Chinese Learning Center…Adds Spanish!

Nihao Nimen:

So anyone looking for Chinese lessons these days might hear this story. It’s a common story told throughout the world of language learning, and that is, the three most powerful languages to know are Mandarin Chinese, English, and…Spanish. At least in New York City.

So it only seems natural for a learning center (Hills Learning FYI is the sponsor of this website) to have Mandarin Chinese for its adult students, but also to add Spanish. How this fit will play out is another story, the center mostly has Asian languages and its student body reflects the demographics of students interested in those languages.

Their program will prove to have a unique tint on students who Learn Spanish in NYC. Please check their website from time to time for further information on their programs and how each level class is progressing, and what levels they’re currently offering.

Zaijian! Xie xie

 

Mandarin Language Center – Offering Arabic

Dear Learn Chinese Readers:

The sponsor of this website, Hills Learning, has decided to start offering more than just Mandarin and other Asian language classes. Their new program is teaching Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic with spoken Eqyptian and other dialects.

Surprisingly, Mandarin and Arabic do have something in common, their difficulty. According to the Defense Language Institute’s rankings, both languages are Category IV languages:

http://www.dliflc.edu/about/languages-at-dliflc/

The languages also have similar interests for residents in New York (Hills Learning is located in NYC). Both languages have many people seeing the importance of them on the world stage in terms of business and politics. Both languages also have interests because of family ties or significant others from those countries.

After teaching Mandarin for many years, Hills Learning’s staff recognizes the importance of pronunciation of languages. Their Arabic Classes in NYC focus on the spoken part of the language, getting the consonants and vowels right. Although Arabic isn’t tonal it does have many sounds that are not familiar to English Speakers.

I hope this article was of interest to Chinese language learners, please contact us for any questions.

Job Offering for Mandarin / Cantonese Speakers

Randstad Staffing is seeking Customer Service Representatives to work in a call center answering questions regarding healthcare and benefits.  Candidates must speak Mandarin and/or Cantonese. If you meet the requirements below, please send me your resume for immediate consideration.

Jeanin.stehr@randstadusa.com

Start Date: 12/12/2013                   Address: New York, New York 10004

Hours: 8 hours a day =40 week

Pay: $16.00 Hour

Duties / Responsibilities:

  • Provide assistance to consumers seeking health care coverage including providing information on financial assistance programs and public health care programs (Medicaid, FHP, and CHIP).
  • Process applications for health care coverage via the telephone including building tax household, household income, eligibility determinations, and interpreting of determinations.
  • Process enrollments into QHPs, plan changes, and dis enrollments.
  • Processing of life events and special enrollment period. Assist Brokers and Navigators with inquiries and eligibility and enrollment issues as appropriate.
  • Transfer/referrals of calls to appropriate entities including in-person assisters, LDSS staff, issuers, other consumer support resources, and SHOP Service Center specialists.
  • Perform co-browse interactions with consumers seeking assistance with the application process via the HBE Portal.
  •  Assist customers including prospective enrollees and people assisting enrollees or acting on their behalf, via the phone and web in accordance with all Department and the client performance standards, policy and procedures, and protocols.
  •  Assist in explaining plan enrollment options including but not limited to covered services, participating providers, and cost.
  • Provides information and direction to callers regarding web-based, mail-in and telephone application/renewals, and other programs as applicable.
  • Facilitates the fulfillment of caller requests for materials via mail, email, or download. Responds to all inquiries consistent with confidentiality and privacy policies and refers callers to alternate sources when appropriate. Accesses, reads, and interprets data elements on all applicable client based and state systems to provide support, resolve inquires, and educate callers.
  • Escalate calls or issues to the appropriate designated staff for resolution as needed. Enters appropriate data and information into the applicable systems to process applications and/or update caller information, confirm the accuracy of the customer information and uses every call as an opportunity to provide education and support.
  • Attends meetings and trainings as requested and maintains up-to-date knowledge of all programs and systems.
  •  Performs other duties as assigned by management.

 

Education Required: Previous experience in customer service. Associates/Bachelor Degrees a plus.

Background & Experience Required: Preferable experience in Call Center human services, human services, health care or service-related field.

Business Chinese Terms for New Yorkers

BUSINESS CHINESE

经贸汉语

While English is the lingua franca of the world, currently, monolingual people who only know English do miss a lot of what goes on.  Especially, when the linguistic diversity of newest Americans is so great. The millions of immigrant children that enrich US national linguistic reservoir prove that fact. Among them, the vast majority is Chinese speaking people. Besides, right now China is on the rise. That’s why one can expect that interest in the Chinese language will be constantly growing.

Here’s a list of business Chinese terms for New Yorkers:

1)       福利制度 (fu2li4 zhi4du4) – the welfare system

Definition: A program that provides assistance to needy individuals and families.

Example: 在美国福利制度经常被滥用。
Meaning: The welfare system in the USA is very often misused.

 

2)      通货膨胀 (tong1huo4 peng2zhang4) – inflation

Definition: A rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.

Example: 新政府的主要任务是减低通货膨胀的水平。

Meaning: The new government’s prime task is to reduce the level of inflation.

 

3)      技术交流 (ji4shu4 jiao1liu2) – technology exchange

Definition: The flow of technological know-how and technological services in and out of a country.

Example:我们双方的技术人员和专家要经常碰头,进行技术交流。

Meaning:  The technicians and experts of both parties should hold meetings from time to time for technology exchange.

 

4)      经济停滞 (jing1ji4 ting2zhi4) – economic stagnation

Definition: A prolonged period of slow economic growth (traditionally measured in terms of GDP growth).

Example: 这个国家进入了经济停滞时期。

Meaning: The country has entered a period of stagnation.

 

5)      经济指标 (jing1ji4 zhi3biao1) – economic index

Definition: A statistical indicator that tracks economic health from different perspectives.

Example: 本文运用了一系列简单的经济指 标以阐明工程技术的作用。

Meaning: The paper uses a number of simple economic indices to elucidate the role of engineering.

 

6)       经济衰退  (jing1ji4 shuai1tui4) – economic recession

Definition: A business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity over a period of time.

Example: 现在经济衰退终于过去了。

Meaning: The economic recession has finally finished.

 

7)       经济合作  (jing1ji4 he2zuo4) – economic cooperation

Definition: Voluntarily arrangement in which two or more entities engage in a mutually beneficial exchange instead of competing.

Example:  欧盟是俄罗斯的重要经济合作伙伴。

Meaning: The EU is a major economic partner of Russia.

 

Chinese Grammar Pattern of the day – 以…..为例

Mandarin grammar can be challenging for anyone learning the language. In some ways it is simpler than the grammar of European languages because there is no subject / verb agreements to worry about. However, it is significantly different from what most Westerners are used to. Hills Learning offers our students a multi-part series on Chinese grammar patterns. Regular practice will ingrain these patterns and help you master Mandarin grammar and correctly express your thoughts.

1)      以…..为例  (yi3……wei2li4)

Meaning: to take something/someone as an example

Example: 加入世贸并不意味消除腐败,一些南美国家为例,腐败并未因入世而减少。

Meaning: Being a member of WTO does not lead to elimination of corruption; one can take South American countries as an example, where the level of corruption remains the same.

Chinese Learning in New York – Look for Trial Lessons

This article is written by a staffer at Hills Learning, please check out Chinese Classes NYC for further info on options available for learning Chinese.

There are a variety of language schools in New York City to learn Chinese with, from universities that have 4 class a week packages including drills and courses, to Chinese language institutes that offer Chinese and cultural classes. Each institution has its own strengths and weaknesses, and some would say are more fitted to certain types of language learners of Chinese.

