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Methinks not. My own experience with learning Chinese language goes back to , when I first took a course in intro Chinese with Professor Susan Blader at Dartmouth College. What originally fascinated me, well before I began learning the language, were the characters. Yet like every Chinese language learner, I found out very quickly that the language is deeply connected to history, to culture, to literature, philosophy, and society.
In other words, one cannot simply learn the language on its own. This brings me to my main point: Learning the Chinese language is a major undertaking. You also need to understand the references, many of which go back to ancient times. And you can let the Chinese who speak English do the heavy lifting when it comes to things like contracts or government documents or paying bills or buying tickets or really anything requiring the knowledge of the written word.
This brings me to another obvious point: the prevalence of English. Since the s, as others around the world have for centuries now given the long and ambitious history of British and American colonial imperialism, Chinese people have put in enormous efforts into learning the English language. Luckily for them, there are many great tools and resources to do so, not just educational resources but also wonderful and highly engaging English-language movies, TV shows, songs, etc.
Prior to the s, the foreign language of choice in China was Russian, so if you meet people educated in the s or 60s, chances are they speak some Russian. But since the s, every school child has been given a heavy dose of English. Today, most college-educated Chinese people can speak some English passably well or even remarkably well, depending on their exposure to the outside world, and certainly they can read English. So this means that for every single literate and conversationally fluent Mandarin-Chinese speaking foreigner like myself, there is literally an army of English-reading and speaking Chinese people.
So then, what would be the purpose of a foreigner spending so much time and effort learning to speak, read and write Mandarin Chinese or even learning classical Chinese, which like its Western counterpart Latin takes years just on its own to become proficient? The answer right now is: not much.
Outside of a few very small professional domains such as being a professor of Chinese studies, there is not much of a market for such hard-earned skills. And in that regard, allow me to make another point: For every China studies scholar who spent years learning Mandarin Chinese as a second language, there are dozens of native Chinese speakers with whom that person is competing for a very small number of jobs in the China studies field, not to mention other fields and professions such as business or law.
At the same time, they were also learning English from a very young age, and they can now speak, read and write English with near-native fluency--or in many cases, they can read and write in English far better than most native English speakers. So, unless you have a deep passion for Chinese language, culture, and history, as I and my non-Chinese colleagues do, this is probably not a worthwhile investment of your time, money, and energy. My best wishes to you and to your lovely family, Elmansour, from Morocco. Complain about this comment Comment number 8.
Hello Omar and the rest of the people! Welconme to the blog and congratulations for your written English. Your methods to improve the language are very funny and the idea of hosting people for dinners "in English" is superb. Thanks for the pictures of your family, they are very nice. The best for all of you. Looking forward to your new posts that I imagine will show us the beautiful Italy. Apart from that I want to express my "envy" for your possibility of having been in London to attend a course and at the same time to enjoy the Olimpic Games.
Lucky you. Complain about this comment Comment number 9. Your first entry was a success.
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I can see Your English is so fluent! And what a great way to practice more English. I can't wait to read your future Blogs and your baby girl shots So long pary from Iran. Complain about this comment Comment number Hello Elmansour, I can just add my thanks to yours for this wonderful website. Having read some of the blog post of the last month, I know you are quite addicted to BBC LE, and my plan is to become addicted just like you!
Hello Beatriz! Only, I used my holiday time to do it, and I had to leave my wife and my daughter for two weeks. Dear Pary, consider yourself invited to my home if you happen to come to Milan! Dear Omar Another way to learn english is that to translate anything you thing in the mind, anything you hear in the street, any conversation. This is the way to take up your mind, to start to think in english.
I leart many words translating different things in the street. Hello Omar and all!
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Omar was a great pupil. He was intelligent, motivated to learn and had a great sense of humour and an unforgettable laugh! I might have to invite myself to Milan to experience his cooking. There will be 3 classes each day. A breakfast, lunch and dinner class. Omar will be full of English and I will be full of food. A perfect relationship! I am impressed by everyone's writing ability on this forum - keep it going!
