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Why Study Mandarin?

Many students may have this question in their mind. Most young students are either asked by their parents to do so or required to study because that's on of the curriculum. But that may not be the case for adults. More and more adults are active in learning Mandarin and motived to learn themselves. But why's that? The study of the Chinese language not only helps bridge the cultural gap, but opens the way to different important fields except for culture. Besides, Mandarin is important your career as well. These days Mandarin is spoken by over 1 billion people around the world, about one fifth of the global population. International businesses tend to hire people who speak more than one language. Since China is a huge market, business leaders are looking for people who can speak Mandarin. Last, both China and Taiwan are great places for traveling. Getting around is also much easier if you can speak Mandarin. Why not master one more language since it... read more

Authentic Cultural Content Chinese Culture

My course includes authentic cultural content Chinese culture, from its city-scapes, history, and arts, to local habits and conventions, is vividly depicted across all media of the program.  Some examples include: • Various forms of greetings • Perceptions of visitors to China • Major Chinese festivals • Color symbolism in traditional China • Courteous bargaining in street markets • Chinese reactions to Western foods • Conventions for ordering in restaurants • The roles of host and guest.  

Yep, you can speak Chinese!

If you want to speak Chinese fluently, you need to immerse yourself in it through classes and discussion groups. Your brain is ready. You just have to train it right. My course is designed for students with little or no knowledge of the Chinese language. No previous Chinese learning experience is required. In addition, students will understand an introduction to both the Chinese language and to the world cultures and societies where Chinese is spoken. After four months, students should be able to understand and recognize the Chinese phonetics, speak Chinese with correct pronunciation, write Chinese characters (approx. 300 characters), learn basic Chinese conversations, read and understand short paragraphs

Before we begin, let's manage our expectations

I am absolutely sure that there are many studies which state that expectations are crucial when a student begins to study anything. If someone believes that they can succeed, they often will. Corny as this may sound, there are solid socio-linguistic studies which back this up.   And herein lies a problem. People are generally told that foreign languages are hard, and that Chinese is downright impossible. Whats odd is that there isn't really any basis for this to be said. Does Chinese have an excessive amount of detailed grammar, or maybe a syntax that would make your head spin? Does Chinese use sounds and morphemes that could potentially choke a non-native speaker? Is there some magical linguistic kung fu that only Chinese people know?   The answer to all of the above questions is no.   So, considering that Chinese is very learn-able (albeit a little tricky, there are a lot of words), how should we proceed? We manage expectations. We clearly... read more

Chinese 101 - Wo(k) I Knee or I Love You

Speaking Chinese is actually quite simple. All Chinese words are one-syllable words. So any one-syllable sound or word you can think of probably correspond to some Chinese word you just do not know yet.    For example...   The word I in Chinese is pronounced wo. Think of the English word wok, but do not pronounce the k.  The word love in Chinese is pronounced ai. It has the same pronunciation as the English word I.  Lastly, the word you in Chinese is pronounced ni. It is how you would pronounce the English word knee.    So to put it together...   I - love - you  wo - I - knee  

Teaching Chinese

Teaching Chinese is one of my favorite challenges. It falls right in line with taking the abstract and slowly shaping it into a concrete, user friendly tool, and in doing so opening up a new pathway in the mind for understanding and expression. One of my favorite examples of this is the almost countless number of homonyms in Chinese. Everyone in the west who decides to take Chinese on is accustomed to the alphabet - a series of symbols that by themselves mean nothing, but can gain meaning when joined with a bunch of letters and ordered in any number of ways. One sees an object and in a miraculously quick process it finds the components that define that object as fluffy, soft, cute, playful, innocent: it is a kitten.    Depart from this alphabetic world, away from this system of 26 letters, and you return to a blank slate where your method of understanding the world around you is capable of a fundamental shift. Chinese has no alphabet; instead a matrix of thousands... read more

Memorizing Chinese Characters (cont.) and How to Use a Chinese Dictionary

I know I have said that memorizing Chinese characters is all about repetition, but I have to admit that that is not quite true. While repetition is the meat and potatoes of getting these mysterious images to sink in, there are some tools of the trade that I have learned as a CSL (as opposed to ESL) student and would like to share. This is edition 1 of a few blogs that will cover this topic! First: I have already mentioned that radicals can play a large role in explaining the meaning of a character. For instance, you may happen to have a Chinese dictionary that has a special kind of character index whose use goes something like this:   First you look closely at the character and determine a key radical in it that gives it meaning. That radical may be “huo” or “fire”, “ren” or “person”, “cao” or “grass-like”, “kou” or “mouth” etc, etc. You can find a list of these kinds of radicals in the front to the dictionary index,... read more

