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How adult students achieve great learning results

Different from young children who are forced 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. However, it is also true that, if not properly taken care of, this initial interest in Chinese will diminish quickly. 

It could be certain circumstances that many people have little control of. Demands at work or a small financial crisis can stop people from carrying on their study.

The real and the deadliest killer of this initial interest is boredom. Bit by bit, Chinese lessons are no longer exciting. They are boring and a waste of time.

Boredom comes from many directions. 

It could be that the learning materials are boring. Boring books with boring content.

It could be that the learning format is boring. The text-vocabulary-grammar-exercise cycle loses its appeal. A maddening repetitiousness. And those dreadful pronunciation drills and grammar drills.

It could be the teacher who is only going through motions. 

It could be that feeling that, despite the time and effort, not much is being achieved.  

To keep students interested and to transform the initial interest into a long lasting pursuit requires many factors that work together. 

It is a process of acquiring a new habit, getting a new lifestyle, and making learning Chinese part of the identity. It is similar to training to Ironman Race. Find out why here: Mark Allen, 6x Ironman World Champion, and learning Chinese.

Interesting learning materials, good Chinese teachers, supportive learning communities are all helpful. 

The strengths of adult students

It is often said that it is easy for children to learn a new language, but it is painful and slow for adult students. 

Children have natural advantages for learning Chinese. Adult students also have their strengths.

Adult students’ attention span is great. They are capable of devoting themselves wholeheartedly into learning Chinese for hours at a time.

Adult students’ are willing to cooperate. They are happy to work with teachers and to improve themselves. 

Adult students’ are willing to learn. After a long absence from school, they come back once again as students. This time, they know they want to learn and they bring their rich life experiences into their learning.

Adult students have clear goals they want to achieve. Some students want to be able to chat with their Chinese colleagues, some want to learn some Chinese characters, and some want to enjoy reading famous Chinese classical texts. 

As for setting up an achievable goals for learning Chinese, I’m not a fan of HSK tests. I’m a big proponent of setting soft goals, and the best to assess students’ achievements is to go to the real world.

How do you know that you’ve reached your goal

Adult students no longer need a report card, but they still need to know how they are doing in their Chinese study and whether or not they’ve achieved their goal of learning Chinese.

As mentioned earlier, the best testing ground is the real world, whether or not they have checked the list in their soft goals, and whether or not they can function well in a Chinese speaking environment. 

Adult students will not get a report card with an “A” or a “D” from someone else.They need to grade themselves on how well they communicate with Chinese speakers, how well they write Chinese, or how well they do presentations in Chinese.

This happens to be our objectives as well. 

At MSL Master, there are no big and final tests. Instead, there are a series of tasks for students to go through. Each task brings students one step closer to the ultimate success in learning Chinese.