Hong Tu – China Business Services Interviews Scott Anderson of RNL Design

Hong Tu – China Business Services is happy to announce an international business interview series. Given our audience, there will be a particular but not exclusive focus on China. Each month, we will interview people who have done work in China, are learning Chinese or are experts in international business.

This week we interviewed Scott Anderson who works for RNL here in Denver. Scott has done work all over the world including China. He’s studied Chinese with us for about 8 months.

1. Tell us about RNL and your work there. What do you enjoy most about it?

RNL is a multi-disciplinary design firm, founded and headquartered in Denver, specializing in architecture, interior design, urban design and landscape architecture. My focus is in the urban design and landscape architecture studio, where I’ve worked on everything from a small corporate plaza in Golden CO, to a parks and open space network plan in Cairo, Egypt, to a new city for more than 500,000 people in Dalian, China.

What I enjoy about the work we’re doing here is the broad range of clients, scales and project scopes that we encounter every day. It makes for an interesting work environment, where the tasks from day to day are always changing, and where each day we’re dealing with a new set of challenges.

2. What role does China play in RNL’s plans? 

During the economic downturn, RNL was very fortunate as a firm to be well diversified internationally, especially in the Middle East/North Africa and China. Doing work in China has broadened our international experience, and has honed our productivity and efficiency, as the clients and projects there have been quite demanding. We have since opened a small office in Singapore in the hopes of doing more marketing and business development in China, which we hope to be fruitful for architecture and urban design work over the next decade or so.

3. What drove your decision to learn Chinese? Why not another language? 

Having traveled to China on a few occasions, I became very interested in learning more about the language and the culture, as well as the finer points of doing business in China. I have studied several other languages out of necessity (Spanish in high school), boredom (Portuguese and Japanese), and general curiosity (Arabic), but with extraordinary lack-of-use, as well as lack of personal relation to the material, those languages quickly fell out of my knowledge base.

Chinese, on the other hand, I feel is going to be relevant throughout our lifetime and probably beyond, both for business and for tourism. Simultaneously, the relationship development between China and the United States is going to be an economically and politically interesting one going forward. Understanding Chinese, even in a small amount, is going to be a valuable individual asset in the decades to come.

4. Your class moves at a fast pace and you keep up despite missing a few classes due to work travel. What study tips do you have for others?

Well, it hasn’t all been travel for work, but yes this summer has been fairly busy thus far, and missing a class or two each month has become an unfortunate habit. It’s a bit of a cop-out, but I have to say that the methods will vary for every person, and you should read Hong Tu’s article on study habits if you’re curious about how you might study more effectively. For me, to stay on track I have to dedicate a night each week to sit down and study for several hours, working on assigned homework and writing characters. I’ve also had to make flash cards for myself for vocabulary, and I review those whenever I have a bit of free time (waiting for the bus, for instance).

This won’t work for everyone, of course. Some will pick it up more quickly by listening or by reading, etc. In general though, my tip would be to stay interested and take joy in learning new things, and you’ll find the time and the methods to learn the language.

5. How can people find you if they have more questions?

They can feel free to send me a message via Linkedin and I’ll get back to them as soon as possible. I’d be happy to answer any questions or have a discussion about the language, classes with Hong Tu, or the work that we’re doing here at RNL.

How to Study Chinese

How to Study Chinese (or anything). How you study matters. If you are learning Chinese or another language, plan on spending a lot of time practicing. Why not studying as efficiently as possible? If you are taking on learning Mandarin, you probably already have some good study skills. A few improvements in how you study may make your journey a little faster.

The Science of Study

A graphic called The Science of Study explains how you learn new material. Your brain is made up of cells called neurons, which are connected by synapses. When you learn a new Chinese word, you store this information in different location in your brain. As you master the new vocabulary word, the different synapses that store this information begin to fire together. This process is how you really learn the new material.

Your Learning Style

There are at least three learning styles which include: Kinesthetic, Visual and Audial.  Most people learn material in more than one way. You will learn Chinese (or anything) faster if you understand and adapt your study habits to your learning style(s).

Kinesthetic Learning -Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. Tips include writing out material, actively participate in the attack, create your own study materials, try to develop your own way to understand the material.

Visual Learning – Visual learners learn by seeing something. Tips include reading and developing flashcards. You will also benefit by taking detailed notes that you can review. Recopy your material so that you see it again. Prepare a visual presentation.

Audial Learning – Audial learners learn by hearing something. Tips include taping classes, listening to audiobooks, talking over the material with another student. You can also develop a lecture.

Take this test on about.com to determine your personal learning style.

How You Study Chinese Matters

How you take on learning Chinese will have an impact on how quickly you can speak the language. Study for short periods rather than longer sessions. Quiz yourself regularly. Figure out your own learning style and follow the tips listed above. Our final tip for you is to find someone else to teach. We are working on a plan to help you connect and schedule with other students. We’ll announce more details soon.

What are your study tips? Comment below!

How to Learn Chinese with Anki

Two weeks ago I suggested that you find tools to help you study in the small moments of life. One of our clients, Pawel suggested a great program called Anki. Anki is a memory aid that helps people learn material from law to languages. Anki can be used on your PC, Mac, Android or iphone device.

Why Anki?

Anki is a pretty neat tool that helps you remember the material you have learned. Anki presents material based on active recall testing and spaced repetition. Active recall testing is simply trying to remember the translation to a character, which is a much better way to learn new words than repeating them to yourself over and over. Spaced repetition is the idea of repeating material over time. Research shows that we’re more likely to remember material if we study it a few times over a long period of time.

How to download a deck of flashcards into Anki

Anki breaks down material into “decks” of flashcards. To get started, download and install Anki onto your computer. You then need to download and install a deck. In brief, you click on the Get Shared button on the bottom left of the screen. It will load a webpage that lists decks. Select Chinese, which will load this web page. You can select any of the decks. Click Info to learn more about each deck. If you are just getting started, I recommend the deck called Mandarin Chinese – Very Basic. This deck has the traditional, simplified and pinyin as well as a sound file of the word. Click Download and save the file on your computer.  Go back to Anki and click Import File. Select the file you just downloaded and click Open. The deck will now load.

Now you can study

Click the name of the deck you want to study. Click Study Now and the program will introduce vocabulary. The program will test you in one of two ways:

1. It will show you just the simplified and traditional version of the character. You must then decide if you know the sound and English translation of the character.

2. It will show you the or the character with the pinyin and the sound. You must then decide if you know the English translation.

Once you decide click Show Answer.  Based on how well you did, select one of three options:

  • Again means you didn’t know the word and need to continue to review the word.
  • Good means you know the word, but not extremely well.
  • Easy means you know the word very well. You will not review this word for several days.

Try it out and tell us what you think.