FMP Weekly Post 3: Research & Interview


This is the first interview that from a Chinese language teacher. She is my friend, live in Beijing. She has 8 years experienced for Chinese language teaching. I asked Juan 7 important questions and translated this interview.

1,The backgrounds of the potential Chinese learners (age, profession, and nationality etc.) and their purposes of learning English?

Juan said, “Most students who are interested in learning Chinese come from three groups. The first one is foreign citizen who are currently working in China or have frequent communication with Chinese companies or agencies. The second group is foreign student who majors in Chinese in Chinese universities. The third group is foreign children in international school whose parents are working in China. My students mainly come from the first group.

I used to teach at an Israel company which provided online course for overseas Chinese learners. Many of them studied Chinese simply because they were interested in Chinese culture. Some of them studied because they need it in their business with Chinese companies. Many universities in other countries also offer Chinese study course, which is becoming more popular. There are many Confucius School around the world, and many teachers volunteer to teach there.”

2,Listening, speaking, reading, and writing, which part is most difficult in Chinese teaching?

Juan said,” For students from Europe and America, writing Chinese characters is the most difficult part. Because their languages originated from Latin, but Chinese is a totally different system. However, students from Korea and Japan have some advantages. Overall, a good environment is critical for studying language.”

3,How long does it take for a student to learn some basic Chinese?

Juan said, ” First, the time is different for every student. I’m not familiar with the process about how they teach Chinese in universities, but I saw some learning materials they use. They teach Chinese characters from the beginning. My students are mostly from embassies, high-level management staff of foreign companies. Most of them are send to China by their employers, and will stay in China for two or three years. What they want is to acquire survival Chinese. But studying Chinese character is a long journey. So we wrote our own textbooks. In entry-level textbook, we only teach pinyin, which involves some common scenarios in daily life. After studying entry-level course, students have the abilities to conduct basic communications, but they can’t read or write. In the next level, we will ask the students if they wanted to study Chinese characters. Some students didn’t study Chinese characters even after level four. But if they want to further the study, they have to learn Chinese characters, because many Chinese characters share the same pronunciation. It is impossible to understand complicated Chinese only through Pinyin.

There have an example:

S.+V.+ guo+ O.

e.g. wo   qu guo Changcheng.

I have been to The Great Wall.

Wo kan guo zhe ge dianying.

I had seen this movie. ”

4,Which way is most effective to improve Chinese learning?

Practice makes perfect.

5,What are some common teaching methods?

Teaching basic Chinese doesn’t involve complex techniques. Simply lead them to speak by showing the way to pronounce, and let them repeat. Illustrations are useful sometimes. Students will also play different characters to simulate real life scenarios. We also try to explain a word more clearly by telling them in which occasions will the word be used, and showing them words which have similar meanings.

6,What’s the best way to start?

I already talked about this in question 3. We start will teaching Pinyin, and focus on verb, adverb, and conjunction. We don’t put too much weight on nouns, and they are usually explained during the process of studying sentences.

7,What are some common habits in studying Chinese?

Again, it depends. Some people are sensitive to sound, they we will read more to help them remember. However, some are sensitive to visual information, we will let them write to remember.


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