Mandarin is enjoying popularity like never before. With the rise of China as a major economic force, there is a very practical reason for learning Mandarin Chinese – improving job prospects. With this in mind, language schools all over the US, Europe and Asia are offering Mandarin Chinese classes.
You don’t have to attend a language school to learn Mandarin – it is also offered in the public school system. From elementary school to university, students have the option of learning Mandarin Chinese.
And for those who don’t have the time or inclination to attend classes, there are plenty of self-study materials including books, CD’s, DVD’s, and Internet courses.
Almost every major city has a good choice of language schools which offer a wide variety of classes. Some schools specialize in small classes which give a lot of individual attention, while others may rely on language labs and audio-visual materials to provide the teaching materials.
When looking for a language school, keep in mind that one particular style of teaching may be best suited to you. Some students thrive in noisy classrooms, while others do better with a one-on-one approach. Some students are more visual, learning better with diagrams and pictures, while other students are more analytical, preferring to study grammar and language rules.
Figuring out your learning style will help you choose the best language school to learn Mandarin.
Asian Language Schools
The quickest way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the culture. If you are in a hurry to learn Mandarin Chinese, consider going to China or Taiwan for a month or more. You will be forced to speak the language, so everything you learn in class can be put into immediate use.
There are hundreds of language schools in China, but not so many in Taiwan. The oldest Mandarin language school in Taiwan is the Taipei Language Institute. Despite the name, they have branches in cities throughout Taiwan.
Some elementary and high schools in the United States and other western countries now offer classes in Mandarin Chinese. These may be part of the regular curriculum or offered as an after-school activity.
These classes are a good introduction to Mandarin Chinese. They are ideal for young people to gain some knowledge of Mandarin, which will provide a good foundation if they decide to study the language when they are older.
Most universities offer Mandarin Chinese classes at several levels. Mandarin 101 may be quite demanding for busy students, but those with a basic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese may find university studies an ideal way to improve their language skills.
Due to the popularity of Mandarin Chinese, there are hundreds of books, websites and audio-visual courses available. They allow you to learn Mandarin at your own pace, and they can be relatively inexpensive or even free.
Some self-study material, however, is very expensive. You can easily spend several hundred dollars on an audio-visual course. The quality of these courses can vary – some give good value, while others are a waste of money.
My top pick for self-study material is our very own mandarin.about.com. We have lessons about Mandarin vocabulary, Mandarin grammar , reading and writing Chinese, and Chinese culture . I am adding new material to the website all the time, and am open to suggestions about the kind of content you would like to see. Drop me a line!
I also have reviews of text books and audio-visual materials for self-study. Self-study often involves getting information from several sources, so having a variety of books and other materials will help you better understand the language.