Monthly Archives: March 2012

Methods for Learning Mandarin

Visual Methods for Learning Mandarin Chinese
•    Use textbooks, flashcards
•    Make notes, lists and diagrams
•    Watch Mandarin-language videos
•    Use  coloured highlighters for various language functions like verbs, nouns, measure words etc.

Auditory Methods for Learning Mandarin Chinese
•    Use audio materials like CDs and MP3 files
•    For classroom study, ask if you can record the lessons
•    Watch Mandarin-language videos and listen to Mandarin radio
•    Record all your written notes

Kinaesthetic Methods for Learning Mandarin Chinese
•    Use flashcards and interactive software
•    Play role-playing games and practice dialogs with a partner
•    Study in the language lab and with other people
•    Find a language-exchange partner

How to Improve Your Language Learning

1. Practice makes perfect

Always keep in mind that learning a language is a gradual process – it doesn’t happen overnight. Therefore, the more time you spend studying, the better you will become.

2. Define your learning objectives

What do you want to learn and why?  Once you set your goal and know exactly what you want to do, it becomes easier to reach it.

3. Make learning a habit

When learning becomes a habit, it will become part of your daily routine so when you don’t do it, you will feel like something is missing. Creating positive study habits can mean great advantages for you.

4. Choose appropriate learning material

Once you have the right learning material, you will find it much easier to acquire the knowledge that you need. Learning a new language can be time consuming, so having appropriate reference books and resources can help you save plenty of time.

5. Efficiency

How often do you study? One hour a day or once a week? Sometimes, spending more time studying does not necessarily mean you can learn more compared to someone who studies less.  The key is how efficiently and effectively you do it.

6. Group work

Some people find it quite boring or lack motivation when they study alone. Studying with a partner or in a group may be a good choice because you can discuss and help each others while working as a team.

7. Move your mouth and say it out loud!

Sometimes, understanding a word doesn’t mean the muscles of your mouth can pronounce that word correctly. Therefore, it is essential to practise speaking loudly so that your mouth can get used to the new vocabulary

8. Make the most of the Internet

The Internet is actually the most interesting, unlimited source that you could take advantage of and it is right at your fingertips. Just type the thing you want and click “Search”. There will be a whole world of material which is quite useful for your language learning.

9. Write a news diary

Daily writing about one’s own routine can be boring, but what if you write about the news that you read and listen to everyday instead? There will be a big difference! You will improve your vocabulary and grammar for sure!

10. Move out of your comfort zone

When I say move out of your comfort zone, I literally mean move. Get up out of your chair, hop on a bus, hop in your car or put on you walking shoes and just go. Take what you have learnt in your language study and try and put it into use by visiting a restaurant or supermarket and ordering something to eat or even exchanging a simple greeting. It may feel awkward at first but you will be amazed how people will open up and help you when they see you are making an effort to speak their language. You may even find a new friend.

11. Reading

Read anything that you can get your hands on; it doesn’t have to be a book. Magazines and graphic novels with lots of pictures can be really useful. You may not understand the word but will get a feeling for it through the pictures.

12. Writing

Write a simple story with the words that you already know and add pictures to help you associate the two. It doesn’t matter if the story is silly but it is fun to have a go and will definitely help you remember new words.

13. Listening

Try listening to the radio in the language of your choice (eg. BBC World Service), watch a movie or something fun like YouTube that can be spontaneous and harder to understand than a usual language learning CD.

14. Speaking

Practise your new vocabulary out loud by making up simple sentences and phrases with the words you have learnt. It doesn’t matter if the cat is the only one listening!

Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK)

I am very pleased to introduce one of my Korean students, Mr. Johnny Yuen, who has proudly accomplished his very first TOPIK test later last year. Johnny was only a beginner2 student when he took the test. Thus, I would like to share this information with more potential candidates who wish to get it for studying / working in Korea in the future. Furthermore, it is still worthwhile to diagnose your learning progress.

TOPIK, or Test of Proficiency in Korean is a Korean language test offered twice annually to foreigners in Korea and people studying Korean in other countries. TOPIK is administered by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation (i.e. 한국교육과정평가원).

