Anonymous asked in TravelAsia PacificChina · 10 years ago

how long will it take to be fluent in Chinese?

Hello everybody . . . I am an Egyptian student who lives in America and has been taking a Mandarin Chinese class (level 1) for about 7 months in high school until now and I really enjoy everything about it (memorizing characters, the culture, and the people), I also think that it is very easy and fun to learn. I will also be in Chinese level 2 next year beside that I am learning vocabulary and dialogues on my own and will be studying Chinese on my own over summer. I am really dedicated to be fluent in Chinese since I wanna go live in China and have a family and all that soon in my life. So my question is how long will it take me to be sort of fluent (not 100%) in Chinese?? I also noticed that Chinese has the same difficulty as my home language (Egyptian Arabic) so that might help since I already speak a fairly hard language for lots of people to learn. Also, if you are mainland Chinese or have ever been to China, I wanted to know how China (mainland) is like and how people would feel about me as an Egyptian? From what I have seen in U.S mainland Chinese people are very nice and kind and they also have the same morals, ethics and even political views as the ones we had in my home country. Also I wanted to say that I am not one of those radical islamists or westerners who hate communism and the government of China. I am actullay a christian (doesn't really practice) who really respect the Chinese government, its great leaders like Chairman Mao Zedong, and its achievements. Thanks in advance and I really appreciate your answers.

17 Answers

  • Jebbie
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Learning Chinese requires an ongoing commitment that many cannot sustain once they encounter some frustrations and/or learning "plateaus" that are inevitable.

    I have been studying Chinese for 6 1/2 yrs, every day for a minimum of 1 hr a day. MINIMUM. Sometimes much, much more. I've only taken 2 breaks from it, when I really felt like I needed a vacation from it. I live in the USA, so of course, it is harder to acquire a command of the language since I'm not surrounded by its use at all times. Learning the language in China itself can highly accelerate the process.

    I started by taking formal classes at a school for Chinese children. I continued studying on my own with my Chinese boyfriend. When I broke up with him, I kept studying on my own, and set up some tutor-trading where I'd help Chinese people with their English and they'd help me with my Chinese. That had varying degrees of success.

    There's different aspects to learning Chinese- First, the writing. Each word is a different character. There is no formal alphabet, per se, though some components of the characters may be the same or similar. Seriously, to learn to read and write this language you must take it ONE WORD AT A TIME. Some people report that they memorize how to write certain characters, only to forget them a week later. It's not simply writing the characters over and over that you must do, but you must learn to mentally visualize how the character looks in order to then reproduce it on paper. Muscle-memory isn't enough, so it's a very different way of learning-- visualize first, write second.

    I honestly haven't met many people who have studied Chinese as a second language who have fully mastered WRITING all of the characters from memory. I can do it fairly well, but I PRACTICE READING AND WRITING CHARACTERS EVERY MOMENT I HAVE A CHANCE, and this includes breaks at work, and at red lights as I am driving-- I keep index cards in my purse for this purpose- to see new characters and study them whenever I have a moment.

    The second aspect is the conversational piece. If you are not in an environment where people are speaking in Chinese, you may lack opportunities to really gain conversational fluency. I tutor English as a second language with Literacy Volunteers and have noticed that my Chinese students have a similar problem: One can practice reading and writing on one's own, but one needs a partner to engage in conversation. You really need to FIND people who not only speak Chinese, but are good at explaining the differences in the grammar and meaning (easier said than done) to feel you are making progress in this respect.

    Am I trying to discourage you? Not at all! Chinese is a fascinating and beautiful language and the challenge of it is what attracts me to it. However, if you have a GOAL of FLUENCY within a certain period of time, I think you are setting yourself up to be disappointed. Take it one step at a time. Above all, I cannot stress enough that you will NOT LEARN TO SPEAK CHINESE BY GOING TO A CLASS ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK AND STUDYING A COUPLE HOURS IN BETWEEN CLASSES. You must study every single day.

    In order to pick up the phonics and the sounds of the words, I found watching Chinese movies with subtitles to be invaluable. The more I heard the sounds, the more I was able to reproduce them in my own speech.

    Choose a textbook series that you like and stick with it. Some people jump from one book to another and never make progress. Now, of course, you can supplement your learning with more than one book, but try to continue studying with a textbook series that will take you from beginner to intermediate rules of grammar, etc.

    Arabic is not really like Chinese in terms of the syntax. I know a little bit of Arabic and there's an alphabet, too, which there isn't in Chinese.

    Final advice- Get a really good dictionary. I don't know about Arabic-Chinese dictionaries, but for English-Chinese, I have found the Oxford one to be most reliable.

    Chinese is challenging, but fun. Be diligent and enjoy any small progresses because soon they will add up to big ones.

    Source(s): P.S- I also think "fluent" means different things to different people. My version of fluent is being able to speak a second language with the same command of vocabulary, grammar and idiomatic phrases that I have in English. For some people, it's about having a basic conversation that may not be as precise and colorful as they can speak in their native language. Only you will know in time what your aptitude is for the language and what effort you will need to invest to attain your ultimate goals.
  • 3 years ago


    Source(s): Get Better in Chinese Language
  • 3 years ago


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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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    how long will it take to be fluent in Chinese?

    Hello everybody . . . I am an Egyptian student who lives in America and has been taking a Mandarin Chinese class (level 1) for about 7 months in high school until now and I really enjoy everything about it (memorizing characters, the culture, and the people), I also think that it is very easy and...

    Source(s): long fluent chinese:
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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    These days you can learn how to speak Chinese over the internet. Check out this online course, it's voted as the best Chinese online course of all time: The course is very easy to follow, I was able to learn Chinese in just 3 months.

    I live in New York City, I wanted to go to a Chinese language teacher but that would have cost me over $800 per month. Good thing with this internet, $800 it's a lot of money for me.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    I am currently in China studying mandarin full time at a local university. It is said that we should be able to speak conversational mandarin within a year (I've known others who are at this point). We should also be able to read a good amount of characters. I am about a month and a half in and can already do basic conversations and read basic Mandarin. My schedule is 3 hours a day of class 5 days a week with about 1 hour of studies per day on the side. Therefore, it is all based on how much effort you would like to put into studying the language.

    Source(s): Studying Mandarin in China, running a living in China blog --
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    how long will it take to be fluent in Chinese?

    how long is a piece of string?

    If you study full time and have a good method/teacher and a good pickup rate I would say 3-6 month to become fluent. Most will not achieve that coz they use another language as instruction language. Get rid of any other intermediate language ASAP and your learning rate will excel.

    That counts for reading Chinese too.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I have been studying for 4 years and am almost conversationally fluent / about as fluent as a 4-5 year old child

  • 10 years ago

    Well a lot depends on you

    Firstly you have spoken and written Chinese.

    For written chinese you need to learn 5000 characters, If you are studying full time you might be able to learn 5-10 characters every day, so you could do it in a year or two.

    For spoken Chinese, 1 year can take you up to being able to have a conversation, and several years to be able to handle business dealing in Chinese.

    You could do it in 2 years full time study. I suggest though that would only be possible in a full immersion environment, and I took about 4 years of living in China to become converstional (though not studying but working) and my friend learnt more in one year studying full time.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Children in China learn Chinese while they are very young at school, and it takes up to 5 years to become fluent. Even then, they are more and more complex Chinese characters to master.

    If you think that its fun and easy, then continue because Chinese Mandarin will be use full for your travels or Business.

  • otha
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

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