Language institutes and “Chinese only” institutions are focused on more serious Chinese language learners. Most curriculums have been approved by the Chinese government, and are designed to be a more stringent language learning experience. This kind of instruction is good for self starters and studiers that just need courses to reinforce their language learning, and also can keep up in more rigor learning environments. Colleges also tend to have fast paced classes.

Other institutions offer group classes and private lessons. They understand that different language learners have different backgrounds and abilities, and will need to adjust their curriculums and teaching styles accordingly. The drawback to these solutions is private lessons tend to be more pricey, as classes will have to be tailored to fit specific student needs and interests.

Whichever institution the Chinese language learner chooses, always ask if there’s the possibility of a trial lesson. Hills Learning offers periodically low priced trial lessons to learn chinese in new york. Other institutes as well usually offer “demo lessons” or free trial lessons to try your teacher. This will usually give an insight into the institution, but more importantly the atmosphere of learning that the student is about to enter.

With interest in Chinese growing rapidly, there is sure to be multiple new options for Chinese learning in the coming years in New York City. Existing schools will have to become more creative with their offerings to attract students and be the most important language learning option. Please keep your eyes peeled, and good luck with choosing the right institute for you!

Mandarin studies slowly enter the mainstream

SAN FRANCISCO – Bursting in from recess, 15 children take their seats and face the woman they know as Teacher Yang.

“What day is this?” she asks in Mandarin Chinese.

“Confucius’ birthday!” the fifth-graders shout in Chinese.

“Why do we celebrate Confucius’ birthday?”

“Because he’s the greatest teacher in the history of China!” exclaims a brown-haired girl with decidedly European features. She too is speaking Mandarin.

English is rarely heard in Lisa Yang’s class at the Chinese American International School, despite the fact that few students are native speakers of Mandarin and fewer than half come from families with Chinese ancestry. At a time when the U.S. is frantically trying to increase the ranks of students in “critical languages” such as Mandarin, students here are way ahead of the curve.

Founded 25 years ago, this small private school in San Francisco does what few other American schools do: It produces fully fluent speakers of Mandarin Chinese, by far the most commonly spoken language in the world.

“In the early days – probably up until 10 years ago – we were considered experimental, kind of ‘out there,’ ” said Betty Shon, head of finance for the school, which runs from preschool through eighth grade. “I’d get questions like, ‘What kind of parents want their kids to learn Chinese?’

“Now, there’s just no question. We get families who relocate to the Bay Area just so their kids can go to the school.”

Language ‘explosion’

Mandarin Chinese, the official language of the People’s Republic of China and the most common of numerous Chinese dialects, is suddenly hot in American schools. With China poised to become the world’s leading economy sometime this century, public and private schools are scrambling to add Mandarin to their roster of foreign languages or expand Chinese programs already in place. As many as 50,000 children nationwide are taking Mandarin in school.

“I think we would have to characterize what’s happening with the expansion of Chinese programs right now as an explosion,” said Marty Abbott, director of education at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

“It really is almost unprecedented. … People are looking at China as a force to be reckoned with. … And to ensure that the U.S. has the ability to conduct trade, to sell our goods and to work with the Chinese, certainly having an understanding of Chinese language and culture is an advantage.”

Culture shock

The drive to develop Chinese-language programs has not been without its bumps. A shortage of trained, credentialed teachers has made it difficult for some schools to join the race. When schools do get teachers, they often recruit them straight from China – a recipe for a cacophonous culture clash.

Robert Liu, who taught in China before coming to Venice High School, remembers his first two years in a U.S. classroom with the benefit of hindsight. It was not an easy adjustment, he said. In China, “respect is the Number 1 thing. Students respect their teachers,” he said. Mr. Liu found a different paradigm here, where respect must be earned and teachers spend much of their time maintaining order.

“You have to quiet them down and find different activities to attract them or they will lose attention,” he said.

Mr. Liu stuck it out and revamped his teaching style, and Venice supported him (although a few of his students complain that his teaching style is still a bit too static for their taste). But plenty of Chinese teachers wash out after their first year, leaving behind bewildered students and chastened administrators.

The Chinese American International School, or CAIS, has avoided many of the problems with foreign teaching styles by insisting that teachers who come from China, no matter how experienced, work as teacher aides before they take a classroom of their own.

“If you take a teacher from mainland China or from Taiwan, without support, without acculturation, most likely they’re going to fail,” said Kevin Chang, the elementary school director at CAIS.

It also helps that class sizes at CAIS are small – the largest have 20 students, and most have fewer. Tuition is $17,200 to $18,000 a year, and nearly a quarter of the students receive financial aid.

There is no definitive accounting of the number of Mandarin programs in American schools. But the Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages estimates that the number of students in Mandarin classes in public secondary schools has risen from 5,000 six years ago to as many as 50,000 today. The U.S. Department of Education puts the number at about half that.

The number is expected to rise. Pressure and encouragement are coming from far-flung sources, including the White House, the Chinese government and the College Board, which is offering an Advanced Placement test in Mandarin for the first time next year.

National security matter

In January, President Bush proposed $57 million in federal spending to encourage the teaching of languages considered crucial to national security, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. In announcing the plan, the administration noted that, in contrast to the number of Americans learning Mandarin, “more than 200 million children in China are studying English.”

Mandarin, with its lack of a phonetic alphabet and thousands of characters, is considered a relatively difficult language to learn. But “if it’s hard, they don’t know it,” said Christie Chessen, who has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at CAIS.

She speaks no Chinese herself. Her children’s idea of fun, she said, is to practice writing Chinese characters. She constantly finds herself thinking, “Oh my God, my kid is doing something that I will never in my lifetime be able to do.”
By M. LANDSBERG

Mandarin speaks to a growing audience

SAN FRANCISCO — Bursting in from recess, 15 children take their seats and face the woman they know as Teacher Yang.

“What day is this?” she asks, in Mandarin Chinese.

“Confucius’ birthday!” the fifth-graders shout in Chinese.

“Why do we celebrate Confucius’ birthday?” FOR THE RECORD:
Teaching Mandarin: Captions accompanying a story in Sunday’s Section A about the growing number of American schools that offer Mandarin Chinese instruction gave incorrect names for two students at the Chinese American International School in San Francisco. Karina Koo was misspelled as Katrina Koom and Sophie Go was misidentified as Siena Belda. —
“Because he’s the greatest teacher in the history of China!” exclaims a brown-haired girl with decidedly European features. She too is speaking Mandarin.

English is rarely heard in Lisa Yang’s class at the Chinese American International School, despite the fact that few students are native speakers of Mandarin and fewer than half come from families with Chinese ancestry. At a time when the United States is frantically trying to increase the ranks of students in “critical languages” such as Mandarin, students here are ahead of the curve — way ahead.

Founded 25 years ago, this small private school in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley does what few other American schools do: It produces fully fluent speakers of Mandarin Chinese, by far the most commonly spoken language in the world.

“In the early days — probably up until 10 years ago — we were considered experimental, kind of ‘out there,’ ” said Betty Shon, head of finance for the school, which runs from preschool through eighth grade. “I’d get questions like, ‘What kind of parents want their kids to learn Chinese?’ Now, there’s just no question. We get families who relocate to the Bay Area just so their kids can go to the school.”

Mandarin Chinese, the official language of the People’s Republic of China and the most common of numerous Chinese dialects, is suddenly hot in American schools. With China poised to become the world’s leading economy sometime this century, public and private schools are scrambling to add Mandarin to their roster of foreign languages or expand Chinese programs already in place. By some estimates, as many as 50,000 children nationwide are taking Mandarin in school.

