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Present Problems in Teaching Foreigners Mandarin Language

As more and more foreigners intend to learn Chinese in China, teaching foreigners Chinese languagegradually widely spread in the whole China and even in other countries. However, more problems arise with the development of Chinese language teaching.

Nowadays, the international spread of Chinese language is mainly for the reason of spreading Chinese culture. The students and schools in some countries may not be satisfied with it. As the Mandarin learning courses are aimed to learning and acquiring the language itself. We should not attach so much importance to the culture but to improve students’ language skills.

Some Chinese language teachers are so enthusiastic to tell the great and brilliant Chinese culture that they can’t take an objective view at some problems and issues. Those who are learning Chinese language may don’t like that because they just learn Mandarin because they are interested in it but not because they love the culture so much.

Maybe most of us have heard about that the Confucius Institute is set in many foreign countries. According to the statistics, since the first Confucius Institute established in Korea in 2004, it was growing with the speed of four institutes each day by the end of 2010. Even some students like to study Chinese in the Confucius Institute, there still many foreign students show no interest in it. So we should pay more attention on the issue of setting up the Confucius Institute.

Most people support the measure of “purify the Chinese language”, but it does not conform to the law of historical development if we resist the foreign languages by exaggerating the national characters. In Mandarin language courses in China, some teachers think it is unpatriotic behavior to teach Chinese by transferring it into other languages. They think the best teachers should be able to explain the complex Chinese language clearly without using any other foreign languages.

For example, some of them are proud of introducing the teaching method of the 1960s named “total physical response”. Besides, they show how to explain the abstract Chinese words by drawing. For instance, when students who study in China ask the meaning of “无限”, the teacher draws the curve on the blackboard for several minutes and turns around and asks “do you understand now?”. Nowadays, even more and more foreigners come to some well-developed cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the community still can’t bear the behavior of combining others language with Chinese.

During the process of teaching foreigners the Chinese language, why don’t the teachers explain the meaning in English? There are three possible reasons about this problem. Firstly, some teachers in Chinese language school do not understand English at all. There are many teachers learn English by themselves before they teach foreigners Chinese language. Besides, even they understand some English, they are not so skilled in the spoken and written English, and most of them just focus on the grammar.

The third reason is that they have no confidence in speaking English. Some young teachers may have enough vocabulary and good at grammar because they need to pass the CET-4 and CET-6. They may be able to understand the English broadcast and magazines. But when they teach Mandarin language, they just can’t express in English.

All mentioned above are some limitations of the teachers’ foreign language skills. But another point we should pay attention to is the teachers’ attitude towards the teaching and identification. Most teachers think that it is not fair to use English as intermediate language because there are many students from Japan and Korea to learn Chinese language. It might be better to use Chinese in the whole process. This is the real unfair.

We often think that most foreigners who leave their country to learn Chinese language in China are all elites. It does not seem always right. In China, no matter in college or in senior high schools, most foreign students are from Korea. I have ever heard an elder Korean said that most students in the rich and high-ranking families go to study abroad in America. Only the children of the poor family choose China as a place to learn Chinese.

He also said that the Korean will be well treated if they say they are the employees of the Samsung Group, even they are just ordinary workers in Korea. But it doesn’t mean that only the second-class students come to China for further education. But if you were a rich and well-educated person, where would you choose for further education?

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