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Learn the Personalized Methods eChineseLearning’s Teachers Use to Help Student Ronald

Dec. 15, 2017

Chinese General Methods

Although our students enjoy private, personalized 1-to-1 Chinese classes, each individual student is not alone in being part of the eChineseLearning team. We have a team of teachers from around China and an alumni of tens of thousands of students from over 100 countries (and growing!). Our students range from 3 up to 86 years old! They join us to learn Mandarin Chinese for various reasons: self-enrichment, job opportunities, personal relationships, corporate training, and so on.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of our students currently in a Chinese language program with us. His name is Ronald, he’s 50, and he is from Birmingham, England. He has been taking private lessons twice a week for over two years with us. He loves doing self-study on the side by enjoying Chinese novels, dramas and films.

Why does Ronald learn Mandarin Chinese with us?
He is particularly interested in Chinese culture. Ronald found good cultural connections and a fun environment in eChineseLearning’s Chinese classes. The teacher not only teaches him how to use the Chinese language, but also has shared a variety of Chinese customs and cultures which make the Chinese lessons so enjoyable for him. For example, his teachers like to introduce Chinese idioms, also called “中国成语 (Zhōngguó chéngyŭ)” during the classes. Ronald is able to learn the Chinese language by studying these idioms, but also learns a lot about Chinese history, morality and work ethic at the same time!

What learning methods work best for Ronald?
Ronald likes to take notes during his Chinese classes. He has a good memory, which has helped him to learn an impressive amount of Chinese vocabulary. Our Mandarin teacher designed a personalized learning method for him. In the class, the teacher will help Ronald practice new vocabulary words by a question and answer routine with limited time, from easy to hard, from simple sentences to long conversations. Practice, feedback, improvement!

Ronald enjoys speaking practice. Therefore, the teacher will lead Ronald with free talk exercises in the class. The topics are built mainly around recent news headlines regarding England and China. Ronald has learned many contemporary Chinese words, such as “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)”, through this method. For example, to speak modern Chinese, Ronald can now say “My dog always messes up my room. I am really “无语 (speechless)”.”

However, Ronald needs to improve his listening skills. If the Chinese teacher speaks at a normal or fast pace, Ronald cannot understand the full meaning. In this situation, it’s difficult for students to catch each Chinese word clearly. A good way is for the student to learn to catch the key words in the topic. So, how can learners catch key words? Here are 3 ways Ronald has learned to improve his listening skills:

1. Learn common Chinese sentences structure and usage:
● Sentences with “是 (shì)”;
● Questions with an interrogative pronoun;
● Sentences with a verbal predicate;
● “Yes / no” questions with “吗 (ma)”;
……

2. Pay more attention to the nouns and verbs in the sentences.
Normally, nouns and verbs provide the most useful information on a topic.

Nouns have four main characteristics:
● The majority of the time, they are modified by a measure word.
● They can act as a subject, an object, or a complement, but never as a result. A noun can occasionally be an adverbial, but not often.
● They may not be modified by the negative adverb “不 ()”.
● They may not be reduplicated (unless it’s for a “cutesy” effect, usually with small kids).

There are five main characteristics of verbs in Chinese:
● The main function of verbs is to be in the predicate of a sentence.
● The majority of Chinese verbs are transitive, which means they take an object.
● Verbs can be negated by the adverb “不 ()”. However, other than the psychological verbs, they cannot be modified by “很 (hěn).”.
● Most Chinese verbs can be reduplicated, changing their meaning slightly.
● Most verbs can be modified with aspect particles 了 (le), 着 (zhe), 过 (guò)..

3. Memorize high frequency vocabulary in daily conversation.
● Personal Pronouns: 你 (),我 (), 她/他/它 ().
● Numeral: “一 ()、二 (èr)、两 (liǎng)、三 (sān)、七 ()、十 (shí)、百 (bǎi)、千 (qiān)、万 (wàn)、亿 ()、半 (bàn)”
● “是 (shì)” and “的 (de)” may be used in each Chinese conversation.
……

So, now you know the story of Ronald’s Chinese journey. By introducing idioms, the teachers increase his interest in Chinese history and culture. Through free talk on various news headlines, Ronald learns trendy new language to use in full sentences. And, by teaching Ronald how to listen for keywords in sentences, the teachers have been increasing his listening skills. This has been Ronald’s journey. Where will your Mandarin Chinese learning journey take you?

Quiz:

1. The eChineseLearning teaching staff is helping Ronald with all of the following methods, except:

A. Talking about news headlines
B. Singing children’s songs
C. Practicing listening for keywords in a sentence
D. Introducing new vocabulary and later asking Robert to use it in a sentence during a Q&A

2. Which of the following is NOT a part of Chinese learning?

A. 拼音 (pīnyīn)

B. 词汇 (cíhuì)

C. 语法 (yǔfǎ)

D. 画画 (huàhua)

See Answers

―Written by Becky Zhang―
Becky Zhang is a teacher at eChineseLearning.com. She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

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