The various related but often unintelligible Chinese language varieties collectively have 1.2 billion first-language speakers. Of those varieties, Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese or Putonghua, has 848 million native speakers, which is higher than any other language on Earth. It’s no wonder that more and more people around the world are seeing the practicality of learning Chinese as a second language.

However, learning a second language takes time and effort, especially if the intrinsic features of your target language differ significantly from those of your native language. A recent YouTube video titled “Foreigners’ Difficulties of Learning Chinese” explores this exact scenario by asking four Westerners about their own experiences studying the language.

Whether you’ve already dabbled in Chinese yourself or are thinking about it, the short clip makes for an interesting watch for anyone looking to expand their linguistic horizons.

At only two minutes and 13 seconds, this video is too short to do any more than touch on some of the basic linguistic features of Chinese or to take into account the different varieties of Chinese in detail. It serves as a great introduction, however, to explain some of the typical difficulties that foreigners run into while studying Chinese as a second language.

Watch the video directly below, or scroll down for a condensed version of its content with the four interviewed Westerners.

▼ United States



▼ Netherlands




▼ France




▼ Australia



Unfortunately, the vast majority of the YouTube video comments are in Chinese, making it difficult for those of us who don’t read the language to understand what the general consensus is. We invite any of our Chinese-learning readers to share their own observations in the comments section below!

Sources: YouTube/StopkiddinstudioEthnologue
Screenshots: YouTube/Stopkiddinstudio