Yes, I have opted to learn Mandarin over Cantonese despite living in Hong Kong and having little to no intention of ever moving to China.

I can confirm that Mandarin is quite a difficult language to learn and I’m still at the very beginning of accepting the challenge. Whilst the structures are all pretty straightforward, the difficulty at this point is tone and pronunciation, and I imagine this will be an ongoing challenge until I eventually master it – which will happen by the way but I’m not going to put a time frame on it.

So, the other week I was having a Mandarin lesson. My teacher asks me to translate a sentence for her, so I, in my best Chinese (still dire), have a shot at it. I am then faced with a little giggle having obviously said something absolutely ridiculous to her. After composing herself, she then corrects a word that I’d clearly said in the complete wrong tone.

So I repeat the word in the correct tone.

She asks for a sentence with said word in again.

I say the sentence.

She laughs. I had switched back to the way I had originally said the word.

This occurred about 5 times before I actually said the word in the right tone in a complete sentence. I can’t get disheartened by it though because I still can’t keep a straight face when I ask kids where the clock is and they all point to it and shout ‘cock’.

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