It’s really not an easy task for two middle-europeans, dedicated to their work, jumping right into the work process for a chinese-german joint venture company. Changing the job, getting along with the new challenges, work goals, bosses and colleagues is a big thing, even when you are in your home country where everyone at least understands what you are saying.
How to survive in China without knowing Chinese?
After landing in Dalian a year ago, proud of our English language skills, we thought living in China without knowing Chinese is possible!
You might say, okay, in the restaurant, you just choose according to the pictures. That works, of course, if there is a menu with pictures or if there isn't a special procedure with ordering the food (first choose the sauce, then the ingredients and afterward the preparation).
However, after choosing a really nice looking dish of chicken meat and realizing it was a cold dish, or that understanding of „spicy“ (in the menu one two or three peppers) really differs between us and the cook. Navigating the taxi driver was a chapter of its own as well.
It’s time to learn Chinese!
Learning Chinese together with your mate is romantic, but not efficient That is when the TLI (Taipei Language Institute) comes to the story. We realized that learning basic chinese is absolutely inevitable to survive the planned three years here. After some review and recommendations we got to meet our teacher from TLI. We started to study together. We thought we could motivate each other and help each other. Ha, ha. In the end we realized that as soon as one was confident with some of the words, the other one did not bother to learn them, since we could cooperate. A good example was the directions – one could say „left“ and „right“ the other one „directly“. Perfect, right?
How to choose a Chinese school in Dalian?
1. Flexibility of teachers and class time
Nope, not perfect at all. So, we decided to take lessons on our own. We greatly appreciated the flexibility of TLI teachers, they offer one on one classes since there was no problem in arranging the lessons according to our need and time possibilities (new job, etc., remember?).
2. Organized Chinese materials with pinyin
The books and learning materials provided were also great. As well, our teacher was able to arrange the concept of the lessons according to our needs.
3. Teachers who care your learning goals
Either you focus more on the textbook and learn the vocab and grammar, or you could focus more on the Chinese conversation and the vocab to be able to get around in the day to day life. Or, you can choose to learn writing and listening. You can agree on the goals and the teacher does everything to fulfill the goal you set together.
4. Customized learning schedule and pace
Also, you learn at the pace that best suits you (not everyone is a diligent student and reviews from lesson to lesson) and the teacher makes sure that the lesson always brings something new and with a little effort you can see a big progress very soon.
5. Teaching practical and useful Chinese
Right now, we can get around, ordering food and discussing with the waiters is not a problem anymore, we can even do some talk on the phone with a hotel or the taxi driver when traveling in China. Or even read some of the characters. The TLI school and teachers surely made our life in China much easier.
6. A Chinese teacher like your good friend
Besides the curriculum, the teacher will give you so much information about Chinese culture. Since they have a lot of experience with teaching foreigners, they also know a lot about other countries than China as well and can be a very good source of knowledge.
With our teacher we discuss everything from everyday life, food, sports to politics, books and philosophy which are very practical and real. The teacher can become your guide and friend to life in China, and can recommend good restaurants and places to see.
7. Last but not least… your own effort
Of course, much of the progress depends on the students themselves. If you do not study at home, even the best teachers in the world cannot help you. But the Chinese teachers at TLI surely will try and never give up on you and if necessary go through the grammar and vocab again and again. Our goal of learning to speak and understand what is going on in the Chinese conversation is getting nearer and nearer, although there is a lot of work to be done.
In the next two years, we surely will continue our Chinese lessons with TLI, to improve our Chinese skills, but also because there is so much more to learn about China and Chinese people, that it would be a wrong decision not to do it.