Learning to teach Mandarin?

I’m toying with the idea of going to school to learn how to teach Mandarin as a possible future job prospect. I’m pretty fluent, certainly moreso than some of the teachers I’ve had in the past, and I think I have a fairly good understanding of language pedagogy. Can anyone (especially Ironlady) recommend any places where I might go to study such a thing? Are there good programs for Chinese/Mandarin pedagogy on the island? (And when I say “good”, I mean no traditional Chinese pedagogy, full of rote memorization, students who are expected to learn to speak by listening to the teacher do it, etc.)

Sorry if this isn’t the forum to post this on, but it seemed like the most appropriate one.

Ok, Rachel, please trust me on this one.

GO FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO!

Seriously.

I have a Ph.D. in this stuff. Now, I haven’t exactly devoted 24 hours a day to trying to find a teaching job, but I can tell you a few things:

  1. You will NEVER be hired anywhere in Taiwan if you are not Chinese. Period. Oh, you might be “put on th roster of teachers” because they realize that you really DO know what you’re doing, but you will never stand in front of a classroom, because, God forbid, you might turn out to be effective. And anyway, “the students demand native speakers” etc. etc. (no one ever asks the students, of course, and anyway, with 23 other hours per day to talk to native speakers, it might be nice to have somebody who has some background in modern pedagogy…but I digress. :smiling_imp: )

  2. It will be extremely difficult for you to get a job in the States teaching Chinese (I don’t know where you’re from, but I can only talk about the situation in the US, perhaps others could add some information about other places.) First, demand for Chinese teachers isn’t all that high. Secondly, to teach Chinese (except as a volunteer, maybe, in a weekend Chinese school, if the parent committee is REALLY desperate) you must have a Ph.D. these days (unless you manage to get one of the extremely few high school jobs – this MIGHT be a slightly more promising market in the future, but to get your foot in the door you’ll need another language, preferably French, Spanish or German, because the school’s Chinese enrollment would not be sufficient to hire you full-time at the beginning.) Plus, what with “affirmative action” and minority hiring and all that, if you are a white person trying for a job against Asian applicants, it might be difficult at the university level. They can kill two birds with one stone by hiring the native Chinese speaker – “The students want native speakers” and “We’ve got X minorities on faculty”.

Plus, to get the privilege of teaching Chinese in one of these situationsyou have to play the university politics game – publish or perish, committee work, lots of stuff that has virtually nothing to do with teaching, if that’s what you really love to do.

High school teaching is getting more and more document-bound as well. Between the attention-deficit kids, the emotionally disturbed kids, the kids going to 23.6 activities daily, the kids who come from broken homes, have drug problems, etc. etc., plus teh paperwork that goes with proving you are meeting the needs of every individual one of the above, you will be fortunate if you have time to think about what you want to present in class. (Been there, done that.)

If you like teaching, I would consider going into a good strong program in applied linguistics or language teaching, and training or re-training in a second and/or third language (something with more market potential, like Spanish/French/German/Japanese). You would present a stronger package to potential employers that way.

Chinese is tough to get into as a teacher, because those who run the game like to maintain the status quo. I’ve offered THREE TIMES to do a free demo (for which I told them they could charge tuition) at a certain well-known language center here in Taiwan (no names) and there is zero interest. “Has to go through committee…” Heck, a new methodology would mean we might have to change our tests, which we have made up already, or think about what to do in class, rather than just grab the book and head for the classroom. (Teachers do the same thing in the West too, I’m not just being hard on the Taiwanese.)

Chinese language teaching is about 10 years (at least) behind German/French/Spanish and about 20 years behind ESL. You might consider doing a REAL ESL/EFL training program (I mean, a serious MA somewhere) and then apply what you have learned to Chinese, rather than looking for a real program specializing in Chinese. I don’t think there are any.

Shita’s graduate institute is NOT, IMHO, a good option. I realize this is a little bit personal, but let’s be logical: if you put out a call for professors, had an applicant who had fluent Mandarin and a Ph.D. IN TEACHING CHINESE (and I’ll bet there weren’t too many of THOSE on the list), wouldn’t it be a nice idea to at least interview that person and see what the story was?? Can you say “inbred”, boys and girls?

Hoo boy…bet you’re sorry you asked!! :unamused:

I taught Chinese evening classes for eight years in London. The insistence that you must have a PhD must be an American thing. I only have a BA. I taught at the same place I learned my Chinese (the University of Westminster.) They knew how good my Chinese was so they took me on. I also taught for the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding and did a special daytime course teaching just one person from the British Council.

