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My experience of learning Chinese

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(Originally published by the Business Confucius Institute)

I am often asked by friends and acquaintances why I decided to learn Chinese. There is no simple answer to this question. However, in this post I will attempt to summarise some of the main reasons and describe my experience of joining an estimated 200,000 Brits as a student of the world’s most spoken language.

I started working at the University of Leeds two years ago, following a career transition. Having moved to a new city I was looking for things to do which would enable me to meet new people in my spare time. I noticed that the Business Confucius Institute (BCI) were offering Chinese evening classes on the university campus and, together with a friend who had also recently moved to the city, decided to sign up to a beginner (level 1) class.

This initial decision was made on a whim – there were no grand career ambitions, set goals or plans to travel to China in the immediate future. Part of my attraction to the challenge o…