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Is two years language study enough?


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Pizzamaster

Studying Mandarin full time for 1-2 years in China (while working part time) enough to use the language in a work environment? Or possibly to do a Masters?
I just want to gage the approximate level that would be reached. (currently I am close to being able to pass hsk4. My speaking is around the same level but I still have to think before I speak often times, I will be dedicating to speaking more regularly soon though)

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Lots of variables, obviously, but I'd say it's enough to hit the ground running and not make a complete mess of things. You won't be in any sense 'finished' learning Chinese. It is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

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Demonic_Duck
4 hours ago, Pizzamaster said:

Studying Mandarin full time for 1-2 years in China (while working part time) enough to use the language in a work environment?

 

Yes, if you study reasonably hard.

 

4 hours ago, Pizzamaster said:

Or possibly to do a Masters?

 

Probably.

 

2 hours ago, roddy said:

You won't be in any sense 'finished' learning Chinese.

 

True, but it will be just as true after 20 years as it is after 2 years.

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Demonic_Duck

Bear in mind OP is already ~HSK4, not starting from scratch. Though I would say HSK4 is (in terms of time investment) quite a bit closer to zero than it is to professional fluency.

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Flickserve
23 minutes ago, Demonic_Duck said:

Bear in mind OP is already ~HSK4, not starting from scratch. Though I would say HSK4 is (in terms of time investment) quite a bit closer to zero than it is to professional fluency.

 

Thinking of the reverse, Chinese students who do masters courses overseas have already learnt English for years before embarking on extra exams to test their English ability. HSK 4 is nothing.

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Leslie Frank

i started studying mando in high school, off and on through my college years. when i graduated i felt confident that i was at least basic conversational level (mind you, canto is my first language, but as an ABC, will never be comparable to natives--although maybe so to the natives who emigrated to other countries at a young age).

 

fast forward to the real world of talking to natives for work:

years, YEARS, of schooling may be a good foundation, but it's NOT gonna get you to a fluency level for the work environment. NOT (don't care what HSK level you're at; i've had interactions with ppl with HSK 5 and 6 and while their character know-how is great, there were problems in verbal communications)

 

however, if you're lucky enough to get into a job that looked for this target language capability, you WILL slowly get to a good enough level of fluency for your work (still NOT something you can brag about unless you have a real talent to progress on your own). this is what happened for me. i wasn't looking for a job as being fluent in mando, but as having basic conversational skills. the gal who did the real work of translating for mando speaking clients resigned. i got all her caseload. i had to sink or swim and chose to not drown. it's tremendously hard to do but do-able; still, takes way more than 2 years, but that's as good a start as anywhere. 💪

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pan.kasper

It's definitely possible, though the value of the knowledge you're getting will be significantly lower than if you were to study it in English or your native language. But diplomma is just as valuable and I believe could be very impressive to your potential future employers. 


From my experience, professors are significantly more lenient to the foreign students when there's just a handful of them in a class full of locals. You might even get away with doing some of your papers in English. It's really not that bad most of the times. As the other guys mentioned above, think of some of the Asian students doing their degrees in Europe or America. While many of them are very proficient users of English, there is still many with only a very basic grasp. Most of them somehow manage to graduate and go back to their countries with a valuable international degree.

 

Also, it's a really great way to learn the language. I did my undergrad in law in London at the age of 19 with knowing little but the basics of English at first but now, 6 years later, I barely ever use my native tongue anymore. I hope it to be the same with Chinese. Nothing will force you to study as hard as when you got to compete with local students who have been using the language their entire lives. 
 

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19 hours ago, Demonic_Duck said:

True, but it will be just as true after 20 years as it is after 2 years.

Well, yes. In some 学到老活到老 beard-stroking, there is always something to learn, sense, no, you'll never finish learning Chinese. But for the practical purposes of doing a masters or a job, you'd expect to get to the point where the language learning is far less of a concern. But not after 2 years.

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Jan Finster
On 12/16/2020 at 2:17 PM, Pizzamaster said:

Studying Mandarin full time for 1-2 years in China (while working part time) enough to use the language in a work environment? Or possibly to do a Masters?
I just want to gage the approximate level that would be reached. (currently I am close to being able to pass hsk4. My speaking is around the same level but I still have to think before I speak often times, I will be dedicating to speaking more regularly soon though)

 

16 hours ago, 杰.克 said:

I think it's laughable to think a person could study a subject to Masters level (ie very hard) in a foreign language after 2 years

 

Does it not depend on the language and the degree? I have seen plenty of Norwegians with literally just a 4 week summer course in German study medicine in Germany. They had to learn the medical terms just like everyone else and passed oral anatomy tests [often after the second attempt] even though they could not really string together a grammatically correct German sentence. After 3-4 years their German was pretty good.

As for Chinese, I wonder how challenging the vocabulary really is in a maths degree. Doing a maths degree in China is probably suicide given the maths level of even the GaoKao, but language is probably not the hard part of it.

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19 hours ago, pan.kasper said:

Also, it's a really great way to learn the language

 

I think this is the crux of it, and a really really good point. Despite me thinking it's laughable (from an academic perspective) anyone could reach good enough Chinese in 2 years to participate in a Masters course to a credible level. I think it's a really fantastic way to acquire the language, and force yourself to reach a much higher level than you were previously.  Your essays and lingual comprehension of lectures and what not will still be far far far below the worst native student in your class. But by gosh, your own language level will have sky rocketed from what it was before.

 

And so in that sense I think it's a really good plan. It's just important people realise this is what is is good for, and not for subject specific academic depth. The uni gets its money from another enrolment, foreign student gets a good experience and improves his language. Everyone wins.

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