On-line and textbook learning is at the core of anyone’s language study roots. Without the imperative knowledge and examples that come along with the well designed learning materials today, most students of Mandarin couldn’t tell the difference between 睡覺 (shui4jiao4) and 水餃 (shui3jiao3).
But in order to break beyond the ridged and structured borders of the textbook, one must begin to look into the real life application of their new becoming language skills. After all, Chinese (and any language for that matter) is simply a tool to help us navigate through our world and open up doors along the way.
Here below you will find the 5 ways that Studying Mandarin Abroad in Taiwan (or Mainland China) can put your on-line courses lessons on steroids and have you listing “Fluent” on your resume before you know it.
1. Real Connections
The most obvious advent that studying Chinese abroad provides is the chance at real connections with real people. Connecting with native speaking locals is no longer about scoring the Internet for interest groups or on-line chat rooms, but rather as simple as heading downstairs and chatting up your local shop merchant. Language exchange partners whom are as eager to learn your native language, as you are theirs are around every corner waiting to meet new friends. Classmates and co-workers become not only good friends, but also gateways into depths of Mandarin that you never knew existed before. It’s these real connections that are the key to teaching you the nuisances, the “in’s-and out’s” of the language that the textbook just can’t deliver in the same way.
2. Real Associations
When out with your new “connections” aforementioned, Studying Mandarin Abroad gives you the second invaluable opportunity to build new associations with your language base. On-line sources and textbooks give us all the base knowledge and foundation we need to get off the staring line when starting to study Mandarin, however it’s up to our brain and experiences to create our own personal associations required to retain all of the useful words they have taught us. Let’s face it, it’s much more fun to recall a session of invigorating night marketing bargaining than it is the picture you saw during the screen during an on-line test you skated through after taking it for the 5th time in a row. Online resources and textbooks try to take magic of what Study Abroad provides all day everyday and simplify it into basic pictures or sounds for you to learn by their associations. While this is what makes these courses and texts so effective for learning, it is simply no comparison with being able to create your own personal associations through your own personal experiences. The very first time you are served a bowl of steaming pigs blood will most likely be the last, as you’ll never forget those two characters in your life again.
3. Real Borderless Classrooms
Anyone who has embarked on the road of language study can also tell you that consistency in study is crucial to success. While trying to avoid washing your hair with the bottle that reads ‘Tile Cleaner’, you’ll be attending your first lesson of the day before you’ve even finished showering. It’s being forced into the uncomfortable, but necessary, situations in life that will make you learn even when motivation is at its lowest. Effectively removing the option to cut class or skip the daily podcast lesson, everything from your daily meal ordering to trying to pay the cable bill will all become real-life learning lessons for you to capitalize upon.
4. Real Travel Experiences
Running along the same lines of our previous two advantages studying Mandarin abroad in Taiwan or Mainland China offers, is real life travel experiences. The reason we feel this is so important to put on the list is the simple fact that travel helps you open your mind to new ideas and concepts, which in turn will help your newly acquired Chinese set in a little easier than it would within the confines of your comfort zone at home. You’ll be seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling new things everyday that are exciting and unfamiliar to your normal world. Slowly but surely your mind will become open to accepting these new things and expanding your knowledge base of things that exist in the world. With the local culture surrounding you in all of these new adventures everyday, Chinese learning begins to happen simply by osmosis.. it literally is as easy as just getting out of bed each morning!
5. Real Stories to Share
Our final thought and advantage for the top 5 list that studying Mandarin abroad in Taiwan or Mainland China can provide is all of the stories you’ll be able to share afterword’s. After returning to your home country you will be filled with reminiscent memories of your strolling through the alleyways and discussing with your language partner how Taiwanese Bubble Milk tea could possibly be SO delicious. It is at this exact moment that you will realize you are actually talking to your self in your head in Chinese while re-living the conversation, and that point #2 (Real Associations) has come completely true. Your knowledge base has expanded immensely based upon your own memories and experiences AND you have an entire new chapter of stories from your life to share with others. This is the type of real-life motivation that makes learning Chinese not only fun, but easy at the same time.
While it’s undeniable that Studying Mandarin abroad has major benefits, it’s not always a walk in the park to actually go do it. Certainly hopping on the computer and opening up Rosetta stone with a cup of your favorite tea is less of a daunting challenge. That being said, the good people at Mandarin Taiwan Study Abroad offer a team of experts based in Taiwan who specialize in helping you set up everything from short term customizable program to a full travel/teach/learn package for those who are looking to take their Mandarin studies to the next level with a semester in Taiwan. Mention “Learn Mandarin Now” to your program advisor to get a special 10% off discount on any program enrollment.