are all harder. I have a good friend who is an Arabist, and found Mandarin considerably easier. Also another friend who has amazing Chinese and then learned Korean and found the latter harder by several magnitudes. Chinese just takes a lot of memorization, but the grammar is pretty simple.
Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
Languages closely related to English
Category II: 30 weeks (750 hours)
Languages similar to English
Category III: 36 weeks (900 hours)
Languages with linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
Category IV: 44 weeks (1100 hours)
Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
Category V: 88 weeks (2200 hours)
Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers
Usually more difficult than other languages in the same category.
To the OP. Living in taiwan english only is absolutely possible like everyone seems to have said. But you will be either 95% limited or 950% slower. Take itr slow, but its worth learning the local language where you live. It opens doors, broadens perspectives and we dont become bitter old divorced expats hating taiwan whilst not actually understanding taiwan on a deeper level (we all know these folks). Taiwan gets deep as shit and will probably always be a sort of oxymoronic sophisticated clusterfuck that will always keep surprising the best of us in both amazing and terrible ways. Keeps it interesting, a fun key to life.
I feel that taiwan is exactly as easy in English as Vancouver (canada) is in Mandarin. In many ways. But its not ideal if one wants to dive deeper, or stay longer or get more involved with society and the world. Just as the Canadians will think im stupid saying that, taiwanese also think that about foreigners expecting to live here under english only. The difference is caandians mostyl cant speak mnadarin to explain it at all and taiwanese are able to basically and tend to be more polite about face… keep it in perspective and stay humble in the beginning. My group of friends always like to remind me when strangers complement my Mandarin ability its just a face thing because of face. If they truly are friends they will ask you if you ate or why you gianed weihgt instead of saying hello. All in good fun haha but true. All part of the paradox that is taiwan. Enjoy it, stay humble its more fun.
That said, i have also noticed a HUGE improvement in english recently as well. So its not hard to live here in english only. Just seems like a seriously missed opportunity…and i regret not taking it serious my first decad here. It would have improved my quality of life literally 100 fold.
The fastest way to gaining respect within taiwan is learning either “taiwanese”, hakka or any of the aboriginal lnguages depending on the community you live. In buisness you learn these for sourcing (probably just taiwanese is best) and mandarin for actual usefulness outside your community. Those big noses get all the grammas.
To be quite honest, I think that if you’re not planning to stay for the long haul or for an actual career (like less than 20 months) , not learning mandarin won’t kill ya. It will make for a more basic expatriation experience which gets boring eventually. If you’re living a life that is adjacent to the locals like they don’t exist and only have meaningful relationships with english speaking ones won’t make you learn anything new.
Mandarin isn’t necessarily hard if 1) you live in a mandarin speaking country, 2) you are actively taking classes and 3) are taking these classes seriously. When I was my dorm during my thesis, I’ve seen double diploma students (these usually stayed the year) go from 0 to hanging around with taiwanese locals and speak mandarin in a very correct way, because your oral skills will progress way faster than the written ones. So, if you’re just planning to take your english classes for 6 months and have a little fun without any will to go to Taiwan in the near future, mandarin will clearly not be as useful. However, it’s never bad to learn the basis of a language while you’re there.
It actually is , to some studies I heard about it takes 5x longer to for reading and writing compared to say another European language. There simply isn’t any language that compares with the difficulty of mastering the reading and writing component.
You can only get so far with the mastery of Mandarin without delving into the reading and writing component. I know this from personal experience as I learned to speak before reading and writing and there were many errors due to the Taiwan dialect I was learning .
They made the whole world hate them . Fecking idiots ! Talk about a massive own goal !
Guoji hua lol…
SHE taking the RMB there…
I learned Chinese for years but basically have given up on it now I have very little interest in mainland Chinese content or ever living in China and that is the problem. I coast along with my level in Taiwan.and see little benefit from getting more fluent for my future goals (mainly because it’s only really used in Taiwan and China ). I agree a small amount of Chinese can go a long way living here even if just for a short time.
Living in Taiwan is pretty tough for foreigners to integrate with locals , one further issue is that many Taiwanese don’t speak Mandarin as their 'friendly language ’ . Their local language for friends and family when joking could be Taiwanese or heavily influenced Taiwanese Mandarin (Taiwan Guoyu ). So yeah…Challenging.
I think it’s actually as easy to speak English with many people in the cities cos they want to speak English with you and prefer it so they can practice their English. Some will be much more eager to hang out with a newbie who speaks English with them , and knows nothing about Taiwan , than Mandarin
I would pay no attention to some suanming racists on PTT.