Mandarin Course and Mandarin Classes SubPages

Friday, February 12, 2010

The cultural differences which would impact the learning of Mandarin Course and Mandarin Classes (Part 2)

No one can expertize in Mandarin language without understanding the cultural difference between China and other countries. Today, I would like to talk about five major differences I found between China and the United States.

First, the "harmony" v.s. "conflict". Chinese people would not like to challenge others in front of them, but that does not mean that they would not say something bad behind them. However, the American style is much more straightforward. Americans are willing to discuss the problem and confront each other face to face even some arguements may raise. This is one of the most unacceptable factors that many Mandarin teachers have said, they felt uncomfortable to a bi-directional teaching and learning scenario.

Second, the relationship with friends. Chinese people may have many friends, but only few of them would become the real friends which means they are truthful and reliable to you. On the other hand, Americans can establish deeper relations with more friends easier than Chinese, but they might not be the lifelong friends which means the relationships may terminates after a specific period.

Third, the conscious about "self". Chinese people think that they are one member of a bigger organization, such as the company, club, family, class, and so on. Moreover, they will do what the bigger organizations want to prevent from being isolated. Nevertheless, Americans see self as the first priority and always try to promote themselves instead of promoting the team or group she or he is belong to. Therefore, a Mandarin teacher has to know this and keep in mind to offer opportunities for such students to show themselves off.

Fourth, "public" and "private". Chinese people treasure the private relationships among others very much and usually we will consider the private preference on someone when we are dealing with public affairs with her or him. Unlikely, Americans separate public and private very clear. For example, Chinese people will expect a public return if they do you a private favor or a private return if they fo you a public favor. But the Americans will never ever think or do that way. As a result, Mandarin teachers should not expect that American students will rank their classes high just because they are your friends.

Fifth, it's the "money". Most of Chinese people are used to save their money into a bank or banks and only spend a little amount of their income every month for pursuing a better life after retirement since they are still young. However, Americans prefer to enjoy the current moment so the average saving percentage out of total income is incompetible to Chinese people. And that's why Americans were hurt more seriouly in the financial tsunami than Chinese.

These are very important factors that each Mandarin course teacher and / or Mandarin classes student should know so that they will get along with each other smoothly and joyfully.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is multimedia important in Mandarin Course and Mandarin Classes?

According to my experience, multimedia materials are very useful in motivating students and bettering the learning performance. However, the time required for preparing multimedia materials is much longer than general paper textbooks.

One of my friends has been teaching Mandarin in Thailand for two years. He tried almost everything he could includes flash cards, body language, Mandarin-to-Thai translation, candies, and even whips in his Mandarin course and Mandarin classes in the past two years; Nevertheless, none of them did a good work. So he was very frustrated and disappointed about his job there. He asked himself everyday that why he could not attract students’ attention and improve their ability? He thought the problem was his boring teaching style and tried to give up such career in Thailand. Fortunately, the college where he was teaching established a computer and multimedia classroom which greatly enrich his classes.

You may wonder how did he make it? Me too. So I asked him and the answers are as followed,

First, he rearranged the contents of his Mandarin Course syllabus. Actually, he divided it into several smaller and interactive Mandarin Classes.

Second, in each class, he not only engaged and blended the pictures, videos and voices with what he would like to teach, but also interacted with his students by the internet based multimedia learning unit designed by himself.

Third, the students could not only interact with him but also interact with each other. The classroom became a micro social network, students could learn, share, and even teach other students real time.

That was definitely a wonderful and the best experience those students could ever have, therefore, they stuck with the teaching system he created after that. And what even more exciting for him was their learning result which was much better than he had expected.

Now, my friend is very happy and I think he will be more and more happy in the future by blending the multimedia factors into his teaching.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Will learning Mandarin put children off?

I just read an article "Learning Mandarin will put children off" from Times. In the very beginning, I am really nervous about what the author is going to discuss. Because as a Mandarin teacher, if there is any evidence which shows that people on the earth should not learn Mandarin, then we possibly have to go to the Moon or Mars whatever to teach aliens. :-(

Fortunately, that’s not the picture I would image after reading the whole thing. :-) The author pins out a very good point of view that a better way about learning Mandarin should to make it voluntary rather than compulsory. For example, having it as a student club in campus and interesting the demand of learning Mandarin language by sharing and discussing the Chinese culture, food, beverages, games, dramas, knots, songs, poems, paint, calligraphies, architectures, astrology, and history.

And that’s what I am doing in this blog. I am trying to introduce the readers everything related to Mandarin course and/or Mandarin classes as broad as possible and I have done something so far, for instance, the famous Chinese table game, cultural difference, Chinese festivals, and so on. Wish you would enjoy the stuff here and please remember to leave your comments for bettering this site. Thank you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Interesting Mandarin course --- Learning from a traditional Chinese game --- Má Jiàng

This is an interesting table game usually played by four people. And according to some research, playing this game may effectively prevent elders from getting Alzheimer’s disease because under no circumstances can one win this game only by luck without frequently brain activities of memorizing, calculating, evaluating, and decision making.

