Starting in 2005 MasterChina developed its own approach to teaching Mandarin. After teaching some 5,000 sutdents, this system has been proven effective and honed. Handy Mandarin, part of the MasterChina family, is applying the same methods online, allowing students globally to quickly build their practical ability to communicate. As well as a comprehensive syllabus, we are used to tailoring our programs for those interested in achieving specific goals, be it business Chinese (including industry specific vocabulary) or preparation for Mandarin proficiency exams (i.e. extra emphasis put on exam technique to speed up preparation effectiveness).
Differing from the typical operation of universities and other language schools, we don’t define our courses in terms of beginner, intermediate or advanced level. Rather, as per our innovative grammatical system, our levels set aims in terms of communication skill:
Describe & Explain stage
Comment & Discuss stage
Analyze & Argue stage
In each stage, students develop sufficient academic grammatical knowledge, and practical communication skills, to allow them to master the communication objectives which are the focus of their current stage. Each stage is covered in a volume of our unique Communication Chinese textbook series. Each new stage requires students to have mastered the previous stage’s communication skill objectives, developing students on a personal journey to proficiency. In this sense, our syllabus is quite systematic. Following this system, students have no need for endless dialogues, and are soon expressing themselves clearly and confidently.
Traditional Mandarin instruction tends to focus on memorizing countless subject specific dialogues and sentences, while paying little attention to equipping students with the ability to quickly adapt and combine their knowledge in a new context. However, in our innovative approach, we break down and explain both the way Chinese people think and the rules of the language, with reflect China’s unique culture, from the very start. Each Mandarin course not only teaches points of grammar, and vocabulary, but also explains relevant cultural insights to speed up understanding and improve students rate of retention. In this way, by integrated speaking, listening, reading and writing study and practice, students can both quickly, and thoroughly, understand Chinese grammar and hence immediately start to create their own precise expressions.
Unlike traditional online video and audio classes, all courses in Handy Mandarin stresses constant interaction as the key to rapid progress. Students keep frequent direct contact with their personal teacher, and local practice partners (living in China), to ensure not only that they have understood each new lesson but also to ensure that they can put all existing knowledge into practice effectively.
Both English and Chinese will be used as needed, depending on what is being taught. Using English, to explain Chinese grammar, is the most obvious difference between our teaching and those in China’s universities. With a deep understanding of English grammar, our teachers stress where there are similarities, which speed up learning, or fundamental differences which must be fully understood and embraced to achieve fluency. Using this approach, students leverage their English proficiency to grasp Chinese much faster. While also finding it much easier to remember what they have been taught; even though English and Chinese at first seem to be totally alien.
Our general teaching materials present the most essential, and hence useful, parts of the language taught using a syllabus making use of everyday situations, as a backdrop for learning new grammar and vocabulary in an interesting, and engaging way.
The teaching contexts used to deliver our syllabus are contained in our own series of textbooks called Communication Chinese, written by MasterChina’s founder and head teacher. In comparison with other Chinese language textbooks, Communication Chinese has proven itself more practical because it combines an academic, yet concise, understanding of grammar and syntax with practical topics, local expressions and insightful explanations.
The biggest difference between Communication Chinese books and other Mandarin textbooks is that our series stresses an integrative set of listening, speaking, reading and writing exercises, formed into chapters. The exercises in each chapter build on what has gone before, and support each other, re-enforcing past learning and expanding students’ understanding. Students are constantly challenged to demonstrate their expanding grasp of the language through regular associated homework exercises.
Our professional editing team regularly review our range of teaching contexts, both adding and modifying existing contexts to stay current with new trends and vocabulary. We are also proud to say that many of the contexts are suggested by our students, demonstrating our commitment to a student led approach.
Like our operation in MasterChina academy, the usual assessments in Handy Mandarin includes homework, essays, mid-stage exams and final exams for each stage. All exams have listening, reading, grammar and speaking elements to holistically test students’ practical communication skills.
Students are encouraged to attend HSK (official Chinese language assessment exam run by the National Chinese Education Department) exams if that is important to them, and we specifically prepare our students to use effective exam technique to help them achieve the best score; as quickly as possible. While the use of exam technique may seem at odds with our guiding principle of developing practical communication skills, we of course recognize the necessity of reaching a specific HSK level as quickly as possible for some students to achieve their objectives. On average, fifty hours of study in our school will bring the same progress as one semester of full time university study.
Handy Mandarin follows MasterChina’s strong commitment to quality control, and constant improvement, based on student feedback. From the moment students register, until their last class, all programs are carefully monitored by our own quality control systems, including use of standard practice papers and regular tests. While our online-study program empowers students to study at their own pace, we cover the same syllabus (until advanced level or based on a specific customers goals) as used in the MasterChina academy, allowing standardized assessment of progress. Our teachers keep watch over each student via close communication.
All grammar classes delivered by Handy Mandarin are created solely by the author of the Communication Chinese series, who is also the founder of the MasterChina institute. All interactive instruction is supported by professional local Chinese teachers. All teachers must have graduated in either Chinese Literature, teaching Chinese as a foreign language or education. Assigned practice partners are from respected Chinese universities, and all of our faculty must be equipped with fluent English as well as undertaking, ongoing, training in our unique teaching methodology.