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Benny’s 3.25 month video: questions that waste your time

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Here you go! My 3 month and one week Mandarin video!

[Video also available on Youku. Click CC to enable captions in English, Simplified Chinese, or Traditional Chinese]

My interviewer is John Pasden, who writes at the 10-year-strong blog dedicated to all things Chinese-learning, Sinosplice. He is a co-host at Chinesepod (which I've been listening to regularly throughout the 3 month project – separate post about that coming up next week, with another video interview with the other main co-host, Jenny).

This will probably be my last video interviewing another white guy for a while 😛 This is also the last video where the main point will be to show my level, as I'm going to attempt to use my Chinese to share much more interesting things in future, during my cultural exploration of the country (hence the new video introduction).

Despite that, we did manage to have an interesting discussion. I've written about this topic in great detail before regarding the hardest language to learn, and in this video I mention how wasteful I find the idea of comparing language difficulties for non-linguists.

It's an “interesting” thing to ponder over, but I personally find it as useful as the question “I wonder if I'm in the matrix?” – perhaps a fascinating discussion about what-ifs and theory, but it involves unrealistic precursors that apply to nobody, like “all things being equal”, and has no real world applications at all. It's nothing more than an annoying distraction for people who are more pragmatically focused on using their one key language.

For most people, it's a completely impractical thing to ask in the first place. If you are only learning one foreign language then who cares about relative difficulty with other languages that you are not currently learning? Focus on your own language and stop wasting time wondering how easy or hard other ones are.

The same goes for any such question. If someone is a smarter language learner than you, has more free time than you or whatever, well good for them I suppose. But who cares when it comes to you and your situation? Don't let anything like that distract or demotivate you. Only ask questions with the ultimate purpose of improving your learning strategy.

You have your own story to live, you will overcome your challenges, and you will focus on your situation. Nothing else matters.

author headshot

Benny Lewis

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one.

Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish

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