Amy Vernon, USA


What's it really like to study Chinese online with Mandarin House? Let Amy tell you about it. 

  How long have you been learning Mandarin?  


I have officially been studying Mandarin for about a month and a half, although I started learning a little on my own before that.


  You're a newbie! Congrats on getting started. What made you decide to learn Mandarin?  


Honestly, I never imagined myself studying Mandarin. My list of languages to learn had never included it! However, I strongly believe in trying to learn the language of whichever country you are living in. Now that I have chosen to live and teach in Shanghai, learning Mandarin has become a priority for me. I think language really gives you a key to unlocking deeper friendships and a richer understanding of another culture, and also communicates a respect and appreciation for the country you are living in.


  Why did you choose Mandarin House?  


I chose it mostly because of the variety of options offered by Mandarin House. For example, there are online classes and in-person classes that will fit with my teaching schedule once I begin working, and there are tools to help me prepare for HSK tests. Mandarin House in Shanghai is also relatively close to where I will be living in and working, which is an advantage.


  What do you like about studying online at Mandarin House? Are there any challenges that come with online schooling?  


I like the flexibility and freedom of studying online and the ability to change tutors to find someone who best fits your learning style. It's also nice to have one-on-one attention because it means the learning is tailored solely to you. I've found that a good Internet connection is really important in order to get the most of the pronunciation and tones of the native language teacher. One challenge for me is the materials are all digital—on the computer or phone. I really like being able to physically touch and write on my materials.


  Say you have a friend who is thinking about learning a language. What advice would you give them?  


Find ways to study the language that bring you joy and don't just feel like a chore! For example, I have been watching "Hilda" and "Take My Brother Away" in Mandarin, and even if I only catch 10 words or less in an entire episode, it keeps up my motivation to study. Another thing I love doing is looking at related words or phrases in Mandarin and finding ones that share the same characters. One example of this is 加油jiāyóu  ("add oil," which is a way to encourage someone) and 油条yóutiáo ("oil stick," which is a delicious breakfast food). Basically, the more ways you can find to enjoy the language, the better! And equally important, be patient with yourself. There is no strict rule on how long learning a language should take you. Work hard, but be gentle with yourself when you mess up. Messing up will make for the best stories anyway!


  Do you have anything else you'd like to say about learning online with Mandarin House?  


If you are thinking of learning a new language and psyching yourself out or feeling too intimidated, just go for it! 加油jiāyóu!


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