I am trying to learn a little bit of German (now, I was always a little undecided about whether to learn French or Chinese) but as I might be off to Germany during Christmas, I thought it was a good idea to learn German and be able to blabber a bit if spoken to.
I've also been reading up on polyglotism, which basically means people who can speak lots of languages - something like a minimum of 6 languages. They all pretty much say the same thing, it's not as hard as it looks, but it's definitely hard work, and learning languages get easier with every language you master. Also, sometimes there's this fear in your head that causes a huge stumbling block - when you believe something is very difficult and cannot be mastered.
This is very true for me. To be honest, I fear the Chinese language. I find it humiliating to be Chinese, and not to be able to converse in Mandarin. I'm going to tell you all my reasons (in actual fact, lame excuses) of why I don't make the effort to learn Mandarin (but really, all they are at the end of the day are excuses, because if you put your mind to something, it can be done).
1. Every time I speak Mandarin, people laugh at my accent and say I sound like a white person speaking Chinese. I find the tones so difficult to differentiate. Call me tone-deaf. But I just..don't get it. And I hate being laughed at (which is one of the reasons a lot of people drop a language, because it gets them so far out of their comfort zone).
2. Learning Mandarin is doubly tough (in fact, when I attempted to learn French, I managed to learn a lot more words than Mandarin) because it's a whole new set of characters. It's learning the meaning, the character and the pronounciation. It's too much for my little brain to handle.
3. I fear speaking to people in Mandarin, because inevitably when they speak back to me in Mandarin...I never understand what they say because it's too fast.
4. I'm Chinese...and I don't speak or understand it. It's just plain embarrassing.
The point of this is...I find polyglotism very fascinating. Some speak about how a whole new world is opened up to you when you suddenly master a new language. Since I'm nowhere near mastering anything, I can only imagine this. But I really do think this must be fascinating, hearing people jabber away in a language that was once unknown to you, but suddenly revealed!
The second point is also to just do it. I've decided to try and master something other than Chinese (French or German seem a lot easier to me than Mandarin, solely because of the same letter system we have, well, almost anyway) in order for me to gain a little bit more confidence. I need to know myself that I can master something new. Also, i don't mind having a bad accent for German or French because I am not German or Fench after all!
The point is, like all things, is to try, to not give up, and to persevere. i just need to learn to take my own advice.