MSL Master stands for Mandarin as a Second Language Master. The approach to Chinese courses is represented by these three key words: “Mandarin”, “second”, and “master”.
Let’s start with the third word “master”, as this is the mission statement.
“Master” has two meanings.
First of all, “master” is a verb. It means to grasp, to overcome, and to acquire knowledge. This is what the students will achieve, to master and to grasp Mandarin Chinese as a language. It is a process of developing Chinese language skills through a series of well designed Chinese courses. Students achieve Chinese language proficiency in both spoken and written form.
Secondly, “master” is a noun, referring to someone who has the control and who is well learned. This is what the students will become, a master, a teacher and an expert of Chinese as a culture. All Chinese courses are designed to help students along the way. It is the ultimate achievement of learning, the end result of a demanding journey. It is to finally get to the sublimed status, to know.
The second word is “second”, which means all Mandarin lessons are for non-Chinese speakers who learn Mandarin as a second language. To put it differently, MSL Master works with young adults or adults. MSL Master Chinese courses and lessons are not designed for toddlers or very young children, whose first language is not yet fully developed.
In the place of the word “second”, there are two alternatives: “foreign” and “international”.
“Mandarin as a Foreign Language” is not as a good expression. The word “foreign” indicates a divide between the self and the other, implying constant conflicts and never-ending struggles. Students struggling with, or fighting, their Mandarin lessons is not preferred. Students are expected to enjoy and to embrace their Mandarin lessons.
The term “Mandarin as an International Language” is not realistic. It is an overstatement. Comparing with English, Mandarin has not gained this status yet. It is certainly hoped to be so, as great effort has been put in designing and promoting MSL Master Chinese courses, Chinese textbooks and teaching methods worldwide.
The first word comes at last, and it is the focal point of MSL Master's entire services and products. “Mandarin” means Mandarin Chinese language, the official language in mainland China and Taiwan. It is also commonly referred to as “putonghua” (普通话, the common language) or “guoyu” (国语, the language of the country).
This word demonstrates that the lessons are Mandarin lessons, the courses are Mandarin Chinese courses, and books are Mandarin Chinese textbooks.
Some additional notes on the Chinese writing systems:
Both simplified and traditional Chinese writing system are recognised. It is common to see both versions are widely used in the world, and it is an advantage to know both of them. However, it is not feasible to learn both systems at the same time, and, at MSL Master, the priority is given to simplified Chinese, which in general has less strokes to write than traditional Chinese. It is a bit easier for non-Chinese speakers, MSL Master students, to learn. Therefore, the Chinese writing courses and higher level Chinese courses teach Chinese texts written in simplified characters.