I recognize that there are many reasons why you would want or need to take our beginning Mandarin class for a second (or God forbid even a third) time this year; I myself had a false start when beginning my Cantonese studies with our founder Tony Parisi eight years ago due to an illness in my family, and I needed to take Cantonese I a second time the following academic year.
I get it, and I have no problem with you taking my class again -- AS LONG AS YOUR PRONUNCIATION IS ABOVE THE MOST BASIC SURVIVAL-LEVEL THRESHOLD FOR WHAT A NATIVE MANDARIN SPEAKER WOULD UNDERSTAND IF YOU WERE DESPERATE AND NEEDED TO ASK WHERE THE BATHROOM IS LOCATED.
I am talking about students who took an entire year of Mandarin I with me in the past -- I am NOT referring to any students who took my class for 1 month last year or the year before and had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict or work obligations or whatever other reasons may have led to you quit our program early on. I am talking about students who have already taken an entire year or more of Mandarin I with me in particular at ALESN:
If you can really (REALLY) make a sincere effort this year to listen and fix a few very fundamental pronunciation errors that you were unable to fix last year, then I would love to see you in class again. If you think you can be open minded, "swallow your pride" a bit, and feel secure that I am not picking on you while trying to help you fix pronunciation errors this year -- AND IF you can make an obvious effort to correct some of these errors and keep them corrected once you fix them in class, then I would love to have you back in class. I always enjoy your energy and desire to learn Chinese.
I am just going to be a hard ass this year, because I want my students to actually be able to have real, basic, intelligible Cantonese and Mandarin conversations this year with Chinese people they have never met before -- on the street, in Flushing, wherever. The only way to do this is to be a lot more strict I think, than in years past. I need to ask more of my students, so that everyone in the class will then ask more of themselves.
Ask yourself how strong, how deep your desire to learn Chinese really is. For some of you, I sense that your personal desire is strong, because I can tell that you genuinely appreciate and gravitate towards Chinese culture and food, or Chinese movies, or perhaps you are dating or are married to a Chinese person and you have a sincere, deep NEED to learn basic Mandarin so that you can communicate with your partner and his or her family.
Each person who succeeds in a free evening and weekend once a week Chinese language adult continuing education program in New York City needs to have a very deep, VERY PERSONAL motivation for learning to speak and understand Chinese accurately enough so that you can accomplish whatever your goals might be WHILE COMMUNICATING WITH NATIVE SPEAKERS OF THIS LANGUAGE.
You need to be able TO COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE, folks. It does no good to come to class for x number of months and tell all of your friends and coworkers that you are studying Chinese, which sounds oh so impressive and aren't you amazing for taking this on and attempting to do this -- and then you end up speaking garbage that is actually your own made up language, sounds nothing like actual Mandarin Chinese, and makes it next to impossible or literally impossible for even the most well-intentioned native speaker to understand what the hell you are trying to say.
Someone needs to tell you this, and if you try to take my class for a second or third time this year, I AM GOING TO BE THE ONE TO TELL YOU THIS.
STOP WASTING YOUR TIME AND MINE AND EITHER LEARN TO PRONOUNCE CHINESE WITHIN THE MOST BASIC WINDOW OF WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE TO A NATIVE SPEAKER OR GO TAKE A COOKING CLASS.
My goal is to teach you to have real conversations with real Chinese people, and to feel great about the process, while making steady progress with your ability to understand and be understood. Many of my potential returning students have a very good foundation for understanding basic Chinese, but many of the Mandarin I students that ALESN has churned out over the past few years have almost ZERO ability to be understood when speaking to a Chinese person.
Are you ready to really hone your pronunciation of the language this year -- no bullshit, swallow your pride and just fix whatever isn't correct, so that it will be correct and you will be understood by any Chinese speaker?
If the answer is yes, then see you in class!
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