It’s been two years ago that I followed a Mandarin course, but I have decided to start again. Three weeks ago, I joined the BCT preparation course (intermediate) at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce Institute of Business (SCCIOB).
The first few lessons have been a bit scary. I realize that while I’ve been able to maintain my spoken Mandarin, my writing has deteriorated quite a lot. I’m still able to read most characters, but often forgot the writing for even relatively basic words as 自己 (myself). Compared to the courses I took at NUS Extension, this course doesn’t focus so much on the written part, so I am pushing myself to do some extra homework after each lesson to revise the characters I don’t know.
What has positively surprised me, is the amount of business vocabulary covered in this course. I’m pretty sure that at the end of it, I’ll be pretty comfortable to converse about business topics in Chinese. Possibly even more comfortable than doing it in pure Dutch – my business degree was taught in English and while I know most of the Dutch equivalents, they don’t come that naturally to me. Ah well, if I ever get to work in a Dutch situation I’ll just take a few weeks to adjust.
I realize that I join the language class mainly for the group aspect. The ground covered during the class could be covered on my own with good learning materials and help from the dictionary. But it’s really invaluable to meet a group of people who are trying to do the same thing, and are at approximately the same level. The group is pretty diverse, with Singaporeans, Indonesians, Vietnamese of different age groups and professional background.
So not too bad all in all. Now it’s a matter of persistence!