Studying Mandarin in Singapore

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Studying Mandarin in Singapore


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Old 9th January 2011, 06:29 PM
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Default Studying Mandarin in Singapore

I will be in Singapore for a couple of weeks in late March/early April.

I would like to take an intensive total beginners course in Mandarin. It could be during the day, the evening, the weekend, whenever.

Can anyone recommend any schools, or private tutors?

Thank you!

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Old 11th January 2011, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug1943 View Post
I will be in Singapore for a couple of weeks in late March/early April.

I would like to take an intensive total beginners course in Mandarin. It could be during the day, the evening, the weekend, whenever.

Can anyone recommend any schools, or private tutors?

Thank you!
When you land in SG, get a copy of The Straits Times. You'll find lots of adverts offering Mandarin tuition. It'll be best to find a mainland Chinese teacher, esp one from Beijing for the accent. Soutern Mandarin, and Taiwanese Mandarin are slightly different - there're a lot of regional varieties. Though communication and understanding are not a problem, I think Beijing Mandarin is standard pronunciation. However, Taiwanese teachers might have retained more of the traditional culture and its impact on the language.

An intensive course for complete beginners should be around 2 hours everyday with the teacher and lots of revision and writing on your own. You'll go through analytical stages and at some stage, you might just want to give up and say,"Impossible!" But then, you'll think of the millions who use the language fluently and knuckle down to it. Remember each character comprises a radical, sound and image component. Some teachers even teach pronunciation of the strokes but you'll find PINYIN indispensable and so helpful.

It's a fascinating language, especially if you find a great teacher who can explain the Qi in the wrtiting and the anatomy!
Good luck.


Last edited by anneteoh; 11th January 2011 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 11th January 2011, 06:26 AM
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Anneteoh: Thank you so much for your advice! It was very helpful! (Especially the part about getting someone with a Beijing accent.) Do you know what tutors charge? I will have almost all day, for about ten days, to study.

I will also be able to do some preparation before I come, starting now. Do you happen to know -- I will Google for it in any case -- of some simple on-line course, or source, for beginning to learn Mandarin?

Thank you again!

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Old 11th January 2011, 07:30 AM
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Anneteoh: Thank you so much for your advice! It was very helpful! (Especially the part about getting someone with a Beijing accent.) Do you know what tutors charge? I will have almost all day, for about ten days, to study.

I will also be able to do some preparation before I come, starting now. Do you happen to know -- I will Google for it in any case -- of some simple on-line course, or source, for beginning to learn Mandarin?

Thank you again!
You have such a passion for learning Mandarin, it makes me wonder why! To me, it's very powerful communication. I remember reading a simple poem in Chinese characters - the feeling is immense as it expresses itself visually and the music of the tones is surreal.
Regarding preparation, you can buy books pitched at the various stages or borrow them from libraries. If you're in the states, it'll depend on where you are.
Having been a bit of the old China hand before, I can say that there are many Americans involved with China, from the early Maoist days and even before - right back to the 18th century. It'll be a good guide to your learning and will definitely make you feel you're not on foreign ground.
I used to simply goggle Learning Mandarin and found on line courses for my school students who, at 11 - 13 years were dead keen on learning Chinese in 2005!
I also have a series of software which I bought in SIMLIM in SG - it's the place to go for computer wares. You'll find ad haoc stalls set up by mainland Chinese offering software packages for learning Mandarin. They are comprehensive packages with writing pads, pronunciation and double checking commands etc. but I never use it! It cost about $200 - 300 , I think.
I personally learn best with a teacher rather than a machine.
But I think you have the same idea. The research and initial googling will certainly boost your learning so you'll start on sure footing.
All day learning for 10 days!!! - though PINYIN's romanized lettering, you must get the sounds right. That'll help your Mandarin pronunciation.
You might want to watch children's and other tv programmes for picking up on the intonations.
Ni hao?
Hen hao.
Xia xia ni.
zhai jian.


Last edited by anneteoh; 11th January 2011 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 11th January 2011, 10:55 AM
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Anneteoh: xièxiè!

Why learn Chinese? They are one of the oldest civilizations on earth. As a teenager, I read the Travels of Marco Polo -- he found an advanced civilization, using paper money! -- when Europe was still in the dark ages. Later I read -- well, read some of -- Joseph Needham's Science and Civilization in Ancient China. No one who has the least familiarity with China can doubt that they will soon take their place as one of, if not THE, leading nations of the earth.

I expect many great things from them: the people who invented the compass and gunpowder and many other things have a reputation for not being creative, for just copying: well, if that was somewhat true in the past, you can bet your bottom dollar -- if the dollar is still worth anything -- that they will soon regain their creativity.

I probably won't be here to see that, but I want to inspire my grandchildren to "think Chinese" -- so I want to know at least enough about the language to give them elementary lessons, and make them knowledgeable enough about China so that they begin, naturally, to follow the developments there. I hope to send them to study there, when they are old enough.. And of course I look forward to speaking some myself.

Yes, Americans have long had much to do with China, not all of it benign. I am no Anna Louise Strong, but I can understand the powerful sentiment behind Mao's statement, in 1949, "The Chinese people have stood up!" And it was true, despite the follies and crimes of that European invention unfortunately adopted by him, Communism.

Let them learn from the mistakes of the Europeans, and avoid war (while remaining strong) and they will astonish us all, I am sure.

Thank you again for your very helpful advice!

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Old 11th January 2011, 04:26 PM
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Douglas, ni shuo le Han yu hen hao.

