Is learning Chinese as difficult as one assumes?
I do have to say that learning Chinese was something I was quite nervous about. Would I still be able to pull it off? I had not studied a new language in 2 decades. And a language that is so different! I am not particularly musical, and I had heard a lot of different sounds were involved. So where would this project end?
But these negative thoughts did not get the upper hand over my drive to at least try to understand what my 2 sons experienced during their gap year in China. They both studied Chinese and they are now quite well equipped to strike up a conversation in China about a variety of topics. And my sons were never particularly good at languages because of the grammar involved. From my last 2 visits to China I realised, watching my sons chatting away, that there were so many friendly and polite Chinese people who were reaching out to them. I wanted this too! I have not yet planned a trip, but I am looking forward to going in the foreseeable future.
So, my course started and after a long day at the office it was quite challenging, but time always flew and by just taking it step by step I managed to get the hang of it. I liked the rhythm of the weekly lesson and doing my homework on a Sunday afternoon. Being in the group also helped as I could see that I was not the only one who made mistakes. Practising with the other students made my brain work overtime but it felt very rewarding afterwards. The atmosphere was always very positive, and I felt safe to make mistakes.
For me the goal is only to be able to speak. I have no real interest in being able to write. Other students in class did have an interest in learning how to write and the teacher helped them with that. This worked very well, we could all get out of the course what we wanted. I also liked studying again and it made me feel good to pass the informal test at the end of the course. The teacher tested both the oral skills and the vocabulary. We also learned about Chinese habits and customs and how China is developing. That put everything in a good context.
The Kickstart methodology guarantees that the course is interactive, well-balanced and well- paced. In addition to the book we also had access to KickstartNet, the online learning platform, and a handout. Kickstart sells the books at the school, which was very convenient, especially since it is at a lower price than online.
Why not take up a new challenge in this year of the Rat? You will not regret it!
Josien Deknatel, Chinese student and Kickstart founder