Mandarin Chinese Interest Survey

1. How motivated are you to learn Mandarin Chinese?
5 – Very motivated
4 – Somewhat motivated
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unmotivated
1 – Not motivated

2. The “forgetting curve” – the human brain’s tendency to forget what it doesn’t use actively – is the primary reason busy adults can have difficulty acquiring a second language. Daily use of the language, even if brief, is the antidote.

How many of the 7 days per week can you study Mandarin Chinese?

3. Each week has 168 hours. How many hours per week can you allocate to studying Mandarin Chinese?

4. What is your one-year budget for purchasing Mandarin Chinese study materials?

5. What is your education level?

6. How strong is your pattern recognition ability? How strong is your ability to see something new and connect it with previously-learned information?
5 – Very strong
4 – Somewhat strong
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat weak
1 – Very weak

7. How aware are you of what you say, how you say it, and language in general?
5 – Very aware
4 – Somewhat aware
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unaware
1 – Very unaware

8. When words are homophones, i.e. they sound alike, like “red” and “read,” how able are you to figure out which word is being used from the context?
5 – Very able
4 – Somewhat able
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unable
1 – Very unable

9. Consider how these two sentences are pronounced in English:

“Really.”
“Really?”

How able are you to hear the difference between someone making a statement and someone asking a question?
5 – Very able
4 – Somewhat able
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unable
1 – Very unable

10. How empathetic are you? How strong are your perspective-taking skills? How able are you to sense and understand the feelings and thoughts of others, regardless of your own inner state, perspective, and beliefs?
5 – Very empathetic
4 – Somewhat empathetic
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unempathetic
1 – Very unempathetic

11. Imagine waking up tomorrow morning and being fluent in Mandarin Chinese. In the afternoon, you will have a conversation with a person related to your primary motivation to study Mandarin Chinese – perhaps a potential employer, collaborator, or romantic partner. In this scenario, what English sentence would you most want to be able to translate and utter in perfect Mandarin Chinese to begin the interaction?

12. In the previous question, you were asked to imagine and write a dialogue in a novel situation. How able did you feel to generate sentences for a hypothetical interaction?
5 – Very able
4 – Somewhat able
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unable
1 – Very unable

13. How motivating do you find studying in order to pass an exam?
5 – Very motivating
4 – Somewhat motivating
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unmotivating
1 – Not motivating

14. With regard to study sessions, how self-directed are you? How able are you to start a planned study session, stay engaged for the time allotted, and continue until the time or task is completed?
5 – Very able
4 – Somewhat able
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unable
1 – Very unable

15. How difficult did you find answering these questions?
5 – Very difficult
4 – Somewhat difficult
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat easy
1 – Very easy

16. Given your answers to the questions above, how likely do you think you would be able to study Mandarin Chinese one hour per day for one year?
5 – Very likely
4 – Somewhat likely
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unlikely
1 – Very unlikely

17. In addition to gauging the level of interest in learning Mandarin Chinese, these survey questions were created to serve as an “advance organizer,” an orientation to the study of Mandarin Chinese using a research-informed approach. Further, the questions were written to help a person begin to create accurately what linguists term an “interlanguage,” an inner system for making meaning in a language.

Given that you’ve received an “advance organizer” in Mandarin Chinese, perhaps begun to develop an “interlanguage” in Mandarin Chinese, and gauged your interest, how likely do you think you are to pursue the study of Mandarin Chinese?
5 – Very likely
4 – Somewhat likely
3 – Undecided
2 – Somewhat unlikely
1 – Very unlikely

Thank you for taking this survey!

. . . . .

About the survey

According to this 2017 research from Australia, dropout rates in primary and secondary school Mandarin Chinese courses can be as high as 95%.

Using case study data, I have seen similar dropout rates in adult Mandarin Chinese courses.

Why such high dropout rates?

My hypothesis is that currently available Mandarin Chinese teaching and learning methods and materials do not sufficiently meet the needs of contemporary adult learners.

After extensive research literature reviews, consultations with researchers and experts in Mandarin Chinese, and interviews with adults who began and abandoned the study of Mandarin Chinese, a research-informed protocol is being derived for ambitious, busy adults to optimally learn Mandarin Chinese, i.e. learn as quickly and efficiently as possible, in as little time as possible, with the least amount of effort and expense.

The term “ambitious” is used because the internationally-recognized, standard measure of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese is passing scores on a set of exams administered by the Chinese government, the Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì 汉语水平考试 (HSK). Abbreviated “HSK,” passing the HSK Level 3 exam is considered the minimum level of proficiency for many employment and educational opportunities in the U.S., in China, and in other countries. (A recent Indeed.com job search using the term “Mandarin Chinese” produced 11,517 results in the U.S.) Passing the HSK Level 3 exam requires the ability to hear Mandarin Chinese and understand it, and to read and write it. Speaking is evaluated on higher levels of the HSK exam but not Level 3.

Since the proposed protocol is a novel approach, no outcome data yet exists. I estimate that an adult who studies 2-3 hours per day using research-informed methods would be able to pass the HSK 3 exam in one year. It’s possible that fewer hours with highly focused study may also produce desired results in a shorter amount of time.

A Blacksburg-based workshop for adults interested in learning Mandarin Chinese is being proposed. Details are forthcoming.

Disclosures

If you would like Anne Giles to see your answers to the survey, please copy and paste the text into an email, type your answers below each question, and send the email to her. Contact info is here.

With questions, comments, and feedback, please contact Anne Giles.

“[Mandarin Chinese is] one of the most geopolitically important languages in the twenty-first century.”
– Jing Tsu, Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution that Made China Modern, 2022

“The next 100 years of human history will likely be defined by three things: the environment, artificial intelligence (or something like it), and China – and China plays heavily in the first two.”
– Jeremy Goldkorn, SupChina, 2/4/22

Mandarin Chinese workshop-related links

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.