Teaching Chinese the Western Way – How Sara from Finland became a Chinese teacher

Teacher Sara (middle) with her students

Moving to Guangzhou to pursue Chinese learning

In 2010 Sara traveled in China for 5 weeks, visiting Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an, Chengdu and Guilin, before arriving to Guangzhou.

Sara moved to Guangzhou in early 2010 to pursue hear dream to study Chinese in China. She had already started her studies and wanted to continue learning Mandarin, now full time.

Finding Guangzhou such an exiting place to live, she decided to stay completing her Bachelor Degree in Chinese language in December 2013. During that time she had developed a deep interest towards education and teaching Chinese.

But how could a foreigner be a Mandarin teacher in China? Where millions of Chinese speak Mandarin as their native language? Sara was about to find out.

Becoming a Chinese teacher

Sara at Sun Yat-Sen University

During Spring 2014 Sara applied for a Confucious Institute scholarship and after receicing the full scholarship she started her Master’s Degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language in September that same year.

At that time Sara had seen a message on Facebook for a Swedish woman looking for Chinese lessons in Guangzhou and she decided to give it a try. She had a HSK certificate level 6 and had started her MA degree, but having a foreing Chinese teacher in China was something quite unheard.

That first student stayed in China for 5 years, most of the time attending regular Chinese lessons at Expat Chinese. After meeting her, Sara got proof that there was a huge interest and need for learning Chinese the Western way, as we are used to while growing up in the Western culture.

Founding Expat Chinese

Sara after moving into the new office for Expat Chinese

In Summer 2016 Sara graduated from Sun Yat-Sen University with a Master’s Degree in Teaching Chinese, had taught Chinese for hundreds of hours and had a 8 months old baby girl.

It was the right time to take the next step following her dreams of improving the field of teaching Chinese. In January 2017 Sara founded the Expat Chinese, a Chinese language center with a mission to teach Chinese the Western way.

Through the years their office and staff has grown, but the original values are still there. Sara always wants their students to get the highest level of teaching possible, improving their learning environment, teaching methods and study experience regularly.

Interview with Sara in Chinese

Daha interviewing Sara

Q&A: What are your values as a Chinese teacher?

Discovery. I want to help students to discover both the Chinese language and culture. Students in Guangzhou I wish to guide in discovering this amazing city we live.

Understanding. I want to promote understanding between the foreigners and the locals. Moving to China can be a big culture shock because of the different culture, but by learning the language students can understand the people and their heart.

Improvement. I want not only our students to improve, but our teaching staff as well. Each month each of us chooses an area to focus on and to improve further.

Authenticity. I want to follow our values and never forget them. I want us to offer something unique to our students, a new type of learning and a familiar experience they feel comfortable in.

Trust. I want to teach Chinese in a way that our students can trust us. We don’t make any false promises of fast learning, we do realistic study plans with our students according to their time and energy.