Finally, well done Omar for writing this blog! An excellent idea. Hello everyone, I think, Omar, you have chosen a really interesting and useful issue for your first post. I enjoyed myself a lot reading it and I could find out fun tips to improve my English. Thank you very much! I would also like to share one with you. When I go to bed, I always put my earphones on and listen to my English Audiobooks or something similar in English.
At that moment you often pay more attention to the listening because the remaining senses aren't in use. I hope it was handy for you! Waiting for the next post. Hi Omar Thank you for your replay. I 'm so delighted to know you are keen on travel to Iran. Hope it will happen really soon. Which areas of Iran you are interested to visit? I think you might be interested to visit historical places and cities like Esphehan and Shiraz. Mind you I live in west north of Iran in Ardebil city.
It 's near to Tabriz city which is a tourist trap too. Like you I 'm so keen on traveling abroad but now a days it 's too expensive. I have just visited Turkey Istanbul last year. Then I tried my best to use my English In my case it was a fail Any way now they are all sweet memory : So long Pary from Iran Ardebil. Hello Zibaxa, i read your comment yesterday night and this morning i tried your method on my way to work.
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Hello Scott and thank you for visiting the blog! Hello Omar and thank you very much for you blog. I aeree with you about you three was to learn English and I think that they could be' useful for a lot of people. I'd also like to improve my poro English and I hope to learn it batter in the future. Have a looking, if you like! Best regards Vito. Hi Paula, and thank you for sharing your method! Hi Pary, i'd like to go to Esphehan and Shiraz, and also Qom seems interesting to me, but of course when we'll decide to visit Iran, i have to read a lot more about the country, so the list will become much longer!
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I don't Know Tabriz but i'll check about it! Dear Omar, Thanks for your suggestions. I was lucky like you for being at in the UK last week. I visited UK for a vacation and to meet my brothers staying in London. The weather was lovely and it gave us an opportunity to enjoy the english summers in UK. The tip which i would like to share is that i used to listen very carefully to the conversation of the native speakers. At the same time i used to observe and learn words used at the airport etc. I also bought some english novels written by Ruth hamilton and georgetter hyer as they very expressive writers and i am sure their writing style can definitely help me to be more expressive in sharing my ideas.
Paula, can you share the links to audio books which you mentioned, as i believe they can influence my communication and articulation skills. Hi Omar and everyone : Thank you Omar for this great idea and for the opportunity you give us to share our experiences on methodology used for learning and improving english. I enjoyed alot reading your experimentations some of them were funny and dare, but very interesting. Thank you also for sharing your family pictures. I love your wedding pic : Personally I use combined ways to improve my english, it depend of my humour : 1- I try to watch shows and movies in english with or without subtitles 2- I take phone english courses with my company 3- I do some exercises on the internet platform when I don't have time to book courses 4-I read some comics books.
The advantage of this last method is that you can understand the dialog even if you don't know all the vocabulary and in the same it's very simple way to talk and it's funny : In conclusion, I think that all medologies can help if the student is constant and regular. And this is the big deal : By the way, Omar I'm also interseted by your cooking skills : Thanks. It is a very god article! I have a technique to learn english: I translate everything sites to english and my computer and devices are in english too. I like of to watch movies in english too. Hello Omar, I like your article very much, I enjoyed reading it!
I think you have found a funny way to improve your English speaking skills. It was and it still is very difficult for me after so long…. The problem is that I have so little time. There are many way to improve written and spoken English but constancy is very important. Another way is watching dvd, selecting English language, but I need to be more concentrated…..
I have a question for you: do you need to improve english for your job of for your own pleasure? I apologize for all my mistakes…..
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Waiting for your next post… Sonia. Hello Xara, you're right, weather in London this summer wasn't bad as i imagined before. I didn't even open my umbrella for two weeks! Hello Amal, my dear classmate, it's a pleasure to meet you here! As for the cooking skills thing, which i see it's a very popular topic among BBCLE bloggers, before the end of the month i will contribute with some recipes!
