Home
The Centre
Programs
Staff
FAQs
Contact Info

The Centre

We started the Eastern Road Language Centre in 2014 to provide high quality teaching of language and culture, initially for Mandarin Chinese, but potentially also for other languages in the future. Our staff are qualified and experienced teachers of Chinese, which is not always true of other programs. Furthermore, our programs are based on the following beliefs:

  1. Language study should be guided by purpose, in two ways:

    1. Purpose determines what should be studied. For example, if you just want to be able to use spoken Chinese to help you get around in China, you may not need to learn how to read Chinese books and newspapers.

    2. Purpose also guides how best to study. If your study focusses on purposeful and meaningful uses of language, it will be far more interesting than meaningless drills and exercises.

    Learning a language for practical, everyday purposes can be thought of as learning how to accomplish increasing numbers of these purposes through language, such as how to take a taxi, how to order a meal, and so on.

  2. Learning language involves learning culture. You can't really learn to use a language properly without learning the cultural understandings and practices that go with it.

  3. Language and cultural practices vary across China. China is a richly diverse nation, so that even Mandarin is not spoken in exactly the same way by all Chinese, and cultural practices can also vary between places and even social groups. As you progress in your studies you should be learning to cope with occasional regional and individual differences.

  4. Spoken Chinese can be learned without studying Chinese characters. Many Chinese seem to believe that the study of Chinese must include the study of written Chinese characters. This is not surprising: when someone learns English, we expect them to become literate in English as well as able to speak it, and for some purposes this is equally important for Chinese learners. For those learners who are only interested in using the spoken language, however, gaining equal fluency with written characters is a great burden that is not absolutely necessary.

  5. Good pronunciation is important for spoken Chinese, including proper use of tones. We have heard of occasional Chinese teachers who seem to think that it is not important for learners to master Chinese tones, as if it didn't matter if one called one's mother () a horse (). While many Chinese speakers will try to understand foreigners speaking such poor Chinese, as learners progress in their language studies their pronunciations should keep improving so as to avoid such problems. We believe in laying a good foundation for proper pronunciation early in the study of the language and continuing to foster it throughout later language study. While tones may seem daunting to some Chinese learners at first, they are not really as difficult as one might imagine.

  6. It is important to learn pinyin transcription. Pinyin is a way of writing Chinese using the same alphabet as English. It may not be an ideal way of doing this, but it does show the pronunciation of words and it is widely used, even by Chinese speakers, in dictionaries and for inputting Chinese characters into computers and mobile phones. In studying a language, it can help to back up the spoken language with writing, and pinyin provides a better way of doing this than Chinese characters.

  7. Language study should be as interesting and enjoyable as possible. Learning a language normally takes a great deal of time and effort, but it need not be total drudgery. Part of making language study interesting is to keep it purposeful, focusing on meaning and calling attention to cultural aspects of the language.

Centre news

2016
First winter break class: June-July

2015
Online teaching begins: Apr. 16
First regular children’s class begins: Jan. 29

2014
Harmony Day: May 31
Chinese Conversation Circle: May 9
Dumpling making ends term: Apr. 2
Darwin classes open: Jan. 27
Centre staff meet in Haikou: Jan. 14

2012-2014
The development of the Centre

Home
The Centre
Programs
Staff
FAQs
Contact Info

Eastern Road Language Centre ABN 34 966 793 223
Copyright © 2013-2016 by Paul Black and Zongmin Chen
Version 1.7. Last modified on 29 January 2017
picture