I’ve been very lucky to have amazing Chinese teachers while living in China over the last 7 years: Vivian Laoshi in Danshui, Kenny Laoshi in Haiyang, and now Kelvin Laoshi here in Qingdao.
Even though Qingdao is a pretty big city (same population as New York City), it’s surprising how uncommon it is to find locals who speak English. I decided to take a tiny break from classes when I first arrived, then 1 month turned into 8 months, and my Chinese took a big hit. So it was time to get back into the game.
Fortunately, Kelvin Laoshi came highly recommended by a lot of foreigners. What I appreciate about Kelvin is he is a stickler in SPEAKING and LISTENING only in Chinese. Even when I ask, “ummm..how do I say blah blah blah?” He’ll smile and politely say, “try (and he’ll say it in Chinese).” I’ve seen a lot of Chinese teachers with other foreigners try practicing their English during my their Chinese class! SERIOUSLY?!@#
Also Kelvin gets it that we have a life. More than usual, I sheepishly say to him, “errr…I didn’t study, sorry,” and then our class becomes our study session. He is very patient and understanding which is important in learning Chinese. And since there are a million-and-one-dialects in China, Kelvin speaks proper Mandarin Chinese, is a professional (actually knows how to teach foreigners) and is extremely organized.
I’ll probably write more about this, but I think as a guest in this country it’s imperative to learn even a small amount of Chinese. Numbers 1 through 12 alone will get you to understand money, time, days of the week, and the months. When I started Chinese class, I skipped over the useless grammar for beginners. I only wanted to learn how to say specific things like, “please don’t touch my child, she’s afraid of strangers” or tell a taxi driver directions (go straight, turn left, turn right, drive slower!). Then after that, how to get a massage in Chinese (it’s too strong! Now it’s too soft! ) Soon after I was learning how to talk to my Ayi (please don’t use the same sponge for the toilets and sink), going to the fruit and veggie market (that’s too expensive!), and how to get a haircut (after of course 1 VERY bad experience). Once you get in the groove, you’ll start understanding the people and the culture here a little better, which only helps in adjusting to China life.
For the record, I was one of those suckers who caved and bought Rosetta Stone at an airport kiosk. I’m pretty disciplined but after 2 weeks, its was thrown in drawer with all the other CDs. $500 and my husband still gets annoyed about it (sorry, babe!). In my humble opinion, a private tutor is the way to go because you learn at your own pace, it’s customized to your specific needs, it ends up being cheaper, and you’ll learn more. If you are living in Qingdao, really consider Kelvin Laoshi. He’s been a huge help to me and a lot of other foreigners here.
Kelvin Laoshi – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WeChat ID: Kelvin929 / Phone 186 7895 3909