我将吃饭

No progressive, past progressive, perfect, or all those endless irregular verbs. Trust me, you don’t need to spend much time a day to memorize the extra Chinese character.

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The tones are not as difficult as you thought

When Chinese beginners are new to mandarin, they would be afraid of learning tones, characters and so on. Frankly speaking, there is no need to panic.

The tones are always fixed in certain contexts, you could write them down if you think you can’t memorize them correctly.

When encountering new ones, you might as well ask Chinese people to check whether you read it right. As long as you get used to it, you will find it beneficial to your learning process of mandarin.

Once you know why you are learning and how to arrange your schedule, you would find learning mandarin could be entertaining.

Let’s go back to the question: How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin? A convincing and reliable answer should be 1 – 2 years.

But you need to work hard towards your language goal. You really need to refine your goals:

Daily plan:

  1. How many Pinyin you are going to learn every day?
  2. How many Chinese characters are you going to recite and copy every day?
  3. How many sentences are you going to read and imitate every day?
  4. How many pages of Chinese novels are you going to read every day?
  5. How long are you going to watch Chinese news every day?
  6. How long are you going to talk with your Chinese friends on WeChat every day?
  7. How long are you going to watch Chinese TV series every day?
  8. Are you going to take Chinese courses?
  9. Are you going to join in Chinese clubs?
  10. Ask yourself these questions to check whether you have arranged your schedule well.

How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin? Or how long does it take the hardworking average person to learn mandarin? It is yourself who determines the answer to it.

Monthly plan:

  1. How many Chinese characters are you going to acquire for this month?
  2. How many Chinese sentences are you going to write for this month?
  3. Are you going to take HSK test this month?
  4. Can you understand others when talking to Chinese people?

Monthly plan can be set from various aspects. You have to keep an eye on your goals so that all your hardworking would pay off in the end.

Ask yourself the question again: How long does it take the average person to learn mandarin? The answer to this question can be given only when you stick to it.

As an American university student in China, I spent one and half years to be able to talk to people in Chinese.

The process of learning mandarin is painstaking, but the result is beneficial and meaningful. I love Chinese. I love mandarin. I will keep on learning it.

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