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First post, some China questions

 
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bob22



Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Posts: 4
Location: U.K.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:01 am    Post subject: First post, some China questions Reply with quote

Hello to the Dave's ESL Café online community.

Apologies if I've posted this in the wrong place.

I've been lurking for a while thinking about teaching English abroad, now for some positive action.

I'm 32 years old a U.K. national and have a degree, I'm thinking of going to China to teach English. The question I have is how much of an advantage does CELTA or TESOL have when looking for work in China or should I be able to get a teaching job with my degree and being a native English speaker?

I want to lean Chinese and was wondering what the best way to go about it is (I know this may seem like a pretty silly question but I can't see the wood for the trees at the moment.)

Is it better to learn Chinese when you are in the environment as being exposed to it offers a better learning curve? Have many found learning from a book or audio CD to be useful before going out to China?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated my queries may seem a little muddled at the moment, I just need to get moving and need a starting point, which I hope this first post is.
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80daze



Joined: 15 Oct 2008
Posts: 111
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you get a job teaching here without a CELTA - yes! but would you know how to teach?

A CELTA or other equivalent will give you the basics so that when you walk into the classroom with 50 kids or 15 professional adults you know what you are going to do.

It will show how how to prepare for a lesson, how to do lesson plans what problems your students might have. It will show you where your weakness are and what strengths you have and give you a lot of valuable information on the English language and Teaching Methodologies.

In short it will give you the basics to becoming a teacher without this grounding you may well struggle in any job you get here.

Good luck Smile
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8935
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:55 pm    Post subject: Re: First post, some China questions Reply with quote

bob22 wrote:
I want to lean Chinese and was wondering what the best way to go about it is (I know this may seem like a pretty silly question but I can't see the wood for the trees at the moment.)

Is it better to learn Chinese when you are in the environment as being exposed to it offers a better learning curve? Have many found learning from a book or audio CD to be useful before going out to China?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated my queries may seem a little muddled at the moment, I just need to get moving and need a starting point, which I hope this first post is.


HOnestly, kif you really want to learn the language, enroll in an intensie course rather than teach English. China has some cheap unis, at least when I was there, about 2K a semester.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2598
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:02 pm    Post subject: Re: First post, some China questions Reply with quote

bob22 wrote:
Apologies if I've posted this in the wrong place.

There are China Job-related and Off-topic forums (for your future reference), but I for one certainly have no objection to answering your queries here on the Newbie forum! Cool Wink


Quote:
I'm 32 years old a U.K. national and have a degree, I'm thinking of going to China to teach English. The question I have is how much of an advantage does CELTA or TESOL have when looking for work in China or should I be able to get a teaching job with my degree and being a native English speaker?

A lot depends on how tight your finances are. If you've not really got the savings (bear in mind that you will probably need to pay for your airfare even if its reimbursed [usually way later], and then still have enough left over to at least get bedding for the apartment and last until the first payday etc), my advice would be to start applying and see how it goes, who knows, you could get lucky and save yourself that thousand pounds or so (which IMHO isn't quite worth it, unless you're a very lazy and/or shy type who is hoping the CELTA will transform you and your teaching beyond all recognition) - save it for the possible MA, eh! Or, if you really really do fancy and almost insist on doing the CELTA or Trinity, make sure that you do it somewhere where (and sometime when) there's the chance that you might get a little work thrown your way once you've successfully completed it - a bit of actual proper work experience can be what really swings a recruiter further down the line into hiring you. (That is, you may need to pay your dues a little in the UK first, and should therefore do everything you can to have that as an option - try to do the course at a training centre attached to an actual language school [not just an ITT centre] and preferably ending shortly before the spring or better summer foreign student enrolments are due to start! That isn't how I planned my ELT career entry, but it is luckily how it worked out - as soon as I finished my CELTA, I was fortunately offered two weeks' spring work that then stretched into a month, which helped me get jobs at other schools that summer, and then get hired pretty painlessly first application around for a job starting in China early the following New Year Smile ).