“I think we would have to characterize what’s happening with the expansion of Chinese programs right now as an explosion,” said Marty Abbott, director of education at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

“It really is almost unprecedented…. People are looking at China as a force to be reckoned with…. And to ensure that the U.S. has the ability to conduct trade, to sell our goods, and to work with the Chinese, certainly having an understanding of Chinese language and culture is an advantage.”

The drive to develop Chinese-language programs has not been without its bumps. A shortage of trained, credentialed teachers has made it difficult for some schools to join the race. (With some exceptions, public schools require teachers to be credentialed, while private schools do not.) When schools do get teachers, they often recruit them straight from China — a recipe for a cacophonous culture clash.

Robert Liu, who taught in China before coming to Venice High School, remembers his first two years in an American classroom with the benefit of hindsight. It was not an easy adjustment, he said. In China, “respect is the No. 1 thing. Students respect their teachers,” he said. Liu found a different paradigm here, where respect must be earned and teachers spend much of their time maintaining order.

“You have to quiet them down and find different activities to attract them or they will lose attention,” he said.

Liu stuck it out and revamped his teaching style, and Venice supported him (although a few of his students complain that his teaching style is still a bit too static for their taste). But plenty of Chinese teachers wash out after their first year, leaving behind bewildered students and chastened administrators.

The Chinese American International School, which is known familiarly by its abbreviation, CAIS, has avoided many of the problems with foreign teaching styles by insisting that teachers who come from China, no matter how experienced, work as teachers aides before they get a classroom of their own.

“If you take a teacher from mainland China or from Taiwan, without support, without acculturation, most likely they’re going to fail,” said Kevin Chang, the elementary school director at CAIS.

It also helps that class sizes at CAIS are small — the largest have 20 students, and most have fewer. Of course, all of this comes at a price: Tuition is $17,200 to $18,000 a year. Nearly a quarter of the student body receives some financial aid.

Spreading the words

With his school’s success as a model, CAIS headmaster Andrew Corcoran has been working with the Chinese government to improve training of teachers who are sent to the United States. Many come as part of a Chinese government program called Hanban, which is sort of a cross between the Peace Corps and Teach for America, the volunteer teacher program. Hanban sends Mandarin teachers throughout the world and pays their salaries as they share their knowledge of Chinese language and culture.

Corcoran said that of 30 Hanban teachers sent to the United States last year, 27 went home without having their contracts renewed for a second year. Their teaching style was too out of sync with American culture. “They’ve never worked in a place where they didn’t stand on a podium in front of 60 or 70 students,” Corcoran said. “My fear is that if these teachers are not successful, then the support for teaching Chinese will wane, because people will say, ‘Well, we tried it but it didn’t work.’ ”

Corcoran said Hanban officials were sufficiently concerned to invite him last summer to China, where he helped train this year’s class of America-bound teachers.

A Hanban official confirmed that American educators were sought to help with training, but otherwise disputed Corcoran’s account. In an e-mail from Beijing, Zhou Jie, who is in charge of U.S. volunteers, insisted that there had not been “any bad feedback” from either the teachers or their American host schools. She said that only seven teachers had been dispatched to the United States in 2005, and four of them were retained for another year. Forty-one volunteers have been sent so far this year, and about 60 more will be coming, Zhou said. The volunteers “are of high adaptability and [have a] strong sense of responsibility,” she said.

Still, to the extent that there are problems, they are the problems of success — too much, too fast.

There is no definitive accounting of the number of Mandarin programs in American schools. But the Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages estimates that the number of students in Mandarin classes in public secondary schools has risen from about 5,000 six years ago to as many as 50,000 today, a tenfold increase. The U.S. Department of Education puts the number at about half that.

Whichever is correct, the number is expected to continue rising. Pressure and encouragement are coming from far-flung sources, including the White House, the Chinese government and the College Board, which is offering an Advanced Placement test in Mandarin for the first time next year.

