English Conversation Groups for Speakers of Mandarin Chinese

Groups listed here are for adults aged 18 and older.

English Conversation Group for Speakers of Mandarin Chinese – Saturdays

When? 4 sessions, September 18, September 25, << cancelled October 2, October 9, 2021, 5:00 – 5:45 AM U.S. Eastern Time / 5:00 – 5:45 PM Beijing Time.

Where? Online via Zoom. Here is the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5408086334

For whom? Adult speakers of Mandarin Chinese who wish to practice English speaking and listening skills.

Why? 1) To gain further fluency in speaking English, i.e. speaking smoothly with few pauses, and 2) to practice active listening skills in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

How much? This is a free group. There is no charge to attend this group.

大家好! Dà jiā hǎo! Hello everyone! If you are an adult speaker of Mandarin Chinese, have achieved an A2 Level or above, and would like to practice your English speaking and listening skills, you are invited to attend this facilitated English Conversation Group for speakers of Mandarin Chinese.

The first 30 minutes of our English conversation will be a question and answer session facilitated by Anne Giles.* For the final 15 minutes, we will speak in both English and Mandarin Chinese, co-facilitated by Anne Giles and Mandarin Chinese instructor Hou Laoshi**. Then we’ll say 再见! Zài jiàn! Farewell!

Speaking

Questions are carefully created to 1) be open-ended, 2) use the most frequently used words in English texts, and 3) foster connection. Given that researchers have found second language learners may need from 3 to 17 exposures to learn a new word, we may experiment with using some of the same questions for each session. Here is a list of sample questions. Participants are invited to compose answers to questions in characters, pinyin, and English prior to the meeting and to paste them into the chat.

Questions for Saturday, September 18

Note: I compose the questions and ask teachers for assistance. All errors are mine.

1) 如果你只可以用水笔书法写一个汉字, 你选择什么字? 为什么?
Rúguǒ nǐ zhǐ kěyǐ yòng shuǐ bǐ shūfǎ xiě yīgè hànzì, nǐ xuǎnzé shénme zì? Wèishéme?
If you could write only one Chinese character using water calligraphy, what character would you choose? Why?

(For context, here’s a photo of water calligraphy and here’s an explanation.)

2) 你总是早到,总是晚到,还是总是准时到?为什么?
Nǐ zǒng shì zǎo dào, zǒng shì wǎn dào, háishì zǒng shì zhǔnshí dào? Wèishéme?
Are you always early, always late, or always on time? Why?

We usually have time to ask and answer two questions in our conversation groups. If we have time for a third question, this is the one we ask:

3) 你最近做了什么让你觉得很重要的事情?
Nǐ zuìjìn zuòle shénme ràng nǐ juédé hěn zhòngyào de shìqíng?
What did you do recently that was important to you?

Listening

In addition, the purpose of these groups is to foster active listening, i.e. listening to understand and engage. Since trying to be accurate can interfere with fluency and listening, rather than trying “to get it right,” these groups champion just getting something out at all!

However, unlike a chat at a coffee shop where people often speak spontaneously in short bursts, occasionally interrupting or talking over each other, these conversations are facilitated and have a structure so group members may think quietly a moment in Mandarin Chinese, then speak in English. In addition, we ask and answer questions that may foster meaningful conversations. During these challenging times, even in our small group, even with our small vocabularies, perhaps we can foster empathy, understanding, and connection.

It takes bravery and vulnerability to speak a new language! These ground rules will help us all learn and practice together in a safe, effective, pleasant way:

Ground rules

1) Please speak only English. (If you have questions, please put them in the chat.)
Qǐng zhǐ shuō yīngyǔ.
请只说英语.

2) Please listen silently and actively while others are speaking.
Dāng biérén fà yán shí, qǐng rènzhēn qīngtīng.
当别人发言时,请认真倾听.

3) Please offer no advice, suggestions, instructions, or corrections to fellow group members.
Qǐng bùyào gěi tārén jiànyì, zhǐshì, yǔ gǎizhèng.
请不要给他人建议,指示,与改正.

Participants are asked to have their cameras and microphones on during the meeting. To protect the confidentiality, privacy, and safety of all, please take no screenshots and make no recordings of any kind during the session.

Format

  1. Questions will be posted in the comments section of the event’s description on Meetup at least 24 hours before the meeting begins. Members are invited to prepare answers beforehand to paste into the chat to foster other group members’ learning and understanding.
  2. The facilitator will welcome group members and paste the ground rules into the chat.
  3. The facilitator will paste the text of the first question into the chat and ask it in English.
  4. She will call on each group member in turn, repeat the question, and ask them to answer it. If the person would rather not answer, they may pass.
  5. After the group member has answered the question, the facilitator will repeat the group member’s answer and ask related follow-up questions.
  6. The facilitator will then ask the next person the first question. After everyone has answered the first question, the facilitator will ask the second question and members will take turns answering.
  7. The facilitator will assist with pronunciation and meaning. Otherwise, the focus of the meeting is on conversation rather than instruction.

*Anne Giles, M.A., M.S., L.P.C., is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S.A., and a student of Mandarin Chinese. She has passed the HSK 1 and HSK 2 exams. She holds master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction and mental health counseling, and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. She attended the virtual National Chinese Language Conference in 2021. She has taught English at the middle school, high school, and college levels.

侯慧颖 Hóu Huì Yǐng is a graduate of Inner Mongolia University for Nationalities, majoring in Chinese Language and Literature, and a graduate of Beijing Language and Culture University, with a major in English. She has taught in-person and online language courses for students around the globe, both individually and in group classes, since 2009. She designs curricula for teachers of Mandarin Chinese and offers teacher training workshops. Her specialties include spoken Chinese, business Chinese, medical Chinese, HSK preparation, and Chinese characters.

This page is linked to from our main Groups page.

Questions? Please contact Anne Giles.

Anne Giles, M.A., M.S., L.P.C., the founder of Handshake Media, Incorporated, is a student of Mandarin Chinese and also a mental health counselor, able to provide counseling services only to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S.A. This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical and professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.