Quote:
I want to lean Chinese and was wondering what the best way to go about it is (I know this may seem like a pretty silly question but I can't see the wood for the trees at the moment.)

It is possible to learn a fair bit of Mandarin by yourself (and for what you might pay for a taught course, you could buy plenty of decent materials instead). Here then are a few pointers (FWIW I did a postgrad dip in Mandarin, ended up capable of translating Chinese news stories into English pretty efficiently, so I'm not talking completely out of my hat):

1) Learn the pronunciation of the Pinyin alphabet/romanization thoroughly.* Most teach-yourself courses will do a reasonable job of this, but resources like Chinesepod are a welcome bonus (or indeed starting point):
http://chinesepod.com/resources/pronunciation

2) As for self-study courses (esp. those available in UK bookstores), Scurfield's Teach Yourself Mandarin Chinese isn't bad (and introduces characters from about halfway through, for those who want to start studying them, and teaches maybe a few hundred in all), but personally I'd try to get the slightly dated but very succinct (grammar explanation-wise) and witty Routledge original Colloquial Chinese course by T'ung & Pollard (NB: not the successor with the same title by Kan Qian, which seems a thin, slightly dumbed-down course in comparison), with re-recorded free audio by Columbia Uni here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:8bib4kmeKk4J:www.columbia.edu/cu/ealac/chinese/audiolab_colloquial%2520chinese/colloquial%2520chinese.htm . This original CC course is Pinyin-only though, so you'd need to buy a separate Character Text - see below - though this does a much more thorough job of it than Scurfield, teaching nearly/nearer 1000 hanzi in all. Then there is Hugo's Chinese in Three Months, by T'ung and Baker, that has plenty of audio material and is snappy and functional (but it doesn't teach characters really at all). (Things like the New Practical Chinese Reader series would seem too expensive - 3 books, with CDs sold separately for each, and I suspect that the older pre-simplification, traditional forms of the characters aren't given detailed stroke-order breakdowns alongside the simplified ones that are likely the course's main focus. See also 6).

3) You might like to get a grammar reference to supplement any course. I quite like the look (functional) of Claudia Ross & Jing-heng Sheng Ma's Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar, though Ching & Rimmington's range (also from Routledge), which goes from an Essential grammar, through Basic and Intermediate grammars/grammar workbooks, to a Comprehensive grammar, is just as good if not better. The most affordable grammar resource though appears to be Ross's Schaum's Outline of Chinese Grammar (but I haven't really looked at this and am not necessarily recommending it unreservedly therefore!). Edit: Have just come across this: http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/books/bilingual/chinese_grammar.shtml , and the companion http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/books/bilingual/chinese_vocab.shtml , both pretty cheap (i.e. probably reasonable value for money).

4) A frequency dictionary (more like character listing, with explanations and examples of the core grammar and phrasings associated with each character) like Yong Ho's (Hippocrene Books) might make a good supplement to any Pinyin-based course, and provide a springboard into the study of characters generally.

