The meaning of “MSL Master”

Friday, 23 March 2018

MSL Master stands for Mandarin as a Second Language Master. There are three key words: "Mandarin", "second", and "master".

The first word is "Mandarin". It refers to Mandarin Chinese, Putonghua, a common language that most people speak in China. And many regions carry their own distinctive accents.

The second word is "second", which means we help people who are learning Mandarin as their second language. Thus, we rule out toddlers and very young children, whose first language is not yet in place. (It would be ridiculous to talk about a toddler's second language.) In the place of the word "second", there are two alternatives: Mandarin as a "Foreign" Language, and Mandarin as an "International" Language. The word "foreign" indicates a divide between the self and the other. Once defined as "foreign", the language and the self will never be one. This word implies constant conflicts and never-ending struggles. Hence we scrapped this word. As for "international", let's be honest, given the wide spread of English, it is unrealistic to call Mandarin an international language, at least not yet. Therefore, we ditched this word as well.

The third word is "master". It is a statement of our mission. Firstly, we help our students to master, to grasp, and to conquer. It is a process, to master Mandarin this language, from a starting point to a high level of proficiency. It also implies to overcome difficulties, and to make effort to achieve. Secondly, we want our students to become a master, a teacher, an expert, and a specialist of Mandarin as a culture. It is the ultimate achievement of learning, the end result of an arduous, demanding and grueling journey. It is to finally get to the sublimed status, to know.

Now the questions are: How to master Mandarin as a second language? And how to become a Mandarin as a second language master?

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