Staff Spotlight: Xiao Zhang



Xiao is a ukulele playing teacher at That’s Mandarin who enjoys traveling and listening to music. She is a language fanatic and is interested in learning about new cultures.

What do you most enjoy about teaching?

I really enjoy teaching my students about Chinese culture as this opens my eyes to what my students do or do not know about China. Also I learn a lot from my students during these lessons. For example, when I tell my students an aspect about Chinese culture I am always intrigued by their responses. Sometimes students have similar cultural practices in their country or they are completely different. It is interesting as before teaching I never knew about other cultures or indeed other country’s traditions. It sparks an interesting exchange in my lessons which I really enjoy and I feel lucky that I get to experience this every day.

What’s the most important thing you have learned about teaching?

The most important thing I’ve learned about teaching is how to understand each other. With understanding I truly believe that people become more tolerant and patient. As a teacher I have learned to grow in patience because I meet people from all over the world who all have different personalities. It is important as a teacher to be able to get along with all types of people as you want to connect with each of your students so that they feel comfortable in your lessons.

What advice would you give someone wanting to start learning Chinese?

I would really like to tell them to pay close attention to Chinese tones. The Chinese language is a tonal language and so pronunciation is extremely important so that people fully understand your meaning. This practice of tones should be started from the beginning of your Chinese study because if you do not try to learn your tones it will be very difficult to adjust this once you have been learning for some time. Even if you can read and write well and get to a high level with your Chinese, if you do not use tones when you speak, Chinese people will not be able to understand you which will be a shame!

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a teacher?

I think that the most rewarding aspect about being a teacher is enabling more and more people to speak Chinese as well as understand Chinese culture. This is such a special experience for any Chinese teacher and I hope to teach many more people in the future.