5) As for dictionaries proper, the various (same!) editions/titlings of the bilingual C-E/E-C dictionary from Oxford by Yuan & Church would make a great first dictionary, with their Oxford Chinese Minidictionary being about the smallest and dinkiest edition (though still with great legibility) and with a nice flexicover to boot, but for travel purposes, the Langenscheidt (or its licensed reprints by Berlitz) would be better (it has a larger range of vocab - some discussion of it "versus" the 'Yuan & Churches': http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=41313#41313 ), whilst for general comprehensiveness and valuable frequency information the ABC series from the University of Hawaii is very useful (but the current Pocket/Desk edition is only C-E, though a C-E/E-C dictionary is apparently coming soon. The Comprehensive C-E would probably be too large and expensive for you to even consider at the moment). (NB: One quibble I have with the ABC dictionaries is that the example sentences are given only in Pinyin + English translation. Now of course anyone with enough study under their belt, which may well be the ABC's primary intended type of user, will be able to work out what most if not all of the remaining characters in an example sentence beyond those forming and already given in the entry word or phrase ought to be, but obviously it would be nice to have the example sentences in characters also, to help provide "reading/recognition practice" and avoid any potential doubt/ambiguity, even though the Pinyin examples are for the most part all eminently sayable and comprehensible enough in themselves. That being said, most people studying Chinese would probably prefer to have Pinyin rather than characters to read, where space is at a premium - which it always in in dictionaries, especially ambitious ones like the ABCs! I mean, some dictionaries, like those I am about to mention, often have example sentences in characters only - they seem designed more for Chinese learners of English than English learners of Chinese - meaning the student will quite often have to check at least tones in order to read or rather SAY it right). Then of course there is the venerable Concise or (Pocket) Oxford Chinese Dictionary/OCD (E-C/C-E), but you will need to look at it and dictionaries like it (such as the Collins) to decide if you are happy with the limited romanization they provide (that is, not all the Chinese in the entries has Pinyin romanization for it). Lastly, the ABC and Langenscheidt dictionaries are completely Pinyin-ordered, which becomes handy once you have reached a certain level and are e.g. looking up "parts of speech/-phrases" by sound i.e. for those snippets of conversation you didn't quite understand, but for those who insist on (still) learning things in a more "character-by-character" fashion, Pinyin ordering can look quite a "jumble" compared to the first-character-only sorting arrangement (i.e. single character entry points, with all following compounds and phrases arranged under only that single character entry-point/Pinyin monosyllable) that all the Oxford dictionaries favour. Again, you can read more (clearer?) stuff in the above Teacher Discussion forums link about these various ways of ordering and presenting information in dictionaries. The best thing however would be to try to compare the Oxford(s) with the Langenscheidt/Berlitz, either on Amazon(.com?) or Google Book previews, or better yet in a bookstore, to see precisely what I'm droning on about here! Wink Smile
http://www.chinesestudies.hawaii.edu/abc/

[Edit: Just a quick mention of the Far East Book Company's range of dictionaries. Probably the most useful and one-stop of their products is still their venerable Chinese-English Dictionary, larger than the ABC Desk/Pocket but smaller than the ABC Comprehensive, and containing a good number of entries dealing with traditional Chinese culture and history. If you do decide to buy it however, make sure that you get the Simplified Character edition, but even then, be warned that although the dictionary entries themselves will give simplified variants alongside the traditional/more complex character forms, the graphic-form-based indices (by Kangxi radical, or by total stroke count) only deal in and contain traditional forms, thus making it impossible to use this dictionary to look up (things by using) simplified characters (certainly, when the simplifications are not trivial e.g. not just to do with characters with the simplified 2-stroke left-side speech radical as opposed to the 7-stroke traditional one, and could thus not be found easily if at all. For example, one will search in vain in this index for the simplified 2-stroke "cliff" radical-resembling form of and thus character number/entry for chang3 'factory' - only the traditional 15-stroke form is to be found, and then only under the 3-stroke "broad roof" radical). Or you might prefer to simply try their somewhat smaller Pinyin-ordered C-E Dictionary, or their again Pinyin-ordered "3000" Character Dictionary (sort of a hanzi guide/handbook, a bit like McNaughton in some respects). Finally, note that the Far East's English-Chinese dictionaries (with the exception of their English-Chinese Pinyin Dictionary - though I'd hazard that the two-way Langenscheidt is as good if not better with respects to its E-C entries at least) and two-way (E-C/C-E) bilingual dictionaries really do seem more geared to native Chinese users than English learners of Chinese, and might thus be a bit too difficult to comfortably use]. http://eng.fareast.com.tw/map.php

6) For studying characters specifically (especially if you have a course that doesn't teach them at all), get works that prioritize showing the more complex and complicated traditional forms' stroke orders in full rather than the postwar mainland (i.e. PRC) simplified forms' (you should be able to work out the latter from the former).** McNaughton's relatively sparse character-dictionary-like Reading and Writing Chinese (trad. character edn) or better yet (because the characters are contextualized within the dialogues and language of an actual course), the Full-form edition of the Character Text for Colloquial Chinese (a course mentioned above; this character text definitely supplies the stroke orders of both traditional and simplified forms, can't say for the McNaughton, though he does provide a fair bit of info on characters generally in his introductory matter, see Google BS preview) would be helpful in this regard. If you'd like more mnemonic and/or (quasi-)etymological approaches to understanding and learning (lots of) characters, older books like Wilder & Ingram's Analyzing Chinese Characters, and modern ones like Heisig's Remembering the _____ Hanzi (insert the word 'Traditional' or 'Simplified' in the title there to get the edition of your choice) can be useful, but beware of some wannabe imitators:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1811

Oh, and the software from Wenlin looks excellent (follow link within abc link under 5) above) and should "kill many birds with one stone" for any serious student of Chinese.

Bear in mind that the simplified characters make use of correspondingly simplified radical systems, especially in western dictionaries (e.g. the CASS 189 system, which provided the basis for the similar systems in: OCD's 188, Yuan & Church's 187, the Langenscheidt's 182, etc), but that the Kangxi (famous dictionary of 1716's) system of 214 radicals is perhaps a better match for traditional characters, and is the standard that e.g. the ABC Comprehensive C-E dictionary "reverted" to. (NB: There is now a "unified" 201-radical system that is apparently finding favour in mainland Chinese lexicography - see Kane's The Chinese Language on GBS for details). The ABC Pocket/Desk edition provides useful conversion tables for anyone wanting to convert between CASS and Kangxi systems (though there are a few mistakes that I spotted - I can post 'em here for anyone who asks).

Ask here or PM me if you get to the stage where you're wanting to find and use free online dictionaries, I could dig out and provide at least a few links (e.g. nciku, mbdg etc). Remember also that there are dedicated Chinese language forums/sites that you might feel like searching for and joining (I recall one or two being mentioned in that Language Log thread).

By the way, I wouldn't bother (if you're thinking of it) with buying thinnish general guides like Gao's Mandarin Chinese: An Introduction (OUP), though Chaofen Sun's Chinese: A Linguistic Introduction, Ramsey's The Languages of China, and Ping Chen's Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics are all worthwhile and much better (much more interesting) than Gao's book (even if they're also still not strictly necessary puchases).

Hope this helps you make a good start with the Chinese, Bob!


Quote:
Is it better to learn Chinese when you are in the environment as being exposed to it offers a better learning curve? Have many found learning from a book or audio CD to be useful before going out to China?

An older thread I contributed to that discusses these related questions (but my answer above regarding (resources for) learning Chinese generally is believe it or not more concise and certainly up-to-date regarding the learning resources than what I wrote on this older thread!):
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?p=721013#721013

And if you have any questions about reading recommendations for ELT, again don't be afraid to ask (or you could simply search my posts here and on the Teacher Discussion forums for stuff on that).


*This is generally superior to Wade-Giles, but it doesn't mark aspiration but rather uses differing letters (that an English speaker may not realize are meant to be pronounced quite differently). For example, PY ba is WG pa, whereas PY pa is WG p'a. (Apostrophes are only used in Pinyin when there would be ambiguity as to where one syllable ends and another begins: "If no apostrophe is present in a disyllabic word, then it is taken for granted that the second syllable begins with a consonant rather than a vowel, e.g. fangan is indeed fan + gan rather than fang'an" - slightly paraphrasing Yip Po-Ching's The Chinese Lexicon, page 26. Or, to quote from near the start of the ABC Pocket C-E Dictionary's User's Guide: "When a syllable beginning with a, e or o appears non-initially in a polysyllabic word, it is preceded by an apostrophe. Thus dangan = dan + gan; dang'an = dang + an". For more information on Pinyin orthography generally, see the ABC 'Appendix 1' excerpt available at the link under 5) above). That is, voicing (as in English) isn't much of a factor in Chinese phonology compared to aspiration; the way that most writers get speakers of English to appreciate the b versus p say (especially the b) as they should be pronounced in the Pinyin alphabet as opposed to (the) English, is to get learners to respectively say e.g. spy versus pie (DeFrancis, The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy, pg 43, esp. the explanatory stuff below the table) or spar versus par (Kane, The Chinese Language, pg 142, esp. para 3, which explains that 'If you use English b, d and g to pronounce the Chinese initials written b, d and g in Pinyin, you will "zound gweer". Luckily, English does possess unaspirated, unvoiced consonants, but only after s, and most English speakers are unaware of them', and para 4). Anyway, the net effect of all this is that Pinyin b is like a goldfish underwater mouthing almost nothing, whilst the p is like surfacing and letting out a discernible puff of air. Similarly, in Pinyin, d is opposed to t, and g opposed to k, in terms of being unaspirated versus aspirated. Both the DeFrancis and Kane, and the pages I am referring to in them, are available on Google Book Search.
http://pinyin.info/romanization/compare/hanyu.html
But the main difficulties for you will probably be distinguishing/producing initials j q and x versus zh ch and sh; and distinguishing (initial(s)) c versus s versus z. (Chinese syllables are divided into consonantal initials and mainly vowel-incorporating finals, though a syllable can consist entirely of a final i.e. have no initial a.g. ai4, 'love'. The only consonantal endings to finals are -n, -ng and -r (and combinations of either of the first two with the third, i.e. -n(r) and -ng(r), though this 'erization' using the 'retroflex final suffix '-(e)r' is primarily a feature of Beijing dialect rather than of the wider national standard language (Mandarin, that is, Guanyu; or rather, Huayu, Hanyu, Zhongguohua, Guoyu, or Putonghua! - see e.g. Chapter 6, esp. section 6.2 'The problem of nomenclature', of Norman's Chinese (Cambridge Language Surveys))). The syllable 'ri' can also be a bit tricky. Sun's book (mentioned above) by the way gives very explicit and clear linguistic descriptions (i.e. that indicate exact place and manner of articulation), which not enough books on Chinese do, of all the Pinyin letters/symbols-sounds, in the form of a valuable appendix.

**There are calls for the PRC to reverse some of the character simplifications (and/or make them more consistent and "logical"), or even to revert to the older, complex/traditional forms entirely. But whether any of these proposals will be pursued into changes in actual mainland language policy remains to be seen, and in any case, most longer-term, serious western students of Chinese sooner or later make the effort (not too difficult, it should be said) to learn the complex variants of all the simplified characters they have usually been learning first (given the promulgation by the PRC so far of the simplified forms), especially if they intend on staying in Taiwan (where the simplified characters were never officially adopted) for any length of time, or reading older pre-PRC printed materials in the original etc. Simplified characters are also used in Singaporean education. Hong Kong may have a mixture of characters old and new (but I haven't been there much since the handover/return to China). A few threads on Language Log about such matters:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1364
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1494


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:03 pm; edited 35 times in total
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nickpellatt



Joined: 08 Dec 2006
Posts: 1522

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bob

Yes, you can find work in China with the qualifications you have, but as already suggested, a teaching qualification will mean you will actually have some idea about how to teach. It wont make you the finished article, but it will start you on the right path ... I would imagine it would be rare for a school in China to train you, or allow you to ease your way in. Its far more likely that they would push you through a classdoor and leave you to it.

Thats where the training or experience helps. Without it .... well, it could end up being a terrible experience, and no fun at all!

As far as learning Chinese, the best resource I use is with Serge Melnyk. His podcasts are free from itunes, or his own website, and all lessons are theme based. Id really recommend trying these. You can download the lesson transcripts for a small fee, but the podcasts are free.

