With the rapid development of Chinese economy and the elevation of Chinese international status, Chinese language is becoming more and more important and popular all over the world. And the amazing charm of Chinese language has attracted a great number of foreigners to learn Chinese urgently. As a result, speaking Chinese has become a hot topic again recently. And many foreigners are increasingly aware of the importance of learning Chinese.
Wei Juntao, a Singapore doctor, is fond of learning English and would like to share his learning experience with us.
Wei Juntao said that speaking Chinese is an indispensable factor of being a good doctor in Singapore. In Singapore, most of local Chinese prefer to speak Chinese, especially those senior citizens or those Singaporeans who have ever received Chinese education. “Of course,” Wei also added, “Chinese language may be fairly new to those younger Singaporeans.” To be a doctor, one must be able to communicate with patients in a proper and effective way. And for those Singapore doctors, they should speak Chinese fluently because most of their patients prefer to speak Chinese. If the doctor couldn’t speak Chinese, he needs an interpreter to translate for him. But there is a problem in the process of interpreting. Due to some linguistic differences and other reasons, some important information may be ignored during this process. And such case can be harmful to the treatment. Besides, some patients even want to have a talk with doctors privately because they want to get a full understand about their conditions directly from doctors. And it is true that a direct talk between doctors and patients is more effective. Wei also added that “According to my observation, except from those local Chinese, a lot of patients who come from outside cities, such as Malaysian Chinese and Chinese Indonesians, also would rather to speak Chinese.” But the fact is that plenty of students at high school level and medical students are not aware of the importance of Chinese yet.
Wei told us about his personal experiences: I was born in Hong Kong and I speak Cantonese since I was a kid. And since I went to school, the teachers always taught us in Cantonese. So many Hong Kong people, including me, thought that Cantonese is meant to be Chinese language. I came to Singapore for junior college when I was seventeen years old. From that time on, I began to learn to speak Mandarin. Reading Chinese newspapers or writing in Chinese language seemed Ok to me. When it comes to listening and speaking, I was almost on the brink of desperation. Each time when my Chinese teacher asked me to read the books in Chinese, the whole class would burst into laughter. What’s worse, I usually got a low mark in my oral Chinese tests when I was in the first and second grade of junior college. But when I entered Medical Science Academy, I came to realize the significance of learning Chinese and made up my mind to learn to speak Chinese fluently.
As to me, I have three ways to learn Chinese.
Firstly, I watch the Chinese news program on TV and listen to the Chinese news broadcast everyday. The newscasters can speak fluently and standard Mandarin so that I can follow their pronunciation. Besides, the local Chinese programs enjoy a high standard which are really worth learning from.
Secondly, my wife was born in Singapore and she can speak Chinese very well. So I asked her to be my personal tutor and I can communicate with her frequently to improve my Chinese.
Thirdly, I keep on practicing everyday and my patients are my study partners. Even though I can’t speak Chinese very good but I won’t afraid of talking with my patients in Mandarin and that enables me to make great progress.
Till now, I’m still not able to speak Mandarin in a fluent way and I always make mistakes. For instance, I may pronounce “眼睛”（“Yan Jing ” with “Jing” reading level tone in Chinese, “Eyes”in English）as “眼镜”（ “Yan Jing” with “Jing” reading falling tone in Chinese,“Glasses” in English）, or pronounce “肚子”（“Du Zi”in Chinese, “Tummy” in English）as “桃子”（ “Tao Zi” in Chinese , “Peach” in English） or pronounce “排斥”（“Pai Chi” with “Pai” reading rising tone and “Chi” reading falling tone in Chinese, “Exclusion” in English） as “白痴”（“Bai Chi”with “Bai” reading rising tone and “Chi” reading level tone in Chinese, “Idiot” in English）. Anyway, I feel lucky that my patients never grumble about my poor Chinese and they are usually willing to teach me and correct my pronunciation. Later, I feel cheerful that most of the patients who come from mainland china or Taiwan Island can understand what I am talking about. Thus, as I see it, it doesn’t matter that you can’t speak standard Chinese. And as long as you use the correct words and conform to usage as well as to the rules of grammar, it will be OK though you speak with a local accent because even those Chinese coming from Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca also speak with their own local accents.
In my personal opinion, speaking Chinese is just like doing exercise. One needs to continuously take exercise so that he can make great progress. Besides, regarding a doctor in Singapore, whether his medical skill is good or not is definitely vital but whether he can speak Chinese is equally important.
All in all, from the experience of Wei Juntao, we can learn that it is not so difficult to learn Chinese well if you keep on practice all the time. And if you don’t have enough time to study Chinese in class, you can learn Chinese online on www.learnchinese1on1.com and arrange you hours however you like. I’m sure you will be able to speak Chinese fluently.