Q: Who are your students?
A: Our students are Western expats working for foreign companies or running their own businesses in China, as well as their spouses and children. They are very busy with their jobs and their families, but they also want to learn some Mandarin so they can enjoy their time in China.
Q: What should potential students look for when they are looking at Chinese study programs?
A: Many foreigners lose focus when they look for Mandarin programs. There are so many choices that they end up just comparing prices and bargaining for the cheapest option as if they were in a Chinese flea market. They should visit the training companies first, learn about their history, check out their materials and take a demo class so they can get the full experience before making a choice. For example, New Concept Mandarin was founded by university professors and linguistic experts dedicated to helping Westerners learn to speak Mandarin, so we know how Westerners like to learn.
Q: How much do lessons cost?
A: It may cost two or three times as much as some other schools, but our clients learn two or three times as fast, so it’s worth it.
Q: How have the programs you provide developed over time to meet the needs of clients?
A: We are continuously investing back into developing new materials and programs. We develop new textbooks for different industries, online support tools and DVDs.
Q: How do you get students to use those tools outside the classroom?
A: Our students use them because they are convenient and effective. Some of them log onto their online account for 10-15 minutes when they reach the office each morning or whenever they have free time during the day. Others use the CD-ROM when they are on the airplane or travelling in the car. It’s more effective than just relying on a textbook.
Q: How do you schedule classes?
A: We’re very flexible: We offer private training or small group training, daytime or evening classes, and private or group classes. We have regular part-time training courses which consist of one or two short lessons per week as well as very concentrated 10-day immersion courses. We also offer training through the internet; it’s live so clients can get interaction and instant feedback. Over time, we’ve opened more centres around China and overseas so that our corporate clients can get the same training for their expat staff in multiple locations.
Q: Have you felt any competition from Chinesepod or similar services?
A: Some of our students use Chinesepod to supplement what they are learning in class, but it can’t replace the one-on-one interaction with a trainer.
Q: How do you measure your students’ progress?
A: Our goal is to help each client achieve the best possible results for themselves, which should not be compared to other clients. Each client has a different job, different hobbies and interests, and different learning styles and abilities. Our trainers must understand each client, prepare well for each class and tailor the course accordingly. As long as we continue to do this well, we believe our clients will make good progress.