I actually found these better than learning from Chinese teachers in China, who often dont teach in the way many Westerners are familiar with. Also, if you are in China to teach English ... you will find that most people you deal with on a daily basis will want you to speak English, not Chinese. Practice can sometimes be limited because of this ... everytime I learnt new things and tried to practise, people would answer me in English, not Chinese, and not really play along with my attempt to learn the lingo
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2598
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nickpellatt wrote:
I actually found these better than learning from Chinese teachers in China, who often dont teach in the way many Westerners are familiar with. Also, if you are in China to teach English ... you will find that most people you deal with on a daily basis will want you to speak English, not Chinese. Practice can sometimes be limited because of this ... everytime I learnt new things and tried to practise, people would answer me in English, not Chinese, and not really play along with my attempt to learn the lingo

Good points, Nick. When I was considering lessons with non-English-speaking "teachers of Chinese", it was as though they hadn't even thought about what might be tricky for a foreign learner - akin to a supposed teacher of English not being able to answer basic questions about things like the use of present perfect. And like you say, the bilinguals often just can't for love nor money seem to help nattering more in English than in Chinese (perhaps we just hadn't studied hard enough for them to yet consider it as "worthwhile" speaking in Chinese as it was in English - but that's the point of lessons, surely, to help to get to that point, and they can be at least financially worthwhile for any reasonable teacher). In the end, I decided to just stick with printed resources and continue studying by myself, and then simply "unleash" my Chinese on the millions of simple non-teacher/learner, monolingual Chinese speakers available in China itself, beyond any constricted classroom setting! Very Happy

That's not to say however that there isn't good stuff to be read at least in the field of TCFL, and e.g. SOAS in London has an MA or two in Chinese language teaching (meaning, perhaps we should be looking for suitably qualified candidates to teach (us) Chinese just as there is a growing expectation in ELT that teachers be pursuing and gaining further qualifications...which leads me to ask, is there an "approved" or respected halfway-decent certificate-level qualification in TCFL like the CELTA, and even if there is, would it really be enough to impress us prospective paying students of Chinese into taking lessons let alone ensuring much success in our studies? Just looking at language teaching and learning from the perspective of a student in the most absolute sense, other than genuine motivation and interest in studying for the sake of it - the monies paid, of course!).

Oh, and thanks Nick for mentioning Serge Melnyk, it looks a pretty good site and set of lessons that he's devised (especially considering it's mostly free!) from the quick browse I've just had. Smile
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nickpellatt



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Fluffy ... Serge is great for 'survival' Chinese ...and perhaps a touch more. Theme based lessons ... listen and repeat key vocabulary, common sentence patterns, and dialogue using the above. I always thought if I could just learn the first 24 lessons (which I have the written transcripts for) I could speak a little about a wide range of subjects.

Regarding the Chinese teachers ... I actually had a Chinese class with a teacher who had apparently majored in teaching Chinese to foreigners. Im not sure the syllabus was really fit for purpose though! It was clear her approach was fairly ineffective for us.

First lesson, for total beginners, involved a 3 person dialogue about shopping, which contained far too many items of vocabulary for anyone to remember.

Realising that didnt work, she planned a second lesson that just involved us repeating all the syllable sounds in each tone.
ma, ma, ma, ma.
pa, pa, pa, pa.
hao, hao, hao, hao, and so on .... equally useless really.

Third lesson was spent asking the 12 students what they wanted to do, getting twelve sets of answers.

Fourth lesson ... well, I didnt bother returning after that Laughing

I then had a string of students volunteer to teach me. This normally involved them sitting in my house and pointing to the air con unit, kettle, light switch etc, and just telling me the Chinese word for it. Equally useless!

So finding Serge was a relief, because after a few lessons I was able to speak and understand simple, and very use-able, sentences! My experience basically led to the conclusion that learning Chinese in China is a bad move!

I would suggest to anyone wishing to learn Chinese to first find a resource that works for them, and is relevant to their learning goals, and use it as much as possible to provide a foundation or framework of learning. This foundation or framework can be built upon, and practised with, whilst in China.

