TailorMade Chinese Center
TailorMade Chinese Center opened in Beijing in 2009 and focuses on Chinese language training to foreign professionals. Their main clients are international companies, Embassies and Consulates, and since 2012 we also operate in Shanghai, Shenyang, Xi’an and Tianjin. We have conducted an interview with Romain Tournier, Founder of TailorMade Chinese Center.
What is TailorMadeChinese?
TailorMade Chinese is a training company focusing on practical Chinese language teaching. It mainly serves professionals either already in China or preparing to move there. The company was created in 2009 in Beijing by a team of foreigners who went through the same process as most of our customers do: moving to China for work and learning Chinese from nothing, or almost. “Practical Chinese” here means that our students indeed need to use Chinese on a daily basis, and they expect us to give them the tools to be independent in China. Most common situation is students going from zero to an intermediate level within a year, and within weeks they are able to handle most of their daily life issues in China.
Why did you choose to live in China?
I have always been interested about Asia and China in particular, but living in China was not really a choice, it just happened. As many people, I followed professional opportunities that came to me, and since China is big and developing fast, the place offers quite a lot of them. Once I got to China, I gradually got used to the environment and more importantly with things moving fast, while it was very quiet back in my home country. So I just stayed and tried to develop myself here, got married and started a family life.
Is it easy to learn Chinese language?
Learning Chinese is in fact not that hard, as far as you want to. For Westerners, the main difficulty is that there is no common root with any Anglo-Saxon or Latin language. So basically each word is just a sound, referring to nothing in our memory or culture.
Another basic difficulty for foreigners is the pronunciation and tones. That is where most of the foreigners fail to learn Chinese, including all those who studied it for years in Western universities before moving to China. Sadly, I still regularly hear to or read about people living in China and advising to new comers to just learn the vocabulary, memorize some common patterns of sentences and forget about the tones. That it will work in China. But unfortunately, this is not true. Loads of words are similar if you do not consider tones, then nobody understands you and you don’t understand anybody: you are stuck and won’t progress anymore.
But generally speaking, Chinese grammar is very simple. There is no conjugation, no gender nor plural forms expect for personal pronouns, and the pronunciation just takes few weeks of repetitions if you clearly understood that it was a key step and made your mind about working on it. Oral daily practice is also more important for Chinese than for any other foreign languages which would be closer to our mother tongue, and working alone at your desk on Chinese characters is not always the best choice, although it might look easier.
So I would say yes, Chinese is really an easy language to learn as far as you learn it the right way and understood the basics to progress.
What is your favorite sport?
My favorite sport is snorkeling, underwater fishing, and apnea diving. So to be honest, China is really not the best spot for that.
People in China ... are positive? Do they trust easily?
People in China are of many kinds, like everywhere. They are often curious about foreigners so they will look friendly in that way. But they are also very proud of their own culture, probably even more than most of the Westerners would. Most of the normal people you will meet every day are very kind, generally “cooler” than what we are used to in Western countries. They will smile at you and try their best to help if you ask, even when they do not know how to help which may be confusing. Many Chinese also look soft from outside while they are tough once you get to know them. So generally speaking, I would say that Chinese are more determined than positive. They just move on toward their goal or do whatever they have to do rather than thinking too much about what is not doing right.
I would not say either that Chinese people trust easily. They are rather easy to get along with because they want to move on and that things happen, even though things do not always happen as you basically wished they would. China is big and loads of people from all corners of the country and backgrounds are living together. The huge population, inequalities, massive migrations, difficulties in identifying or track people and maybe the absence of any “strong” religious background in the society as well. All that combined makes that you can find all the scams one could have imagined in China. So naturally, people are rather suspicious, although it might be truer between Chinese than with foreigners.
Tell me about yourself?Why you create this company ?
I am a pharmacist and was sent to China to work in sales and marketing teams, mainly promoting anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetes or antibiotic drugs to Chinese hospitals. When I arrived in Beijing, I was immersed among Chinese colleagues and had to understand a new culture, a new market and a new world. Quickly, I found out that the only way to make it fast and to really get a deep understanding was to master the language, as that was the only way to collect primary information.
I studied Chinese in private classes 3 hours a week outside my work, and would seize all the opportunities I could to learn new things, progress faster and assimilate useful words I would face on a daily basis. During this process I found out that methodologies existing schools proposed was not really adapted to foreigners needs, and with a bunch of other foreigners having the same idea and few Chinese specialists we decided to develop a more adapted product for professionals who want to try their chance on Chinese market. Since then, we have extended our offer to several Chinese cities and also provide cost-efficient online training to those who prepare to move to China from their home country.
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