Resources to Help With Your Chinese Learning

Knowing where to start on your ‘learning a foreign language’ journey is not easy. You have to overcome many obstacles before the hard work can begin. What language should I learn? Why do I want to learn it? How will I learn it? These are all difficult questions and without the right tools, they might appear impossible to answer.

However, impossible they are not. You just need to know where to look.

On my own personal quest to learn a foreign language, I decided I would learn Mandarin Chinese. I am interested in China’s rich culture and given China’s rising stature on the global stage, I figured it would be a useful language to learn. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but like most things in life, if something is easy, why do it?
With my language chosen, I just had to figure out a way of learning it.

Historically, one of the proven methods of learning a foreign language is to attend weekly classroom lessons. This way, you get to interact with a native-speaking teacher and you can learn in an environment where there are no distractions. However, I knew this wasn’t for me. In my opinion, having 1 hour lessons only once a week isn’t enough and I wanted to practice every day at a time to suit me. Furthermore, I didn’t think the costs of attending the classes represented good value for money. Surely there are cheaper ways to start learning Mandarin Chinese? Therefore, I decided I would teach myself.

One of the resources I discovered on my quest to learning Mandarin Chinese was Yoyo Chinese. Yoyo Chinese is a website which focuses on teaching conversational Mandarin Chinese and starts from beginners level all the way through to intermediate fluency. Yoyo Chinese consists of many lessons taught by the website’s creator, Yangyang, which are placed into specifically designed courses. Each lesson consists of a video and an audio review, and in each lesson, Yangyang teaches a host of new words and grammar structures which help develop your Chinese conversational skills. There are 6 different courses in total and although you have to pay to access many of the premium features, you can watch many videos for free. Personally, I would recommend the 6 month premium plan because although it sounds expensive as an upfront cost, it works out at around 40 pence a day. Given I was using it for around an hour each day, I believe it represents excellent value for money. It truly is a brilliant resource.

Another brilliant resource to help with the reading and writing side of Chinese is a book by Tuttle publishing called Learning Chinese Characters. It does exactly what it says on the tin and what makes this book stand out from thousands of others is the method it uses to help users remember the characters. Instead of using the standard teaching method of repetition, this book uses the methods of visualisation and story creation. This enables users to easily remember the character meanings and, more impressively, how to pronounce them. These methods do take some getting used to but the methods are worth persevering with as they do save users heaps of time in the long run. The book takes you by the hand in your solo learning journey so you never feel too overwhelmed and there are character tests at regular intervals so you can check whether the characters you are learning are actually sticking with you. It’s the only book you’ll ever need to learn Chinese characters and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Learning Mandarin Chinese won’t be easy but with the right tools and resources, conversational and written fluency are no longer unreachable goals.

Learning Spanish Language Is Possible

I think I can safely say that most of us have gotten to that point when we say “maybe it isn’t for me” while trying to learn something new, especially when it’s a new language. Languages are indeed not an easy task to master, but what is the secret of those who can?

Let us talk a little bit about Spanish now, it is the third language by total speakers in the world behind English and Mandarin. There are 548 million Spanish speakers as a first or second language and it’s an amazing and passionate language spoken in numerous countries around the world. Excited to learn?

Here are 4 tips that will help you:

Tip 1. Keep yourself motivated

The hardest task as a beginner is probably to stay motivated and keep learning. You must understand that in order to see progress, you have to spend your learning time wisely. As a matter of fact, seeing progress is probably the most important thing for every person to succeed, because from progress we get our motivation to continue. Also you’ll have to stay focused on your goal, don’t give up!

Tip 2. Choose a course that suites you

Find a way of learning that suites you the most, whether it’s an online course or an actual classroom with an actual teacher. You must find a way of learning that is approachable to you so that you can keep learning for as long as you need to. Nowadays there are limitless possibilities to get info and media, choose wisely.

Tip 3. Have fun

The second thing is to remember to have fun while learning. Interest and fun stimulates our minds and therefore makes us motivated to keep learning. Try games, music, movies etc. All of these are approachable in Spanish and will surely help you to learn.

Tip 4. Practice

Maybe the hardest thing to do. Practice speaking as much as you can, try sound like a native. Spanish is very passionate. Put your soul into it. Try speaking to yourself, your family and friends. Have fun!

Bonus Tip

For many people it is hard to find the time which they can spend on learning. Spanish needs time to learn and practice, lots of it. For that reason, I would recommend buying an online course. Online courses are great for those who want to choose for themselves where and when they want to learn.

