How adult students achieve great learning results
Different from young children who are enrolled into Mandarin Chinese classes by their parents, adult students generally start learning Chinese on their own initiatives. For one reason or another, they are interested in taking some Chinese lessons.
From initial interest to lasting pursuit
This initial interest is of great importance. And it is also true that, if not properly taken care of, this initial interest in Chinese or Chinese culture will diminish quickly. It could be certain circumstances that many people have little control of, such as demands at work, slowly wears off people’s interests in learning Chinese. Apart from that, the real killer, also the deadliest, is boredom. Bit by bit, Chinese lessons are no longer exciting. They are boring.
Boredom comes from many directions. It could be that the learning materials are boring, that grown up students are finally getting tired of using children’s textbooks. It could be that the format is boring, that text-vocabulary-grammar-exercise cycle finally loses its appeal. Or it is the boring content with a maddening repetitiousness, for example that, although useful, the deadening pronunciation drills or grammar drills are killing students’ spirit. Or it is the teacher who is only going through motions. Or perhaps just a feeling that, despite the time and effort, not much is being achieved.
The best way to keep students engaged and to transfer their initial interest into a lasting pursuit for Chinese language and Chinese culture is to have good Chinese teachers. With their physical presence, they make a huge difference in the process of learning and have a great impact on students’ learning outcomes. Different from App or computer learning, good Chinese teachers have their own personalities, which come through their Chinese lessons.
Learning Chinese as an adult student
It is often said that it is easy for children to learn a new language, but it is painful and slow for adult students. Even with some elements of truth, this is definitely an overly generalised statement. Adult students have many advantages. Their attention span is great, and they are willing to cooperate.
At MSL Master, most students are adult students. Many of them come back to school after a long absence. And the huge difference this time is that they bring their rich life experiences into the classroom.
To best help these students achieve the best learning outcome, our Mandarin lessons use appropriate content that makes sense to adult students, that they find it interesting, relevant, and easy to apply into the real world. Moreover, we tap into the reservoir of students’ life experience and structure our Chinese courses with a series of carefully designed tasks. Students participate in communicative class activities embedded with targeted linguistic content. Finally, students go through constant revision exercises to increase their knowledge retention, and to develop proficient Chinese language skills.
Even though adult students no longer need a report card, they need to know how they are doing in their Chinese study. The real testing ground for them is the real world, whether or not they can function well in a Chinese speaking environment.
Therefore, the ultimate objective for adult students is not a report card with an “A+”, rather, it is to be able to communicate well with Chinese speakers in both oral and written form, to be able to digest information presented in Chinese, and to be able to deliver information in Chinese.
This is our objective. At MSL Master, there is no final big test which determines everything. Instead, there are a series of writings and presentations students go through to demonstrate their Chinese language ability and their communication skills.
This kind of assessment has the closest resemblance to what the real world demands. And each task brings students one step closer to the ultimate success in learning Chinese.
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