In January, President Bush proposed $57 million in federal spending to encourage the teaching of languages considered critical to national security, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. In announcing the plan, the administration noted that, in contrast to the relatively paltry number of Americans learning Mandarin, “more than 200 million children in China are studying English.”

Spanish heads the class

Today, 85% of the foreign-language enrollment in the United States is in Spanish, according to Abbott, of the Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Next comes French, followed by a smattering of Italian and German. Russian, Japanese and Mandarin trail.

Parental pressure helped push Chicago to launch the largest Chinese-language program in the U.S. — classes in 28 schools that reach 6,000 students from kindergarten to 12th grade. “We’re so lucky to have parents who are going to fight for this,” said Bob Davis, director of Chinese-language instruction for the Chicago Public Schools.

And when Mark Brooks, director of the private Pilgrim School in Los Angeles, proposed making Mandarin a required course for all seventh-graders this year, parents embraced it. “We’re trying to give educations to children for jobs that haven’t even been created yet…. Parents get that.”

Still, Chinese classes have a distinctly regional cast. Chicago has the most ambitious program, although Portland, Ore., has announced plans for a Mandarin program that would take children from kindergarten through college. The Bay Area, with its large, deeply rooted Chinese American population, is another leader.

Aside from the Chinese immigrant communities in the San Gabriel Valley, Southern California has generally lagged. The Los Angeles Unified School District offers Mandarin at two of its 60 high schools.

Gay Yuen, a professor of education at Cal State L.A., runs a program that grants credentials to Mandarin teachers and has been working with schools to encourage the expansion of Chinese instruction. She has been frustrated by the relative lack of interest.

“I think there’s still a lot of conservatism in our area,” Yuen said.

There wasn’t a lot of interest in Mandarin in San Francisco, either, when CAIS was founded in September 1981 by a former San Francisco County supervisor, Carol Ruth Silver. She had adopted a child from Taiwan and realized there was nowhere he could attend school in his native language. The first class had four students and one teacher.

Today, roughly 400 children are enrolled. The school teaches half the day in English and half in Chinese, and from preschool on, students in the Chinese classes hear only Mandarin from their teachers. Students learn subjects such as math, science and social studies in both languages.

One of the biggest problems students face is what to do after they leave CAIS, since their Chinese abilities are beyond those of the most advanced high school classes. Some attend after-school classes at CAIS; others move on to other languages but often return to Chinese in college.

Mandarin, with its lack of a phonetic alphabet and thousands of distinct characters, is considered a relatively difficult language to learn. But “if it’s hard, they don’t know it’s hard,” said Christie Chessen, who has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at CAIS. She speaks no Chinese herself. Her children’s idea of fun, she said, is to practice writing Chinese characters. She constantly finds herself thinking, “Oh my God, my kid is doing something that I will never in my lifetime be able to do.”

China to reform Chinese proficiency test for non-native speakers

The Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK — Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) for non-native speakers is to be reformed with new tests focusing more on comprehensive language ability and communication skills, the HSK center announced Thursday.

“The reformed HSK will be launched in 2007 with an oral test and essay writing section added,” said Sun Dejin, director of the HSK Center of Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU).

The HSK center decided to reduce the former 11 grades of HSK test to three grades: elementary, intermediate and advanced, Sun said.

“In April, 2007, both the old and new HSK tests will be held together and examinees can choose one or both,” Sun said, stressing the new HSK test would completely replace the old one in 2008.”

The HSK center would provide examinees with information on the new test, Sun said.

“The reform is based on research and surveys, including studies of linguistics and psychology as well as communication with foreign experts,” Sun said.

The HSK is a national standardized test to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers including foreigners, overseas Chinese and students of China’s ethnic minorities.

Designed by the BLCU in 1984 and launched abroad in 1991, the test is offered in 87 cities in 35 countries and regions. To date, about 1.3 million examinees have sat the test.

Chinese is growing in popularity throughout the world, according to the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

An official from the office predicted last September that about 100 million foreigners would learn Chinese by 2010.