For most of us learners who live outside of China, developing proficiency in mandarin through real-life practice is quite challenging. However, there are strategies you can use to increase your contact with mandarin speakers and put all those Chinesepod lessons to the test.
My workplace, the City of Toronto, has an innovative "Profession to Profession Mentoring Immigrants Program". This program matches members of the Toronto Public Service in various professional fields with internationally trained professionals who are new to Canada and seek employment in their professions.
Mentors provide support and advice to internationally trained professionals during their search for employment. It is an excellent opportunity for an employee mentor to strengthen coaching / leadership skills, gain experience working with internationally trained colleagues, learn about newcomer issues and make a contribution to the integration of immigrants into the local economy.
I have recently applied to act as a mentor for Chinese mandarin speaking immigrants. I see this totally as a "win-win" scenario. Over the coming year, I will be assisting the newcomers with resume writing, interview skills, networking and job searches.
For myself, I plan to get maximum mileage out of this mentoring program by practicing my mandarin with my immigrant colleagues. My objective is to significantly increase my speaking and comprehension level.
I'll provide updates to this blog and let you know how effective this strategy is, as a language acquisition and learning tool.