Radicals in Chinese Characters: how they can aid you to have a well-grounded basis in Chinese

I’ve heard it suggested that one should learn to speak Chinese and put off learning characters until one has a better grasp of the spoken language. At first my thought was, “Well, I’ve never considered it. Perhaps they’re on to something”. But I spent some time contemplating it while writing my Chinese characters over and over again and I’ve decided that I disagree. This is because there are two parts to many characters that make them easier to remember when a little bit of effort is put in to try and wrap one’s head around these concepts.  Often times, there is what is called a “radical” that gives meaning to the word and a “radical” that gives sound to a character. For instance, in the character “Hai” For “Sea” the character contains a water radical to the left and a “Mother” radical (“Mu” from “Muqing”) to the right under another couple of strokes (type “Sea” into Google translate and it will give you the character for “Hai”... read more

Learning Chinese

The introduction of Mandarin is to help someone who has little or no prior experience in the language. My lesson consists of the following: basic sentence patterns, dialogues to illustrate the use of these patterns, vocabulary and expressions, language points, exercises, and cultural insights about the topic of each lesson. At the end of the class, you will be able to learn ninety basic sentence patterns, three hundred characters, basic grammar, and communicative skills.

Chinese Measure Words: what are they and why are they important?

Looking for a way to spice up and professionalize your Mandarin? One great way to do that is to pay attention to details and vocabulary. In other words, keeping a mental bank of what are called “measure words” or “classifiers” can make your language sound exact and refined. Measure words in the Chinese language are abstract identifiers that appear between the number character (that gives the amount of items) and the item character (that names the item). For instance: If I wasn’t to say, “There is one girl”, then I would say “Zhe’er you yi wei nuhai” or more directly translated: “Here is one girl-child”. In this sentence the measure word is “wei (4th tone)” which is used in sentences that refer to people. A measure word is also used when referring to “This item”, “That item” or “Which item?”. For instance, to say “This cat”, “That cat” and “Which cat?” I can say: “Zhe zhi mao”, “Na zhi mao” and “Nei zhi mao?”. These measure words... read more

Holistic Tutoring

One of the more frustrating things about tutoring is when students or their parents want to treat tutoring like a quick fix. In other words, sometimes they want to meet the night before a test and cram for said test in hopes of getting a better grade. On the surface, this problem might work, but it treats the symptoms rather than the root of the problem. If you're going to take the time to invest in a tutor, then here are a couple of suggestions. First, try to catch the problem early. If you (or your child) is struggling in a subject, get help right away. Don't wait until you (or your child) feels that overwhelming feeling that comes when one is completely lost in information. The sooner a tutor can get involved, the better the tutor can help a student to stay on track. Work with your tutor to adopt a thorough approach to the subject. It is not enough to learn the facts of a subject, but also to learn the reasons behind those facts. If you want to do well in a subject,... read more

Sink or Swim – Can You Make It in Language Immersion?

YES YOU CAN! And it’s, hands down, the best way to learn a language. I thought I’d write this post in response to the news that six elementary schools in Metro-Atlanta will begin dual immersion language programs in Spanish, French and Chinese. http://www.globalatlanta.com/article/26210/schools-get-15000-for-language-immersion-programs/ Here are some tips on how to learn a language through immersion, based on my own experience learning Chinese in the US and abroad: • Don’t insist on perfection – whether in pronunciation, grammar, or anything else – until after several months of second language immersion have passed. “Warm up” to the language by taking in the sounds, rhythms, and basic vocabulary of your new language, especially in the beginning. • Re-learn your native language. It’s super-difficult to learn a second-language when you don’t have a firm anchor, in terms of spelling, syntax, grammar rules, etc., in your first. THIS IS WHERE A LOT OF SECOND LANGUAGE... read more

To pay less for long time or pay more for short?

