Sean Pebler


 Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? 
My name is Sean Pebler and I live in West Linn, which is a suburb of Portland, Oregon. I work as an Administrative Assistant for an environmental company named SailBri Cooper Inc. One thing I love about my job is that I get the opportunity to practice my mandarin skills, as we have partners in Shijiazhuang, China. In the Fall, I will be attending classes to earn my Master's Degree in Technical and Professional Writing.
 How long have you been learning Mandarin? 
I have been studying Mandarin intermittently for about 3 years now. When I first moved to Shenzhen, China in 2016, I began taking 1-1 oral Mandarin classes. This provided me with survival speaking skills, but I did not begin serious study until I came to Shanghai in 2018.
 What made you decide to learn Mandarin? 
I knew that if I was going to be living in China, I wanted to learn the language. I did not want to be another foreigner who had no way of communicating with shop owners, taxi drivers, etc. Also, my parents were coming to visit me in Shenzhen, so I wanted to be able to show them around without looking completely clueless.
 How does learning Chinese compare with learning other languages? 
I took Spanish for 10+ years while I was in school, eventually taking the AP Exam in High School. I loved Spanish because it had so many grammar rules that made it simple to follow. Plus, I was able to read the language in my free time to improve. However, Mandarin is not at all like Spanish in those respects. I would say that acquiring the basic Mandarin speaking skills was very straightforward, but truly improving reading and proper grammar takes time. At times I am very frustrated with learning Mandarin, but I have come to enjoy those moments of putting together the "puzzle" of the language.
 What do you like about studying online at Mandarin House? Are there any challenges that come with online course? 
At first, I was not excited to take online courses from America, as I prefer classroom learning. But since I found a great teacher at Mandarin House, I am really enjoying it now. The learning platform is smooth, and there are rarely technical difficulties. Plus, this online learning allows me to maintain my full-time job while taking Mandarin classes after work.
 You have a friend who is thinking about learning Chinese. What advice would you give them? 
Patience. Mandarin is not the type of language that you can acquire quickly. You need to find what studying methods you enjoy, and prepare to study at your own pace. I have many friends that studied vigorously to begin with, became frustrated that they weren't improving quickly enough, and eventually quit. Learning Mandarin is a marathon, not a sprint.
 Your Favorite Chinese expression? 
活学活用 huó xué huó yòng: Learn and apply elastically.


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