Let’s cut to the chase, the Chinese characters appear in this game are easy. You will learn the Chinese numbers from one to nine and several simple but useful characters as follows,

Má Jiàng pix



















Ten thousand (I discussed this unit difference
in a previous article.)



Here it means “發財
= “become rich”.










Here is a downloadable FREE stand-alone version Má Jiàng software, share with you --- my dear readers.
FREE Má Jiàng software

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Learning Basic Traveling Mandarin Chinese (Part 2)

Many readers responded that the dialogues in previous post about asking directions with Mandarin are very practical; however, they thought it would be better if I can provide the demonstrative video or just audio file of that conversation because it is a little bit difficult for beginners.

Okay, although I am neither a professional movie maker nor an occupational voice recorder, I would like to try my best to fulfill my readers’ and/or students’ demands on learning Mandarin. As a TCSOL certified good Chinese language teacher, I have done some works to finalize a “video” which demonstrates the dialogues scenario in Learning Basic Traveling Mandarin Chinese (Part 1).

Here you are.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Learning Basic Traveling Mandarin Chinese (Part 1)

One question that I asked my students very often is why they want to learn Mandarin or Chinese. Some responses are pretty unexpected, for example, some people just purely think the Chinese characters are very beautiful so they wanna learn, recognize and write them. If you are interested in either how the Chinese characters were developed from thousands years ago and evolved with the history or how to map the simplified and traditional Chinese characters, here are two sites as followed where you can learn something,

  1. The evolution of Chinese characters
  2. How to write simplified and traditional Chinese characters

On the other hand, most of students want to utilize Mandarin or Chinese as a tool. For instance, some of them would like to learn it because they are going to join the Expo 2010 Shanghai China which will get started on May 1st, 2010 and they also wish that they could travel around Shanghai by themselves without any problem. That’s why the topic of this article is “Basic Traveling Mandarin or Chinese”, I shall introduce some frequently used conversation sentences about asking direction under a traveling scenario as follows,

Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Pinyin (Mandarin Pronunciation)
English Translation

Hu2 Ying1 Jiu3: nin2 hao3!
Mr. Hu: Hello.

Ma3 Jin3 Tao1: nin2 hao3!
Mr. Ma: Hello.

Hu2 Ying1 Jiu3: Qing3 wen4 tai2 wan1 bai3 huo4 gong1 si1 zen3 me zou3?
Mr. Hu: Would you please show me the way to Taiwan Department Store?

Ma3 Jin3 Tao1: nin2 yan2 zhe shang4 hai3 lu4 wang3 dong1 zhi2 zou3, yu4 dao4 hai3 xia2 lu4 you4 zhuan3 jiu4 hui4 kan4 dao4 le.
Mr. Ma: Heading east along with Shanghai Road and turn right on Haixia Road then you will see it.

Hu2 Ying1 Jiu3: na4 da4 gai4 yao4 zou3 duo1 jiu3 ne?
Mr. Hu: How long will it take by feet?

Ma3 Jin3 Tao1: zhe4 yao4 kan4 jiao1 tong1 zhuang4 kuang4 er2 ding4, xian4 zai4 shi4 jian1 feng1 shi2 ke4, ke3 neng2 yao4 zou3 san1 shi2 fen1 zhong1.
Mr. Ma: It depends. It may take you thirty minutes because now is rush hour.

Hu2 Ying1 Jiu3: wa1, zhe4 me jiu3! na4 qing3 wen4 you3 mei2 you3 da4 zhong4 yun4 shu1 ke3 yi3 da1 cheng2?
Mr. Hu: Wow, it’s so long. Is there any public transportation alternative?

Ma3 Jin3 Tao1: you3 de, nin2 ke3 da1 cheng2 di4 tie3 hong2 xian4, bu2 yong4 wu3 fen1 zhong1 jiu4 hui4 dao4 le.
Mr. Ma: Sure, you can take the red line subway to your destination within five minutes.

Hu2 Ying1 Jiu3: xie4 xie nin2, zai4 jian4!
Mr. Hu: Thank you. See you.

Ma3 Jin3 Tao1: bu2 ke4 qi4, zai4 jian4!
Mr. Ma: You are welcome. See you.

*Note: The number after each pinyin means the tone of it.

Chinese New Year Is Coming…

Some people may know that the date of Chinese New Year is not on January 1st and maybe a few people also get that the date of Chinese New Year varies every year. That’s correct, because the date is based on lunar calendar rather than the solar calendar. In 2010, it’s very coincident on the same day with Western Valentine’s Day. What do Chinese people do on that day? And how do we celebrate it?

