Learning Chinese at the Keats School

I went to the Keats School in Kunming for two weeks in April. I wanted to practice reading Chinese characters and improve my vocabulary. Before I went to China I was able to tell my teacher the kind of level of Chinese I was at and what I wanted to concentrate on. The lessons are one-to-one which gives you a great opportunity to take control of your own learning. In this way you could take a break from classes, take more time to consolidate before moving on, etc. Because I was only there for such a short time every minute counted. I was acquiring something like 100 new words per day. You can’t hope to learn that number in such a short time but it is a great basis to build on. The classes are 4 hours every day, either morning or afternoon. I chose the morning otherwise I would have just wasted the time. In the afternoons I went out for a walk or took the bus into town. This was an opportunity to do some sightseeing and to hear Chinese being spoken. I was pleased that I could make out the individual words spoken on the radio on the bus even if I did not understand what was being said. I always feel this is an important stage in language learning, when the language ceases to be just sound but the discete units of words are understood – even if the meaning of the entire discourse is still a way off.

Now back home I have much to do to consolidate my learning. This includes reviewing the new vocabulary which I acquired at Keats and entered on to powerpoint each evening. I was also introduced to video lessons on CCTV and I shall be taking these in turn – identifying new characters and structures.

I think a highlighter would be an idea so I can highlight new structures when I come across them. I am also planning to make some kind of reference material of the new structures, but I have not decided exactly how.

I have noted that Keats are offering On-Line courses – so I might sign up for one of these.

Will I go back? Well I’d like to. Right now I quite miss it. Time and money are the limiting factors so we will have to see. Next year perhaps.


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