Varsity Tutors can help students of any age get started with Mandarin tutoring. Whether you're a student at a local university, a life long learner, or the parent of a student who is learning Mandarin Chinese, working with a private instructor can make it easier to work towards your language learning goals.
The various Chinese dialects, and particularly Mandarin, are the most widely spoken languages on Earth. There are more than a billion native speakers in total. While there are are many different Chinese dialects, the official language of China is Mandarin. Since Mandarin is the official language of the country, it is the dialect that is taught in schools, used for most forms of commerce, and is the standard language for business communications. Even native speakers who are raised with a different dialect tend to learn Mandarin and are able to speak both with ease. One of the reasons this is so common is that while the spoken language is different, the written form of Chinese is consistent throughout the dialects. When you learn Mandarin, you are learning how to speak Chinese in the Mandarin dialect, but you will come away with an ability to read the language. This means you can communicate effectively with speakers of other dialects.
What are some of the skills Mandarin tutors can help me understand?
Mandarin Chinese is commonly considered one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. Fortunately, working with a skilled private Mandarin tutor can make the process of language acquisition easier. When you work with a private instructor, you can work on developing your understanding of any component of the language.
The Chinese written language is one of the only modern forms of pictorial language still in use. What this means is that every symbol in the written language is representative of an idea. In most modern languages, each character represents a sound. This is why there can be multiple spoken versions of the same written language. The verbal expression of the idea varies but the written symbol does not.
The written language is comprised of more than 50,000 individual characters. Fortunately for language learners, only about 20,000 are used regularly and of those, you only need about 2,500 to effectively communicate. Learning the individual characters is something you can work on with your private instructor.
In any language, the key to effectively mastering the verbal form of communication lies in pronunciation. However, this is even more relevant for Mandarin. All forms of Chinese are tonal in nature. This means the same words can have many different meanings depending on the tone used. This is one reason Chinese can be so difficult to learn. Even once you've mastered the written language, it offers no real clues on how the word should be spoken in a given dialect, so there is no way to 'sound it out' as you would in English. Because of this, many learners will also need to learn Pinyin. This is a system that translates the individual Chinese characters into the English alphabet based on the sounds of the individual characters. It is imperative you learn to use the appropriate tones if you are to effectively communicate in Mandarin. Mandarin tutors can help you work with your intonation and your recognition of different tones when others speak.
Reading Chinese can be remarkably difficult for English speakers because the rules are so different from those found in the English language. For example, Chinese has no plural forms, verb inflections, or articles. Working with a Mandarin tutor can help you develop your reading skills one step at a time.
Writing the language is also quite different from writing most western languages. The curve of the letters is an art form and many people spend years perfecting what is considered by many to be an art form.
In addition to the specific skills associated with speaking, reading, and writing Mandarin, your private instructor can also help you with your academic studies. Some of the courses you may encounter on your journey to learning Mandarin are listed below.
- Chinese Language (multiple semesters)
- Modern Chinese Literature
- Chinese Poetry
- Cultures and Languages of China
- Classic Chinese Literature
- Chinese History
- Premodern Chinese Narrative
- Mandarin Chinese for Business
- Structure of Chinese
- Modern China
- Classical Chinese
Private Mandarin instruction gives you the opportunity to work on developing your linguistic skills with someone who has real-world experience with the language. Whether you need help with the technical aspects of Mandarin or you want assistance with historical, cultural, or literary studies as they relate to the language, private tutoring can help.
What are some of the benefits of learning Mandarin?
With more native speakers than any other language, it makes sense that learning Mandarin would open up numerous career opportunities. As China's economic influence continues to grow, the language is likely to become more integral in the future and may become a requirement in some fields.
If you are already in business, you probably know how much of our commerce and trade rely on Chinese companies. Learning Mandarin can make it easier to create business connections who can support your commercial endeavors overseas. It can also give you an advantage in trade negotiations and provide opportunities for business expansion.
Some of the specific careers you can leverage your Mandarin skills in, include the following:
- Chinese Teacher
- English as a Second Language Teacher
- Research Analyst
- Tour Guide
- Global Marketer
- Customer Service Manager
- Business Consultant
It's important to note that the benefits of learning Mandarin extend well beyond the world of business. Learning the language provides greater access to cultural and historical understanding that can be invaluable for scholars and international travelers.
How is working with a Mandarin tutor different from taking a class?
When you learn a language in a classroom setting, your teacher must follow a rigid set of guidelines and a strict schedule if he or she is to deliver all pertinent content within the length of the course. Because Mandarin has so many components, this can be a challenge for many students. If you miss a class or two, you can quickly fall behind. Unfortunately, your classroom teacher wouldn't be able to go back to review the material you missed and would need to stay on schedule. When you work with a private instructor, the lessons and the pacing of your sessions revolve around your language learning needs.
Your personal instructor can take the time to get to know your learning style, linguistic goals, your language level, and the specific challenges you are facing as you work towards mastery of the language. With this information, they can create a customized learning plan to address the areas you most need to focus on to continue moving forward. As your needs change, your instructor can make changes to the plan to ensure you don't become stuck.
As mentioned previously, the tonal nature of the language can be extremely challenging for students. When you work in a classroom, you will have some opportunities to speak and listen to the language, but for most students, it is simply not enough to help them achieve fluency. When you work with a private instructor you have ample opportunity to practice speaking Mandarin and listening to it being spoken by someone who is fluent. This is as close as you can get to full immersion into the language, which is the most effective way to learn.
As you work with your instructor and become more comfortable with the technicalities of the language you can also begin to work on conversational skills. Just as in English, Mandarin has slang expressions that must be mastered in order to communicate fluently with native speakers. When English speakers say something is cool, they can mean it is good or slightly below freezing. In Mandarin, there are similar concepts that are not readily apparent by studying the language from a technical perspective. They can only be understood when the language is spoken and used regularly with native or fluent speakers.
Your personal instructor can also take more time to answer questions and offer real-time feedback on your studies and your progress. If you make a mistake in pronunciation or translation, your instructor can point it out and help you identify the proper form. This can prevent you from learning something incorrectly, which would hinder your language acquisition progress.
Working with a private instructor gives you far more control of when you work on your language studies than you have when taking a class. Classes have a predetermined schedule that you must comply with. Your private instructional sessions can be scheduled at times that are most convenient for your personal schedule.
You can choose to meet with an instructor in person or online. You receive the same learning benefits working with an instructor in a secure digital environment as when you work with someone in close physical proximity. You are still able to see and hear them and can interact with them in real time.
How can I get started with Mandarin tutoring?
Varsity Tutors can help you connect with Mandarin tutors in your area or remotely so you can get begin working on your language goals quickly. Contact the experts at Varsity Tutors today to get started.