I passed the entrance test to do an MA in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at the Beijing Language University (Beijing Languages Institute as was.) Unfortunately I had to leave China and go back to the UK to help my wife with her immigration, so I passed up that opportunity. BLU is probably the best place in the world for studying TCFL. If you want guanxi at BLU, try and contact a senior teacher called Zhang1 Zhan4yi1 and tell him you know his ex-student Zhu1 Li4

Thanks for the replies!

Ironlady, your observations were pretty much what I feared. I don’t think I’d ever want to get a job teaching Mandarin in Taiwan. (I think most Westerners, at least, would probably be about as racist about being taught by a caucasian as Taiwanese people are about being taught English by a local.) I was primarily thinking of teaching in the States, as you correctly assumed.

I don’t think I’d try teaching in a university – most universities are, as you say, all about politics and publishing rather than teaching (I got an MA in the States, so I have a good sense of this). But a community college, like the ones that sometimes post on the Chronicle, or perhaps a private language institute like Berlitz, might be better. There seem to be pretty frequent postings for Chinese-teaching jobs at this sort of place, and I could be very satisfied without the title “professor”. I don’t think I could ever accept a job as an “adjunct” or whatever they’re calling the university wage-slaves these days, but in the private sector or community colleges, it might be better. Have you ever tried to find a job at that sort of place?

Juba, thanks for the kind notes. Unfortunately, I’m primarily thinking of teaching in North America (US or Canada). I’d be somewhat interested in going to the BCLU, but I’m not sure it’d be worth it to put up with living in the Mainland again.

One place I’ve thought of is the University of Iowa program. I have a couple friends who got MA’s in TCFL there, although I’m not sure if they have jobs now. :frowning:

Juba, an aside: is BCLU the one on Xisanhuan Beilu, or the one over in the eastern part of the city? I went to Beiwai/Beijing Waiguoyu Xueyuan in 1992, is it the same one?

Rachel,

Most commmunity colleges these days also want Ph.Ds…more and more of them are getting really hard-line. Plus, they won’t hire you full-time in most cases (cost savings). It’s really horrible.

I don’t think Berlitz hires non-native speakers to teach languages…they have “their own method” which is SHITE, but that’s their story and they’re sticking to it. Show up at their Taipei office for the free sample Mandarin lesson and you’ll see what I mean!! :unamused: Certainly not a place where you would be able to apply anything you learned about actual effective teaching.

I’ve taught Chinese at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as doing an informal lunchtime class to truly interested students at a high school in Virginia, taught 4 year olds at a weekend Chinese school (you can get your foot in the door as “the Pinyin teacher” as most Taiwanese don’t know how to handle Pinyin! :wink: and some parents in the US now want their kids to learn it – but PLEASE not at the age of four, guys!!) and to various extension and adult ed classes. I teach privately when I have time, and that’s usually the most effective way to go about it. I’m tired to fighting the traditionally minded “change will kill us” bureaucracy.

High school might be your best bet if you can stand it in other ways. I had zero problems with my kids…it was only the admin stuff that drove you batty. If I had stayed there, in five or six years I’d have had a little Chinese dynasty going, with no other teachers on faculty to have anything to say about how I did things because I’d be the only one. (There were like 12 Spanish teachers, so you could hardly sneeze without being given advice on how to go about it.)

IIRC, the university of iowa has a program that you might want to o a websearch for. called something akin to teaching chinese MA program.

many of the chinese teachers at the university of hawaii were caucasian. one of the most popular with the student was a guy named sanders (?) the students could relate to him, he had lived in taiwan many years. the foreign language research center there seems to be quite forward looking.

Rachel - you might be able to do your Masters and Ph. D online. I did my MBA through the Univ. of Phoenix - I’d take it anyday over a classroom setting.

I studied Chinese at Chi Fan Da Xue, in Taipei, for one year. They have numerous programs that can meet your needs (i.e. studying the root of the language).

Good luck.

Really, only one word, good luck.
Some of you (foreigners) talk better chinese than we (local).
So, if you are interested on it, go for it !
I don’t say that my chinese is perfect, but i do think i’m good at teaching this. When i just started teacinng chinese, i make some stupid mistakes, but i learned from it. Sometimes you have to love this language, willing to discover the secret in this language, then you can truly enjoy this. Then teaching. ^^
Nice to know there are so many people like this language. ^
^
If you need any help on this, you can always feel free to ask. I’m not good at telling people how to teach, but some experiences can be shared.

