Contrary to most hip language learning bloggers out there, I don’t think that learning languages in class sucks. Sure, if that’s the only thing you’re doing, you won’t learn very much (depending on the institution, of course), but with the right attitude, formal education still has a lot to offer.
To start with, classes offer you structure and guidance. This is a double-edged sword. If you think that this means that you can relax and enjoy the ride, you’re wrong, but if you see the teacher and lessons as a resource among other resources, then they are truly useful. If you’re enrolled in a language program, there are three things you need to ask yourself:
- What do I want to learn which is not tested by this school?
- What do I want to learn that is not emphasised in this school?
- What does this school teach that I don’t want to learn?
If you want to learn native-like pronunciation, you can’t take a conversation class with 25 foreigners, you need individual tutoring. Attending class might still give you useful theory and other insights, but it won’t be enough. If you don’t care about writing Chinese by hand, but your teacher gives you tests with handwriting twice a week, you need to figure out what do about this, otherwise you’ll end up wasting hours learning something which doesn’t bring you closer to your goals. You need to understand the importance of counting what counts
This all boils down to comparing your own goals for learning Chinese with the goals (curriculum, examination) of the school you’re attending. They will never match perfectly, sometimes there are huge differences. In general, if you’re enrolled in a language program, you need to be clear about what you want to learn, what the program will teach you and how you will handle the difference between the two.
Here are all articles in this category:
- Which Chinese language course should you take?
- What your Chinese course will not teach you
- The illusion of advanced learning and what to do about it
- Why you should learn Chinese in Chinese
- Will a Chinese-only rule improve your learning?
- Launching Hacking Chinese Resources
- Why good feedback matters and how to get it
- Asking the experts: How to learn Chinese grammar
- Learning how to fish: Or, why it’s essential to know how to learn
- Focusing on tone pairs to improve your Mandarin pronunciation
- Role-playing to learn more Chinese and avoid frustration
- Drills and exercises aren’t only for beginners
- About fossilisation and improving your Chinese pronunciation
- Reading aloud in Chinese is really hard
- 5 insights from the first year of a master’s program in Taiwan
- Studying Chinese when your grades matter
- The question you have to ask about your Chinese teacher or course
- Why you really should use a Chinese notebook
- Have fun learning Chinese or else…
- Learning styles: Use with caution!
- Don’t just read about learning methods, actually try them as well
- Improving writing ability: Common problems and how to tackle them
- Language is communication, not only an abstract subject to study
- Don’t try to improve everything at once, limit your focus
- Language question triage – General guidelines
- The importance of counting what counts
- Learn by exaggerating: Slow, then fast; big, then small
- If you want to master Chinese, make long-term investments
- Triggering quantum leaps in listening ability
- The kamikaze approach to learning Chinese
- Achieving the impossible by being inspired
- Why you should use more than one textbook
- Native speakers and native speakers
- Learning Chinese pronunciation as a beginner
- Take responsibility for your own learning now
- The art of being corrected
- Mental models and making mistakes