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Zeppa

Intermediate Mandarin classes in London (2) Meridian

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Zeppa

(This follows on from my earlier post on SOAS)

 

Summer 2014 - Meridian Chinese Studies. I couldn’t go on Mondays so I went to Meridian on Tuesdays. Meridian has quite its own system. It is run by David Su Liqun, who used to teach at SOAS and specializes in teaching teachers how to teach Chinese as a foreign language. He has his own method, which he calls the Zoom-In method, I believe. I only encountered it piecemeal so the following remarks should not be taken as gospel.

I was suspicious of the Meridian method and suspected that David Su believed that anyone could teach Chinese with his method. The method (as far as I experienced in) seems to consist of a collection of techniques, some familiar from EFL teaching, some of which work, some of which don't work.

Our teacher was absolutely fantastic, and the class was lively too. If the teacher had continued, I would have stayed. I could never speak as fluently as the other students in any class, but she went out of her way to help me and hit the right level for communication. A teacher needs experience to do this, I think.

There were obviously techniques she was required to use. For example, we would read the list of words for each chapter to ourselves for 2 minutes and then be tested by characters and pinyin being flashed onto a screen. I believe that in this way we were supposed to learn all the4 new vocabulary before the end of the class. This did not work for me - I would prefer to learn them gradually on my own, but in this way they did not really register.

We also did 'dictations', where the teacher would dictate English sentences including some of our latest vocabulary and some other, and we would write them out in characters and hand them in. They were marked and handed back in the lesson. This was quite useful.

If we translated sentences for homework, each of us would write one sentence on the whiteboard, all writing and the same time, and they would be corrected in red. That worked well too.

I did not like doing group work all the time, even if there were only four of us there, we were divided into two groups and could hear each other working all the time.

The strangest thing I did was in a lower-level class I attended for one week but which was too low a level for me, where we had David Su's fourth book and there were drills in it with really simple sentences built up gradually (like those in the De Francis books), and the three of us had to read them out aloud, but we all read at the same time, starting at different places. I suspect it was intended to drive characters into our brain. I found it acoustically annoying and there was no way I was getting the tones right.

At the end of the term, our teacher stopped because she took up a full-time job elsewhere, so I decided to go back to SOAS. I was worried I might get an inexperienced teacher at Meridian, perhaps wrongly.

Pro: excellent varied teaching, good equipment,
Con: for me, too much emphasis on writing. Some strange exercise types. Group work created acoustic problems because we were all sitting close to each other at one long table, which worked well outside group work.

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somethingfunny

Just in case anyone comes across this post while searching for Mandarin classes in London:  This school no longer exists.  I visited the address listed on their website and it is now an English language training school.  They might have moved location, but given they haven't got a new one on their website, I assume they've closed.  I guess if someone wants they can try emailing them...

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Zeppa

I have only just seen somethingfunny's message. I don't know. All I can find is this:

http://www.meridianchinese.co.uk/principal-su-liqun/

 

At the time when I attended the school, it was Language Studies International or something like that during the day and Meridian used the rooms in the evening. I just looked on Google Maps and I don't think the appearance has changed. It does look as if a lot of web links are dead.

 

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AaronUK

I study with practical mandarin in london

I liked the fact that the number of students they have and small classes sizes means they can teach across a lot of levels of skill. I have been learning there two years and really enjoy it.

 

i did almost sign up for meridian they did reply to my emails some time ago even though the website was old.

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Zeppa

I'm sure you're right - they are still there just as they always were, but you can't just call in and find them. Maybe they are there in the evenings, but best to contact them by email first. I don't t know if they own the building and hire out during the day, or if ILS own it and Meridian hire it in the evening, but it doesn't say 'Meridian' anywhere. I only saw somethingfunny's post by accident.

 

Where is Practical Mandarin? This must be it:

https://practicalmandarin.co.uk/about-our-mandarin-school/

 

I had forgotten all about these threads. I have given up intermediate classes and at the moment I am not doing anything. There are classes at Imperial College and King's College too. The later two I did were another one at SOAS and one at the University of Westminster. I didn't report on them. SOAS are not really keen to make classes available, as far as I can tell, and would say a class won't be taking place, letting you down at the last minute. The University of Westminster was good and not so expensive, but the teacher obviously didn't like me - she seemed to prefer younger students. I remember her favourite student asking me in the break, 'Why is she treating you like this?', so it wasn't just my imagination.

 

Eventually I decided that it is too difficult for me to fit into these classes. If there were only three or four students, it might work, but with nine or ten (which you probably need to be able for the college to finance the course) the levels and experience are just too varied. After that I found a teacher for individual classes, but I couldn't work out exactly what I wanted so I decided to take a break.

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