I prefer to have natural born Taiwanese citizens teach me Mandarin. Sorry if that makes me “racist” but my last teacher was born here, has lived in Taiwan for 50 years, doesn’t speak English at all and has no interest in doing so, has a degree in teaching and is actively researching. Why would I want anyone else?

Just because she happens to be Taiwanese doesn’t mean she is stupid, lazy or incompetant. If Chinese teaching is 20 years behind ESL she is working very hard to catch up. What do you think - she doesn’t do research? Doesn’t know that things need to improve? Is asleep at the wheel?

Neither she nor any ShiDa teacher I encountered wasn’t highly dedicated. They are all very interested in the development of language learning and are continually looking for ways to improve. Just because they aren’t white doesn’t mean they can’t read or aren’t plugged in to the world of language learning research.

as a north american who began studying mandarin/putonghua in junior high and continued through university i can honestly say having both types of teachers benefitted the students.

the “real” chinese teachers were the real deal and all, but were too heavy on wrote memorization. we would ask a question pertaining to the components of a character (very important for remembering) and the beijinger laoshir’s would robotically intone “bu yao ‘weisheme’, zhi yao zuo!” (don’t ask why, just do!) good god how that would put us off. every other class in our academic system was reliant upon student interaction but in chinese class it was almost as if the teachers didn’t want us to ask questions. they seemed to just want to read the newspaper as we wrote characters ad nauseum.

later, when i got to having western teachers it was like catching the trade winds and my sails really lifted. they inherently understood the difficulties of being a westerner studying chinese with chinese teachers. they knew our questions before we asked them because they themselves had been there, done that.

western students of chinese/mandarin/putonghua benefit greatly from having either/both chinese or western teachers.

I really don’t see why that would be relevant. In my opinion, whether a teacher was born naturally or through c-section makes no diffenence in his or her language or teaching skills. Furthermore, I don’t think a teacher conceived through artificial insemination would have any handicap when teaching language. :slight_smile:

Locally born chinese teachers are not all stamped from the same mould. No two were alike among the ones I have studied under. If yours were the same then you were most unfortunate.

Dedication and competence are two different things.

And I’m not saying they are not competent doing what they know how to do – the traditional language teaching methods of 20 years back or more. But most Taiwanese professors/teachers do NOT know how to read a research paper with a critical eye, do NOT know how to evaluate statistical data, and do NOT know how to design replicable, reliable research. The result is that “research” that gets done here is worthless, and claims are made that the data is representative when it is not. Sample sizes are tiny; statistical procedures are too basic or not supported by the sample size (many tests require a minimum sample size to be valid).

The language of research for language teaching is, in many cases, English. Most teachers do not take the time to read the research in English, which is probably understandable as they are not native English speaker nor do they read that level of English with ease, in most cases. Plus, for what most of those teachers get paid…who would?

Have you never been to a presentation, for example, at ETA or some similar event? The Taiwanese teachers in the crowd just nod and smile. No critical questions, no challenging of the thought process or design behind the presentation. Just swallow and smile, and get points for having “attended”. Just as students often get points for “showing up”.

The educational system in Taiwan does not teach students to think on their own; it encourages rote memorization. Unfortunately, replication is the price that is paid for this – “That’s the way they taught me, so it’s OK to teach you that way.” Even if “you” are not Chinese and have a totally different educational psychology.

My sample of 1 (me) maybe statistically insignificant but it serves as a reasonable counter-example. I am not Chinese, I have a different educational psychology and yet I still managed to learn Chinese well enough to astound any Taiwanese person who they learns I studied for only 18 months. This is before they find out I can also read. When I walked in to ShiDa I could say “NiHao”. When I walked out I could read, write and handle most conversation.

Because I am particularly suited to languages? I practically failed English in high school. Because I am highly dedicated? I cut classes, showed up late and didn’t always do the homework. Because I love rote memorisation? I can’t remember a phone number for 10 seconds.

My teachers despaired but they NEVER gave up on me. They kept pushing, encouraging and threatening; doing whatever they could to keep me on track. With their “traditional” methods they managed to take me from nothing to reasonable Mandarin in 18 months.

Yes, you “managed”.

But how much better could you have done given teaching methods that took you into consideration?