ESL Teachers’ Guide to Teach Business English Communication Skills to Students

English is the global business language of the day. Many schools, colleges and universities are all offering English teaching for students and business professionals. With the growing demand for English, many ESL teachers are also trained to meet the global demand of ESL training needs.

For example, in many Asian and African countries, the English language is being taught as the Second or Third Language. Also, there are many varieties of English given the mother-tongue influences in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, India, Brunei, Australia and Canada. As an ESL teacher, you will find that this ESL teaching guide provides you with a quick checklist of tips, helping you to make your ESL classes fun and easy for foreign students.

1) Understand Your ESL Students:

Basically, you will have two types of students – school students and corporate clients. ESL school students are those who do not have English as the mother tongue. They need help with Basic English grammar as well as Advanced English conversation for daily living. Corporate business clients are those managers and employees who need to polish their English in an ESL class for effective global business communication. By understanding your ESL students, you will be able to design teaching strategies that address their specific needs.

2) Break The Ice:

Breaking the silence in the first 10 minutes of each ESL class is essential for success. Most ESL students are very shy to speak and write anything in English. With a positive and supportive learning environment, you will be able to encourage them to try speaking and writing in English every day. To break the ice, you will need to make the first 10 minutes the most fun and relaxing for your students to open up themselves and speak English freely through mini games and exercises. Invent fun games for them to introduce each other, tell funny stories, or explain something in English.

3) Create Interactive Activities:

English learning should not be boring. Make your classes fun and interactive for all your ESL students. Then, they will be interested in learning and will become engaged throughout the lessons. Organize learning activities that keep your ESL students involved and will enable them to learn from each other. Ask their opinions and suggestions on new topics. Discuss problems and challenges that they encounter in English speaking and writing. Integrate seasonal events (e.g. New Year, Thanksgiving and Christmas) as part of your teaching curriculum.

4) Focus on Communication Skills:

If there is one thing you can teach ESL students, it’s to focus on their communication skills. This means helping them to improve daily conversations with others, to polish their telephone manners and to polish their writing style. With telephone conversations, ESL students will have no visual clues so it is important to speak clearly and slowly. When in doubt, they should always ask a question to clarify and confirm what they intend to say. With written communication, ESL students just need to practice writing something or anything every day from a simple note, a letter, an invitation or email message to a full essay or report assignment. Teach them the right choice of words and phrases to minimize confusion for others. Practice speaking in front of a mirror every morning and night.

5) Work on Vocabulary:

Very often, ESL students cannot communicate well due to their lack of proper vocabulary. Then, without the right words, they face social and cultural barriers to communicate effectively in different situations. Help your students to build their vocabulary using different teaching aids. Create flash cards. Build digital folders. Use some of the latest games and apps in mobile devices. Focus on what kind of vocabularies will help them communicate well in school or business settings. In some cases, English words have different meanings for different cultures and situations and so it’s your job as an ESL teacher to clarify and explain how to use those words in detail.

6) Practice with Role Plays:

The best way to learn is through real life situations. In your classroom, you can always use role play exercises to create situations that mimic how ESL students should speak and respond to others. For example, you can have different scenarios from ordering fast food and dining in a fancy restaurant to having a job interviews and speaking to a customer. This way your ESL students will learn how to observe, listen and respond in various situations.

7) Teach Social and Business Etiquette:

Helping your ESL students to be effective communicators means teaching them social and business etiquette as well. This means teaching them manners, politeness, social norms, business customs and cultural cues. ESL students will need to learn how to communicate with proper words and manners from casual to formal settings. More importantly, you can teach ESL students both verbal and non-verbal communication techniques and skills. For example, how make good eye contact, shake hands, greet people, and express themselves through their facial expression and body gestures.

8) Provide Constructive Feedback:

Anyone can give an opinion or feedback, but you as an ESL teacher will need to provide the most positive and constructive feedback to your ESL students. They have to feel encouraged and supported, to continue learning and improving their English. Learning a new language like English is difficult for some because their own mother tongue may have a very different language structure and linguistic sound. Your positive attitude will translate into their positive mindset for English learning. Provide specific examples and tips to help them understand what is right or wrong to speak and write every day.

With these eight ESL teaching strategies and techniques above, you will become a very efficient and effective ESL teacher who is liked by all your ESL students. Even though there is a quiz, a test or a grade on paper, your ESL students will only remember what they have experienced and how they felt in each ESL class. You are there to provide a positive, supportive and constructive learning environment with no judgment, but only opportunities to learn and grow as individuals. Be proud of yourself.