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Introducing MSL Master - Mandarin as a Second Language

MSL Master is the result of many years of hard work, experiments and research.

It all started with April’s poor English

April started learning English when she was ten years old. Ten years later, except passed countless exams, including the National English Test level six, the highest level for non-English major university students, she had very little to show for. 

During her first ten years of learning English, her study mode included the following components: 

  • Studied texts and mulled over definitions of long lists of vocabulary
  • Repeated after teachers or recordings for correct pronunciation and right intonation
  • Worked on pages and pages of grammar drills
  • Did translation exercises from English to Chinese or Chinese to English
  • Read stories and then answered multiple choice questions

Two things were seriously lacking in this model. One was good listening training. The other was genuine communications. 

Therefore, after learning English for ten years, April couldn’t carry on any conversations beyond “How are you?” and “What’s your name?”

However, for a long time, she refused to acknowledge that her English was poor. She thought her English was good, because she passed the highest level of National English Test for non-English major university students.

Unfortunately, whenever she wanted to communicate with non-Chinese speaking students or teachers, her head always went blank. To address this problem, she figured that she needed to learn more vocabulary. Then she began to memorise thousands of new words, which were only idle words and did not help.

It was like running in the dark. She kept running and that alone gave her comfort, but she would never get to the place she wanted to reach. 

Eventually, she turned her focus to listening and speaking exercises. That started a sea change.

After graduation, she did well on her job interview, during which she talked to her would-be boss in English, and got the job.

From teaching English to teaching Chinese

English is an art and also a communication tool. 

When April became an English teacher, she felt everything was right. The excitement of her students always made her happy. And she was glad that she could give them a learning experience that was different from her own. She also completed a TESOL certificate — Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

She loved the teaching job. Her students loved her.

Soon after, she was asked to teach Chinese to a few expats who were living in China.

That was something new and exciting. But it also brought a problem. There were no good Chinese textbooks. 

From teaching materials to Chinese textbooks

When April began to teach Chinese, she found the Chinese textbooks at that time disgusting. The format of these textbooks was only too familiar: texts, long lists of vocabulary, long lists of grammar points, writing exercises, and multiple choice questions.

These textbooks were so similar to those English textbooks she used before. They were all heavy on reading and writing, light on listening and speaking. Moreover, these books were so boring and useless for people who weren’t trying to pass exams. 

There was absolutely no book to use. 

So she created her own materials. She would write something, make some recordings, do some drawings, and design some class activities. Then she would try everything out in her Chinese classes. 

Sometimes things worked wonderfully, sometimes not. Gradually she accumulated a lot of materials that worked very well. 

When she moved to Hong Kong, she turned to teaching Chinese full time and further developed these materials to two sets of Chinese textbooks, the Mandarin Express series and the Chinese Reading and Writing series. Ten years later, she revised them to their second edition. Moreover, she incorporated the Chinese Reading and Writing series with sounds. 

The company — MSL Master

In Hong Kong, April started MSL Master, which stands for Mandarin as a Second Language Master. 

This is a company that focuses on developing Chinese learning materials and methodologies for non-Chinese speakers, who learn Chinese as a second language. 

The mission of the company is to help students learn Chinese effectively and efficiently while having fun. 

While we’d like to reach as many students as possible, we realise that there are certain students who will not benefit much from our programs, such as students who need to improve their test scores immediately. We also recognise that there are some fraudulent reasonings that will not benefit any students in the long run, for example the claim that learning Chinese is easy, that Chinese has no tenses, no verb conjugations, or plurals. 

We love to work with students who are dedicated and hardworking.

For self-study students, follow these two guides to get you started on your learning journey: 

For students who prefer teacher-led classes, there are two formats for you to choose:

For students who want to become a published writer, participate our annual event Chinese Writing Contest.

We are here to help, to improve, and to make a difference to all Chinese language learners worldwide.