And how many of your classmates were lost by the wayside because they could not “keep up” with the pace of what was being “covered”, not thoroughly mastered by the students?

99% of Chinese teaching is a farce, especially for students who are not native English speakers. The Asian students seem to do OK, probably because they are used to rote memorization, but many people I’ve seen, especially Central Americans who don’t speak English all that well, have a horrible time. The pace of class does not slow down regardless of how well the students are doing, and I’ve seen many examples of cases where student cheating is openly tolerated so that everyone can get the marks he needs (teachers as well as students). In the end, no one benefits in terms of Chinese proficiency, although there are perhaps other benefits (harmony in the school and the class, students obtain the grades they need to keep scholarship support, teachers do not lose their jobs, re-enrollment numbers are kept high, etc.)

Language is a basic human tool and ability. A human being, given appropriate exposure, WILL learn a language. The brain is wired that way. The problem is that today’s educational system, with its emphasis on test grades, “assessment” that does not assess but merely seeks to put a number on students and yields results that are not used in the classroom to improve teaching, the attitude that “if the students don’t learn, it’s because they are lazy or not doing enough homework,” and a healthy dose of Taiwanese/Chinese “face”, is preventing foreigners from learning Mandarin as efficiently as they might. In many cases, it prevents them from learning it at all. You’ve surely seen the posts to this board…

The gap between what I potentially could have achieved and what I did achieve in my time at ShiDa is due to my own lack of dedication. I take personal responsibility for this failure, I don’t seek to lay blame elsewhere.

It is same Western students who complain about the pace that also cut even more classes than me, hand in less homework and barely speak a word of Chinese outside class. Some students ARE lazy and DON’T do enough independent study. “Their weird methods aren’t suitable to my delicate western psyche” is a an excuse.

Blame the teacher, blame the book, blame the teaching methods, blame the shape of the table, blame the weather, hell blame anything just don’t take responsibility for your own progress. A student will get a lot farther if instead of blame-storming they open their textbooks and start preparing for their next class.

Hell maybe I’m wrong, I’ve never had a western teacher teach me Chinese. Ironlady, you are American right? So you have a rich tradition of capitialism behind you. Why not put start your own school and put ShiDa and TaiDa out of business? Who cares what “the establishment” thinks about your skin color or teaching methods - start your own school and show them that they are wrong.

You have experience and in-depth understanding of teaching so presumably you could do some ESL stuff to make ends meet while getting things off the ground and attracting Mandarin students. I’d be interested in some night or weekend classes myself.

You know there is some truth about the troubles faced by South American students not suited to ShiDa. Maybe you should start off by targetting them.

Students “act out” (act inappropriately, cut class, do not hand in homework) for the most part because they have seen that they cannot succeed. Most people are happy to attend or participate in events where they can SUCCEED. Chinese classes usually do not provide that. Think about the students who were cutting class…probably they fell into 2 categories: 1) those who are really in Taiwan to make money and don’t really care about learning Chinese, and 2) those who just became convinced that hey, I won’t do any better if I do show up for class, so why not sleep in/take a day off/not submit to the humiliation/pressure/etc.

Although I am American and I do hold a Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education, Taiwan is not very excited about letting me open any sort of school. The drawing card for a Chinese school is the ability to grant visas, and I’m sure it would be extremely difficult for a foreign-run school to obtain that coveted right. That is still the reason many people pay more money to schools run by universities rather than going to the very comparable privately-run schools – visa and ARC privileges.

We are assuming, for the sake of argument, that students want to learn. (This is rarely true in EFL classes in Taiwan, too! But that’s another thread… :laughing: ) I can understand people not being able to learn math. Not everyone is cut out for calculus (I sure wasn’t!) But language is something 99.99% of the world’s people just DO. The problem is to prevent the classes from preventing the students from acquiring the language.

Chinese-run schools do not really want to innovate. The most sensible Chinese school manager I’ve ever encountered was a person with whom I had many discussions about teaching. She agreed with me, placed me on the faculty roster “officially”, and then proceeded to never even provide me as an alternative for students to choose as a teacher. Heaven forfend the students have to bear a foreign teacher, even just as a choice! Why, for one hour a day, they wouldn’t be hearing native Mandarin! :shock:

Without the ability to grant visas, you could never attract the Latin Americna students, because most of them are here on government scholarship. I believe that a smallish foreign-run language center would attract the people who have been through the Shita center and its clones, or more precisely those who didn’t manage to make it through to fluency.

