TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan News on Dec. 6 interviewed Taiwanese YouTuber Peggy Lee (Li Jia-hui, 李家慧) about her experience teaching Mandarin online for nearly a decade and the start of her new video series.
Lee is the founder and owner of the YouTube channel PeggyTeachesChinese, where she has been providing Mandarin-learning videos and tutorial services since 2009 and now has over 20,000 followers. She received her Master’s in Chinese as a Second Language from National Taiwan Normal University and has taught Mandarin online to hundreds of students worldwide and in the classroom, first as a Fulbright fellow at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith and then as a lecturer at Wake Forest University.
In her new series of instructional videos titled, "Traveling Taiwan," Lee will showcase some top tourist spots around Taiwan to teach newcomers about their location’s culture and history, along with a few tips for language learners.
The early years
When Lee was studying English in college in Taiwan, she made many foreign friends and eventually started to tutor some of them in Mandarin. Her partner at the time suggested she started to make YouTube videos to teach Mandarin and to share her experiences in Taiwan, and in February 2009, she posted her first instructional video on the website.
She said the videos were initially quite simple using a basic digital camera and the lessons were presented on the fly. Over time, she developed more sophisticated videos, including role-play scenarios to demonstrate usage of the terminology she was teaching.
The rewards of teaching Mandarin
Lee says she enjoys challenging her students with language tasks that are slightly beyond their level, but achievable. She then guides them through the process, while still giving her the autonomy to complete the task by themselves.
She finds it extremely satisfying to see her students make an effort and push themselves, and when they succeed, she and her students feel a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement. Lee said when she is teaching the students, she "gets as excited and nervous as they are."
Tips to achieve mastery of Mandarin
Lee says that learning a language requires making it part of one's everyday life and a little should be studied every day. She says that the most challenging part of the language is memorizing Chinese characters, and though she will excitedly point out the composition of the characters, many students are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of symbols.
Lee says that even native speakers have to expend a lot of time mastering the characters. She says the bottom line is that a learner has to accept the fact that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world, "but don't turn away from it."
She says that learners must challenge themselves and be proud of themselves when they are able to begin to speak the language and write and recognize Chinese characters.
"Traveling Taiwan" series
While helping Lee set up an instructional video, her friend Phillip Walter suggested that she film the videos outside to make them more dynamic. That same day, he suggested they go out to a location and start filming.
They chose Shenkeng Old Street in New Taipei City, and she quickly prepared a script and the shot the entire video that day. The video was very successful and popular among viewers, which inspired her to launch a new lesson series that integrates travel, food, culture, and Mandarin learning.
Exclusive online community
Lee said that she is also building an exclusive online community on Patreon, where she plans to create as many language series as possible to fulfill different learning needs. She says if she gets enough supporters on the site, she can turn each lesson series into individual packages that include audio, study sheets, and other supplementary materials.
Lee closed by providing a brief Mandarin lesson in which she encouraged viewers abroad to take a long distance trip to Taiwan by teaching the phrase 遠行吧 (yuǎn xíng ba, travel far). However, she said that if viewers are not yet able to make the trip, it's never too late to learn 活到老, 學到老 (huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo, live to old age, study to old age).
To learn more about Lee's adventures teaching Mandarin and her brand-new show, please watch the full interview below:
Viewers can support her exclusive learning community on Patreon, where they can follow her latest work and download supplementary study materials.