Do you plan to become a Chinese teacher?
Whether as a high school teacher, a private teacher or a professional tutor, some qualities are essential!
The Chinese language opens multiple perspectives: as the 1st language spoken in the world, it has also become THE language for business. The teaching of Chinese in America has made leeps without precedent in the last 15 years.
To become a Chinese teacher can not be improvised.
Confucius himself said:
The worker who wants to do his job must start by honing his instruments.
Let's go for a complete overview of the knowledge, skills and know-how needed to become a good Chinese Mandarin teacher.
To become a Chinese teacher is to know China's linguistic landscape!
It's simple to say, "I want to learn to speak Chinese," but in reality, the Chinese language covers an impressive diversity of dialects. As a future Chinese teacher, it is imperative to know the history of the language and its derivatives ...
The imprint of civilization, or rather Chinese civilizations, through the centuries (not to say the millennia) is incredibly rich.
For example :
- There is no Chinese language, but 81 languages and dialects recorded in China,
- Many languages in China bear the names of the people who speak them,
- The official language of the People's Republic of China is Mandarin Standard, but there is another form of Mandarin, the traditional Mandarin,
- Wu is spoken by 77 million speakers and is therefore in front of Cantonese, and its 71 million speakers,
- Chinese languages are not spoken only in China. Standard Mandarin is also the official language of Taiwan and Singapore. Cantonese is spoken in Macau and Wu in Shanghai,
- Mandarin was originally the language of the north and north-east of the country. Today it is the Chinese language with the most speakers in the world with an impressive 850 million.
A set of things to know and to assimilate during your school career as a Chinese teacher for example!
The idea here is not to give you a lecture on the Chinese language in all its diversity, but rather to highlight the complexity of the linguistic landscape in China.
Logically, by becoming a teacher of Chinese, you will have to deepen these themes to understand the evolution of the language, the similarities and differences between the different Chinese languages.
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Learn about the history of China and its influence in Asia to teach Chinese
Chinese civilization is one of the oldest in the world.
China is one of the oldest civilizations.
Its direct history goes back more than 4000 years. The dynasties have succeeded one another for centuries, putting in place a continuity in the administrative system, customs and traditions. With the expansion of the Middle Kingdom and various invasions, especially Mongols, China has a rich history.
Even when the Mongols took power, the customs, laws, traditions, religions and beliefs were not changed.
Chinese culture is strongly anchored. Marked by many philosophies, of which we have all heard (Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism ...), China is also characterized by shared values, totally different from Western cultures.
To understand the Mandarin language and give Chinese classes, but also the current China, its population, its way of life, its organization ... It is essential to discover what makes the Chinese identity. After centuries of dynasties, China has been opening up to the world for a few decades, particularly through globalization.
If China begins to integrate certain aspects of Western culture, it remains a society deeply marked by its heritage and in particular Confucius.
Of course, China is not just about these few examples. It's a lot more complex than that, but that's also what the study of the history of civilizations serves: to better understand modern culture, which ultimately is its legacy. As a future teacher, you will not escape!
And this, you will be able to study it yourself, in English-Chinese degress or in Chinese teacher's certificates at the university, during youruniversity studies.
A complete professional training therefore, for the future teacher of Chinese that you are!
Also discover how to become a Chinese teacher without diplomas ...
To know China: to have traveled, worked or studied there
Your courses of Chinese civilization will plunge you into the heart of China's great emperors, but all this remains only theoretical. This can not remain theoretical. As a Chinese teacher, you must try out total immersion within the country.
Books and textbooks are not enough to teach Chinese language, Mandarin and Chinese culture to your private students!
To know a country requires from you to immerse yourself fully.
So, travel to China, work in China, study in China! This is the best way to learn and forge a personal experience, an experience, in contact with the people, off the beaten track. And become totally fluent, if it's not the case already.
Discover Chinese culture and history through travel.
We can not say that we know a country because we spent 15 days in it, did a guided tour, discovered some heritage curiosities and ate a couple local meals. In this case, you will have seen only one facet of China, and again, so reductive.
You also have the opportunity to study or work in China. An experience that will bring you a much deeper knowledge of China and Chinese. Your colleagues or local student friends will introduce you to their China.
Know the Chinese characters to pass them on to your students
You can start teaching without being fully bilingual. This is the case of students who give private lessons to college students for example. Because yes, there are all kinds of profiles of Chinese language teachers!
However, if you intend to become a Chinese teacher and make it your professional career, you will have to know an impressive number of Chinese characters.
To give you an idea, we must know between 400 and 800 to pass the Chinese SATs: The Chinese with Listening Subject Test. But there are tens of thousands among which many variants of the same character.
Tell yourself that by becoming a teacher of Chinese, there is always material to learn new Chinese characters.
The Chinese characters are divided into several major categories:
- The ideograms, which represent an idea,
- Pictograms, which represent an object,
- The ideophonograms, which simultaneously represent sound and meaning.
Chinese writing has evolved a lot over the centuries. The word sinogram, is used to designate simplified Chinese characters, used to write in Mandarin (Chinese official language), but also in Cantonese or Singapore. Other countries use traditional sinograms. This is the case in Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan.
To speak fluent Chinese, it is estimated that it is necessary to know between 3,000 and 5,000 characters, but also their combinations. Indeed, the vast majority of Chinese characters are composed of several characters.
Some characters are particularly complicated. It is clear that to have a thorough knowledge of Chinese writing, it takes time!
Have qualities for teaching
Being bilingual is a good starting point for teaching Mandarin Chinese, but it is not the only useful skill. You also need to work on your skills and your know-how.
Where to start to introduce a beginner to a new language?
How to clearly explain things that have become obvious to you over time?
Pedagogical skills are at the heart of the teacher's approach, which must find a suitable method to transmit your knowledge according to your audience (children, adults, beginners or not ...). When you want to teach a foreign language, it is important to become familiar with effective teaching methods for language learning based on:
- Various media,
- Complementary approaches,
- Student involvement,
- The alternation between oral and written learning.
Training in teaching professions is very useful to start. Thereafter, teachers can also develop their own teaching method, based on their experience, character, but also the needs of their students.
Being a Chinese language teacher also means being patient. To be patient and calm, remember the tranquility of a Chinese landscape.
It is nice to have the teaching aids and knowledge, but language courses can disappoint students. The strength of a teacher is to interest students and make them want to know more. To arouse their curiosity and their interest ... A hard exercise!
Without going so far as to speak of vocation, to achieve this it is essential to be passionate and involved. The desire to share and transmit, but also the state of mind of the Chinese teacher make the difference. Teaching is also creating a bond of trust with students and developing a constructive complicity.
Finally, the last secret ingredient for alchemy to work in your Chinese classes: Patience (yes, with a capital P). You will need a good dose of it. Keep calm (and smile) in all circumstances. To teach is also to explain, to rephrase, to repeat, to re-explain ... Again and again!
If you have an impulsive character, are ultra-dynamic and like things to progress quickly, you will need to step back and adapt to the pace and possibilities of students. Be inspired by the wisdom of the great Chinese philosophers!
... But in the end, what a pleasure when you will notice the interest of the students for your classes and especially the progress made! The result is worth it.