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.