Navigating the Options: Annie’s Exploration for the Right Mandarin Learning Approach

Wondering how to select the right platform for learning Mandarin? Let me share Annie’s experience, which sheds light on the challenges she faced and the valuable insights she gained.

“Emma, my grandfather’s second wife, hails from China,” Annie, one of my students from the United States, reminisced about her childhood memories with Emma. “Despite not being blood-related, she treated me kindly and often shared fascinating Chinese stories and cooked authentic Chinese cuisine for me.”

However, life took an unexpected turn during Annie’s 18th birthday celebration. Amidst the family’s joyous festivities, they received devastating news: Emma had been diagnosed with cancer, and the doctors estimated she had only a year to live.

The news hit Annie like a lightning bolt, causing her to truly grasp the importance of time and the delicate nature of life. To her surprise, Emma maintained a positive outlook, offering solace to Annie with a gentle smile and encouraging her not to fret.

“I can still vividly recall Emma talking about how much she longed to go back to China,” Annie reminisced, her eyes brimming with tears. “If I don’t act swiftly, it’ll be too late. Going on this journey with her would grant her heartfelt wish, and it’s the last thing I can do for her.”

In that moment, Annie decided to learn Chinese. She didn’t want to be a mere observer accompanying Emma on the journey. Instead, Annie craved to take the initiative in bridging the divide. By mastering Chinese, she aimed to delve into Emma’s Chinese upbringing, acquaint herself with their customs and traditions, and immerse herself in a more profound cultural encounter.

Annie understood that learning a new language requires time and effort. She embarked on an intense search for Chinese learning platforms.

“At first, I discovered some interesting learning apps, such as those using games to teach Chinese. Progressing through each level, I felt like I was improving rapidly,” Annie recalled her initial learning experience. “However, after some time, I realized that although I made some progress, I struggled to retain the knowledge, and the results were not ideal.”

Before encountering me, Annie firmly believed in the efficacy of self-study. She then shifted her focus to platforms offering free Chinese learning materials. She downloaded them and began her self-study journey.

After some self-study, Annie took the initiative to communicate with Emma in Chinese, attempting to showcase her learning achievements. However, the results were not satisfying. Emma found it challenging to understand Annie’s pronunciation and tones, while Annie struggled to comprehend what Emma was saying. This left Annie feeling frustrated.

“Soon, I realized that following recorded audio and practicing reading myself might create a false sense of progress.” Annie told me. “Without effective real-time feedback, the deficiencies become apparent when engaging in real-life communication.”

After a few weeks of going in circles, Annie realized that what she needed was systematic learning and the help of a teacher. By chance, she found me and expressed her desire to learn Chinese. I offered her an online free one-to-one trial class to get to know her better.

To assess her level, I gave her a pre-class test, which revealed that she had made little progress during the past a few weeks. Although the trial class lasted only thirty minutes, I did my utmost to assist Annie. Firstly, I corrected her pronunciation and tone mistakes, shared pronunciation techniques, and guided her with mouth movements, helping her reconstruct her Chinese pronunciation system. This addressed the main difficulty she faced during self-study. Additionally, I answered her grammar and vocabulary questions, taught her memorization methods and association techniques, and offered encouragement, along with a study plan and recommendations.

After the trial class, Annie gained valuable insights and decided to embark on her Mandarin learning journey with me, committing to three 50-minute classes per week.

Four months later, Annie and Emma embarked on an unforgettable journey to China, armed with her newly acquired Chinese language skills and a solid grasp of Chinese customs. Accompanied by their families, they explored the places where Emma had once resided, communicating with locals in Mandarin. The time they spent in China, enriched by Annie’s newfound language abilities, created cherished memories that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Despite Emma’s wish being fulfilled, she eventually passed away. Emma’s departure left Annie heartbroken. For Annie, Chinese became more than just a language; it became a bond that carried her emotional connection with Emma.

Are you interested in joining Mandarin classes like Annie did? Feel free to reach out to me to take an online free one-to-one trial class!

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