Learning Mandarin to Improve Professional Opportunities

As a lawyer with localized, small-town experience (rather than international, corporate, or financial expertise), I knew that finding work here in Taiwan would be difficult. Because my family’s relocation for my wife’s work was spur-of-the-moment, my job search basically began once we got here. My first step was networking through my few connections. I met with several lawyers and received one consistent piece of advice: you really need to speak, read, and maybe even write Chinese. This was clearly a long-term project.

As the first few months here passed, some opportunities outside of law came up and kept me from taking an intensive language program. I took on some work at my wife’s school and began to think that a career change to academics would be a better fit if our future were going to revolve around this international lifestyle and her academic career. I didn’t want to give up on law, though, so I decided to continue on parallel fronts to try to create opportunities in law for myself. Rosetta Stone software became an attractive option for developing the necessary Mandarin skills because it allowed me to work within the context of my shifting, sometimes unpredictable schedule.

Although I’m still a beginner, my early Rosetta Stone lessons have improved and enriched my professional network. By knowing some simple phrases, I can engage better with my Taiwanese contacts—especially those that don’t have great confidence in their English skills. They seem to really appreciate my effort and commitment to learning Mandarin. Not only have they helped me find professional opportunities, they’ve also helped me find people to speak with and places to practice Mandarin. As a result, I’ve made more social connections, and that has increased my chances to build upon what I’ve learned in my Rosetta Stone lessons.

people at coffee house typing

courtesy Getty Images

One person even worked with me to set up an informal class to prepare Taiwanese law students for study in the United States. I now teach the students English, focusing on writing skills, basic legal vocabulary, and commonly used phrases that formal language study wouldn’t cover. We discuss foundations of US law and the US legal system, and we also talk about current events, books, movies, and what they might expect from life as a student in the United States. The great thing about the class from my perspective is that for every English word or phrase I introduce, the students can teach me the Mandarin equivalent. And they can educate me about the aspects of Taiwanese law and culture that are parallel to what I’m sharing with them. Had I not shown my interest and my progress in learning Mandarin through Rosetta Stone, I doubt that my new contact would have been as motivated to help get this class going.

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