Are you dreaming to teach Mandarin, the official language of China?
This is a promising career choice given the growing interest in this language for several years now!
Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, with 850 million speakers worldwide. 2nd world economic power (some will say 1st, and they will not necessarily be wrong, considering that Beijing is the main creditor of Washington D.C), China is at the heart of trade.
The interest of speaking Chinese is obvious! And as Confucius said:
"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a single day of your life. "
As far as you are concerned, it could be teaching the Chinese language? A long learning path awaits you. Here are the essential steps...
Chinese as a second language in middle school
Chinese is not the language option that spontaneously attracts students. At the beginning of middle school, we usually choose, Spanish, French, Italian or German. These are the classic courses of the majority of students. Language learning is part of your studies in school, and today you can easily choose to study Chinese in your language course.
The choice of the first or second language in middle school or high schools is often motivated by parents seeking to maximize the chances of their young ones to access prestigious schools thereafter. Twenty years ago, it was French that was the gateway to that. We then witnessed a craze for Russian.
Trends are changing and today, Chinese is an essential language. It has become the language of the future. Parents believe that:
- Being able to mention this skill on a resume is the key to an international career,
- Learning Chinese gives their child access to elite classes.
In concrete terms, the number of schools offering Chinese education is increasing.
A growing number of American students have begun learning Mandarin in school in recent years. The U.S. Department of Education reported that after Spanish, Mandarin was the most popular dual-language education program implemented by individual states since 2013.
Chinese is now the third most popular language in the country. Current figures reveal that over 200,000 students are actively studying Mandarin in the U.S. presently, with more expected to follow. The U.S.-China Strong Foundation said it aims to expand to 1 million the number of U.S. K-12 students learning Mandarin by 2020.
Learning Chinese is quite specific, it requires regular work. Many students therefore follow Chinese cours beginning in 6th grade.
Many students can not access the Chinese courses in middle school or high school, because Chinese classes are now victims of their success. Places are expensive and not all schools offer this course (Chinese course the USA).
High school diploma in Chinese
To become involved in a language teaching career, it is important to move from high school to a dedicated college!
Indeed, after graduated high school, a college or university with good language classes is a must. To become a Chinese teacher, think about learning it since high school.
The learning of Chinese writing comes with the knowledge of Chinese characters. As a reminder, there are tens of thousands. There are so many that their precise number is subject to controversy. Overall, it can be estimated between 40,000 and 60,000. Rest assured, even Chinese people do not know them all!
It requires regular learning to master at least 1% of this rich vocabulary and characters. Between pinyin, phrases, phonetic, Chinese tones or even grammar rules, you Chines lessons, will no matter what, require you to learn and train on a regular basis.
There is not one way to learn Chinese, but it definitely requires practice and commitment in your Chinese language courses.
To push the learning of Chinese since high school, you still have the possibility of integrating a Chinese language option in high school. These classes aim to acquire a linguistic level close to bilingualism.
The characteristics of the teachings of these classes?
Some of the general education courses are taught in Chinese (history, geography, mathematics...). A dive in the heart of the language beneficial to progress quickly.
The selection at the entrance of these classes varies according to the institution (interview, motivation letter, language tests...). It is also based on the school results, the language level, but also the motivation of the student and his aptitudes.
With these Chinese schools you can achieve proficiency in learning mandarin Chinese with intensive Chinese lessons. Learning a language like Chinese is easier when you get the chance to immerse yourself in the language and culture, through using Chinese phrases, seeing Chinese characters, and practice effectively to learn to speak.
Learn Chinese in college
The big argument for learning it in college is that you’ll never have the luxury of time and the facilities to do it this easily again, so you might as well do it now. Also, if you speak Chinese fluently, it is very likely that you will never be unemployed.
There are some companies somewhere who will find your Chinese expertise indispensable and be happy to make you their envoy to the Middle Kingdom.
Your journey can begin in college. For example, you can take two full years (4 semesters) of Mandarin courses while in college. In these courses, you will learn the basic radicals, tones, and stroke orders. By the time you are done with these four courses, you should be able to understand about 2000 characters.
These courses aim to train future bilingual professionals.
- Commercial vocabulary,
- As well as the study of civilizations,
- Of the culture,
- And the social and economic issues of the countries concerned.
In some colleges the student will have to be able to speak, write and translate in Chinese, but also in another language. We do not focus learning on one language, but on two (or even three in some cases).
