Has anyone else recently attempted to learn Chinese? What has worked or not worked for you? What words and phrases might be important for landscape architects to learn? I just bought the Berlitz software for Chinese and Japanese. It seems like a pretty comprehensive program. Anyone else tried it?
I think these would be useful:
I'm using Rosetta Stone right now and it's not bad but the only way you'll learn a language is if you're immersed in it. I'm trying to learn Mandarin but being in Hong Kong, the locals prefer to speak English to me rather than Mandarin so I never really get to use it. I would suggest you get friends who are fluent if you are truly interested in learning the language. That's what's been most beneficial to me.
I think we have communicated here enough for you to know that I am in China. Two things have changed in the last couple of years since my first and now second tour of duty. The first is that most employment posting for landscape architects specify either that you have to speak Mandarin or that it is highly desired. Despite my appealing accomplishment and credentials, I have been passed over for that very reason. Secondly, and even more importantly, most landscape architecture and planning firms here now require Asia project experience, you have probably seen that also. That is not to say you can't find a job here, they are still far more plentiful than what you will find in the States right now. All the BRIC
(Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are now experiencing contracting economies. The Global Recession has now caught up with the last of the high performers. I get only one station in English and that is CCTV, the closest thing to it in the States is CNN. It is remarkably fair and objective, to a point. Anyway, they cover the national economy in China almost to the point of obsession. I can tell you the current trends are not promising. I have seen a marked decline in the number of job postings for all the design professions.
If you want to get a real feel for what the actual employment trends are here, I suggest you you look at this website.
Contact Damian Holmes directly. I think he has his finger on the pulse here. I wrote him way back on the same question of employment trends as to what firms he would recommend and where he saw things going, and he did write me back with some candid insight, Worth a try.
As far as the necessity for Mandarin in the design workplace in China, it certainly is important to be able to have basic communication skills. The firm I work for now actually originally advertised for a Design Director level position that required you speak Mandarin. Those Western individuals do exist, but they are in extremely short supply. They offered me the job despite not being able to speak Mandarin. Sometimes I am in meetings where the only thing spoken is Mandarin. I always have someone with me who interprets the most important conversation points of that meeting, so I can do well enough to be engaged and know what I am supposed to do next. Nevertheless, the communication dilemma is exactly that.
What has worked best for me is working with a Mandarin teacher here on a weekly basis who teaches me basic Mandarin that is useful enough for business level communication. This is an extremely hard language to learn. Trust me on that one. You will tie your tongue up in knots with some of the pronuciations. It does not come easy.
I hope this helps. Write me back with any other concerns or questions you may have and I will try to help you as best I can.
It's helpful to get your point of view on this. I can already see this will not be easy just based on the first few lessons on the Berlitz program. As you can probably tell from my answer to Bob, this is something I'm doing partly to improve my chances of getting a job (either at a large firm here that works internationally or at a firm in China if getting a job here proves impossible) and partly something I'm doing because I have too much time on my hands. I'm sure a teacher would help, but I don't think I'd have the money.
Roland: If it is any more help to you, I was able to find a torrent site and download the complete Rosetta Stone modules for both Spanish and Chinese. I can burn them to a CD and send it to you. Might take a couple of weeks to get to you. You can email me your mailing address here on Land8Lounge if you would like to get a copy.
Don't take this the wrong way, former Vandal Roland but my advice: you are spending too much time at things which won't further your L.A. career. Do you want to be a landscape architect or a Chinese/English interpreter for some American shoe company in Beijing? You're barely out of school and I'm guessing...need lots of landscape training. Concentrate and devote your time into getting employment stateside. Practice freehand sketching, master Photoshop and Autocad, then read books on the profession. FU China and Brazil. If anything, learn Spanish its more useful on project construction sites than Chinese. When you have a full-time job, have your license, then branch out with these self improvement projects. Place importance on what matters most and take things one step at a time. Just my personal view.
My apologies first, I thought the top posting here was yours, then I looked again and it was reigning master of rapier wit here, Dr. McDonald. I thought for certain it was you Bob. Here is what I first put down.
I read your posting and had to read it twice to make sure that it was the same MauiBob. This sposting of yours might, just might have been grounded in regret for the first. The first one is the MauiBob many of us have grown really tired of and borderline irritated by. That "Bob" is almost always a bellicose blabbermouth, who shoots from the hip, and mostly with blanks.
May the more sensible, balanced and slightly compassionate Bob be the side of your clearly split personality and be the one we see more of here. For now, follow the well-founded advice of Dr. Russell McDonald handed you out for free, double up on the meds and do not miss a scheduled dose.
The completely unwelcome, fully warrented and probably totally ignored recommendation still stands. Let's see which side of you responds back.
Thank you for the compliments landplanner.
Oh, it's MAC Donald, not Mc.
I just need something to do when I'm not applying for jobs (almost all of them stateside). I have so much time on my hands its ridiculous. I've done all the things you mentioned to the point that I can't stand it anymore. I'm also in the process of redoing my portfolio for the fourth time. So, don't worry, learning Chinese is one thing among many.
I agree with mauiBob. If you live in the States, Spanish will be much more important than Chinese. I'm studying Chinese just for the fun of it, but I'm making my kids learn Spanish.
Roland, as someone who has taken a few Chinese classes, I would try to master the phonetics, the 4 tones, and pinyin of Mandarin first before learning any words. If you can't afford any classes, pick up a book with an audio cd, or go on iTunes and download some pinyin apps. Some apps even have audio clips for you to get your sound right. In Mandarin, how you say a word is very important, say it in the wrong tone, you say a totally different word! Once you master pinyin, you can learn words very easily.