So would you like to invest?? :smiley:

As soon as I had posted my last message I suddenly realised about the Visa problem. Sticky one that.

If you are my teacher and I cut your classes you would say it was your fault in not providing the right learning environment and I would say it was my fault for being a slacker. Both you and I want to take responsibility for the same problem. But you have 9 other students to worry about in my class and 3 other classes each day. I only have me to worry about. You have 40 different students pulling you in different directions. All I have to do is put in a little extra effort and adapt myself to your methods.

So if I cut your class and the other 9 students don’t then who is at fault?

Invest? In what? Teaching a bunch of slacker ShiDa drop outs who think they can buy their way to Mandarin fluency? Sure why not. They’ll quickly discover that the whole thing involves a fair amount of hard work on their part and they’ll drop out … again. No REFUNDS!!

You know a significant percentage of gym memberships are sold to people who never actually go to the gym. I’ve often thought that if you could figure out in advance who would fail to show you could just sell the gym memberships via mail and never have all the fuss of opening an actual gym. Now you come along and you’ve brilliantly solved the pre-selection problem! We can open a school together, sell classes over the Internet to drop-outs and never bother actually teaching anyone. We’ll sell a “lifestyle”. Our customers can walk around saying “I’m learning Chinese” and feel good about themselves without the nuisance of attending classes. If someone who is deadly serious about learning ever manages to sneak in and sign up we can make an exception to our no refund policy, apologise and give them a little map showing the location of ShiDa! :wink:

quote]do you have an opinion about foreigners who pick up chinese here without attending classes?[/quote]

Probably it is “horses for courses” as you say. The fact that you have a very strong musical aptitude might have something to do with things, too. Many cases have been cited where people with strong musical intuition are good at languages. I don’t say this with relation to the tones specifically, but to acquiring a language by immersion or whatever. Just my opinion, and trust me, I’m no “heavy hitter” in Chinese. I do consider I know a bit about how to go about teaching it, however. (Well, they say the best voice coaches can’t sing…?? :laughing: )

Generally speaking, about 4-5% of the population can “learn” a language using whatever method happens to present itself (including grammar-translation in the classroom). Think about how many Taiwanese really speak good English – sound like a familiar statistic? You probably could cite 4 or 5 out of 100 who aren’t bad, or who could be quite good with a month or two in the country just to fine-tune the speaking part. The other 95% of students generally finds it extremely difficult to acquire a language through classes. Think about the experiences of most of those students in high school language classes. Why should someone “forget” a language after finishing the classes? Because it was never acquired.

I did the Chinese demo lesson on my 55 year old dyslexic cousin two years ago. He and his wife came to dinner two evenings ago. Just for fun, I asked him, “How do you say ‘beer’ in Chinese?” He answered correctly without hesitation. THAT’s acquisition. He has no Chinese environment, but things that have been thoroughly acquired “stick” on one’s mind.

[quote=“NTNUGrad”]My teachers despaired but they NEVER gave up on me. They kept pushing, encouraging and threatening; doing whatever they could to keep me on track. With their “traditional” methods they managed to take me from nothing to reasonable Mandarin in 18 months.

[/quote]

NTNUGrad, you seem to have the same mentality as most students of Chinese as a second language. I used to think the same way, too. I call it the"bare knuckles" approach to learning Chinese: “it doesn’t matter how poor the material is or how poorly I’m taught; I can master all of this if I just study harder; my attitude and hard work, not technique, are the decisive factors.” Most of us who have had any degree of success in studying Chinese did it this way. This doesn’t mean it’s the best way, though; it only means that we had no better alternative at the time. Yes, attitude is extremely important, but technique is equally important. I too also had teachers who cared about me and really put their hearts into teaching me. However, every single one of them were incompetent language teachers. I doubt that your teachers were much different.

99% of the Chinese teachers in Taiwan/China don’t even have the most fundamental knowledge of foreign language teaching. Most of them teach according to two simple “theories” about Chinese language teaching. The first is that as a teacher of Chinese as a second language, they must break the foreigner into learning Chinese 100% the Chinese way. The second “theory” is that if two aspirin are good, then take twenty; if a student isn’t able to regurgitate the vocabulary or properly use the grammar from the lesson five dialogue, then go back and drill that damn dialogue until he/she gets it. There is little or no thought given to adjusting methods and materials to suit students’ needs or to reviewing previously taught material with lively, fresh materials.

