If you’re thinking about learning Chinese, you need to read this August 2005 article from the Washington Post:
The author of the piece, Jay Matthews, has this to say about learning Chinese:
But let me — just this once because I don’t like recalling the pain — tell you that learning Chinese is not going to be easy.
Mr. Matthews backs up what I think about the Learning Chinese Craze: For most people, it is a lot of wishful thinking.
I’ve no wish to crush anyone’s dream, but I must say that I think all of these grandiose plans to get 5% of American high school students enrolled in Chinese classes by 2015, among other pipe dreams, isn’t going to do much to increase the number of people who can speak and read Mandarin fluently. The think people keep forgetting is this:
LEARNING CHINESE IS REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT. MOST PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE DISCIPLINE TO PULL IT OFF.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Most people would be better off learning Spanish, French, or even Japanese. Those languages are manageable for most people.
I’d love to dissect the article mentioned above, but I’ve got to get back to work.