Study Mandarin By Speaking Mandarin

20 May

Learning a language is like learning how to riding a bike in two ways. Once you know it, you know it and the best way to learn it is by going out on the street and just start peddling.

Learning to speak and write mandarin can be done in many different ways. Most good ways involve going to China, the only country in the world where you actually need to use the language to get understood. Like any other language, and any other learning process, for that matter, practice is the key to success and being in China is pretty much a pre requisite for learning Mandarin. This here is a short guide to picking the right school that will suit your own needs.

Before I start explaining two factors I think is most important and why the matter so much, I would like to say this: your selection criteria will most likely contain these factors but will not be limited by them. If you choose to use this little piece of advice, you should also be aware that I actually work with this stuff and I therefore may be a little biased. But I work with this stuff for a reason. I am passionate about languages and I have a pretty big bout of experience when it comes to learning them. That said, I have found that each person learns languages differently and just because I single these factors out, you should not just swallow them whole – try to put yourself in your future shoes; what factors will matter most to you when you actually study Mandarin in China?

The most important factor is fun. Learning mandarin takes time and life is short. You need to enjoy your studies or you will not succeed. Fun comes in many different flavors and the 2 facets that I will describe here have something to do with enjoyment.

The first thing you should look at is class size. Class size matter more than any other aspect of a school. Here is why: the more people in a classroom, the less time the teacher has to help each student. Super obvious fact, right? The reason that I write it down is that personal attention really really matters in making learning Chinese fun. I will pretty much define fun Chinese studies as being able to speak the language early on in your studies and learn by talking to people. Books are boring, people are fun. The reason that personal attention matters so much is that Chinese pronunciation is really difficult in the beginning. You need to have a person correcting you to get speaking quickly.

The second thing you should look for is related to class size. It is personal time with a teacher. Some schools actually schedules time for each student to every week sit in with a teacher in a private setting. 1 hour of private time is worth 5 hours of more lecture-like time, five is a pretty exact number, but I think that the value is somewhere around there. The reason that the leverage of personal time is so much higher is that you can learn the stuff you need to do the stuff you want to do while in China. I am a huge fan of diving. I love it. It sucked in the beginning here in China that I could not do it. Then I heard of a lake where people go diving but still I could not go: people there did not speak English. When I in private time learned the vocabulary necessary to go I was dead pleased. What I had not counted on however, was that in the single week up there, I probably learned more Chinese than I had in class that month.

People are fun. Books are not. Up by the lake I spoke Chinese because I knew the words I needed to know to go diving. I made friends and soon I was learning a lot more than just diving terminology. The best way to learn something is practicing, as I wrote before and the best way to capitalize on being in China is picking a school that lets you learn the stuff you need to do the stuff you want to do.

Rui Ming works for a Mandarin Language School that is a great option for those that want to learn Mandarin in China.

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