Hello Elaine, and thank you for your comment, i already switched my phone to english language, everything becomes a little more complicated n that way , but that's why it's useful! Hi Sonia, the answer to your question is both my job and my own pleasure. Hi there Omar, I enjoyed reading your innovative methods of improving the English language, very interesting! And as Elmansour suggests consistent exposure to the language does the trick! Looking forward to your blogs :. These are some method I used to use which were very useful I wish they were useful for you too. Now they are some web sites in the subject : www.
Hello Mohamed, did you really start learning english at the age of seventy? If so, You are my hero!
And your english is very good also! Thank you! Hi Sumayya and thank you for your comment, i think we've done a good job here, i found really intersting tip, and i hope the same for you all! Hi, Omar! I join all the comments about your ideas and contribution to English learning As to me, I consider watching interesting movies in English with no subs is also an excellent way to study English, and not bothering one!
But if we will visit Milan, I would be pleased to taste Italian homemade cuisine and practice English! Good luck for you and your wonderful family! Dear Omar and Everyone here, First of all Omar - lovely post. It was so much fun to read it. Some of the ways you I myself haven't tried. I'm in awe of your commitment and dedication to learning English. Everyone who has read Omar's post - I am Omar and Christina's Indian friend in that photograph and having known them for almost 3 years now I can tell you that they are one of the most amazing people I know in my life and an extended family.
Omar is an enthusiastic cook too, while Christina loves to bake. Another way was watching English movies with subtitles.
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But come to think of it now in China I should try these methods mentioned above. Mandarin is definitely hard and the way I practice is that I keep trying to hit on Chinese girls and invite them home for Indian food and in the process learn Mandarin from them. My food blog is www. I've never had a teacher but I improve best just by random chat with random people. Once again Omar, great blog! Great tips!! Unfortunately I'm in Brazil so I can't call a costumer service, but maybe I'll do the dinner idea!
Hi Nitin! Very nice post. I find this way of lerning English very inresting and the most important affactive. Keep writing blog. Hi Omar and hi everyone. I was actually pleased to join bbc site and your blog. I found out a place where I can communicate with people who risult to be very well mannered and nice as well. It's a great pleasure to be in contact. Omar, your skill at writing is amazing!
Online safety for teenagers. It is important that online safety is discussed with teenagers who might not always be aware of dangers, especially in a world in which Your year in review. This activity for teenagers and adults at CEF level B1 and above asks students to imagine that they are a famous international or national Lesson plans , Lesson plans. Every year as Christmas approaches, thousands of charities launch appeals, asking for donations. Entrepreneurs are Great. This lesson plan for teachers of older teenage and adult students level B1 is about entrepreneurship.
Students will develop speaking and A Boyhood Home. A class magazine. Class projects can be an excellent way to focus the whole class and get them working together towards a common goal. A class survey. Doing surveys can be a useful way of getting your students to interact, produce question forms and collect and analyse real information.
This lesson plan for teachers of teenage and adult students at level B1 and above is based on the theme of Regional Geography. A dark and stormy night. The main focus of this activity is on developing writing skills, but it's also good for developing listening speaking and reading skills A food festival. This lesson plan for teachers of teenage students at level B2 is about food festivals. Students will focus on their listening skills in A Generation of couch potatoes. Theme: Health, fitness, lifestyles Lexical area: Sports, recreational activities, frequency adverbs Cross curricular links: Personal and Stories and poems.
A House in the Country. A House in the Country concerns a returnee, Ray, who has made enough money in London to rebuild a house in Colombo. He is helped by Siri, A multi-level writing class. This activity is a great writing task to use in the first week or so with a new group. A Multicultural Society. A new flag? This lesson plan for older teenagers and adults at CEF level B1 and above looks at the symbolism and meaning of flags. A perfect story. The present perfect is a tense that many students have problems with.