PETALING JAYA: When Shiny Janice was seven, she was enrolled in a Chinese school in Kuantan, where she was compelled to learn Mandarin.
It was difficult at first, not being able to understand the language, the course, or other people’s conversations.
Fortunately, a teacher in Standard Three made all the difference. “She went the extra mile to teach me. She would patiently correct me when I made mistakes and told me how to improve,” she told FMT in conjunction with Teachers’ Day today.
Her teacher would also often encourage her with positive feedback. “I feel like, because of such encouragement, I excelled better and I learned the language better.”
A couple of decades later, Shiny’s hard work has paid off in more ways than one.
Being fluent in Mandarin, which turned out to be an excellent ice-breaker, she soon found herself being a Mandarin tutor to working adults who wanted to learn the language.
The several classes she conducted ignited her entrepreneurial spirit.
“So that’s when I realised why not teach Mandarin as a business? I decided to start my own company, Shiny Mandarin Learning Hub, to start teaching Mandarin.”
Teaching Mandarin has its own challenges, she said, with the biggest revolving around pronunciation.
Mandarin has four main intonation patterns and her students often struggle with distinguishing between the second and third intonations.
To overcome this, she created a special technique by providing English words as an example to illustrate the intonation patterns, making it easier for students to memorise.
As a teacher, she finds greatest joy when her students, most of whom are Tamil-speakers, can hold a conversation in Mandarin.
And it’s even better when they perform well at their job because they can speak the language.
“For example, I had one student who spoke Mandarin to his clients, and they were very surprised and delighted. He managed to close the deal. So I’m very happy to hear about that.”