The previous evening before Chinese New Year is called Chinese New Year Eve, it’s similar to the Christmas Eve. Most people do not have to work in that evening and all family members have a yearly reunion. In the past, people eat and drink at home. But recently, more and more people go out to restaurants for dinner. Thus they can enjoy the meal and without wasting time on preparing it. During the dinner, there is a very important activity called “red envelope giving”. The elders will give a red envelope (looks like below one)

to each younger with cash inside ranges from $200 to $10,000 or higher Taiwan dollars (about $6.7 to $333.3+ US dollars) depends on their economic conditions. And every adult will also give red envelopes to not only their children but also their parents which burn a hole in their pockets. However, it makes everyone happy. You can check out this website to see the flash introduction about the origins of some Chinese festivals. (The website's interface language is Chinese, click on the up-left button to see the origin of Chinese New Year.)
Chinese Festivals

You should already notice that there is a tiger on the cover of the red envelope above, it’s not just a meaningless picture, it’s because the coming Chinese New Year is so-called Tiger Year. Tiger is one of the twelve animals for indicating each special Chinese year, and they take turns in this order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. If you are interested in this, a book written by a popular author can tell you more.
Chinese New Year Gift

The cultural differences which would impact the learning of Mandarin Course and Mandarin Classes (Part 1)

As I discussed about the different number unit between English and Chinese, I would like to talk more about the cultural difference between China and other countries today.

First of all, let me share with you a real case happened on one of my female friends. She is a Taiwanese and she studied abroad in Canada several years ago, where she met a charming Canadian guy then they fell in love. That was a wonder period when they stuck together in Canada; however, she missed her family so much that she came back to Taiwan right after she had graduated from University. Her thoughtful boyfriend could understand her feeling and decided to accompany her to Taiwan. Nevertheless, they broke up finally, why? How could such a sweet couple away from each other? The problem was misunderstandings leaded by cultural difference.

Once her boyfriend arrived Taiwan, just like most American or European, he attempted to visit her family includes her siblings and of course her parents. But in Chinese culture, unless we live alone, we would rarely invite our friends to our home when we live with other family members especially some elders in order not to disturb them. He could not understand this, so he conjectured that she might has not loved him anymore. They argued seriously for that. Eventually, she compromised with him and brought him home. Unfortunately, this is just a beginning of another misunderstanding.

On that BIG day, he waked up early and went to a famous flower market to pick up a bunch of beautiful flowers as a great gift he thought. But her mother was not so happy when she received it, you know why? Because in most of cases, we only take flowers to see a patient in the hospital or a dead man in the graveyard if the relation between the sender and receiver is not lover. Therefore, her mother was definitely unhappy because she was healthy and alive. She saw the “gift” as a “curse” which might cause her ill or even dead.

There are many other true stories about the difference between Chinese culture and others, some of them are comedy while some are tragedy. Please allow me to share with you later.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tips for Learning Mandarin or Chinese by Yourself.

First of all, it depends on what do you want to learn? Listening & Speaking or Reading and Writing? Of course, the purpose and scenario is also important, for business conversation or social interaction?

For example, if you are a business man and you wanna learn some simple commercial sentences like how to negotiate the price in Chinese (Mandarin). The first thing you need to learn is the unit of numbers. One significant difference between English and Chinese in amount is that there is no “ten thousand” or “one hundred thousand” in Chinese, we use “wàn” and “ten wàn” respectively. Once you know this, you can go to a Chinatown nearby and practice it with any native Chinese sellers. During that process, not only can you be familiar with the usage of correct unit, but also enjoy the bargaining fun.

By the way, there are numerous on-line resources that can help you to learn Mandarin or Chinese at home as long as you have a computer and internet. What’s even better, some of them are totally FREE or have a FREE trial! I will share three of them to you now as followed, and the snapshots of these websites are also attached for your reference.

1. U.S. Chinese Culture Center FREE basic textbooks and audio/video files
Free larning Mandarin materials

2. Rocket ChineseFREE 6-Day interactive audios + grammar/culture lessons
Free 6-Day Chinese learning software

3. My Chinese Tutor – More than 30 FREE on-line speech correction lessons
Free 30 Mandarin learning courses

I sincerely hope these are helpful for you to study Mandarin or Chinese by yourself.

Learning Mandarin or Chinese Is Getting More and More Important!!!

The motive of learning Mandarin or Chinese has changed from purely being interested in Chinese culture to be deeply attracted by the huge economic opportunities come along with the rapid growth of China. In many countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan and Korea, a lot of elementary and high schools have opened Chinese (Mandarin) related curriculums to cultivate young students’ second language as early as possible.

It’s an obvious trend that Mandarin or Chinese will be one of the major international languages which not only used in daily communication but also applied to official and academic fields. “By 2050, Chinese will continue its predominance, with Hindi-Urdu of India and Arabic climbing past English, and Spanish nearly equal to it.”, said by David Graddol, a British linguist.

However, Mandarin or Chinese is to be generally acknowledged as the most difficult language to learn. Especially when you have graduated from school and your faculty of memory is no longer excellent like before. :( What can you do? An experienced, responsible and creative tutor who can customize the training for you is definitely the best choice. But if there is no one qualified around you, please don’t be dejected, here are some tips for learning by yourself. Let me share them in another new topic. :)