Joe Day studied Mandarin Chinese with CEWL for two years before embarking on a year abroad in China as part of his BA in Politics and International Relations.
Studying at CEWL for two years prior to my year in China, the excellent and very dedicated Chinese teaching staff prepared me with a sound foundation language ability. The great benefit of studying Chinese at CEWL is that the course is structured in such a way that students learn not just to speak Chinese, but also to read and write Chinese characters.
When I arrived in China, there were exchange students from other universities whose spoken Chinese was, like mine, passable, but they were often held back by an inability to read signs and documents. During my two semesters at Renmin University of China in Beijing, I continued to study Chinese in the classroom, but the real advantage of being there was the language environment which Beijing provided me with, and I found that the spoken Chinese ability which I had developed at CEWL became more fluent and authentic. Thanks to my time at CEWL, I had a strong foundation in all aspects of Chinese language, and thanks to my time in China, I learnt very fast how to use this language skill in a meaningful and day-to-day fashion.
I strongly recommend that you study Chinese alongside your degree, as it not only gives you a much needed break from your academic course, but it also helps you develop the discipline and diligence to be a successful person.
I hope to continue to develop my language skills well into the future, and to use them to pursue a career in diplomacy or cultural exchange. Mandarin Chinese is perhaps the most important foreign language that a native English speaker should learn, as contact and relations between East and West become ever deeper. Learning Chinese opens up new opportunities to converse with China’s 2 billion-strong population both in China and across the world? Who wouldn’t want to be able to communicate with the largest group of people on the planet?