Dear Students and Parents,
Learning Chinese is difficult but not impossible.
I am a new Mandarin Chinese language tutor based near Pittsburgh, PA. I recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Chinese Language and Literature and a certificate in East Asian Studies with a focus on China. The University of Pittsburgh is recognized as one the leading institutions on East Asian Studies in the United States, so you can be assured that I learned from academics who are well-known and respected in their fields. As per my language proficiency goals, I studied at Associated Colleges in China (ACC) in Beijing for an academic year, and most recently, I participated in the US Department of State's 2011 Critical Languages Scholarship (CLS) program in Xi'an. When I returned from Beijing in 2010, I scored Advanced-Mid proficiency on the ACTFL/OPI scale and maintained that proficiency post-CLS participation. Though I am not a native speaker of Mandarin, I can reproduce accurate and authentic pronunciation- I've scared quite a few Chinese when they've turned around to see a foreigner instead of a local!
What places Chinese on a higher level of difficulty for English learners than almost any other world language is its complex writing system and four (five, sort of) tones. I emphasize pronunciation and intonation with my students during all sessions. I generally focus first on the basic linguistics of Mandarin Chinese and introduce the pinyin system. I prefer to use the first year materials that one of my professors wrote- these books use limited vocabulary and emphasize grammar patterns and speaking fluidly. If the student is interested, I can teach both traditional and simplified writing systems, though I recommend beginning with the simplified system because it is predominantly used in the PRC. As with any language, Chinese is difficult to learn if one ignores the thousands of years of culture invested in its creation and evolution. Part of my instruction will include explanation of characters, their radicals and original meanings, as well as general knowledge of Chinese history, poetry, traditions and other cultural nuances.
***An important notice for aspiring students and their parents: Building language proficiency to the superior level requires a minimum of 2,200 class hours. According to ACC's research it takes 5-6 months minimum of strict adherence to a Mandarin-only language pledge to achieve basic fluency. Because of the near-impossibility of recreating this environment in the US, I will strive to give the student the best possible foundation prior to language immersion, collegiate study, or any other kind of study.***
I am currently available to teach during the day, after school, some evenings and on weekends. I can drive to the student's home or to a third party location, such as a library or coffee shop.
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