Learning Q&A 2017-05-22T19:53:42+00:00
How is your course run? 2017-05-22T19:53:45+00:00

Throughout the years, our students rate our courses as “interactive, interesting, a lot of fun, something to look forward to, very friendly, informal, informative, great learning experience”, without listing all of these keywords, we know that we are doing the right thing to organize a language learning group class.

In our courses, we focus on
– getting students to speak and interact with the teacher and the whole group,
– getting the students to prepare homework in a creative way for example making a birthday party invitation, introduce a friend etc, so they think how they could use the language
– presenting the language in a modern context with reference to culture and current affairs, so students can relate the language more to their daily lives
– using modern technology and great presentation material to help students learn and memorize, for example, we used PPT with pictures and videos in the class to introduce teaching material, we also use bepoke flashcards covering words and sentences that we learn in class to help you memorize
– keeping track of students’ progress, we make sure each lesson you learn and you can see your own progress and enjoy the pride of speaking this foreign tone

One more important fact about Practical Mandarin is our teachers love teaching, that’s why they don’t run out of interesting stories to tell, and passion to have fun with you in class.

How can I decide to join your class at which level? 2015-03-17T19:23:13+00:00

If you are a complete beginner, simple. Join our Entry Beginner Course here. Even if you have some exposure to the language, you might still want to take this course to have great introduction to the whole language system, and consolidate your language foundation with intensive training.

If you are not a complete beginner, you might want to tell us your basic situation by writing to us or call us for a chat. We will make sure to explain the courses in details to you, and help you find the right one to join.

What kinds of books you will be using? 2015-03-17T19:23:24+00:00

For each course we are using respective course books that relate to the level and learning interest.

For Entry Beginner and Advanced Beginner, we are currently using “Discover China” Book One. It’s one of the good course book out there, with colorful illustration (not saying that’s all it matters), interesting subjects. Don’t forget, at the same time, our teachers are using their presentation material and bespoke flashcards to help you learn in and out of class too.

For Elementary and Lower Intermediate, we continue to use “Discover China” Book Two & Book Three, to further building up vocabularies and exploring more speaking topics.

For Intermediate and onward, we are using “A Trip to China” &”Business Chinese for Success”, including some current news reports in class.

How can I do my home study? 2015-03-17T19:23:32+00:00

Each student is required to do at least 1-2 hours of home study each week to practice what they have learnt, and prepare for homework.
Depending on your weekly schedule, we recommend students to revise as soon as they finish the lesson to strengthen their memories.

Some students use the flashcards during their commute to their work, some students take their Chinese book to their favorite café over the weekend, one student even woke up in the middle of the night, and did it for the next day lesson!

Can I join a class when it’s already started? 2015-03-17T19:23:41+00:00

Yes, if you already have some command of Mandarin Chinese. In that case, we will assess your level and decide which class for you to join. The teacher will also offer you the course material the group has used for you to make up the lost lessons.

If you are complete beginner, within 5 weeks from the course start date, we will arrange 2 private sections with you to make up for the missed lessons, and make sure you are on the same page with all other students to join in the group.

What if I would miss a few classes in the term? 2015-03-17T19:23:51+00:00

We know it happens. The good news is you have your teacher’s support to make up the missed lesson with teaching material emailed to you each week. You can go over the material before you have your next class, email your teacher questions you have, or arrange to come into the class 30mins before, to have your teacher’s free help.

That’s how far we go to make sure you learn with all the help needed.

What if I need to progress more quickly? 2017-05-22T19:53:45+00:00

That’s good news. You are learning, making progress, and you are focused to take it to the next level.

In the case that the class you are in is too easy or too slow for you, you might want to consider taking the challenge to progress into the next level.

In the case that you need intensive training to achieve your mile stone goals in a short time, you might want to consider investing to have private lessons with our teachers. Check out our Private Tutoring program and talk to us about your study plan.

What is Mandarin? Is it Chinese? 2015-03-17T19:24:08+00:00

Mandarin is the standard and official form of language for China, spoken by over 730 million people, the Chinese people would call it “Puton Hua”, while Chinese ie”Zhong Wen” is referring to China and the language spoken by Chinese people. Though China has rather a good number of languages spoken by its people, Chinese is referring to Mandarin, the standard and official language.

All that being said, we could say Mandarin = Chinese in this case. That’s the language you are learning from us.

Why should I learn Chinese? 2017-05-22T19:53:45+00:00

We would give you the Top 5 Reasons to learn Chinese, which we did by posting this blog post.

Ultimately, we think it should just come down to how you would want to spend your time. In everyday life, an evening or a few hours in the weekend, could be spent on the couch, watch a movie, in a café or a bar, by yourself or with friends, it can also be spent in sharpen yourself with a language you might not be able to understand a word now. As our founder’s favourite quote goes – “It’s OK to be smart”. 

