How Mandarin Chinese Helps Me in Teaching English
Foreign language experience is complexed on so many different levels, it is a window into a different culture, often a different country and even a different paradigm of thinking. There is a multitude of language experiences people can have, each with their own intricacies and uniqueness. As a native English speaker from South Africa, living in China has provided me with extraordinary foreign language experience.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Marlan S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The Most Difficult Language
Mandarin, the national language of the People’s Republic of China, as many would attest to is extremely challenging. One could argue that it may even be one of the most difficult languages in the world. It is so complex, especially for English speakers as the structure of sentences is effectively opposite to English, it is also a tonal language, so pronunciation is critical but more interestingly it is structured in a way that resembles life in China. It is a practical language, and from my experience almost black and white, which after living in China for many years is not dissimilar to daily life. In saying this, Chinese or Mandarin is incredibly descriptive and tremendously vast, similarly to other ancient languages with a rich and wonderful history.
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Benefits of Mandarin Experience
Starting to learn this special language, provided me with many different experiences. Firstly, it adds to one’s daily life experience in a foreign country, the local people embrace you more and appreciate your willingness and acceptance of their homeland and culture. This was aptly contextualized by Nelson Mandela, when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Additionally, it teaches you so much more about the world you live in, the way of thinking and the unique approaches to life. Finally, it helps you become more patience and understanding in your engage with non-native speakers of any language. You learn to be more considerate and respectful, which are great characteristics to develop or hone in on in one’s general life. My experience thus far in learning Chinese, while still at the early infancy stage, has positioned me better to engage in Chinese society and work with non-native English speakers.
As the historic German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once said, “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own." I strongly endorse this statement and from my personal experience, as a native English speaker, post-learning Chinese, I have challenged the English language more, spent more time researching about the English language and ultimately building a deeper connection with my own language. Therefore, I would say that the foreign language experience, not only enhances a multitude of new foreign experiences, it also brings you closer to your home language. This is something people may take for granted or overlook, but what I have found through improving one's language skills you can also better your native language skill.
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In conclusion, despite the struggles and challenges of foreign language experiences, the holistic benefits are immense in both creating a richer life experience but also enhancing your existing skills and perspectives.
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