Friday, November 23, 2018

ALESN Mandarin I 11/19/18 Class Summary and Insights -- sorry for slight delay with the Thanksgiving Holiday...

ALESN Mandarin I 11/19/18 Class Summary and Insights -- sorry for slight delay with the Thanksgiving Holiday...

Fri, Nov 23, 2018 at 1:38 PM

Hi Gang,


Sorry for my slight delay in sending this due to the Thanksgiving holiday this week. As a reminder, my blog can be found at There you will find entries summarizing our class so far this year, as well as much of the same class as I taught it last year during the 2017-2018 academic year (until February, when I needed to take a break from teaching).

This past Monday, we covered the COMPOUND FINALS in the table at the top of page 6. We went over the pronunciations of each of the compound finals, we reviewed the specific footnotes to some of the finals on page 6, and then we went through all of the practice exercises for the compound finals on pages 6 and 7. Following this, we began a serious and in depth study of tones, first looking at the table on page 8 and then doing most of the practices on pages 8 and 9. We will pick up with Table D1 at the bottom of page 9 this coming Monday.

I know that it is the holidays, but it is a shame for those of you who missed our last class, because this stuff is THE MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL THAT WE HAVE COVERED SO FAR. I know that some of you emailed me beforehand to let me know that you would be missing class, but for the rest of you, it is simply a shame that you missed this stuff, because unless you make a serious effort to attend from now on and also to review this stuff on your own, your Mandarin pronunciation has a real potential to suck for the rest of the year.

No joke. It is just the way it is. Sorry not sorry.

I can only show up and teach this stuff to the best of my ability. If some of the class doesn't attend for whatever reason other than those who emailed me in advance to tell me, well, I can't control that.

We will spend the entire class this coming Monday reviewing this same material, because it is THAT important. I hope to see more of you in class on Monday.

This is stuff that you have to learn, and if you haven't already quit my class, you need to attend for the next few weeks -- even if you think I am covering dry, boring stuff. I have zero patience for students who decide to sit out the intro pronunciation and tones lessons and then expect to rejoin the class a month later and just jump into the conversation lessons. If I see that happening, that students who have missed much or most of the pronunciation units are suddenly back in class once we start covering more traditional textbook dialogues in December, and if I hear that your pronunciation as suffered due to your absences, I am going to be very vocal about it. Just a heads up.

Which brings me to something very important:

PLEASE LET ME KNOW VIA EMAIL IF YOU HAVE QUIT THIS CLASS. There are 43 people signed up for this class right now and yet there were 7 or 8 Mandarin students in attendance this past Monday.

Listen -- I am an asshole sometimes when it comes to my very strong opinions about language learning in general and about the importance of exclusively focusing on pronouncing Mandarin syllables properly during the first few months of classes.


I am an asshole sometimes when I explain something to the class several times and then receive multiple emails from students who did attend class but ask me to re-explain the same thing because they didn't pay attention or write it down the first time -- like the location of the DVD store (see info below for new location; the store moved 1 week ago).


I am an asshole sometimes when I give examples of many failed students we have had in the past at ALESN and what I feel they did wrong that sealed "their doom" so to speak, their inability to turn classroom attendance and classroom knowledge into a practical ability to have even the most basic conversation with a real Chinese person, even just to say hi and tell someone what their name might have been. I have strong opinions about the amount (and kind) of effort you will all need to put forth in order to succeed in my class, or in any other once a week class at ALESN or anywhere in the world learning any language that you don't already speak.


I say these things because I want my students to succeed, and because I either want lazy or "predisposed to be untalented" students to quit my class OR I WANT THEM TO SHOW ME THAT THEY ARE DETERMINED TO SUCCEED -- AND THEN I WANT TO SEE THESE PEOPLE SUCCEED.

I am not trying to be a jerk for jerk's sake. I taught 5 or 6 years of beginner ALESN classes 2 or even 3 times a week without saying any of this stuff. I smiled. I encouraged my students no matter what they did -- no matter how little they studied, no matter if one person might make the same mistakes every single class for an entire year, then take my class a second time and make the exact same mistakes every single class during the second year. For 5 or 6 years, I was happy to teach anybody and I paid little attention to the actual success rate of my students. I had huge classes -- 25 or 30 people for most of the year, even in the Cantonese class!

I recorded all of my classes every week, uploaded them to a cloud drive for all of my students to download for I think 3 or 4 years in a row -- hundreds of hours of classes that I taught -- and still my students made the same mistakes every week for the entire year, and then again the following year if they came back to ALESN. Some of them are still taking ALESN classes and still making the same beginner level mistakes that they made 3 or 4 years ago in my Mandarin I class -- despite me having pointed out these errors every week for an entire academic year, several years ago!


To me, that is a complete waste of time, and after personally witnessing hundreds of ALESN students not fix their mistakes and continue to make the same mistakes for multiple years in our program, I decided last year to be very hard on all of my students.

Life is too short. If I offend you, you SHOULD quit my class. You don't have what it takes to learn Chinese.

If you find me offensive at times with my strong opinions, but are determined to succeed because learning Chinese is THAT important to you, then you should not only continue to take my class, but you should attend other Mandarin classes at ALESN and you should find a conversation partner online or via Craigslist or whatever and you should start building a collection of hundreds of purchased or downloaded movies and you should buy all kinds of other textbooks and study resources and read and learn from them on your own every week in between my classes -- AND YOU WILL BE THE SORT OF STUDENT WHO BECOMES FLUENT IN CHINESE AT A SOLID, INTERMEDIATE LEVEL IN A YEAR OR TWO.

I hope to see more students in class going forward -- or please tell me that you have quit the class so I can remove you from the 43 person class email list. Thanks in advance.

Thanks again to everyone who attended this past week and I look forward to seeing you all this coming Monday.

Before I forget, here is info on the DVD store's relocation:

I was told by a student from the Mandarin class this past Monday that the infamous DVD store relocated approximately 1 week ago to a new spot on Grand Street between Eldridge and Allen, closer to Allen somewhere near that corner. The student did not explain to me whether it was on the north or south side of Grand street on that block. I apologize for any confusion that the previous location's closing might have had on those of you who emailed me a week and a half or two weeks ago asking where the store was located, but since the store didn't start moving until approximately 1 week ago, it should have been at the previous location and open for business during the entire time that I described it to you, including on the day when I sent my somewhat angry email a week and a half ago.

Quite a few students purchased Dragonball Z and various Disney films and all kinds of other really cool kids' and even regular adult TV drama series DVDs at the original location -- and I hope that more of you will visit the new location, once we determine where it is, to purchase at least one $1-8 DVD that you can watch over and over again for the rest of the academic year as you learn some basic Chinese.

Best wishes to All,

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you leave me a spam comment, it will immediately be removed. I will never EVER leave your comment in place on my blog. It will be permanently deleted in minutes.