Five biggest challenges to overcome in the classroom.

confused-studentAs I am sure we are all aware of by this point, learning the Chinese language is no walk in the park. In some ways, Mandarin learners who move to China to study have their work cut out for them – after all, your entire environment presents learning opportunities. Easy peezy, right??
However, in our excitement for moving abroad and anticipation of how living in China will do wonders for your language skills, we tend to overlook the number of real challenges that face students in a Chinese language classroom.

1. Rote Memorization
If you were hoping to memorize that 16-stroke character just by delightful coincidence, you’re in for a bit of a shock. The Chinese methods for memorizing characters can be a difficult challenge to overcome for Chinese language learners. It is a rather simple system (later, rinse, repeat), but it can be quite frustrating to people who prefer to learn extensively.
2. Boring teaching methods
Say good-bye to the days of watching videos, acting out skits, playing language-learning games, and working with small groups in the classroom. You are now entering China’s higher education system, where the norm is, well… to keep things normal. Do not expect a varied degree of learning methods utilized in the classroom. Your teacher will likely have a formula that is repeated regularly for each lesson you work through.
For students who learn better audibly, visually, or through self-study, this one-size-fits-all approach to teaching can be very hard to overcome. You will likely grow accustomed to this new learning approach eventually, but it can take longer for some students than others.
3. Long hours in the classroom
Four classes, back to back, one hour long, all taught in Chinese, every. single. weekday. morning. There is nothing quite like it back in your home country, especially since your classes will be taught only in the target language. If only we were able to take a mental break and get instructions in English every now and then, but alas – it isn’t so.
It can be very difficult to be an active listener in a foreign language for 4 hours straight. You will definitely zone out at times, but these epic daydreams will taper off as you go. Long classroom hours can be overwhelming and tiring to newcomers; be sure to stick it out and you will reap the rewards of language learning considerably.
4. Lax attendance policies
When attending my Chinese university, foreign students were allowed to miss up to 60 hours of class time a semester without any affects on their overall grade or participation status. That rounds out to roughly 15 school days where you can be MIA. With all the fun that’s happening around your new home, this relaxed attendance policy seems like a sweet gig.
BE WARNED. Missing a day of Chinese class is like missing a week of Chinese class back home. You will fall behind, and you will likely regret not showing up for class that day. If you’re going to miss class, make sure it’s for a legit reason and not because you’re hung over or “just don’t feel like it.” Your language skills will suffer in the end, and you’ll have to live knowing you failed to make the most of your time in China learning Mandarin.
5. Not relying on pinyin
When your Chinese teacher is speaking a million words per minute, it might feel like a fine solution to switch from writing each character individually to instead taking notes in pinyin. However HUGE this challenge is, it is in your best interest to NOT fall into this habit, especially in the beginning. As time goes on, you will slowly be able to write characters more quickly and with great familiarity. Don’t get bogged down in the beginning when you miss a thing-or-two due to your slow writing.
All in time, young grasshopper. All in time.


 In-Depth-China      CSA-blog



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