Learn Mandarin Online from Teachers and Students
This is a new discussion format on StudyMoreChinese where we interview current members or influential site / product owners in the Chinese language learning community.
Say hello to Jing and be sure to ask her your own questions in the comments or let her know what think of her site, Digmandarin.com.
I`ve taught Chinese for about 5 years. During my teaching, lots of students asked me about learning Chinese, going through certain bottlenecks, and my recommendations for practice and self-learning, etc. Gradually, I found out that while I could answer my students one by one, there were other learners who weren’t my students? What about them? Since my own view is limited, why not collect all the great resources together in one place for mandarin learners? It would be really cool and all students and teachers could benefit from it. That is how DigMandarin got started. Surprisingly, not only can professional teachers discuss their language knowledge, but learners can also share really amazing learning experiences and skills. So many contributors come to DigMandarin and start to share what they know, such as great APP, textbooks, schools, websites, videos and skills. The sharing process really makes me excited. I know we are helping each other.
2) Are you still learning yourself or mostly focused on teaching others?
I`m still teaching Mandarin Chinese. Nowadays, I pay more attention to learning Chinese linguistics and running DigMandarin. My major and my job require me keep studying linguistics and language acquisition. And it will also help me make DigMandarin more professional and scientific. But DigMandarin is different from the academic system. It`s more interesting and practical. We want to deal with Chinese language with profundity and an easy-to-understand approach instead of stodgy and dull theory. Our platform is very open-minded and looks forward to brainstorming anytime. In today`s information explosion age, what we are doing is helping the learners select the really great learning resources.
3) Do you have a favorite video or lesson that you could share?
Yes, of course. Before DigMandarin, I just taught in the traditional way with textbooks. However once you open your eyes, you can find there are so many wonderful learning resources. We also recommend various videos, APP, schools, websites and pages on DigMandarin, such as Written Chinese for characters learning, Yoyo Chinese for video learning, TouchChinese for online one-on-one classes, etc. You can find more on our site.
Pronunciation part is always the first stage you should go through. Chinese is different from English. Chinese has 4 tones. Mastering the tones and intonation can help people understand you better. And the good foundation of pronunciation will lead you further. Please do not give up Chinese characters so early. Characters are the soul of a language, especially Chinese. It bears so many fabulous attributes of Chinese culture and history. It`s a shame if you just let it go and don`t even have a try. You have no idea what you will miss – especially the opportunity of going further on the journey of learning Chinese language. Lastly, you should just practice, practice and practice! Practice makes perfect. Try to utilize every chance to open your month. Listen more and imitate more. A relatively high review frequency will help you remember better. Find your own way to learn this language. And we also have various ways to share with you on DigMandarin. You can find more there.
5) If a student says they are thinking about quitting, what would you say?
Quitting is always the easiest thing in the world. But it`s also the most expensive thing you will pay for. You never know what you will miss. Maybe you felt Chinese is too difficult to learn at 18 years old. However you got a great offer which required speaking Chinese at 28 years old. What you could do was quitting the great offer as well. That`s life. You decided to learn a new language. It`s already a nice beginning, then just go on learning. Never give up! Whatever you learn you will come across the glass ceiling. In order to break through it, you should insist on learning and try to find various learning ways to help you. There are lots of tools and teachers. They are ready to help you anytime. If you want to jump higher, you should crouch down lower first.
6) What motivates you about teaching?
I love Chinese language. Even though I`m a native speaker and I`ve studied Chinese language for more than 5 years, I still feel there are too many things I need to learn and then tell my students. Communicating with these learners is a really nice thing. When you see their improvements, you can`t imagine how happy I am. It`s also a sense of achievement. I just want to do something I really enjoy. Teach Chinese as a second language, tell them our language skills, find more valuable learning resources and share with them, that`s what motivates me.
Now, DigMandarin has attracted a bunch of contributors who are eager to share their skills and experiences. There are more and more visitors come to find the suitable learning tools which we recommend. We are trying to supply more good resources on DigMandarin and make it better. We are also looking forward to better contributors. We hope DigMandarin can become a site really helps people discover how to best learn Mandarin Chinese. Our website contains comprehensive articles on Mandarin Chinese learning skills along with case studies, reviews of the latest popular Chinese textbooks or tools, and advice direct from the professional Chinese language experts. We hope all Chinese learners find something here that will encourage, inspire, and perhaps challenge them in Mandarin Chinese learning.
Say hello to Jing and be sure to ask her your own questions in the comments or let her know what think of her site, DigMandarin.com
Jing probably can't say this gracefully, so I'll say it bluntly.
She's absolutely correct about pronunciation being the first thing to learn -- and not for the Official Teechers' Reason, that quasi-homophones in the wrong tones can be confusing. They usually can't: there's always going to be enough context to make sure that the horrifying examples given to beginners don't occur.
There are two reasons to respect pronunciation: to show respect for the people of the other nationality, and to not make a total ass of yourself. Or both.
Your typical fat tourist blundering around with a phrase book extended is advertising both their own vulnerability ("I'm here, I'm helpless, I'm pickpocket and souvenir merchant bait.") and proclaiming to the world that they're too stupid and too lazy to have done any homework before they arrived. They also advertise to the world the contempt they feel for the place they are visiting: it's just a bunch of natives, and not worth their trouble to have learned about.
The good news is that you don't need mastery. Indeed if you are starting a language as an adult you will always be identifiable as a foreigner by your voice. (Japanese-Americans from Hawaii, e.g., carry their ancestral Japanese province with them at least to the third generation.) Still, the fact that you have made the effort at least frees you from the onus of tacit racism -- that you didn't think the foreign language worthy of respect. If you made the effort well, it will earn you proportional effectiveness, and reciprocal respect. If you attain mastery, to the degree of a Taishan, of course mastery is its own reward.
I have my own reason; until you are confident you know how to pronounce stuff (regardless of being correct), you doubt everything you say. I had a few false starts in chinese before I came across a course (Chinese with Mike on youtube) that finally briefed me (or made me pay attention to) initials and finals, so I could speak without randomly guessing each word I spoke and worrying about it.
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