- Free Trial
- Why ATM
- Course Structure
- Corporate Programs
Chances are, if you are a business leader or aspiring diplomat, you have already heard about how Mandarin Chinese is the next IT language to master in order to stand out in your field. After all, that was exactly what Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, did to set the Internet ablaze when he fielded questions at a conference at China’s Tsinghua University in Mandarin.
Long before Zuckerberg made the headlines for his Mandarin abilities (and gained widespread support among the 1.3 billion-strong Chinese population), former Prime Minister of Australia, Keven Rudd, was using his fluent Mandarin languages skills to do the exact same thing, impressing the Chinese public, building trust with the Chinese government and securing cooperation between Australia and China.
Not all of us might want to run for office and build relationships on a global level, but whether you run your own business or work for a multi-national company, you are probably already aware of the benefits learning Mandarin Chinese would bring to your career. Not only do you get access to a huge market of 1.3 billion people that your competitors are not yet prepared to enter, this market also happens to be incredibly IT-savvy and quick to adopt new technologies, ideas and products.
Convinced to start your Mandarin language learning journey yet? Here are the top five reasons why would-be Mandarin speakers fail or give up. As the old Chinese adage goes, 知己知彼，百戰百勝(zhī jǐ zhī bǐ ， bǎi zhàn bǎi shèng). As long as you understand yourself (along with your weaknesses and what makes you lose motivation), and your opponent (the scary-looking Mandarin Chinese language), you are guranteed victory at every turn.
Reason 1: You never start
Chinese is ranked as a Category 4 (reserved for the most difficult languages) language by the U.S Defense Language Institute, requiring a grand total of 1100 class hours to get to what they term as General Professional Proficiency in speaking and reading. To add fuel to fire, there are many websites and forums which attempt to “warn” the prospective learner of how difficult Chinese, or how impossible it is to master. The prospective learner listens to this “advice” and is scared off, never even attempting to pick up a Chinese textbook and giving up all the opportunities that comes with China’s rapidly growing economy.
What to do: Ignore the naysayers and give the language a shot! What is difficult for others may be easy for you! Chinese vocabulary is both logical and highly visual in nature, akin to stacking Lego blocks together to form complex constructs. Take for example a concept like lactose intolerance, a fairly advanced word for English learners to grasp, can be analyzed and broken down into the following common Chinese characters.
乳 - milk
糖 - sugar
不 - not
耐 - endure
症 - disease
While the initial learning of the most fundamental words can be more time-consuming, the synergistic nature of Chinese vocabulary allows you to expand your vocabulary exponentially with almost every word you learn.
The pictorial nature of the Chinese writing system is also
inherently mnemonic, with each Chinese character telling a story of
how it came to be. For example, 名, which means name, consists of:
1) 夕, which is a dark moonless night, and
2) 口, which means mouth.
The story goes that on a dark, moonless night, when you can’t clearly see who is coming towards you, you would open your mouth and ask for their name to ascertain whether they were friend of foe.
With a knowledgable teacher to guide you through the logical development of each character, learning the basics of Chinese writing is a snap!
Reason 2: Seeking Perfection from the Start
The overwhelming reason why many enthusiastic first-time language learners give up is because they aim too high without fully understanding what they are in for. The aim of many learners is to speak flawlessly, with perfect grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, and many language learning novices overextend themselves by requiring that every sentence they utter be perfect in those three aspects. When they realise they are not able to hold onto their dream for perfection, it is not long before they give up.
On the other hand, there are learners who are too afraid to utter a word in Mandarin, for fear of making an error and looking foolish. While the underlying motivation for perfection might be different from the above group, the result is the same, and over time, the inability to connect with Mandarin Chinese speakers causes them to lose motivation.
What to do: The crux upon which language learning is based, is that as a language learner, you must fail fast and fail often. Get used to making mistakes and learning from them, as it is the quickest and surest way to reach the level of Mandarin Chinese you desire. A well-trained language teacher also serves as a coach and will be able to help you set SMART goals, with which you can measure your level of progress.
Reason 3: Paralysis by Analysis
With so many Chinese language learning resources out on the Internet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when deciding which learning material is best. You might even spend more time analyzing the learning resources and combing the web for reviews and recommendations than actually studying the materials! All too often, you might start following a learning program only to realize that it does not meet your needs halfway in, and you have to do the selection process once again.
What to do: When you are studying on your own, these setbacks can’t be helped and the best way to save time analyzing Chinese language learning materials is to get a trusted language buddy to select one for you. Of course, if you are studying Mandarin Chinese with a professional teacher, this is no longer a stumbling block and you skip over the materials selection process and jump straight into actually learning the language!
Reason 4: Lack of Quality Guidance
Whether you are learning Mandarin Chinese on your own or in class, you will need access to a native speaker who knows what they are doing. Many casual language exchange partner don’t have professional teaching experience and might not be able to skillfully create a situation for you to practice the words you have studied. Even worse, many professional Chinese teachers do not have international experience and follow the old-school lecture-style teaching format that is still prevalent in China and Taiwan, with teachers speaking 90% of the time.
What to do: For language exchanges, it is mostly a case of trial and error and after many tries, you might be able to build a stable of great language partners. If you are planning to enroll in a Mandarin class. it is rare to find Chinese teachers who will let students speak and interact with each other freely in class, so picking the right school is paramount in ensuring that you receive quality guidance! At Anytime Mandarin, teachers are trained in the communicative method and have international experience, which can be seen in their delivery of student-centered lessons.
Reason 5: Lack of Constant Practice
You have a busy life and it has been challenging to set aside some time every week to study and review the language you are so passionate about learning. Somehow you manage to squeeze out the time, studying for ten minutes on one day, thirty minutes a few days later, and fifteen minutes the next week. However, one day, something major happens in your life that you have to drop everything and focus on the disruption. When you finally have the time to get back to your Chinese language studies, you realize, to your despair, that you have already forgotten almost everything that you had learned and have to start all over!
For those taking a Chinese language course with a school, missing a lesson might mean being completely lost for the rest of the course. Rarely do language schools offer make-up lessons covering the exact same lesson that you have missed, and fewer still will do it for no extra charge.
What to do: Unfortunately, with language learning, consistency is the best policy and will give you a sense of accomplishment as you plough ahead.
For those who want to study Mandarin Chinese with a professional teacher at a language school, Anytime Chinese pioneers a unique curriculum concept, where each class is a standalone lesson and students are free to take classes at their level on any day of the week, or redo a class that they have taken.
How to Succeed in Learning Mandarin
To be able to speak Mandarin like Kevin Rudd, you need to consistently practice your Chinese language skills over an extended period of time without giving up, be open to making frequent mistakes and learning from them, find a quality guide to help you correct your errors, and select interesting learning materials that are beneficial in your learning.
Most importantly, you have to start learning your first word! After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Your Mandarin learning journey awaits!