A month ago, a local language school was having a sale on old books. It was on my daily commute, so I decided to pop in. Leafing through the materials, I decided, on a whim, that I was going to learn Chinese.
I am not totally new to Chinese. Around 10 years ago, I took a class of Chinese as a university elective. Although it was over the course of two semesters, we made it through a single textbook. Yes, it was that slow. At the height of my powers, I could ask you what your name is, tell a salesperson I want yellow trousers, and say that I like movies! Really high level stuff, I know. I also didn’t bother learning to read, choosing to cram learn all of the words days before the final.
At this point, I know next to zero 1 Chinese, and I intend to change that. But it’s going to be impossible for at least two reasons. First,there are no ulterior forces compelling me to learn it. I don’t travel to China regularly. I don’t do business with Chinese people. I enjoy some Chinese media 2, but I am not obsessed with it. And I do not have a Chinese-speaking partner, nor am I looking for one. Second, Chinese is a difficult language for native English speakers and requires a huge time investment.
Difficult + time consuming + no external forces compelling me to do it = high probability of quitting.