Chinese Is Easier Than English?

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My toddler is finding it easier to learn to speak Chinese than English. Kind of surprising.
  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    Well, Chinese is essentially three dimensional whereas MOST languages, like english, are two dimensional. So I would be SHOCKED if chinese didn't use more of the brain to parse it.

    As for chinese being easier? Apparently there is part of the brain that kind of loses its original function in youth, if it isn't used. So your child has more inate ability than most on this board, simply because of age. It is possible that the child finds it easier to mouth the words. Of course the usability, exposure, etc... ALSO have a LOT to do with it. Maybe more words are heard in chinese.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author thunderbird
    Originally Posted by MaisieOwens View Post

    Toddlers learn foreign languages much more easier than adults and that is a well known fact. And another think that you should know is that as many languages he or she speaks as better, because this improves the cognitive connections of the child's brain, his creativity and so one. Basically, your child becomes smarter! And if he/she learns Chinese, than is even better! Read this post from a scientific study that I found about this subject.

    "According to a recent scientific study, researchers found that the brain processes different languages in different ways. The study looked at brain activity in native speakers of English and Chinese when listening to their native languages and found that the Chinese speakers used both sides of their brains, whereas the English speakers only used the left side of their brains. The conclusion is that Chinese is more difficult to understand and speak than English."
    Frequently asked questions about learning languages

    Looks like your child is very smart already!!!!:p
    That is interesting. I'm finding that most toddlers are really smart. The mind is a powerful and clear reservoir of intelligence at that age. But their minds need to be properly exercised to realize their potentials and keep their intelligence flowing before it atrophies. Just like muscles relevant to the activities of the human body get exercised, so is the case with the mind. Facets of the brain, like muscles, eventually atrophy and become extremely weak if not consistently stimulated and developed. For example, research suggests that most infants and toddlers are perfect pitch but the majority of them lose that ability as they grow older, except those adequately exposed to music or, apparently, tonal languages. A greater proportion of speakers of Chinese and other tonal languages are perfect pitch.
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  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    All 3 of my kids used sign-language before they could pronounce any words. My Grandparents were deaf, so my family all use sign-language. My daughter had a vocabulary of several hundred words before she could even speak.

    It made for a much quieter household - most babies cry because of a lack of communication. If you can't figure out that they are hungry, thirsty, tired, or whatever - they'll get frustrated and start crying.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Warriors
    I don't think so.

    Language difficulty is relative.

    If you're exposed to more languages like Chinese, then Chinese will be easier.

    If you're exposed to more languages like English, English will be easier.
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    • Profile picture of the author garyv
      Originally Posted by Andy Button View Post

      I don't think so.

      Language difficulty is relative.

      If you're exposed to more languages like Chinese, then Chinese will be easier.

      If you're exposed to more languages like English, English will be easier.
      I'm not sure if that is true either. I think a child will choose the path of least resistance when it comes to language. If a child is exposed to both equally, he/she will choose the one that will get them their food the fastest. And that will be the one that is easiest for them to understand and express.

      For us we used sign-language and spoken English in equal amounts. Our children chose sign-language first, because most children gain command over their fingers and hands well before they can control their tongue and lips to form understandable words. As far as Chinese vs English goes, I have no idea why a child might choose Chinese over English. But usually learning language for babies is all about using whatever gets them what they want the fastest.
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      • Profile picture of the author seasoned
        Originally Posted by garyv View Post

        I'm not sure if that is true either. I think a child will choose the path of least resistance when it comes to language. If a child is exposed to both equally, he/she will choose the one that will get them their food the fastest. And that will be the one that is easiest for them to understand and express.

        For us we used sign-language and spoken English in equal amounts. Our children chose sign-language first, because most children gain command over their fingers and hands well before they can control their tongue and lips to form understandable words. As far as Chinese vs English goes, I have no idea why a child might choose Chinese over English. But usually learning language for babies is all about using whatever gets them what they want the fastest.
        The smartest creature on the planet could not have the inate ability to determine that a language was simpler before it was, to some point, attempted. To say otherwise would cause one to wonder why the whole planet does not speak the same language.

        The fact is that children could not do such a thing and, if they could, they would NOT have the patience or the time to do so.

        Sign language is not a fair example because it is so outwardly physical and natural. A child WILL, for example, point to an object or make motions to express desire. They have to figure out how a sound is made and attempt to emulate it with spoken language.

        Steve
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        • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
          As a native American English speaker as well as a "can live, do what I need to, give speeches, talk to business people, almost there but a long way to go till I get to 100%" speaker of Mandarin Chinese I have some thoughts into this.

          I think basic speaking is probably easier in Chinese if you can get around the tones. The grammar is much easier in Mandarin than English, the number of sounds is very limited, etc.

          When you hit a certain vocabulary limit (maybe 1500 words), though, and after you've got the tones, pronunciation, flow, and grammar down, that's when it gets to be almost impossible (it feels sometimes) because you MUST learn the characters to advance in real fluency. At that point there is no comparison -- even with relaxed grammar rules and limited sounds -- English is MUCH easier.

          So I'm not surprised but it may not last without learning the characters too. Don't know under what circumstances he/she is learning but I think it's great to grow up learning two languages.

          Mark
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        • Profile picture of the author garyv
          Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

          The smartest creature on the planet could not have the inate ability to determine that a language was simpler before it was, to some point, attempted. To say otherwise would cause one to wonder why the whole planet does not speak the same language.
          That's true - but that's why I said if a child is exposed to both equally. Assuming of course the child tries them both. At that age of course a child will not be able to distinguish one language from the next. So at that age they'll choose the language that expresses what they want with the language that is the easiest for them enunciate. Which usually means small simple syllables. Some may even use both languages in the same conversation depending on the easiest words. Which happens quite frequently in Mexican/American households.
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  • Profile picture of the author batkimi
    I don't think that you can categorize a language in easy or difficult, because learning a language is different for every people, for some is easy for the others is difficult
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  • Profile picture of the author derekwong28
    Chinese is structurally much less complicated than English. Basically, there are no tenses, no plural, no he, she, it etc. Therefore it is much easier for children to grasp. It is only when they start having to learn writing it that things change.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      If a child is learning two languages from birth - neither of the languages is "foreign" to that child.

      Are the languages spoken equally at home?

      It could be as simple as becoming more proficient at the language used by the parent that provides for the majority of the child's needs/wants throughout the day.
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    • Profile picture of the author eijk82
      Originally Posted by derekwong28 View Post

      Chinese is structurally much less complicated than English. Basically, there are no tenses, no plural, no he, she, it etc. Therefore it is much easier for children to grasp. It is only when they start having to learn writing it that things change.
      Yes that's right. Typical all of the asian language. I live in Indonesia but I'm also chinese offspring but my family don't speak mandarin at all. We speak bahasa Indonesia and sometimes in hokkian. Because we're hokkians (one of the chinese tribe).

      for me the most difficult thing to learn chinese is memorizing the alphabet characters. There are maybe more than ten thousand.
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      • Originally Posted by eijk82 View Post

        Yes that's right. Typical all of the asian language. I live in Indonesia but I'm also chinese offspring but my family don't speak mandarin at all. We speak bahasa Indonesia and sometimes in hokkian. Because we're hokkians (one of the chinese tribe).

        for me the most difficult thing to learn chinese is memorizing the alphabet characters. There are maybe more than ten thousand.
        Man! That must be a REAL drag when a Cop pulls you over for suspected DUI, and asks you to "recite the alphabet"...:rolleyes: (backwards )
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  • They really have it down to a system...
    For instance, it's much easier to speak Chinese when ordering in restaurants...just say "We'll have the #6 please"... :rolleyes:












    Ni juede wo hen ben ma?
    Bie jin zhang, wo shi nao zhewan r de
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  • Profile picture of the author princeofirf
    i am shocked ,
    how could it be ?
    very difficult to write then english
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  • Profile picture of the author michaelh73
    Just out of curiosity, are you in a china or an english speaking country? That may also have something to do with why its easier for your toddler to learn chinese.
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    • Profile picture of the author thunderbird
      Originally Posted by michaelh73 View Post

      Just out of curiosity, are you in a china or an english speaking country? That may also have something to do with why its easier for your toddler to learn chinese.
      We're in Canada. I can only speculate as to why, but some factors may be:
      -- His mother is Chinese, sings songs to him in Chinese and suchlike.
      -- syllables are more separated in speaking Chinese while, in English, they are more jumbled and slurred together.
      -- English has seems to have more complicated sounds than Chinese.
      -- he enjoys watching children perform, as tends to be the case with Chinese videos for kids (eg on Youtube), more than goofy adults acting clownish (clowns scare him), as tends to be the case with English videos for kids.
      -- the Chinese children he meets, I have no idea why, tend to be more friendly than other kids he meets.
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  • This is the official language of Canada...

    Upside down under Bacon...

    Chur Bro!
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  • Profile picture of the author derekwong28
    I have family and friends who switched their mother tongues right up to teenage years, from English to Chinese and vice-versa. The biggest influence is what language is spoken at school. I have seen parents who speak to their child in Chinese but always gets a reply in English.
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    • Originally Posted by derekwong28 View Post

      I have family and friends who switched their mother tongues right up to teenage years, from English to Chinese and vice-versa. The biggest influence is what language is spoken at school. I have seen parents who speak to their child in Chinese but always gets a reply in English.
      When I see that occur, I have always been fascinated by that process...not only the how and why of the brains translating the languages, but the curiosity in two bi-lingual people who apparently understand each other's language, but are reluctant to actually speak it. :rolleyes:

      It is similar (in a way?), to someone who can interpret the written foreign language, but could not really speak the language convincingly, or understand it if they heard it? They only command a portion of the fluency...(as many native speakers who can speak, but not read their native language)
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  • Profile picture of the author A.Green
    who apparently understand each other's language, but are reluctant to actually speak it.
    It's just that it's much easier to learn to understand than it is to gain speaking fluency. That and it's possible to understand, yet not be able to so much as form a coherent sentence. So it depends on the speakers' levels of fluency.

    In some cases, people do it so as not to end up speaking a blended version of the two. For instance, in Ukraine there are whole news programs (interviews, etc.) and such where one person speaks Ukrainian and the other Russian with no interpreter needed. The two languages aren't really mutually understandable, but they're close enough that you'll end up "blending" the two if you try to switch back and forth too often. (Or so they say. I've never tried.)

    Anyway, back to Chinese...

    Thunderbird, I was thinking the same thing as Kay until you listed the possible reasons. I suppose there's a reason the term is "mother tongue" and not "father tongue." Very interesting in any case.

    Does she not mix the two or are they too dissimilar for that? I always think it's adorable when little kids mix two languages and have no idea they're doing it. (Not so adorable when adults do it. See above.)
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  • Profile picture of the author neiljohnson85
    Hey hi,....according me English is very easier than chinese. as i am learning since long time but didn't sort our some word and phrase at a time when i want to write or speak.
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  • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    Chomsky posits a language acquisition device in the brain that most of us lose as we mature.

    I love the idea of bi-lingual pre-schools.
    common place in some countries

    even i graduated from one

    i lived in china and learnt chinese progressively, as it occurred. i could order food , go shopping, mainly for copies, and say one liners to pretty girls, usually hoping they would ignore me, as i could not always understand their answers, might be just as well

    it was easy as i wanted to learn and chinese are very forgiving and encouraging about their language. i did pick up a few chinese phrases, i still use occassionally

    my listening skills are better than my speaking

    iechyd
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