A STATE-OF-THE-ART APPROACH TO MASTERING CHINESE...
Breakthru Chinese® accelerates learning using techniques that are aligned with the unique characteristics of the Chinese language.
UNLIKE ANY WESTERN LANGUAGE...
Spanish, French, Italian, etc. all have a high degree of overlap with the alphabet, grammar and pronunciation of English. But Chinese has no alphabet, the grammar uses constructs not found in Western languages and homophones are far more pervasive in Chinese...
VISUAL MODEL FOUNDATION
Chinese can be overwhelming - our visual model foundation provides a "roadmap" for students to easily incorporate new grammar concepts. Visual models are fun and easy to use!
PATTERN RECOGNITION SKILLS
Chinese is a highly visual (and complex) language - pattern recognition training enables students to develop scalable character memorization skills. Our method is far more effective than mnemonic and "story-based" approaches.
INTENSIVE SPOKEN CHINESE PRACTICE
More than any other language, Chinese requires precise pronunciation - listening and speaking skills will accelerate development in Written Chinese. Except for grammar, all instruction is in Chinese and students are encouraged to talk freely about course content, as well as "free talk" on the topics of their choosing. This gives the student confidence in a fun setting!
SOFTWARE-DRIVEN METHODOLOGY
More than any other language, Chinese lends itself to a technology-based methodology. State-of-the-art apps make it possible to study even the most challenging content with ease.
CHINESE (with a Westerner's perspective)
Because of the substantial differences between Chinese and English, one of the most important factors in a successful tutoring program is the ability to explain key concepts in a way that makes Chinese less overwhelming. Breakthru Chinese is a welcome departure from outdated teaching methods - it's fun, it's engaging...and most important, it's effective!

RESULTS-ORIENTED CHINESE TUTORING!

STATE-OF-THE-ART TEACHING METHOD
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LEVERAGES UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHINESE

Breakthru Chinese ® is a state-of-the-art approach to tutoring Mandarin that leverages the unique characteristics of the Chinese language.  Based on insights from our own experience studying Chinese for more than 10 years in Beijing and Shanghai, we have developed a methodology that integrates technology and the linguistic model of a character-based language.

TEXTBOOK INDEPENDENT

Our approach is textbook independent – we can use Integrated Chinese or any other textbook to help you to succeed in standard coursework.  Or we can use custom Chinese content (e.g. the Chinese version of the NY Times) to help you master advanced concepts.

ROADMAP
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MAKING SENSE OF CHINESE

Breakthru Chinese ® uses the “roadmap” that we created for our own studies, so that grammar, characters and pronunciation “make sense”.   We use highly visual aids to give you a framework, so that each new concept is not overwhelming.

LIKE SOLVING A JIGSAW PUZZLE

One of the challenges of Chinese is that it is so fundamentally different from English that literally everything is new (and confusing).  Using traditional methods to study Chinese is like working on a jigsaw puzzle – but without a picture of the final image!  We provide the “final image” upfront – so learning Chinese is easier and much more fun!

INTENSIVE CONVERSATION MODEL
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WE LIKE TO TALK!

We also use a unique form of intensive conversation that enables students to develop confidence and a sense of accomplishment.  Even if you’ve just started learning Chinese, we’ll provide you with a “starter kit” that gives you the tools to immediately begin communicating with your tutor completely in Chinese!

Other than the foundation concepts, all coursework is conducted entirely in Chinese.  We like to talk! And you will, too!

CHARACTER NETWORKS

We also use tools and methods that are specific to Chinese – “character networks” will enable you to learn characters and vocabulary in sets – a quantum leap over traditional methods.

Breakthru Chinese ® is unlike any Chinese tutoring you’ve ever tried!

RESULTS-ORIENTED
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WE’RE PRO-ACTIVE!

Rather than passively explaining difficult characters or grammar concepts, we pro-actively work with or students to make sure you:

  • Understand the big picture, so that new concepts make sense.
  • Learn vocabulary in sets of related words.
  • Talk a lot to build confidence!
  • Use apps to study all content to maximize your time.

CUSTOMIZED CHINESE TUTORING

We know your time is valuable – all tutoring is based on your current coursework, except that we use apps to study all coursework. So the content is all customized, but our approach is much more effective than traditional Chinese tutoring.

You’ll see noticeable results!

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOUR SUCCESS

A STATE-OF-THE-ART TEACHING MODEL

Breakthru Chinese ® is based on our own experience studying Chinese for more than 10 years in Beijing and Shanghai. We have developed a methodology that reflects our own experience as students…our methodology bypasses outdated techniques that don’t achieve meaningful results.

We use state-of-the-art apps to accelerate our students learning. Of all the major languages, Chinese is the most suited for software-driven learning. You will find that out approach provides a solid foundation that enables deeper, richer and more exciting learning!

But most of all, we are passionate about Chinese! It is one of the world’s most important languages. But it is also an art form. We’re confident that you will find our enthusiasm for Chinese to be infectious…and you’ll find that Chinese is not nearly as difficult as it once seemed!

祝你成功!

