China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With a whole bunch of job market problems and huge numbers of unemployed people in Europe/USA, China is often seen as a possibility for young people to get a job, learn something new, gain experiences which will make you more desirable as an employee in Europe and the Unites States.
Going to China is not enough
Chinese are a fast learning people and most of them studied English at school, so there is no real need of people who can speak English (apart from teachers perhaps). If you want to come to China and work here, it’s mandatory to speak and learn Chinese and have a good education. You are not going to be something special because you are white, or know how to speak English. It is the same in Europe: Let’s say you want to work in Germany! Then you have to be able to speak German or at least English. You see, just going to China is not enough.
Different types of language students
There are different groups of Chinese students in the Western world:
1) The first big group is University Students.
2) The second group is people learning at home with some random language program.
3) The third group is booking expensive language classes in a language institute.
4) And the fourth group is going to China to learn Chinese!
The thing about learning Chinese in Western countries is: You might get good teachers, but you will never have the opportunity to try your Chinese in real life.
Classrooms provide only an artificial learning environment, you can learn your basics there. But where to try them? You know how to ask for 2 apples? That’s great! But where do you go to check if a Chinese person would understand you?
The only place for learning proper Chinese is China!
Can you think of any better place to practice your Chinese than being in China, buying your own stuff on the streets, attending language classes, doing an Internship perhaps?
Chinese people are often thrilled when they see that you try to speak their language, which they know is difficult to learn. The problem with language classes at Western Universities is often that groups are too big. In a class with 30 people you can’t learn properly and a teacher doesn’t really have any chance to correct you mistakes.
In our language school in Qingdao e.g., you will never have more than 10 people in one class! Normally it’s 2-6, sometimes it’s even one-on-one, so you will profit a lot more from these classes than you would do at your home Uni or in a Western language school.
Some people like to study at home, you can still do that when you attend a language school in China, but learning together with other people who are having the same problems as you do and after class trying out what you just learned will give you a big motivational boost!
3 years ago – it was the first time for me in China after having finished my basic studies of Chinese language – I went to a really small restaurant. The owner’s daughter wanted to speak with me and my friend, I know I was quite afraid of not being able to understand her (having learned Chinese at Uni for 2 years in classes of at least 30 people), but she didn’t care about any mistakes we made! We were sitting together for more than one hour and it felt like I learned a hundred new words that evening. I haven’t forgotten one of them!
Now I do an Internship in China and I can speak Chinese with my colleagues every day, it’s the greatest opportunity for me to improve my Chinese again. I often think that it must be annoying for them to hear me speak my crude Chinese and saying things wrong so often, but they don’t seem to mind, since they have been studying Chinese for all their life and know how difficult it is!