The test is divided into four parts: vocabulary & grammar, writing, listening, and reading. There is currently no oral section. Two versions of the test are offered: standard (S)-TOPIK and the business (B)-TOPIK. There are three different levels of S-TOPIK: beginner (초급), intermediate (중급), and advanced (고급). Depending on the average score and minimum marks in each section it is possible to obtain grades 1-2 in beginner, 3-4 in intermediate and 5-6 in advanced S-TOPIK. In B-TOPIK the scores in each section (out of 100) are added together to give a score out of 400.

In addition to Korea, TOPIK is available in the following countries: Japan, Taiwan, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Paraguay, Argentina, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, Czech Republic, Egypt, Belarus, Russia, Brazil and Cambodia. Please visit for the latest updates and news. Good luck to you, all!

– Ashley Jang (Korean language teacher)

Korean Names

Traditional Korean names typically consist of only one syllable, due in part to the Korean Naming Laws of 1812. There is no middle name in the Western sense. The three most common family names are often written and pronounced as “Kim” (김), “Lee” (이), and “Park” (박). Unlike English style, Surname comes first, followed by First name. First names can be started from single letter such as “박봄” and “김범”. The most common style for first name would be the one with two letters, such as “이민호” and “이승기”. Rarely, some people have more than three letters as you can find it from “박산다라”.

Many Koreans have their given names made of a generational name syllable and an individually distinct syllable, while this practice is declining in the younger generations. Married men and women usually keep their full personal names, and children inherit the father’s family name.

Korean names can be either sino-Korean names which have adapted from Chinese letters (e.g. 장은경: 張恩京) or pure-Korean names (e.g. 朴봄).
Why don’t you give yourself one cool Korean name? It will facilitate your Korean learning!

– Ashley Jang (Korean language teacher)

Some stories about our Japanese Courses 6

Hi everyone,皆さん、おげんきですか。

In my classes, apart from regular learning activities of speaking, reading, listening, writing and dialogues making/speaking with use of the course book, “Genki 1”, I used interesting flash cards that had letters and pictures (and with words) and other audio-video based materials and had singing activities. And one of the interesting books that I used was “Hatena? Hakken! Book” (Benesse Corp. Japan). It is an educational magazine for children who start the grade 1 in primary schools. I used some pages of that book for classes. The book is written in Hiragana and Katakana only and it has “many lovely pictures” that are interesting even for adults. The pages that I used for classes included the topics of “secrets of animals that we have in our life”, e.g. a cat, dog, hamster, turtle, rabbit, goldfish etc. That is about those animals’ behavior, emotions and functions that often people do not know or notice. Many plain forms of verbs were used in all of those pages.

Also, I talked about the following things with the handouts/copies of the information from the relevant sources.
1.    (Source: Nikkei newspaper, 25.1.12, p.1)
Japanese IT multinationals such as Fujitsu, NTT Communications, NEC etc are increasing investment to India that including a large number of job creations in India. Fujitsu will have 8000 experts in coming 2 years; NEC will have 100; Ntt Data will have 9000. Those firms previous major focus was China in the recent years, but that is shifting to focus in India. Also, NTT Com plans to establish a large data centre in Singapore soon this year and one in Hong Kong next year.

2.    (Source: the Japan Times Online, 28.2.12)
The most highly regarded (state-run) university in Japan, The University of Tokyo is opening its office in India. The same with a private university, Rutsumeikan University is taking the similar actions in India.

3.    I informed about a film “Zatoichi” (or “Zatooichi”) (2003) that was shown on SBS 1 on 29.2.12. That version of “Zatoichi” is different from old days’ version of “Zatoichi” played by Shintaro Katsu (well over a few decades ago). As for one made in 2003, Takeshi Kitano (“Beat” Takeshi) plays the hero, blind and brilliant swordsman in the setting of the samurai period (i.e. a few hundred years ago). Kitano also took directing, writing and co-editing roles for the film. That film is partly more westernized (than old days’ version) and has more lively elements that include great tap dance of young people wearing kimono. It is the excellent film that earned numerous awards both internationally and in Japan. I loved Zatoichi’s words when he said, “Mekura dakara, hito no kimochi ga motto wakarun da.” (= Because I am blind, I can perceive people’s feelings/mind better.) There are many interesting websites about the fascinating film. I hope you will enjoy visiting them.

– Toshiko Jackson (Japanese Language Teacher)

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March 2012
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