The course at first looked professional and the staff were not only friendly but seemed passionate about helping foreigners improve their Chinese. The building was also very modern, spacious and light making it an appealing place to come and learn. What is more, they set out clearly how they could tailor the course to my needs, offering various kinds of classes.
Barney is currently living and working in Shanghai as an English teacher. He has been her for almost two years and has been studying Mandarin for just over one year.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
They have assisted me with Mandarin-speaking, listening and reading skills. They provide the relevant books for me and talk to me through said books. They also provide extra learning materials e.g. extra sheets.
What is more, they provide niche content on social media platforms which contain interesting knowledge and detailed facts relating to Chinese.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
The key to getting the most out of the course is fully committing to it.
If you are going to pay the money for the classes in the hope of improving your language skills, you must supplement the classes with individual study, Not only must you commit to completing the homework tasks, but you should also take time to properly understand how the Chinese language functions.
Whilst teaching at Silk Mandarin is great, learning a language requires lots of independent effort. So use the classes to give structure and guidance to your learning but make sure you are fully committed to learning outside the classroom as well as in
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I tend to have one class a week which lasts for 1.5 hours. Then I review and complete the tasks from the last class before moving the next. If I ever have time, I will do 2 classes in a week.
With regards to schedule, the course allows for a lot of flexibility so it is usually easy to change classes around. We usually cover one chapter per class; if it is a more difficult chapter, it may run into the next class.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
The difference in culture and not being able to make new friends easily was a concern but actually these turned out not be big issues. China, in reality, is a lot different than how it is depicted in the West and coming here has allowed me to better understand the country. Therefore, my perspective on things has changed.
Is there any other advice for prospective travelers?
China is very different from perhaps anywhere in the world. It is a unique place and has a complicated history. It is worth trying to understand that past and understand the context in which China exists today.
Also, have an open mind and embrace everything to get the most out of your experience.