This reminds me of a conversation I once had with an Australian co-teacher (who in spite of being Australian, was one of the most professional English teachers I’ve ever known :slight_smile: ). She wrapped up her views about teaching by describing three simple categories of teachers. The three types are the lazy incompetent, the amateur, and the professional. Most teachers fall into the lazy incompetent category. The lazy incompetent may or may not have a firm grasp on the subject; he/she never considers new methods and doesn’t care enough about the student to adjust his or her approach to teaching. Teaching is just a means of getting a paycheck.

The amateur teacher knows his or subject in and out and teaches it with passion. He truly cares about the student. However, the amateur’s shortcoming is that he’s only able to teach the subject in the way that he learned it. Perhaps he’ll throw in a few new techniques in the course of his career, but the core of his teaching style will always be based on how he learned the material himself. Most of the “good teachers” any of us have had probably fall into the amateur category.

The professional teacher has the same subject knowledge and passion as the amateur; in the past, he was surely an amateur himself. The skill that sets the professional apart is that he understands that all students are different and that methodology needs to be adjusted to meet different students’ needs. The professional is not only able to teach the subject the way he learned it; he also recognizes the needs of different students and targets his teaching and materials to meet those needs. A “professional” teacher might not have any teaching qualifications. I have known “professional” teachers who were qualified up to their ears and I’ve known some who’ve never warmed a seat in a teaching college. Some reading of heavy books about pedagogy and education psychology can help some of us become this type of teacher, but just about all the qualified teachers I’ve known said that teachers’ college did nothing to help them become a “professional” teacher. In my opinion, there is no magical quality that makes a person a professional teacher. Sure, some people have innate ability, but the few truly professional teachers I’ve known got to be as good as they were simply because of time at the chalk face, a bit of creativity and the willingness to do some independent research.

In my opinion, we learn most of our subjects in school from amateur teachers. We were able to learn from them because we put in some effort, but more importantly, the teacher was someone of our own culture and his/her views about teaching and learning weren’t radically different from our own. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to adjust to them. Learning a foreign language is different, though. When we learned math, history or physics, we learned them all using the same code and set of wires in our brains: our mother tongue. When learning a foreign language, we are basically learning a new code and installing a new set of wires. However, that new code and set of wires can never really take the place of the originals. The professional language teacher understands that and makes an effort to understand how the student’s original code influences his learning. More importantly, the professional teacher uses techniques and materials that will help minimize how much the old code interferes with the new one. He will also understand when and how he can use the learning style built into the language student’s original code for learning a new code, and likewise, when the language learner needs to adopt new learning techniques that are foreign to his original code. Most Chinese teachers don’t understand any of this. Of all the Chinese teachers I’ve met, the only ones who had any clue about teaching Chinese were the ones who had done TEFL or applied linguistics degrees in the West. The approach used by all others is pretty much the same: read the vocabulary list, read it again, listen to it, read it again, use the words to make sentences, read the grammar patterns, read the grammar patterns again, make sentences with the grammar patterns, read the dialogue, listen to the dialogue, yawn, read the dialogue again, give memorized answers to the questions at the end of the dialogue, go to next lesson. For this type of teacher, the only variation I’ve seen is the degree to which they (as you put it) push, encourage and threaten. Sorry, but pushing, encouraging and threatening, while sometimes necessary, are not teaching techniques.

I do not blame my Chinese teachers as individuals for their poor teaching methods. There are structural reasons for why they don’t improve. Some Chinese teachers aren’t paid well enough to do anything but read dialogues with students; however, there are plenty of university teachers who make a decent living from doing a poor job of teaching Chinese. For a long time, most scholarly research on second language teaching/learning has been presented in English. However, the core of this work is now available in Chinese translations. The excuses proffered for why Chinese teachers are so damn far behind in their knowledge of language teaching are becoming less and less valid. When I started to study Chinese, the materials were all pretty much the same and there was very little intermediate or advanced stuff available. Lately, though, I’ve started to see materials from places like BLU that are out-fucking-standing. Maybe the classes at a place like BLU are huge or their teaching methods haven’t reached the same level as their published materials. Nevertheless, seeing these materials proves to me that there is at least a small group of professional Chinese language teachers out there who are really getting their shit together. I get so excited about the BLU books that my wife can’t stand being in the same room with me when I start to talk about them. And yet they still have a long way to go