Learn Mandarin and connect with a wider world, you should try it. You can also learn about stories from our students who have started the journey of learning Mandarin Chinese here.

Last but not least, you got to be convinced why you choose Practical Mandarin as your school, read About Us.

Can I just learn Chinese phonetically? 2017-05-22T19:53:45+00:00

Yes and No.

YES as we know some students have progress really well with just Pinyin focused study, as well as students who have lived in China for a period of time or who have good exposure to Chinese language through family. Basically they learn how to speak it first, without being literate. If that’s your end goal, we encourage you to learn and get fluent.

However, NO is because learning Pinyin is just Step One of learning Chinese, there are only 409 sounds from Pinyin. Of course you can not speak the language with just these 409 sounds. You need real vocabularies, which are words made up by characters, there are so many logics in the word formation that helps you to memorize and expand your vocabulary effectively. That’s also where you will find fun and true sense of achievement when you read out a Chinese character words in the street!  

Why should I learn Chinese characters? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

As we explain above, learning Chinese characters basically makes you literate and it’s the most important enabler for you to progress into intermediate or advanced level of Chinese proficiency. So the answer is rather simple.

For the amount of characters you need to learn to use the language, GOOD NEWS! According to research, 500 most common Chinese characters will enable you to read 75% of everyday Chinese, 1000 characters then you are upgraded to 97%.

How to understand Chinese characters? 2015-03-17T18:39:56+00:00

Chinese characters are very logic, believe us, even though they might just look like pictures to you now. Well, there is a reason why some characters do look like a picture, these are the words we call Pictograms. There are many others of course, but we will teach you to decode them with a simple and fascinating system.

How many years do I need to be fluent in Mandarin? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

For part time study, we suggest you progress by adding 300 new vocabularies each year, that’s only less than one a day! That will enable you to progress by improving one level up HSK tests each year. Of course if you have more time to invest, you can accelerate the progress much much quicker. In general, you will need like 3 years of part time study to achieve fluency.

What is HSK Test? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is an official examination designed to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers from Level 1 to Level 6.

The certificates are the official mean of language proficiency proof for education and professional use.

We’ve created a section here with details of HSK requirements and the correspondent courses we offer in Practical Mandarin.

Why do I need HSK certificate? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

You don’t need it if you don’t want it of course. As explained, not only HSK certificate is a great add-on to your job CV, it’s also a personal achievement to be witnessed by “having something on the wall”, as the students say. What’s more, most students love setting mile stones, HSK level tests are a great way for you to keep track of your study and your progress.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 1? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level One requires a command of 150 words, and it’s designed for learners who can understand and use some simple Chinese characters and sentences to communicate, and prepares them for continuing their Chinese studies. In HSK 1 all characters are provided along with Pinyin.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 6 months before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 2? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Two requires a command of 300 words, and it’s designed for learners who can use Chinese in a simple and direct manner, applying it in a basic fashion to their daily lives. In HSK 2 all characters are provided along with Pinyin as well.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 1 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 3? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Three requires a command of 600 words, and it’s designed for learners who can use Chinese to serve the demands of their personal lives, studies and work, and are capable of completing most of the communicative tasks they experience during their Chinese tour.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 2 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 4? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Four requires a command of 1200 words, and it’s designed for learners who can discuss a relatively wide range of topics in Chinese and are capable of communicating with Chinese speakers at a high standard.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 3 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 5? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Five requires a command of 2500 words, and it’s designed for learners who can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, watch Chinese films and are capable of writing and delivering a lengthy speech in Chinese.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 4 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 6? 2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Six requires a command of 5000 words, and it’s designed for learners who can easily understand any information communicated in Chinese and are capable of smoothly expressing themselves in written or oral form.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 5 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

Will you courses focus on helping students passing the HSK exams? 2015-03-17T19:19:21+00:00

For our Entry Beginner and Advanced Beginner course, we design it to help you pass HSK 1 test, we almost can guarantee your result if you attend our classes regularly and organize your home study as instructed by your teacher.

For our Elementary course, you will need to complete 2 terms with additional HSK mock up test training and vocabulary revision, which depending on the group’s interest, we can implement into the course structure, or just add additional 3-5 weeks of training after the two terms.

Same rule goes for our Lower Intermediate and Intermediate level, which is relevant to HSK 3 and HSK 4 respectively.

Can I have extra help to prepare for HSK tests? 2015-03-17T19:25:03+00:00

Of course we can. Not only we can send you instructions and learning material, mock up tests for your study, you can book private lessons with our teachers. If you are a current student, you will have 20% off discount on the hourly fee. Especially if you are taking the HSK Speaking test, we do recommend you have a good few weeks of private training. We really want you to success!