因人而异 – yin1ren2er2yi4
Literal meaning of each character = because – people – and/yet/but – different
This is a fairly self explanatory idiom when you read the meaning of each character. It basically means “everybody is different”, “differ from person to person” or “vary with each individual”
I first came across this idiom when talking about language learning and comparing languages with a taxi driver. I gave my opinion about Chinese being easy and French being hard and I also said that it was only my opinion and someone else may feel differently. I also comparing my learning Chinese faster than french and so on and at some point in the conversation he said this idiom.
So I now use it when talking about language learning to say that some people learn faster than others. It isn’t to say that anyone is a better person than anyone else, it’s just that they are “different”. However I am pretty sure that it can be used to other situations when talking about peoples individual abilities or maybe even tastes etc.
We all know that one of the best ways to learn or improve in a language is through immersion. It’s why children who immigrate to other countries pick up the language so quickly.
I also took this step 2 years ago when I moved to China. I had been learning Mandarin for 3.5 years already when I hit a plateau or bottle neck in my language progress. This is something that happens to everyone on a regular basis when learning any language. So I thought the best way to break through this bottle neck was to move to China in order to be immersed in the language.
Of course I personally haven’t noticed much of an improvement over the past 2 years, but if I were to return home and talk to my Chinese friends I am sure they would sing my praises and be blown away with my improvement. This is because we never notice our own improvement in language learning, especially after the first few years are over. It becomes a very slow gradual process the same way in which our body grows. Children growing up don’t actually notice themselves get taller but if they see someone whom they haven’t seen in a while then that person notices how much taller they are.
So if you are considering re-locating to China for a short or long time I would certainly recommend it for your Chinese learning. There’s no doubt that being fully immersed in the language helps you to reach the goal of fluency. However with that comes a lot of other problems like home sickness and culture shock. I have sure had my fair share of Chinese culture shock and may write about it in the future. I miss home a lot, but I know being here is the best thing for my Mandarin learning and reaching the eventual goal of being a simultanious translator.
So if you are thinking of coming here it’s quite easy. There are tons and tons of English teaching jobs. You would have no trouble getting work and living here is quite cheap. In fact your standard of living would likely be higher than at home and you would only need to work about 15-20 hours per week. The work however is something I personally hate but others love it.
If you have any feedback or comments feel free to leave them below.
When I first started learning Mandarin it was only as a hobby. But after I started getting good at it I started to think of the practical uses being proficient in this language would bring.
China is quickly becoming a power house on the world scene. It’s economy continues to grow even with the world experiencing economic crisis, China’s economy continues to grow (all be it at a slower rate than before).
Further when you look at the minorities in various countries around the world, which minority has the largest amount of people ? Is it not the Chinese ? At least that’s what I have noticed.
Moreover, have you not noticed that more and more schools are offering Mandarin courses and even some middle schools have made Mandarin mandatory ? What does that say about the government’s view to this language ? What that tells me is they are realizing the value and importance of this language.
As a result I am very happy I started learning Mandarin when I did. I somewhat feel like I am a little ahead of the pack now and I am confident I will be able to use this skill in the future working as a translator/interpreter or even a Mandarin teacher.