Learning Chinese Whilst Working Full Time // A Q&A Session

Can You Learn Chinese Whilst Working?

Something many people ask us at LTL is how can I learn Chinese whilst working?

It’s certainly not easy but absolutely possible with a bit of drive, determination and a solid plan of attack.

Today we speak to someone who is doing just that.

Our student in Singapore, John, agreed to sit down and do a quick-fire Q&A session with us to try and re-assure you that it can be done!

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | What is your work situation?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | What was your Mandarin level before starting?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | How often do you study a week?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | How do you revise and review?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | How happy are you with your progress?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | How do you practice outside of class?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | What is your teacher like?

Learn Chinese Whilst Working | What are your future goals?

What Is Your Work Situation?

John in Singapore

I am originally from the US but have been living outside US for last 4 years.

I started learning Mandarin in London in January 2020, and just moved to Singapore in Sept 2021. 

I work at an international software company which has presented me with great opportunities, but also keeps me quite busy working over 40+ hours a week.

That said I do have some flexibility to end early on Fridays.

I use that flexibility to create a weekend routine where I can focus on my Mandarin studies. 

What Was Your Mandarin Level?

I had been studying for about 18 months and was between HSK level 3 and 4 in terms of speaking and vocabulary. My reading level was around the HSK 2 level.

Over the 4 months I have been at LTL I have been focused on speaking and listening and improving my thinking and reflexes to communicate more naturally.

There has been a material progress in those areas.

I have not tested myself on the HSK content but we are now working on HSK vocab and structures.

Chinese Classes in Singapore // Michael's Experience Thumbnail

Chinese Classes in Singapore // Michael’s Experience

Discover what it’s like to take Chinese classes in Singapore as Michael shares his story. He is currently studying with LTL and having a blast!

When Do You Study In The Week?

I study Friday afternoon Saturday and Sunday Morning.

In total that comes to 3 hours each day which makes 9 hours per week of individual classes in total.

How Are Your Revising?

The majority of my structured learning is in the class.

I was transparent that with my work schedule I wouldn’t have a lot of time for homework, so we do revision inside of the class. 

If I had more time to do homework my rate of progress could increase.

Having said that, it works for me and my teacher and I do make progress each week. 

How Do You Practice Outside Of Class?

Taking advantage of the Chinese speaking community here in Singapore, I go to Chinese Language yoga and Pilates classes 1~2x a week.

Beyond that, I find that people in all walks of life speak Chinese here in Singapore, so I have small chats with my coworkers and gym workers each week.

Potato Head Singapore Chinatown

I also live in the China Town area so there are no shortage of shops and cafes for me to look at.

This keeps my mind and eyes consuming the culture and characters. 

Coming back to the working topic, I am lucky to be in a business that is expanding into China, and as such I get to listen to Chinese language working meetings from time to time.

With permission I recorded some of those and brought them to class. With Teacher Timothy we break down what is being said and role-play. 

Another fun tip which I discovered from LTL was turning my phone to Mandarin.

The Essential Guide to Singapore Chinatown Thumbnail

The Essential Guide to Singapore Chinatown

Singapore Chinatown. A Simple Guide on Things to Do, Food Places and Restaurants and a Brief History Lesson on Singapore’s Chinatown and Chinese Population

How Happy Are You With Your Progress?

I am thrilled with the progress I am making.

I will be honest and say that some weeks I am a bit more drained from my work than others, so my in class performance that week can be slower than the previous week.

On the whole when doing about 10 hours a week under the watch of Teacher Timothy my thinking, listening and speaking continue to improve week by week. 

What’s Your Teacher Like?

My teacher Timothy is great.

He is a master of Mandarin and someone who appears to know something about nearly every topic I want to discuss.

Being able to discuss my professional work, hobbies and interests alongside the formal course work, vocabulary and grammar we go through makes the classes and learning experience much more engaging.

His patience and precision are exceptional.

Sometimes after a long week I found myself being a bit slow and can get a little frustrated with myself.

Timothy always knows how to adjust and ensure we maximize the class time. 

I always walk out of class feeling supported and looking forward to the next one.

What Are Your Future Plans & Goals?

My target is to develop a professional fluency (speak, listen, read and write) so I can do business in China.

In order to reach that goal I will keep doing the routine I mention above and hope to make trips to LTL’s Taiwan and China branches as soon as that becomes possible.

I know that the immersion will help a lot, but I can say that Singapore, my study routine and the support I get from the folks at LTL is allowing me to get closer to my goal each week. 

BONUS | We also have insights from other LTL students in Singapore if you wish to read more. Check out Michael and Amit’s accounts of their time in Singapore also.

Learning Chinese // FAQ’s

If I study with LTL, how many teachers will I have?

This will depend on your ability and also the teachers availability.

You could have a single teacher, or you might have three.

Regardless, we’ll make sure it fits your program perfectly.

What topics can I study with LTL?

Anything you want! It’s that simple.

This is the beauty of our individual courses.

With group classes in Singapore, you will follow the schedule of the class, which, although is still great, doesn’t give you the chance to personalise the class.

Individually you have complete freedom.

Can I study with LTL in Singapore and also Mainland China afterwards?

Absolutely, we’d love to host you over as many cities as you wish!

In total we offer Chinese classes across 8 cities now so you have plenty of options.

We have a calculator where you can check out the cities, and the costs involved.

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  1. Teacher

    Engaging in language practice with a native speaker significantly enhances the learning process.

    1. Max Hobbs

      Agreed 🙂