In China many people speak only one language. Like the English they have difficulty in learning other languages because their own language is adequate for their needs. Everyone around them speaks the same language and they have a rich and old literature to refer to. Like the English, the Chinese just speak their own language more loudly when they are not understood. English and Chinese speakers alike may reflect though, that if they learn Spanish words they will have access to the three most widely used languages on the planet.

Spanish is one of a family known as the Romance languages. Other Romance tongues are French, Portuguese and Italian. They are all descended from Latin which is a highly inflected language, and are inflected themselves. English is also inflected and influenced by Latin but it is a Germanic language. By using a language course it could be quite easy to learn a new language that is relatively close to your own.

This means that words change their meaning and grammatical functions by the addition of morphemes. These are bits of a word that change meaning without having meaning themselves. For example, the addition of the letter s means that a noun becomes plural.

Whereas the English learner would bring some understanding of inflection to the task, the Chinese learner would be in less familiar territory. Chinese is a tonal language and the meaning of words is determined by up, down, neutral, flat or tones. The absence of these tones might seem strange to a Chinese learner as would be the presence of the Latinate inflections.

Both English and Spanish include many words that are derived from Latin. The English speaking learner will enjoy recognizing these words and the similarities between some English and Spanish words. The Chinese learner will not enjoy the Latin influence. Though Marco Polo did get to China and stayed there, he did not seem to have any permanent influence on the language that he found.

Since infancy the Chinese learner’s vocal apparatus will have been making sounds at the front of the mouth that are quite different to any sounds made in Spanish. This will make it difficult for him to make the sounds that are familiar to Spanish speaking people.

Verbs are complicated problems when learning any new language. In English the verb, ‘to be’ is difficult for foreign learners and in Spanish it may be a problem for some English learners. They may have to get used to the idea that there are two forms of the verb in Spanish, ‘estar’ and ‘ser’. This might confuse the English learner temporarily, but the Chinese learner will have even more difficulty because he has been used to using static verb forms.

Writing in Chinese is a daunting prospect for foreigners. A whole new system of characters has to be learned. For the Chinese person writing will involve learning the alphabet from scratch. However, the English learner will escape this whole imposition and be able to call upon his early learning education.

About the Author

The point of such comparisons is to suggest how much easier it should be for an English speaker to learn spanish online. The native language of the English learner and the target language have so much in common that learning should be just fun with use of language course. However, given the intellectual gymnastics that all Chinese people go though to learn how to read and write their own language they may confidently be expected to do well.

Theme by