As part of the Beijinger’s Mandarin Month series ahead of our June 25 Mandarin Mixer, we present Hao Laoshi, a series of Q&As with Mandarin learning centers across town. Today we're talking with Joyce Ren, a spokesperson for Berlitz.

Koen Van Den Eynde couldn't speak a work of Mandarin when he arrived in China in 2013. Today, he is a sales manager at Bayer, a job that requires him to speak Chinese with colleagues and clients on a daily basis.

He can thank Berlitz for having so much success in such a short period of time. This worldwide language training center, whose Beijing outpost is located at Ritan Lu's Sunjoy Building, is known for equipping students with the business vocabulary they need to succeed.

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Joyce Ren, the center's spokesperson, says Eynde took lessons at Berlitz twice weekly over the past three years to get where he is today. Now that he can use Chinese in his professional life, he told her that it not only helps him communicate, but also gives him an opportunity to understand Chinese people’s thinking and business culture – which has contributed directly to his department's success.

Below, Ren tells us more about why Berlitz is the ideal language center for Beijing's working stiffs.

What makes Berlitz's classes unique?
With its years of experience across a global workforce, Berlitz has long led the language service market. When it was introduced in 1878, the Berlitz method changed the way language was taught.

Berlitz was also the first to offer multiple platform delivery of its programs, with options to learn at work, at home or on the road. We have helped millions of men and women speak new languages, and have helped countless business professionals cross cultural boundaries to communicate more effectively with others.

Tell us a few funny anecdotes of foreigners studying Chinese at Berlitz.
We had a Japanese student who could speak Chinese very well, but some pronunciations confused him. One day he told the class about taking a taxi to the Temple of Heaven. He told the driver "我要去天堂," (“Wǒ yào qù tiāntáng,” "I want to go to Heaven") which shocked the driver. He should have said: "我要去天坛" ("Wǒ yào qù Tiāntán," "I want to go to The Temple of Heaven").

We also had a German student who could not get over the fact that the same verb was used for the phrase "drive a car" (开车 kāi chē) and "pilot a plane” (开飞机 kāi fēijī). He asked our instructors: "Why do Chinese people use '开,' ('kāi') for both situations? Driving a car and piloting a plane are totally different!"

Tell us more about how you tailor your programs for busy professionals.  
Before the beginning of their lessons, our Mandarin instruction manager will give our students an interview and assessment to understand their needs, personality and Mandarin level. According to this information, we choose materials and topics, and try our best to assign suitable teachers to match our students.

Tell us more about your teaching methods.
When you choose Berlitz, you can expect engaging, up-to-date course materials delivered in a format that is most convenient for you: you can opt for face-to-face or live online instruction, multimedia self-study, blended options, study abroad programs, and more. Our online programs incorporate the latest technology for the highest-quality experience. The strength of our global organization and our quality assurance processes ensure consistent high quality.

Tell us more about your teaching materials.
Our materials are designed by the Berlitz global team. They match up with the Berlitz method: helping students establish target language thinking, and avoid disturbances from the mother tongue. This helps students learn fast in order to express themselves smoothly. Depending on our client’s needs and situations, our instructors can customize lessons for different students.

What are some of the activities that Berlitz offers to make Mandarin learning more enjoyable? 
In our total immersion course, students not only take Mandarin lessons but also go for lunch, go to parks, visit shopping malls and take part in other activities. This helps put our students in real situations where they can use their Chinese. If they have any questions, our instructors are by their side to help them immediately.

Our instructors also offer courses on Chinese culture and traditions, such as Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese painting, Chinese tea ceremonies, and so on. We ensure foreign students have fun!

Berlitz is one of the many schools participating in our June 25 Mandarin Mixer at Home Plate BBQ Come meet some Berlitz teachers and reps from a dozen other Mandarin schools at our free event. Pre-registration is required, click here to do so, so that you can take advantage of free booze and other goodies.

In the mean time, be sure to follow our month-long Mandarin Month coverage here.

Mandarin Month is brought to you by Pleco, Project Pengyou and Ninchanese.

Photos courtesy of Berlitz

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog