Couple of weeks ago I've joined YMCA and started conversational Mandarin language course. The objective is to learn how to speak Mandarin, writing Chinese characters is a different story... It takes six years to learn how to write. Therefore we use Pinyin which is a romanization system for Standard Mandarin and language seems more friendly in a way. The toughest part is tones. In Mandarin there are four tones and it's really hard to pronounce syllables correctly. You have to pronounce each syllable separately, even if you speak fast. Grammar is quite easy, so far. Main focus is on vocabulary.
Honestly I'm really excited about learning a new language. Two lessons a week are fun but at the same time exhausting - they fry my brain!
23.7% of Malaysia's population are Malaysians of Chinese descent and in my office they make around 75% of total employee number. My colleagues usually speak a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin. Last week I even tried to practice my freshly acquired language skills during lunch with Kah Chun and Doris. Was fun :) Now I'm even thinking of going to Beijing as AirAsia has a special offer for Chinese New Year. We'll see. I just booked my flight to Phuket, Thailand two days ago so now my mind is already on Koh Phi Phi, where I'll be following in Leonardo di Caprio's footsteps (movie The Beach)!