One resource I would be keen to try, but cant at the moment, is the new Open University Chinese language course. Looks interesting to me as an OU students, but its not practical for me to take it at the moment.

Link - http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/l197.htm
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, those lessons you had sure don't sound too good, Nick! I mean, time spent on individual syllable-tones is never time completely wasted (often that syllable will assume its full tone in many co-texts and contexts, especially if it comes towards the end of a phrase or utterance), but it would be nice to know sooner rather than later exactly what phrases each monosyllable can often enter into, and what tonal adjustments ('tone sandhi') might then need to be made to that monosyllable or the accompanying syllables in the phrase thus formed. This is where frequency information of the type in at least Ho, and the ABC dictionaries (both mentioned in my first post above) can start to come in very useful for Chinese teachers and materials writers, if not students too! (Writing this more for the potential benefit of others reading than you, Nick - this stuff can hardly be news to you!).

Nice to see a course (that OU one you mentioned) actually recommend that one buy a (presumably) supplementary grammar (Ching & Rimmington's Essential Grammar), and suggest a dictionary (Collins Easy Learning Mandarin Chinese Dictionary as it turns out). I guess the OU have developed and use their own actual coursebooks and materials though, and hopefully these do a reasonable job of explaining the potential complexities (to at least a sizeable minority of learners!) of the Chinese script and thus the efficient use of C-E dictionaries (in looking up the pronunciation, meaning etc of unfamiliar characters), and how one might memorize and remember enough characters to become a halfway-competent "reader" etc etc.

Just thought, this might be of interest (I found it fun, anyway!):
http://www.pinyin.info/readings/Schriftfestschrift.html
> http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html
(But there are obviously more serious and potentially valuable papers in the full Schriftfestschrift - for example, 'Can Taiwanese Recognize Simplified Characters?' by John S. Rohsenow, and 'Simplified Characters and Their (Un)relatedness' by Chauncey C. Chu).


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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bob22



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

80daze, naturegirl321, fluffyhamster, nickpellatt

Thank you for the advice and time taken to write it, especially fluffyhamster!

I needed the info straight and you guys have given it to me. I have plenty to mull over here and will probably be back to pick your brains again.

Your time is greatly appreciated.
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fluffyhamster



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Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, you're welcome, Bob! (I was actually glad to have something to do - life back in the UK can get a little boring sometimes!). Smile

(By the way, for anyone who might be interested) I Googled 'TCFL', and found a few worthwhile links. For example:
http://english.moe.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=5177&ctNode=3008&mp=1
http://english.education.edu.tw/ct.asp?xItem=5169&ctNode=3005&mp=12
http://college.chinese.cn/en/article/2009-09/07/content_50218.htm
etc.

It also occured to me to try 'TCFL UK':
http://www.ctcfl.ox.ac.uk/clts/Archive/YanyinChen0905.htm
http://www.tcsol.us/exam/
http://courses.vivastreet.co.uk/language+hemel-hempstead-hp1/mandarin-chinese-culture-centre/14970106
etc.

Doubtless 'TCSL', 'TCSOL' etc would produce yet more results! Surprised Very Happy
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bob22



Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Posts: 4
Location: U.K.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nickpellatt
I'm going to start with the podcasts you recommended as they are free and see how I get on with those before investing any money.

fluffyhamster
Again thanks for all the information I have had time to read through it a few times now. As stated above will start with the podcasts to see how I get on.

