Get Ahead, Learn Mandarin - Austin Ramzy

 Time Asia Covers 501060626 Images 373 Illus Sky-1 From TIMEasia Magazine:

It’s Friday night in Ikebukuro, a Tokyo entertainment district full of cheap bars and pachinko parlors. As the office workers head to their favorite watering holes, three salarymen split from the crowd and enter a decrepit building that stands between a karaoke lounge and a tavern. Ignoring the sounds of sirens, drunken crooning and breaking glass outside, Hidetoshi Seki, Takashi Kudo and Yuji Yano huddle in a tiny room just big enough for a table for four, and open their Chinese textbooks. For the next 50 minutes the trio, all from a small trading company, practice describing their favorite foods and hobbies in Mandarin. Despite their crumpled shirts and five o’clock shadows, they are having a blast. The young female instructor at B- School indulges them as they crack jokes and make fun of each others’ muddled pronunciation. Their language classes are the first lessons that any of them have taken since childhood, says Yano, 39. “We sort of unanimously agreed that Chinese would be a useful skill to acquire.” [Full Text]

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