Learning Chinese in Singapore :: yago.sg

Learning Chinese

I've been learning Chinese with varying intensity since 2005. In those five years, I've used a whole lot of methods which made sense at that particular stage. Here's an overview which I have linked where possible.

I got about half way the "Teach Yourself" book, which is practical and focuses on frequently occurring conversations. I did a lot of repetition and already got some patterns in my head; though it's hard to push myself being the only one learning. Also, the book works with hanyu pinyin only, so it doesn't cover Chinese characters.

Jan - May 2006
While job hunting after having just arrived in Singapore, I took up the intensive Mandarin program at NUS Extension, which proved a good choice to get all the basic patterns in place. Unlike many other programs, I felt the program focused on getting the basic patterns in our head before moving on. For example, get the tones and sentence order right before introducing a whole lot of new concepts. So it laid a foundation for further learning Chinese, while I can't say I was anywhere near fluent after those 4.5 months.

May 2006 - February 2008
I followed the part-time course with NUS Extension. I would say all their teachers are of a good standard, but I had the luck to be learning Chinese with my best teacher ever, Ms. Wang, for five hours every week. It was during this learning period that I also got to explore other methods of learning Chinese outside of the classroom, which I continued afterwards, such as:

With family
My wife being Chinese, I remember speaking most Mandarin ever when visiting her aunts and uncles in the United States with my parents-in-law who live in China. Thanks to my learning efforts, Chinese was the language that the greatest number of people spoke best, so I actually got a huge confidence boost on Chinese language while visiting the USA for the first time! Still remember walking into a clothing shop to get rental suits with my Chinese in-laws and confusing the hell out of the staff - how could I belong to that group; weren't they speaking Chinese?

At the recommendation of classmates I started to Learn Chinese with ChinesePod as well. This website provides daily Podcasts at several levels, which are often funny and always relate directly to daily life in China. The podcasts themselves are free, but you can sign up to get access to transcripts, learning fora etc. While I've found that I'll always need to have a language class to enforce a discipline, ChinesePod became a welcome supplement, reinforced by the fact that my classmates used it as well!

February 2010 - now
I recently joined the BCT preparatory course at SCCIOB, which is subsidized to a large extent by the Singapore government. So far so good: it focuses on business vocabulary, which suits me well, and I am trying to do more exercise and homework than is really demanded by the teacher, as the course doesn't really focus on reading and writing but I personally want to develop that skill.

Check out the currently available Chinese courses in Singapore!

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