David’s Chinese name is 王大伟. He is from Melbourne, Australia. Apart from English and Chinese, David also speaks a little bit of Italian and French. David started learning Chinese 10 years ago since year 7 in high school. He is now an English and Chinese teacher, completing a Masters of Secondary Teaching at the University of Melbourne. David also performs bilingual musical shows at Primary and Secondary schools to encourage students to learn languages.
One interesting fact about David: He has won awards in two shows on China Central Television.

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:34] – David started learning Chinese while he was in high school, 10 years ago
  • [2:11] – David got a scholarship to study Chinese at university, and went on to win first place in Melbourne for the Chinese Bridge Competition
  • [2:42] – The competition helped David earn a scholarship to study at Nanjing University for a year
    • [2:49] – During his time studying in Nanjing, David was on a second TV and again won the award for most outstanding original performance
  • [3:04] – David is now studying for a master’s degree in secondary attention and teaching Chinese in Melbourne
  • [3:41] – David’s decision to study Chinese has transformed his future
  • [4:20] – David studied theatre and English literature but had some spare credits that he used to continue his Chinese studies
    • [4:39] – David then had the opportunity to study for six weeks at the Shanghai International Studies University
      • [4:56] – One teacher spoke only Chinese with students, which was daunting at first
      • [5:21] – After a week, this immersion of speaking only Chinese in class began leading to significant progress for David
  • [6:14] – David’s friend Kyle told their Chinese teacher that David was a good performer, which led to him competing at the Chinese Bridge Competition
  • [7:54] – David learned that if you don’t keep using the language you’ll lose it, so he got involved in different Chinese-related groups and activities and made a lot of Chinese friends
  • [8:39] – Why did David learn Chinese?
    • [8:47] – David’s interest in Chinese began with the character system
    • [9:13] – Chinese grammar is actually really simple and similar to English, which is one reason that David loves teaching it
    • [9:44] – David struggled with tones throughout his studies
      • [9:55] – David shares how he had to practice the second tone to say 小苹果 (little apple) for the Bridge Competition
    • [10:56] – David thinks there is a fun musical quality to Chinese
  • [12:00] – What’s is David’s biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
    • [12:11] – David was most motivated by his fascination with Chinese culture
      • [12:25] – Culture and language go hand-in-hand, so changes in the language reflect changes in culture over the years
    • [13:18] – David shares the story of his first trip to China; After completing one year of Chinese studies, David’s parents took him on a 2-week holiday to China which was a great experience and inspired him to continue learning Chinese
  • [15:28] – How did David learn Chinese?
    • [15:53] – For listening, being exposed to the target language as much as possible
      • [16:09] – As a Chinese teacher, David requires his students to use Chinese to say basic things like “hello, teacher” and “I want to go to the toilet”
      • [16:54] – David shares a couple of interesting new methods for teaching languages
      • [17:38] – You can also use Audio CDs from textbooks when you first begin listening
      • [18:31] – David talks about a method of slowing down Chinese media with VLC Media Player until your able to understand by listening at full speed
    • [19:11] – David explains how students typically study for Chinese oral exams
    • [20:07] – David’s secret for success speaking Chinese: Learn filler words
    • [21:24] – Be open to every opportunity to speak the language and you’ll improve quickly
    • [22:13] – For reading, David recommends finding some books that you enjoy in English and reading the Chinese versions of them
    • [23:58] – For writing, David tries to help students find little pictures to use for memory cues in the characters
    • [26:13] – Finding pictures and making sense of characters for yourself is the best way to learn reading and writing
    • [26:51] – David shares the story of preparing for his year 12 exam and then being forced to improvise writing about a topic he wasn’t prepared for by steering the topic towards a subject he was more comfortable writing about
  • [29:16] – What has been David’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [29:25] – Learning Chinese in a school setting outside of China doesn’t leave much opportunity to have daily conversations, which is very important for gaining Chinese fluency
    • [30:12] – David recommends finding language partners, especially if they have similar interests
      • [31:31] – At first, David was reluctant to speak Chinese at the Bridge competition; Since some contestants didn’t speak English, they were forced to use Mandarin and that led to quick improvements
      • [31:58] – It took David the good part of his first semester in Nanjing to get comfortable and confident speaking Chinese
        • [33:28] – Shifting the mindset to a willingness to take risks and make mistakes is what made the difference
    • [34:18] – Have fun with the language and don’t worry about people judging you and you can quickly become confident speaking Chinese which will then lead to faster improvement
  • [35:42] – How did David deal with accents and dialects?
    • [35:52] – David’s first teacher in Shanghai had a quick accent that was difficult to understand
    • [36:22] – David also struggled with buying things in Nanjing because of the way they pronounced numbers in that dialect
    • [37:43] – David shares another example taking yoga classes where the instructor had an interesting dialect
  • [38:57] – If David were to start over with learning Chinese from scratch, how would he do it?
    • [39:14] – David shares some interesting methods that he’s learning about as a teacher including speaking only Chinese and using gestures, as well as learning Chinese through fun songs
    • [41:10] – Find a method that works for you based on your learning style
    • [42:54] – David goes into greater depth on the approach for speaking and using gestures and how that can help with pronouncing tones; This is called the accelerated integrated methodology
  • [46:47] – Embarrassing moment: Chinese Bridge Competition
    • [47:46] – David drew the number 1 for the Oceana subgroup at the Bridge competition, which went after the other continents when the audience was getting tired. David had an energetic entrance to get the audience’s attention, but one of the cameras wasn’t filming
    • [49:57] – When David started again, he was nervous and out of breath which really impacted his speech
  • [51:09] – Most rewarding moment: President of the Australia China Youth Association
    • [51:19] – Having a dream in Chinese was one rewarding moment
    • [51:37] – David became President of the Australia China Youth Association during his second semester in Nanjing and organized all kinds of events to engage youth with Chinese language. He negotiated with venue managers to host events by speaking Chinese which was a great accomplishment
  • [53:47] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [53:56] – As a double major in Chinese and theatre, David initially didn’t know how to combine the two interests
    • [54:58] – Eventually David saw that he could become a teacher and have a positive impact on people by performing in Chinese and making language learning fun
  • [58:06] – A difference between the Chinese culture and David’s own culture
    • [58:18] – While in Beijing with friends, David saw a gathering of Chinese people from many different families engaging in all kinds of art and cultural activities at a park, coming together as a community
    • [59:22] – In Australia, there isn’t the same sense of community
  • [61:12] – David’s favourite cities in China: Hangzhou
    • [61:14] – Hangzhou has a lot of beautiful scenery including the famous West Lake where David made many great memories

David’s Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [69:38] – 麻烦troublesome, bothersome, annoying, tedious
    • 麻(má) – coarse or rough
    • 烦(fan) – to be irritated or annoyed
  • [70:53] – It’s a great word for getting out your frustrations and there isn’t an equivalently useful word in English for this scenario

David’s Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [71:57]Speak Chinese to people whenever you get the chance! Chinese people will almost always be happy to speak with you
  • [74:49] – Many Chinese people have never had the opportunity to speak Chinese with a foreigner
  • [75:00] – David shares some great encouragement for everybody who takes on the challenge of learning Chinese

Connect with David

Resources Mentioned:

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