The Teaching of Chinese in North West Schools

5 September 2015

Yien Kwok talks about studying at the Confucius Institute.

When I first started, I spent much time increasing my vocabulary, practising how to read and write Chinese characters, and remembering them.

Two years later, I am exasperated with my progress. I find that I still do not fully comprehend the meaning of many sentences even though I do understand most of the words. Other difficulties I suffer from include the Pinyin tones, particularly the “neutral tone”; and the use of the particles “了”, “的”, “得”, and “地”.

The courses are challenging and never boring. A two-hour class would pass with a blink of the eye. I feel that the time allocated for each course could be increased though.

I am aware that to make further progress, I must read Chinese books, must speak Chinese more often and must think in Chinese. That is easier said than done because I do not have any interest in reading children books and I do not understand books, magazines, and newspapers. I could opt to spend some time studying in China.

The language tutors at Confucius Institute are knowledgeable, amiable, and inspirational. They would use simple sentences and constructs to introduce new vocabularies; not sentences that include even more new words. I particularly love the way with which they correct my essays. They do not just grade the essays. Instead they correct the spelling, the grammar, the sentence constructs, and would also teach me how to rephrase my sentences better, to make their meaning clear and concise. Afterwards, the essays read lucidly.

I do, however, wish that Confucius Institute would provide a document on how to install, configure and use Sogou, Google, and Microsoft Pinyin IMEs; MSPY etc., because the setup are in Chinese, and the default settings would hijack your “homepage” and install “pop-ups” etc. A list of recommended online resources would not go amiss too.

Finally, I would like to thank all my teachers and classmates while studying at the Confucius Institute at The University of Manchester.

- Yien Kwok, June 2015

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