Ah, so you read Sir Joseph Needham, late president of SACU - Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding. He had indeed, brought out the countless inventions from China. There was also a French historian Jean ... who wrote about Chinese history commenting that Mao was a romantic politician and that China had experimented with the most romantic form of politics - equal status and pay for all. Unfortunately, that couldn't work as many who did not profit personally preferred to laze about rather than slave for the enrichment of the state! Such is the capitalism inherent in those whose altruism have not been developed.

Regarding A.L. Strong, there were so many others, among them Edgar Snow and Helen Snow, Norman Bethune, Pearl S. Buck and names I can't recall at the moment - many of whom marched with the communists. I think that if you were to read the people's struggles against the KMT and the Japanese invasion, not to say the the 'gun boat' policy of Europe, you will appreciate how most Chinese people empathise with the communists. It was an intellectual movement and was clean and highly effective before the cultural revolution . But, some China watchers attribute China's success today to a lot of the experiments carried out in the disastrous great leap forward right up to the cultural revolution, and I would agree with them for many reasons to do with understanding the changes a deeply conservative
( and feudalistic ) society like old China needed to propel the country into the 20 century.

But as you said, I hope the benign and peaceful attitude don't change! Throughout history, other countries invaded China rather than the other way round; hence the great wall.
The West had done atrociously bad things in China; but that was during the time of the Manchus when the Chinese themselves were discriminated against in their own kingdom (!) . Lu Xun wrote The Story of Ah Q, a poignantly satirical story about the Chinese themselves. which reminds me that apart from business, inventions and the like, China has a very ancient literary tradition; its early poems explored ideas of colours, images, rhymes and sounds and have largely contributed towards the modern development of Haiku.

It's great to hear about your high regards for China. I had envisioned sending my daughter to Shao Lin to study kung fu and the moral discipline in Chinese tradition. Ethical considerations like filial piety and virtue are such civilized concepts and good practices - one realises in middle age! However, Shao Lin came right across my road instead but my daughter went for Wing Chun instead.

It's also great to hear you take reponsibility for the political arrogance of some of the politicians in the West but there're also good things from good people in the West. I dearly appreciate the concept of free will and personal liberty and balancing freedom with virtue and filial piety are very civilized ideals indeed. A harmonious relationship between the East and the West is what we all need. They can balance each other like the complementary concept of Daoism e.g. freedom and restraint, light and darkness etc.

I think Chinese is best appreciated through its characters and sounds - in the irrelevant masterstrokes of its calligraphy and musical intonations, so I won't use Pinyin, though it's useful as a tool: but its precision and syllabic translation rather stifle the beauty of Mandarin.


Last edited by anneteoh; 11th January 2011 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 12th January 2011, 04:27 AM
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my 2 cents: from my own experience - as Anne says : unless you are passionate, it is a tough language with each tone making a different meaning ..

If you are passionate - you can do it ..

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Old 12th January 2011, 06:34 AM
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I know that to really begin to learn this language, I would have to live in China for years. But I can at least make a start, and even the longest journey begins with but a single footstep.

I'm going to do as much as I can of the BBC Chinese course, so by the time I get to Singapore in late March I will already have some familiarity with it. I think the main thing I will need is someone who can correct my pronunciation, especially the tones.

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Old 12th January 2011, 06:38 AM
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The tones are what makes or kills you - my 2 cents is - try to practice with friends - and my suggestion is from having followed six months of lessons and not being able to speak as the fear or wrong tone leading to a different meaning haunts me (well, it was an embarassing incident though .. )

You need to practice and if you can, find a chinese speaking person back home and practice ..

Chinese, unlike most people, are a bit vary of non-native people speaking their language, and they frown on those who try to throw a few words here and there .. unlike Malays, Indonesians or Filipinos .. But once you show you have some meat, then they will warm up to you fast ..

Fret not ...

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Old 12th January 2011, 07:17 AM
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The tones are what makes or kills you - my 2 cents is - try to practice with friends - and my suggestion is from having followed six months of lessons and not being able to speak as the fear or wrong tone leading to a different meaning haunts me (well, it was an embarassing incident though .. )

You need to practice and if you can, find a chinese speaking person back home and practice ..

Chinese, unlike most people, are a bit vary of non-native people speaking their language, and they frown on those who try to throw a few words here and there .. unlike Malays, Indonesians or Filipinos .. But once you show you have some meat, then they will warm up to you fast ..

Fret not ...
Ecureilx;43771
I see numbers being attached to all your names and hey, bingo! What's this about numbers added after the names , Ecureilx, please?

There're only four tones in Mandarin - just practise them like you're singing a scale in C major - level, rising, fall-rise, departing: --- , / , V , ! ( sorry , slant the exclamation the other way to the right ).

If I remember correctly, you're French aren't you? Mandarin shouldn't be difficult for you really. Just let go of your fears - languages are fun. And even if a tone or two create semantic uncertainties for the listener, they will have the context in your sentence, and it's not hard to know what you intend to express.

I personally find it deliciously pleasing to hear foreigners speak native languages. They add colours and tones to the received pronunciation and enrich the particular language like Franglais for example.

Some Chinese can't speak Mandarin and some speak it with their dialectal accents which you will think is strange.

Chinese, like most other people, love to hear foreigners speaking Chinese. I'm not fluent in Mandarin myself and when I stumble for words, the lao bai xin in Beijing would laugh and call me a foreigner - wai guo ren ( literal translation - outside national ) but they'll help.

Selamat hari.

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