It is a rather long article but quite funny too.
On the fact that Mandarin is not a (every) phonetic language, the author said
Which means that often you just completely forget how to write a character. Period...In fact, one of the most gratifying experiences a foreign student of Chinese can have is to see a native speaker come up blank when called upon to write the characters for some relatively common word. You feel an enormous sense of vindication and relief to see a native speaker experience the exact same difficulty you experience every day
How true, it is easy to forget how to write a Chinese character, especially when you don't write often. But once you see the written character that you know of, but have forgotten how to write it, you will often (especially in context with other words) nevertheless immediately recognize it.
Relating an incident when he had tried, rather successfully, to read a Spanish newspaper and on why it was so much easier to learn other languages e.g Spanish, he wrote
Having never studied a day of Spanish, I could read a Spanish newspaper more easily than I could a Chinese newspaper after more than three years of studying Chinese. What was happening here? Why was this "foreign" language so transparent? The reason was obvious: cognates - those helpful words that are just English words with a little foreign make-up I could read. Imagine you are a diabetic, and you find yourself in Spain about to go into insulin shock you can rush to a doctor's office, and, with a minimum of Spanish and a couple of pieces of guesswork ("diabetes" is just "diabetes" and "insulin" is "insulina", it turns out) you're saved. In China you'd be a goner for sure, unless you happen to have a dictionary with you, and even then you would probably pass out while frantically looking for the first character in the word for insulin.
There are more...
To read the article by David Moser click here