Chinese is the world's most commonly spoken language and it is no surprise that many people wish to learn it. To add to this and despite the fact that English is considered as the language of business, Chinese is an increasingly useful tool for world trade. China is expanding its influence upon the world and a knowledge of its language can never be a bad thing.

So how can you go about learning Chinese and are there any ways that are more effective than others?

Firstly, there are so many online courses and information sites that are available; many of these are actually free and offer some very good information. Online courses are a very good way of learning a language, providing you choose a good one, as they offer a large scope for interactivity and many fun and engaging tests and games to improve and examine your language abilities. They are also quite reasonable in terms of value for money.

The most expensive methods are either investing in adult education classes or a more advanced qualification or spending time in a Chinese speaking country. This can be hugely expensive depending on the level of your qualification and ranges up to a degree. Living in a foreign country is also very expensive and a difficult thing to do if you have a low level of proficiency in their language. Classes do have the benefit of a trained professional and are thus able to offer a greater level of support should any difficulties arise and many result in a certificate which acts as proof of your abilities.

Self teach guides are also an option when learning a language and there is now a bigger range of them available than there ever has been. They offer possibly some of the best value for money and are really good to pick up now and again when you have a few minutes to spare. They are not set to a rigid timetable either, unlike a qualification, and you can learn the language at your own pace and leisure.

Chinese literature is one of the oldest and most prolific forms of early writing. There have been a number of prominent writers over the years and this can be a good way to dig much deeper into the history and culture of China.

For those that aren't into history there are so many news websites and Chinese website pages. This is, of course, free and a great way to learn a few more phrases. Stick to the little and often method and look at some Chinese for just a few minutes every day and you will soon pick up some new words.

Chinese is not an easy language; in fact it is one of the hardest on the planet. What makes is difficult for English speakers to learn is its style and approach to communication: We aren't familiar with this as English is so very different. Thus there is only one way of gaining fluency and that's to practice and immerse yourself into the language at every opportunity.

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