I have been responding to a lot of requests recently, yet got no further reply thereafter. Some students just wrote me that my rate is higher than others. Well, I have some say there, as I had students before who came back to me after they tried other tutors. The question is, would you rather pay more for a short time or pay less for a longer period of time? First, some students do not have a clear goal of the "deadline," which means they do not know to what extent they need to learn about certain subjects and until which date they need to achieve this goal. They would set up a schedule for one or two 1-hr lessons each week and see where it takes. The result is, after a long time, or after they couldn't make it to the classes for some time, they would lose their urge and quit the classes. In this way, they waste the money spent on previous sessions, even if they pay a less-than-usual rate. On the other hand, some students know what they are going to do and... read more

Sketch, watercolour, painting, cartoon, Chinese...

I am interested in teaching problem solving and confidence, I believe every child can achieve excellence and I have the skills to allow children to do just that! I have been a teacher in the Cleveland CCCCA School District. During that time I have served as a certified and licensed art teacher. This particular field is unique because it has allowed me to work with students in all grades. I have had the opportunity to teach senior high school over the course of my career in China. I believe I can make parents' and students' lives more productive with less conflict.

Smile and Encouragement helps children a lot in learning whatever.

I've been living here in Lisle for almost a year. I had such a great time in teaching the kids in Langlang Education Center as well as at home. I would like to share something here with all of you: teachers, students and parents. I hope that you can enjoy my post and also Wish whomever reads this post a Happy and Healthy New Year. Chinese or American, kids all behave very similarly in their curiosity and enthusiasm to learn something that they are interested in. So as a teacher, when I helped the kids in languages or other subjects, all I need is just smile and encouragement all the time. Smile can help the kids to have a very comfortable atmosphere to learn with you and encouragement is very essential to help kids build up their confidence in learning anything. Once you handle these two pieces of treasure in teaching very well, you will gain a magnetic connection with the kids and make them like you and enjoy learning with you. Of course, at the same time you can... read more

Revolutionize your language learning experience

I've been re-reading an old copy of Barry Farber's book How to Learn Any Language. The copy I have is more than a little out-of-date, as the author talks about the "innovation" of portable audio-cassette players as a language-learning tool. The internet has opened up countless new tools for learners of foreign languages. If I were to update Farber's book myself, here are the online tools I would add to his list of advice. If you would like the details of any language-specific sites or need help navigating the overwhelming amount of available online resources, feel free to contact me through WyzAnt by email to set up a tutoring session. (I specialize in tutoring Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and English, but I have also "dabbled" in other languages). Online dictionaries that provide two-way look-up are usually much easier than looking up words in a paper dictionary, especially for character-based languages like Chinese and Japanese. Podcasts online are... read more

New Vocabulary: Tips and Tricks

Whether you're learning Spanish, French, English, or even new science or social studies vocabulary, developing vocabulary is the key to a world of new conversations. When approaching a new set of vocabulary, different techniques work for different kinds of learning. Watching movies, listening to music, and interacting with people in the new language are fun and effective means of immersion. When you hear unfamiliar terms, sound them out and jot them down to look up later. When preparing for a test or working with a textbook, a systematic approach can help reinforce and practice new terms. With a new set of thirty words from a textbook chapter, follow these four easy steps to quickly learn up to thirty terms in one sitting: 1. Make a list of new words in the target language. 2. Attempt to translate them on the same line in a second column, using cognates as clues to recall the term in your native language. 3. After attempting to translate all the vocabulary, use a... read more

Chinese for elementary school kids

I've been teaching Chinese lesson for many years, and this is the first time I am writing a blog. I have used many different textbook, and free resources to teach Chinese language to heritage students, meaning their parents are native Chinese immigrants, or inter-racial marriage students - such as one parent is Chinese, and the other is American decent; or Hispanic.. Of all the text book that I use, I really like "Better Chinese" elementary school series, such as "My First Chinese Words".  For middle school students, I use to use "Happy Chinese" series with vocabulary flash cards, student textbook, workbook, audio CD. I do many activities with my student every week. Last Friday, we started first lesson with listening to songs, read along with a CD, Today, I reviewed last week's lesson, and then we jumped right to the workbook. Later, we sang a song that go along with the book, and did hand gesture to go along with it. For the culture... read more

Should I Learn Simplified or Traditional Chinese?

Although spoken Mandarin Chinese is standardized around the world, two different writing systems are in use. In mainland China, simplified characters are used, while in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, traditional characters are used. I recommend that you start with simplified characters. Not only are simplified characters a little easier to learn, but mainland China's political and economic status is also rapidly rising, spreading simplified characters to overseas Chinese communities like Singapore and Malaysia. Once you reach a certain level of proficiency, you can learn traditional characters without too much difficulty, but in the beginning it is best to stick with one system.

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