Real-life Language Learning at MMLA

April 8, 2014

Before I went to MMLA, I had only used Mandarin with my tutor during classes. Every once in a while I met a person who spoke Mandarin and had a short conversation with them, but I rarely had the opportunity to use a wide range of vocabulary in real-life settings. The outside-of-class activities at MMLA were extremely valuable to me and other students because they provided that opportunity to use the language like you would in real life.During my first week at MMLA, I had a Chinese cultural dance class every day, where I learned about Chinese culture in addition to acquiring and using new vocabulary. Our teacher would teach us each action while describing what she was doing in Chinese, so that we quickly learned the Chinese words for “turn around”, “open fan”, and other actions.

In cooking class I learned how to name common ingredients and cooking processes like “soy sauce”, “rice” and “boil”. It was easy to remember these words because they were associated with experiences and images, as opposed to only being words on a blackboard.

If you’ll be attending MMLA this summer, make sure to attend a variety of outside-of-class activities- it will be more fun and you’ll improve your language skills without even realizing it.” 

Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore.