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  • Finding the right school is the key to your success

    Post by : expatree

Most people begin learning Mandarin before they move or go to China, regardless of their purpose of visit. I, on the other hand, was ignorant and believed that would survive given that English is widely spoken. I could not have been more wrong. The first day in Shanghai was already an obstacle as I tried to orientate myself as well as purchase the basic necessities for the room I was renting. I realized that having learnt the basic mandarin conversation would have gone a long way and would save me the trouble of Google translating everything.
I was aware of my sever error and immediately resolved to secure a tutor in order to acquire the necessary Mandarin conversational skills. I did not want to isolate myself any more than I already had. Most websites offered private tutors as well as numerous schools directed at expats. That’s when I realized my next obstacle: how do I choose a school that will be most effective and efficient at preparing me to take on the Shanghainese streets?
I settled on the Coffee,Tea&Mandarin school. Their name was what first got my attention. Not only was it unusual, but it offered a relaxed and social atmosphere through the name alone. The idea of learning such an alien language in the company of other expats over tea seemed more comfortable than a rigorous, stressful classroom. Even more important to me was their slogan that defined my main problem: Finding the right school is the key to your success. I felt like I might have found the school for me but the last requirement on my checklist was to look at the courses they offered, what it included and what the class was like.
I met with Lin, the manager of the school in order to get more acquainted with their curriculum. My first impression were positive; central location, flexible timing of the teachers, small classes, various packages and levels and reasonable tuition. Small classes allowed it to be interactive enough without losing the undivided attention of the teacher. I also was introduced the teachers at the school who informed me that they were tested for their qualifications. They could not simply apply for this job, they had to have degrees from an acceptable education institution as well as submit themselves to another form of test by the Coffee,Tea&Mandarin to confirm their skills. Coffee,Tea&Mandarin wants to maintain and guarantee the standards of their education.
The courses that were available to me were Survival Mandarin and Travel Mandarin. Survival Mandarin is a course suitable for someone who has just arrived in China, even with family, to have an intensive crash course. She explained that most people enjoy this course because they first learn about a hundred and fifty mandarin words that facilitates their life in Shanghai. Some of these words and phrases include basic words and sentences like introducing yourself, asking the way, and bargaining in the markets. What I found most fascinating about this course was that they put emphasis on ‘real life training’ and encourage students to go out into the streets of Shanghai and practice their lessons. They sometimes go to a market and are expected to bargain in order to apply the terminology taught in class. The other course was less intense and was more suitable for someone who wanted to travel around China. This course covered material that would enable one to focus on travel and transportation tips as well as how to shop for basic necessities such as food. This course is only about 10-15 hours and is very practical.
I opted for the Survival Mandarin. I was in fact desperate to just have some interaction with the hundreds of people around me that could easily answer questions I had. And thus far, I have to say I am one happy expat in Shanghai. I feel more confident when it comes to asking simple question or direction as well as bargaining. I have tested the waters of how far I can bargain on the markets. I am thankful for the patient and supportive teachers I had at Coffee,Tea&Mandarin because without their continuous support and encouragement, I would not have uttered on word. I hope to follow the intermediate Mandarin course soon and further develop my vocabulary. I am confident Coffee,Tea&Mandarin is the place to turn to for my next language undertaking.

Visit Coffee,Tea & Mandarin's boutique
Date:2013-09-26 11:43:20
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