Super excited! My Chinese language school offers both group classes and private lessons, broken into a number of levels depending on proficiency and experience as follows:
- Introductory Chinese, levels 101-104
- Intermediate Chinese, levels 201-204
- Advanced Chinese, levels 301-304
- Breakthrough Chinese, levels 401-405
I started, like most people, with the group classes, since they're pretty inexpensive and a great way to meet new friends that are interested in similar things. However, once I got to level 103, I started getting pretty frustrated with the group classes for several reasons, namely the pace of the class is problematic for almost all students.
Casual students find it incredibly fast paced and overwhelming, and many of them drop out pretty fast. For example, in my 101 class, we started with almost 10 people, and ended with two. Even for the higher levels like 201, where you'd think anyone who made it that far would be pretty committed after four levels already, the class size began with a whopping 12 students and ended with five. It is quite a commitment: the teacher expects you to dedicate about a minimum of 30 minutes per day to study, and if you don't keep it up, it's so easy to fall behind, which makes it even harder to catch up, etc etc etc vicious cycle.
On the other hand, dedicated students are equally troubled: the pace of the class, while still fast, is often too slow for them, and the lack of dedication makes the class slow down (e.g. because students who don't do their homework ask a lot of stupid questions that would have been answered had they done the homework).
Thus, while the content is brilliantly designed to reach a level where you can understand and communicate basic ideas very quickly, there are issues.
The second huge problem is that there is a minimum class size, and at least once, I was incredibly keen to advance to the next level, but due to insufficient students, the class was canceled... and since each "semester" lasts about three months with a one month break afterwards, so that means waiting four months to try again.
Anyways, all of this added up to the point where to make up for lack of class availability and the pace being slow for me, I decided to double-up and enroll in both 104 and 201 at the same time, which was a fun but crazy few months. When that ended, it was summer (where the school takes a few months off anyways), and it looked like 202 might not be offered in the new semester. Unhappy Seb indeed.
That was the motivation I needed to switch to the much more expensive but flexible private lessons, which has been an amazing experience. First off the private lessons instructor is one of the best teachers I've ever had in my life, regardless of subject or level. He's extremely intelligent, patient, helpful, encouraging, and genuinely cares as to your progress. As I'm extremely motivated, he's started giving me the school's textbooks for free, which is a super nice incentive. Also, I can go at any pace I want now, which is extremely motivating
Anyways, the main point of excitement is that next week starts my next block of private lessons... and even better, my transition from intermediate 204 to advanced 301!!! *throws confetti, goats, and the shattered dreams 請Gddapof battered children to the studio audience* I can't wait to jam my hot little hoofies into all that yummy Chinese knowledge!
For now, however, keeping my eyes open is proving to be nearly impossible, so off to bed!