If you don't mind me asking where did you study your CELTA? Is there anywhere where TEFL training courses are reviewed/recommended? I've tried searching the forum but my browser doesn't want to work tonight.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2598
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Bob. I'm not aware of anywhere that reviews and compares course providers across the board, and Cambridge or whoever would frown on that anyway, because there is meant to be uniformity in standards (or at least the illusion of such). Still, there probably isn't a vast amount of difference between most centers, though the bigger, more popular and apparently more successful the center/school generally, the better probably, and doubtless a month or so in Oxbridge or a seaside resort or bustling London/metropolitan school would provide that bit more in terms of number of trainees enrolled, the general "buzz" during training, the availablity of genuine students for your observed teaching practice classes, the general networking opportunities, and the chance (as I mentioned above) of potentially having some valuable work experience offered to you upon successfully completing the course. So it's overall probably more a case of "best location" than absolute "academic reputation"!
http://cambridgeesol-centres.org/centres/teaching/index.do
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bob22



Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Posts: 4
Location: U.K.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fluffyhamster thanks again.

I was just wondering as I live in the South Midlands up against the Welsh border and the courses I'm looking at are all within reasonable travelling distance, for obvious financial reasons.

I was just wondering if there is a site or forum where there are reviews as such, positive negative feedback etc? Where is the best place to post to get some feedback on language schools in my area?
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2598
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I tried searching Google for e.g. 'comparison of CELTA centers', and most links seem to just be repeating the soothing mantra of 'Every CELTA center around the globe has gone through the same process to become authorized to run Cambridge CELTA courses', and 'All courses are rigorously monitored'. About the most you're going to find I reckon is stuff like this (which elaborates on but generally echoes what I wrote above):
Quote:
Do CELTA Centers And Courses Vary?

As was explained above, all CELTA courses have to meet certain minimum conditions set and monitored by Cambridge. However, they are free to design their own programs and they can exceed these minimum conditions if they want. As a result, there is quite a big difference between centers, just as there is a big difference between the BA/BS programs offered by different universities. (This is one reason why CELTA courses, like degree courses, vary so much in price.)

Some CELTA centers provide extensive pre-course work so that participants can prepare themselves well for their course, while others provide/require little in the way of pre-course assignments. Some centers provide participants with specially designed course manuals and post-course development materials while others do not. Also, some centers provide detailed job placement help while most provide little or no guidance in this area.

Another important point to bear in mind is that some centers have established CELTA programs and offer courses on a regular basis, while some other schools offer courses only occasionally, normally employing trainers who are imported on a temporary basis. The standard of courses is almost certain to be higher at established centers which offer the CELTA on a regular basis: the program will be better organized, the trainers will form a more cohesive team and the center will be better able to provide in-course and post-course job placement help.


You will obviously be able to find out about things like how often the course is offered simply by applying for a place - they'll soon (have to) indicate when the next starting date(s) is/are, and you can play a tiny bit hard to get by asking if, should your application for a place on the soonest course be unsuccessful, exactly when the next one(s) would be starting...or maybe you have a friend who's interested in doing it after you at the same place, if you find it OK etc. (Or maybe the centers listed by Cambridge have all the relevant immediate facts you could need listed on their own websites).

Then of course you can simply ask about any centers you're definitely considering, but who knows what sort of response you'll get - probably little to none, I suspect. (Generally the real problems in ELT aren't with specific trainers/centers/providers, but rather, the subsequent employers/work conditions and expectations).

In any case, even at those 'established centers which offer the CELTA on a regular basis...better organized...more cohesive' etc, they will more or less reserve the right (in so many words) to continually alter and adapt the course content in order to better meet the needs and expectations of UCLES if not the trainees, besides which some trainers (by which I mean especially any better ones) may move on, all of which would make any detailed comparison or review soon out of date. As they like to say of the JET Programme's positions, 'ESID' (Every situation is different)! All you can do really is get good word of mouth (which is of course difficult to gain unless and until you are actually inducted into the field of ELT by that process of ITT!).

Anyway, the CELTA certificate (as awarded by Cambridge, regardless of exact center you completed it at) isn't a bad piece of paper to have i.e. is "respected", so as long as the center is on Cambridge's approved list of centers when you enrol, there shouldn't be any problems really with the quality of training, and certainly not with then sooner or later being offered a job (speaking generally optimistically! That is, perhaps not being able to get a job quickly will be due to factors other than the perceived quality of the qualification).
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