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FOUNDATION

To provide students with a clear roadmap for all further studies, we explain key concepts: the history of modern Chinese, a visual overview of the differences between Chinese and English and the principles of grammar, characters and pronunciation. In this way, each new language construct easily “makes sense” and fits into a larger “language framework”. Our foundation makes Chinese fun and interesting!

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GRAMMAR

We have developed grammar videos that animate sentence structure, verb complements and other gnarly Chinese grammar, so that students can see the differences in Chinese grammar. It’s so much easier to understand!

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CHARACTERS

We use state-of-the-art apps to help students develop visual pattern recognition skills, recognize character components and compounds. Characters are studied in groups of related vocabulary that use the common characters – imagine learning words in sets of 10 or 20, rather than one at a time!

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PRONUNCIATION

Because of the number of homophones in Chinese, pronunciation is critical and is closely linked to success in developing listening comprehension skills. Chinese pronunciation is ranked using 6 levels. It’s worth noting that, due to the influence of regional dialects, teachers from Beijing (or who were trained) in Beijing have the best pronunciation.  While we are not speech specialists, we do teach students the mechanics of standard pronunciation, so that learning to speak is not a trial and error process.

CHINESE LANGUAGE – KEY CONCEPTS

THE BASICS

A guiding principle of our approach is that Chinese cannot be taught (effectively) in the same way one would teach an adjacent western language (e.g. Spanish, French, Italian).  It’s a fundamentally different language – in ways both obvious and not so obvious.

Unlike Western languages,  Chinese is really 3 distinct language systems – written Chinese, spoken Chinese and a phonetic system that is unique to character-based languages.

Chinese is a visual language – characters are visually complex and require pattern recognition skills not needed for alphabetic languages.  In fact, recent research using functional MRI’s has shown that native Chinese speakers use their visual cortex to a much greater extent than English speakers do.  That’s important.  The analogy we like to use is that athletes need to develop core muscles before they can effectively learn how to (ski, play soccer, etc.).

The same is true for Chinese – students need to develop visual pattern recognition skills as a core skill to successfully learn Chinese characters.

Homophones are far more more prevalent in Chinese than in English – there are relatively few phonemes (unique sounds) to support all 8,105 characters in modern Chinese.  Proper pronunciation is critical,  not only for speaking, but to enable students to differentiate between characters that have almost identical pronunciation.

3 language systems.  Visual complexity.  Homophones.  These key differences demand a creative and innovative approach to teaching Chinese.

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3 LANGUAGE SYSTEMS

Unlike English, Chinese is actually 3 distinct language systems:

  • A single written language with 2 forks – traditional Chinese (used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) and simplified Chinese (used in mainland China).
  • 7 major spoken dialects, each of which is considered a unique language. Note that each spoken dialect uses the same written language.
  • A third “system” that is a phonetic guide to pronunciation.  Each dialect has its own phonetic guide.
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A VISUALLY COMPLEX LANGUAGE

Character-based languages are visually complex:

  • There are more than 50,000 characters in Chinese, of which 8,105 are listed in the official Table of General Standard Chinese Characters.
  • Each character is composed of 1 to 5 components, each of which may be a character in its own right. A character may have 1 to 55 strokes!
  • Simplified Chinese uses 31 distinct strokes.
  • Chinese speakers use their visual cortex more than English speakers.
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HOMOPHONES

Students often comment that Chinese all sounds the same – it’s true!

  • There are only 300 unique sounds for the 8,105 commonly used characters.
  • Modern Mandarin has  4 tones to provide additional phonetic differentiation.
  • But even with tones, there are far more homophones in Chinese than in any other language – as many as 45 characters can have identical pronunciation!
  • Because of this, learning Chinese phonetically is extremely challenging! Students need to develop a strong linkage between written characters and Oral Chinese…

CHINESE LANGUAGE – KEY CONCEPTS

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3 LANGUAGE SYSTEMS

Unlike English, Chinese is actually 3 distinct language systems:

  • A single written language with 2 forks – traditional Chinese (used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) and simplified Chinese (used in mainland China).
  • 7 major spoken dialects, each of which is considered a unique language. Note that each spoken dialect uses the same written language.
  • A third “system” that is a phonetic guide to pronunciation.  Each dialect has its own phonetic guide.

A VISUALLY COMPLEX LANGUAGE

Character-based languages are visually complex:

  • There are more than 50,000 characters in Chinese, of which 8,105 are listed in the official Table of General Standard Chinese Characters.
  • Each character is composed of 1 to 5 components, each of which may be a character in its own right. A character may have 1 to 55 strokes!
  • Simplified Chinese uses 31 distinct strokes.
  • Chinese speakers use their visual cortex more than English speakers.
hanzi-key-concepts-shi-jue-sz-lg-trans-zh
hanzi-key-concepts-tong-yin-sz-lg-trans-zh

HOMOPHONES

Students often comment that Chinese all sounds the same – it’s true!

  • There are only 300 unique sounds for the 8,105 commonly used characters.
  • Modern Mandarin has  4 tones to provide additional phonetic differentiation.
  • But even with tones, there are far more homophones in Chinese than in any other language – as many as 45 characters can have identical pronunciation!
  • Because of this, learning Chinese phonetically is extremely challenging! Students need to develop a strong linkage between written characters and Oral Chinese…

CHINESE CORNER

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