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Mandarin is considered among the most difficult languages for an English speaker to learn. Here is a widely accepted assessment for the level of difficulties: Language difficulty Ranking. I believe this analysis is based on conventional language learning method. I want to try an unconventional method to introduce Mandarin to English speakers – only English speakers. As a native Mandarin speaker with a Master Degree in English language and literature, I have taught English in universities to native Mandarin speakers for many years. I translated more than ten books from Mandarin to English and written and published a number of books in English. In the past ten years, I have been doing simultaneous interpretation for keynote speakers at international Taichi events.
During my English teaching career, I discovered that the conventional learning methods for Mandarin speakers actually confused and slowed down the learning process. I began experimenting on an unconventional method. Instead of teaching them English, I began teaching them Mandarin – YES! I taught them Mandarin but replacing the words with English words. They were not learning a new language. They were only learning “different words”. So they learned how to pronounce and write a “different word” – many “different words” as time went on. I found this approach enabled the students to speak English from day one! Oh well, they were not speaking English. They were speaking Mandarin – a language they already knew. The students were able to communicate in English very quickly.
My method is based on the idea that Mandarin and English are the “same language” at least in grammar and habit of expressions. The similarity is at least 70%. Well, 70% can enable quite effective communication and can lead to more in depth learning. I believe the same is true for an English speaker learning Mandarin. It has been on my mind for many years to try teaching Mandarin to English speakers with the same method – and HERE WE ARE!