Want To Know The Best Way To Study Chinese in China?
I’m interviewing Ilya, founder of Culture Yard here in Beijing. He’s had this school teaching expats Chinese for eight years and he’ll share with you his best tips.
Interview With Ilya, Founder Of Culture Yard in Beijing.
Kwadwo: Hi, my name is Kwadwo. I’ve lived in China for 10 years and I speak good Chinese. And this is, as we said, Ilya.
Ilya: I am from Israel. My family comes originally from Russia. There are many Russians in Israel.
Kwadwo: Many Russians in Israel.
Ilya: Many Russians.
Kwadwo: Wow, okay. So you speak Hebrew fluently, English fluently, Russian fluently, Mandarin?
Ilya: Quite okay, yeah.
Kwadwo: Quite okay.
Kwadwo: Very humble. Very humble. That’s the sign of somebody who speaks good.
Kwadwo: How did you found this school?
Ilya: Originally I was a student of Chinese myself.
Ilya: I studied for three years in Israel and I came to China to study more and I was studying, I studied in three different universities in China. I was just not very happy.
I was thinking what would be the best school for me to learn, and just out from that Culture Yard started.
What Makes Your School Special?
Kwadwo: And now it’s eight years later. What makes your school special?
Ilya: One that we have very serious students and teachers. People come here, they want to go from nothing to fluency. And that creates a very, very nice atmosphere.
The second thing is the way we teach. We focus on what people actually want to know. At the beginning, we always focus on like real-life situations, daily communication. That’s what we need.
Kwadwo: That’s what we need.
Kwadwo: We’ve got to eat.
Kwadwo: We’ve got to take the taxi cab.
Ilya: Exactly, we want to make a phone call, to open a bank account, to talk to our Ayi.
Kwadwo: If you guys haven’t seen already, bam, the taxi series I did about how to take a taxi, you click here and you can binge-watch it.
Ilya: There was one Dutch girl who studied with us for about a year and a half. She came here with her husband. She wasn’t sure what to do, so she had decided why not work on her Chinese while her husband is working. After a year and a half, they had to move to Suzhou in the south of China and she found a job managing a very, very big Chinese factory.
Kwadwo: In Mandarin?
Ilya: Completely in Mandarin and she did an amazing job all because of her Chinese skills. And for me, that shows real success. This is why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s to give people those tools that they can succeed with.
This school is a bit like a family. Every student who comes in, all the teachers will know the student.
Kwadwo: That’s nice.
Ilya: And we will try to do everything to accommodate, to help, in the classroom, outside of the classroom. We have a good community here. We organize events twice a month for students to mingle.
Kwadwo: Wow, okay.
Ilya: To learn a bit more about Chinese culture, it’s a bit more than just a school.
How Can We Get In Touch With The Culture Yard?
Kwadwo: How can, how can somebody get in touch with you?
Ilya: WeChat, email (email@example.com), Facebook.
Kwadwo: WeChat QR code right on the screen now.
Ilya: Our best students do two things. They don’t only learn the material, but they put as much effort as possible outside of class to practice what they’ve just learned and to make sure that it sticks in their mind. And the second thing, they are persistent and make sure they do their homework. They come to class. It sounds very simple, but I think it’s something that many people are not doing.
What Are Some Of The Things We Should Avoid?
Kwadwo: What are some of the things we should avoid?
Ilya: Make sure you don’t surround yourself only with foreigners.
Kwadwo: Ah, that’s important.
Ilya: Also, students who struggle with learning Chinese are students who are trying to translate everything. They’re trying to understand Chinese to English, but the languages are so different that you cannot progress going that way. You have to immerse yourself and just take things sometimes as they are because not everything has a translation. Not everything has an equivalent.
Kwadwo: If you follow his advice, you’ll do well. It’s the same advice that I put in my guide, Eight Effective Ways To Learn Chinese.
I was just interviewing the twins. Their favorite phrase was xīn kǔ le, you know when you say that, and there’s not really a translation for that in English.
Kwadwo: I don’t know about Hebrew or Russian, but.
Kwadwo: It’s you know, xīn kǔ le.
What Can I Do To Learn The Quickest?
Kwadwo: What would you recommend to a student who came here only for six months? And they’re asking you, “What can I do to learn the quickest?”
Ilya: It’s a combination of studying in a group, taking some private classes, living with a Chinese family, and finding additional ways how to immerse yourself. Listening to Chinese music, trying to watch even Chinese maybe cartoons. Don’t live in a foreign neighborhood. Go to Chinese bars. So you have the combination of both getting what you need in the class and having as much practice as possible outside of it.
Kwadwo: Yeah, okay. Guess you have been running a school for eight years. So this is Kwadwo here with Ilya at elementarychinese.com.
Both: Good good study, day day up.
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