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Parlez-vous chinois? (Mandarin classes)

Posted by Jerome on 20 October 2007

20101020_img_1_3 You guys must all be familiar with the language requirement. London Business School's vision is to be a pre-eminent global business school. As a result, a good level of English is mandatory but not sufficient: you need to be able to speak another language at a commercial level (we call it level 2 at the school). For more than half of the class, who are not native English speakers, it is no problem at all. My language requirement is fulfilled by my French for instance. However, like many others, I found that the MBA experience is a unique opportunity to start learning another language.

Guess which one I chose? Mandarin of course! After I had made up my mind I told m20101020_img_2_3y friends, and they were going "you're crazy that is too difficult, it's gonna take too much of your time" or "you don't need to take a language, you're wasting a credit". Well I am happy I made that choice though. We have 4.5 hours a week, for the first year (for a total of 90 hours). But this is really fun. You are not expected to know as many words as you would in Spanish for instance, but the vocabulary will take you as far as the grammar is much simpler. No genders, no tenses.

We start with pinyin which means that you write using the same alphabet as English plus 4 accents. I'd say there are about 400 different 1 syllable words you can write with those (x4 including the accents). With this set you cover a large part of the 50k+ Chinese symbols that there are. For the level 1 we have to be able to have a simple conversation, recognise a few characters (I think about 120-150) and know about the grammar.

It is a commitment though, but if you feel that you have a genuine interest in Chinese, either professional, cultural or just aesthetic (the 3 apply to me :) you should go for it!

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