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Learning Mandarin Chinese

Kamile Bagdanaviciute, Marketing Officer in the School of Management, shares her experience of learning Mandarin Chinese with the Skills Centre.

Kamile Bagdanaviciute looking across the rice terraces near the Yangtze River, China.
Kamile looking across the rice terraces near the Yangtze River, China.

Why I chose to study Chinese

Six years ago, I did a month’s internship in Shenzhen, China, and from that moment I was fascinated by its history, culture, and language. I think the great experience and warm memories I developed during my time there led me to eventually study Chinese for real in autumn 2019.

Languages, even my own mother tongue, Lithuanian, aren’t my closest friends as I’m dyslexic and have always struggled in this area. However, I wanted to prove to myself that I can learn a new language if I put my mind to it; and, if you want a to learn a language, why not challenge yourself with one that some claim to be the most difficult!

Learning a language with dyslexia

Despite the difficulty, I quickly found out that I loved everything about the Mandarin Chinese language. I saw pinyin, hanzi, and tones as being part of a puzzle that figure out in order to make sense of the word meaning.

Also, I love that the sentence structure is simple, and you only need few words to express a meaning – fewer words work better for me!

I also enjoyed my lessons with the Skills Centre at the University of Bath, where students, staff, and the general public can register and learn a new language through engaging lessons and taking part in discussions which pushes you out of your comfort zone and speeds up your learning.

Tips for learning a language

My tip for anyone trying to learn a new language is to find a language that you truly find interesting. In the past, I tried learning French and Spanish but I quickly lost interest.

Chinese Mandarin is different for me, and I love the fact that it's so different from western languages.

Also, approach learning a new language as a marathon rather than a sprint – learning bit by bit, word by word – and before you know it you can start grasping sentence meanings, then having whole conversations, which is an amazing feeling.

My goal is to continue learning Mandarin Chinese and to visit China again where understanding this beautiful language will allow me to explore more freely and develop an even greater appreciation for the country.

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If you have any questions about our language courses, please contact us.