How to learn Mandarin

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In "Pinyin story" (7/16/18), we became acquainted with the language teaching theory called CI (Comprehensible Input) and the language learning method referred to as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling).  If you read through the post and the comments, plus look at some of the embedded links, it becomes apparent that, using CI and TPRS, students can learn to write interesting little tales in Mandarin after only an hour or two of instruction.

Now, in conventional "Chinese" language classes, students spend most of their time memorizing how to write characters, and they also devote a lot of effort to mastering grammatical rules and syntactic paradigms.  Even after months of hard labor, students who follow the traditional way will have difficulty expressing themselves in a lively, imaginative manner.  What a breath of fresh air to learn that there are actually enthusiastic, smart teachers out there who offer a more humane and effective way to learn languages, including Mandarin!

The CI / TPRS approach is the antithesis of the pie-in-the-sky Chineasy curriculum:

"Chineasy? Not" (3/19/14)

"Chineasy2" (8/14/14)

"Learning to write Chinese characters" (7/29/17)

"How not to learn Chinese" (4/16/17)

Instead, the CI / TPRS method for teaching languages is compatible with that of the distinguished Japanese pedagogue, Eleanor Harz Jorden (1920-2009), who strongly deemphasized kanji in favor of vocabulary and structure:

"How to learn Chinese and Japanese" (2/17/14)

"Learning languages is so much easier now" (8/18/17)

"Beyond fluff" (3/19/17)

"How to learn to read Chinese" (5/25/08)

"The future of Chinese language learning is now" (4/5/14)

"Chinese without a teacher" (2/6/16)

"Spelling mistakes in English and miswritten characters in Chinese" (12/18/12)

"Learn Nepali" (9/21/16)

Learning languages does not have to be full of pain, and it is far more effective when the student does not think of it as saturated with suffering.


  1. dainichi said,

    July 18, 2018 @ 6:48 pm

    Sorry to go off topic:

    > Japanese pedagogue, Eleanor Harz Jorden

    Interesting, my first reaction to this was "she wasn't Japanese". I wouldn't have thought twice about "Japanese teacher", but I think I mentally categorize that as a compound noun, not a noun modified by an adjective (In fact, in Danish someone who teaches Japanese is a "japansklærer", written as one word as all compound nouns, while a teacher of anything, who's Japanese, is a "japansk lærer"). I believe even in English, for a "Japanese teacher" who teaches Japanese, "teacher" loses its primary stress. Does "pedagogue" lose its primary stress in "Japanese pedagogue" (with the meaning intended in the OP)?

  2. mg said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 1:43 pm

    @dainichi – English is my native language and I read it the same way you did and had to re-read it to figure out that Japanese was what she taught, not her ethnicity.

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