Last week I had an interview with our Language School Teacher! I was very curious and wanted to know how it is for a chinese person, to teach foreign students. Therefore, I conducted an interview with her and asked her different questions!
1. How long have you been teaching foreign students?
– I am teaching foreign students since 2, 5 years, right after I graduated from university.
2. How is it to teach foreign students?
– It´s a very interesting job. I like it and enjoy it very much! I teach the Chinese language and it is a pretty hard language to learn. But I also introduce the Chinese culture and the foreign students tell me a lot about their cultures. We exchange much information about typical habits and facts and this is very interesting! Sometimes, the students also teach me their own language, therefore I learned a little bit of German!
3. Did you or your perspective on teaching changed while doing your job?
– Of course! I am a teacher and I pay more attention to teaching. In China, primary school students and middle school students work very hard and when they go to the university they have to learn more and study very much! But, I think in foreign countries the students pay more attention to their interest. When they go to the university they already decided what they would like to do and work harder and study much more for it. I think this is pretty cool and a very nice education system! I pay more attention to my younger students and their interests.
4. What makes them different from Chinese students?
– Foreign students are more creative, than Chinese students! Like every time I work with the same book but they always have different questions! Younger students, which are 16 or 17 years old, are here to learn the language, because they are interested in it. This is kind of easier because it was their own decision to learn a new language! However, Chinese students study because they have to; in China we have to go to the university. The result is Chinese students are always pushed to learn and it is often not what they want.
5. Do you notice any differences in nationalities?
– Yes there are some little differences, which I noticed during my teaching! I think the American people are more sociable and easygoing. In contrast, the German people are more serious; they are very focused on their work are very organised. The Chinese people, they are modest and more group oriented. Comparing the countries however only a few differences are recognizable and I love them all!
6. What are mistakes that always happen? Any special difficulties about Chinese language which are difficult to understand for foreigners?
– I think the most difficult part for foreign students are the tones, we have for example “ma1, ma2, ma3, and ma4”, we have four different tones and this is the most difficult part to learn. We have also some phonetics and it’s hard for the students to learn, because a lot of chinese phonetics sound pretty similar and it´s not very easy for the students to distinguish between them. When you speak English your tongue is very flexible but when you speak Chinese you should keep your tongue stable. That’s the reason, why misunderstandings occur sometimes. When you use another tone it can easily mean another word and this leads to confusion.
7. What does it look like when foreigners write Chinese characters?
– I think the writing of most students is pretty nice! For foreign students writing Chinese letters it is like drawing! It’s from the top to down and from left to right. We know which part is smaller and which part is the main part, but when foreign students write Chinese they just draw it like a picture, but a pretty nice picture!
8. Funny stories you encountered while teaching Chinese?
– There are a lot of funny stories, because of mistakes that foreign students sometimes make. Like in Chinese if you want to say “I am hungry” but you didn’t pronounced it clearly it can also mean “I am stupid”, mistakes like this are always very funny!
9. How long does it take until the students are able to speak and understand Chinese?
– It depends on the student, but in general it takes 2 or 3 months until you learn a good amount of words. In the beginning you cannot even open your mouth. But, after finishing the second month you are able to understand and after half a year you are already able to speak a lot and converse happily during every day life.