You can even find undergraduate colleges that requires a mandatory internship abroad which gives the possibility to leave several months in immersion in the country.
But in order to become a real expert of China, you will also need to focus, at some point, on the learning of:
- And the Chinese civilization.
Depending on the undergraduate program you're following, you can choose to study history and culture of China in dedicated classes, but you can also choose to study abroad and enjoy a unique experience, a real complement to perfect your knowledge and apprehend the reality of life in China, its culture and its traditions.
If you are passionate about Chinese culture and your desire to learn is limitless, these programs are the right path for you. It will bring you the essential knowledge to project you into your future teaching role.
Beyond a perfect command of the language, you will be able to share with your students all the richness of the Chinese culture. One of the essential qualities to teach Mandarin!
The linguistic stay in China
When one wants to become perfectly bilingual, it is usual to say that there is nothing better than to live in a foreign country. This is especially true for Chinese, for several reasons, including:
- Chinese culture is miles away from our Western culture,
- Mandarin is a tonal language, to master it perfectly, you have to speak Chinese with native speakers,
- Discovering the Chinese way of life cannot be learned in books, it is lived on a daily basis.
As this Chinese proverb says:
"The teaching that only enters the eyes and ears is like a meal in a dream. "
So do not hesitate to confront the theoretical teaching that you have received with reality by going to explore and make your own experiences.
Master degrees to become a teacher
Becoming a teacher in the United States can be a complicated process. In order to teach in public school, you need proper teaching certification from the state. Private schools may not require certification, but they often require a degree in the subject.
The best way to obtain teaching certification is through an accredited college or university. When choosing your place of study, make sure that it offers legitimate, state-approved certification.
- Step one: secure your educational foundation and in-class experience
- Step two: pass National or State requirements
The Master degree is therefore the royal way for future teachers for people who wants to make teaching their job in middle schools or high schools. Most programs require at least one semester of full-time teaching, while some require an entire school year.
Regarding Chinese teachers, many institutions can not offer courses for lack of teachers. Paradoxically, this is not the subject where the number of vacancies is the highest. The number of positions available by competition are defined each year.
There are still few students that choose to become Chinese language teachers, therefore, it is easier for those who choose Chinese to become official graduated teachers and to choose where to work as a teacher.
In other words, it is not so easy to become a certified Chinese teacher. However, do not worry, teaching Mandarin (because it is primarily Mandarin that is transmitted in the USA) continues to develop in the USA and many opportunities exist to teach.
Practice by giving private lessons in Chinese
During your years of study, to familiarize yourself with teaching, you can offer your services as a private teacher of Chinese.
A good way to combine work and pleasure, but also to make sure that the teaching job suits you.
Nothing better than to practice to build a first experience. You will be able to:
- Improve your teaching skills (test methods and why not develop your owns),
- Learn to prepare courses (it's the secret to formalize your knowledge in order to transmit them effectively),
- Develop your ability to adapt (needs and level vary from student to student),
- Promote this experience on your resume (an additional asset for future teachers).
It also allows (especially for those in a hurry) to become a Chinese teacher without specific degrees. The job does not require any!
We also find in this universe many profiles of Chinese language teachers. You can teach and learn Mandarin at the same time.
When a learner is wondering “How to learn Chinese?” or “How to become fluent in Chinese?” one of the answers is to have a tutor, a private teacher who can teach him from basic Chinese to Chinese tones, phrases, Chinese grammar, expressions, both language and culture, or even calligraphy, reading and writing.
If you have already mastered the foreign language, you can find another learner, or a student, eager to take Chinese lessons and improve his grammar, his conversational skills in the Mandarin language... Even for you it is a great training, for your Chinese speaking abilities, your Chinese pronunciation and your conversational skills, and it is a great training for you to discover the importance of a good pedagogy.
One who teaches Chinese lessons can develop a great proficiency in the study of Chinese. Your language skills will improve with practicing as a Chinese teacher.
To your student, the learner of a new language, you can teach all the basics and fundamentals of the Chinese language, its rules, tones, some characters, calligraphy, grammar but it is also important to teach him about the culture bonded to the languages spoken in China.
You will at the same time give the basics of Chines to a learner who is discovering a new foreign language, and learn the pedagogy of teaching Chinese (and improving your own linguistic skills).
Learning Chinese in order to teach it is really exciting, especially because you, as a teacher, will never stop learning because the language is so rich!