This week we caught up with Patrick Frick of Duang Mandarin, a free Mandarin learning resource that provides useful guides and video lessons, as well as linking people up to learn Chinese together online. Patrick has managed to build a really strong community since launching last year. Here’s what he had to say:
1) Tell us a little bit more about Duang Mandarin – how did it all start, who is involved, and what is the aim?
It all started when I came home to Germany after half a year in Shanghai where I studied Business and Chinese. I missed China and speaking the language a lot. Therefore I wanted to connect with people who were also interested in speaking Chinese. I wanted to build a community. Additionally, I thought that creating Duang Mandarin would improve my own language skills, as I work with the language on a daily basis. It just happened that more and more people liked the page and I am really happy about it. The fact that I do everything for free is important because I don’t want people to walk away without giving it a try because of money. Chinese is a beautiful language and I want to encourage more and more people to learn it.
2) We love the name – whoever knew a little known advert could create such a storm online! But… what does ‘duang’ mean to you?
First of all, I love Jackie Chan. He is such a humble, positive and energetic person. He’s a great idol for many people. “Duang” for me means “Bam, Boom or Cool”. With the name “Duang Mandarin” I want to express: “Learning Chinese is easy going, relax. Just do it.”
3) What part do you enjoy most about running Duang Mandarin?
That is simple. Every day I receive very kind comments from people who really appreciate the free learning resources. Many people even ask for private lessons which really shows me the growing demand for Chinese language learning resources. The best thing though is that our users come from all around the world and share a common passion for learning. That’s great!
4) You seem to have developed a really strong following in a short amount of time… what would you say has been the catalyst of your success?
That’s true. I was surprised myself. It started very slowly and I had to develop content continuously. I listened to the feedback of my followers and adjusted everything to their needs and I try to answer every message I receive. Creating a personal relationship with some passionate followers can really boost whatever you do online. It probably also helps that I teach from a non-native perspective – I provide material that I would like to have had access to when I started learning Mandarin.
5) How do you see Mandarin learning resources developing in coming years?
I think the learning environment will change a lot. There are a handful of high quality providers on the web which are innovative and do an amazing job. I believe YouTube also has a key role in providing resources. Additionally, great ideas like yours are really influencing the learning environment. I love to read The Chairman’s Bao. I also believe prices will drop drastically.
6) What’s your top tip for somebody who is just starting out learning Chinese?
Before you start, shape your dream of your future. Make a rough plan of where you want to be in a couple years. Do you want to study in China? Do you want work in Singapore? Make Chinese a puzzle piece that fits in the overall picture. Like that you can feel rewarded later and you don’t waste any time!
7) What’s your favourite Chinese saying?
“钱不是问题，问题是没钱” – I used this phrase all the time when I was bargaining at markets in China and it was great fun. Usually the street vendors found it very funny. It also helped to get a better price.
8) Last but not least… what’s your favourite Chinese dish?
My all-time number one is 牛肉汤面 – a spicy soup with tender beef bits and long, hand-made noodles. I miss that.
That’s all from Patrick but be sure to check out Duang Mandarin and give them a follow socially. I really like Patrick’s advice: “Make Chinese a puzzle piece that fits in the overall picture”… wise words!
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