Now that I've come to the end of my formal Mandarin studies, I am starting to reflect on Chinese. I am now thinking of starting another foreign language - Spanish is in my sights.
Chinese was first!
Mandarin is my first foreign language, I speak two other languages, Afrikaans and English, but I grew up with them bilingually. So, Mandarin was my first active effort in acquiring a new language. I have come to learn a fascinating new world of foreign language and language learning in the process. I have slowly started doing research on Spanish, just to see how the language works and get a general overview on it. I got to two interesting conclusions - damn Spanish looks so easy now, compared to Chinese, but also darn why didn't I learn this before Chinese? I could've grasped the Chinese grammar so much more easier.
Yeah, so they are a bit paradoxical, so I couldn't come to a precise conclusion. Here is my logic. One's first foreign language comes along with a lot of other things, merely than just the language you are learning. You become so much more aware of the processes of language, the grammar, the vocabulary recall, the conjugation, the verbs, everything! This is acquired along with the language: the process itself.
Learning a Language
This process is very useful in future language learning endeavours. However, I didn't have that when I started learning Chinese. So when someone told that Chinese grammar was easy, I was like... erm, what you do mean about conjugating verbs? I don't understand? All these processes were done sub-consciously in my native languages. Now I had to go learn them. That's why I struggled with Chinese grammar. I couldn't understand why it was so "simplistic". What was going on here? Now, that I look back on it, Chinese grammar is ridiculously easy. The verbs and everything is isolating.
Now when I started doing research on Spanish, I saw that has some conjugation and some interesting things with pronouns and verb concord. However, I can understand it a lot easier after I have learned a foreign language. I know how the things fit together. Now, I'm thinking what if I learned the process of learning a language with a different language that was more similar to English. Note, I'm not saying an easier language, but a language that has less relative difference than Chinese, then afterwards Chinese would be so much more easier to learn.
Chinese has it's advantages
However, learning Chinese first has learned me much humility. Now, when I look at Spanish, I go, wow, it has a Roman alphabet and a pretty good phonetic relation with its words. It also has an easier discount, for instance the word "alphabet" in Spanish is "alfabeto". I mean, c'mon that's way easy. I'll dive right into this with no trouble.
Thus, after learning Chinese, other languages seem like a breeze, however, in the back of my mind I still think, what if learned another language and then moved onto Chinese, I could have grasped that big difference between Chinese and English much easier.
What do you think? This was my personal experience with Chinese and I guess I'll learn a lot more when I start tackling Spanish. Was Chinese your first foreign language too? How did you find it? Let me know!
Edit: 15/11: I screwed up something with the scheduling of the post. Hopefully it will show up on the front page soon. If you came here via the RSS, feel free to comment!