Story of how the ChinaSpeak Method began

Hey you!

Thanks for visiting this page. Like you, I’m always curious on the background story of things began so thought I’d openly share the journey and how ChinaSpeak accidentally started and grew.

The Big Smoke

It was 2001 and I had accepted my first job and moving East coast to the big smoke – hustling and bustling Sydney, moving even further away from family not knowing anyone.  Life was fun and exciting, exploring new places, learning new things and meeting new people.

After almost 2 years though – the high demands, long hours including weekends, early start and grind to work in the rat race at the consulting multinational really wore down my soul and truth be told made me question what I was doing. On a project for American Express, I knew all the cleaners by name having regularly left at 3 in the morning and heading back in at 8am.

While on my time off, I explored other options, learning new things even working part time as a massage therapist at bars and pubs and taking a Buddhist monastic retreat (living like a monk). Not at the same time though. I know almost polar opposites right?!

One of the things I also did was to enroll and train with Cambridge University on the rare spare weekends I had for several months learning to teach ESL English as a Second Language, finally graduating with my CELTA qualification.

After several more demanding projects, things began to slow and the company had to lay off a large number of employees. Fortunately, some might say, I was one of the few still left standing with a role after a lot of colleagues were let go.

With all this going on, I was actively looking for other opportunities as a back-up just in case my head was on the chopping board. After a brief spell, I decided it was time to resign and thus handed in my notice. However, management kindly offered and asked why don’t I take a sabbatical and then decide after coming back from a break. Deciding it was risk-free, I took them up on it.

the wild west

One of the opportunities that came up was working in China – teaching English. But I didn’t want to go to the Big Smoke anymore like Beijing or Shanghai – both tier 1 Chinese metropolis cities. A new school was opening up in Urumqi, Xinjiang – the land of towering mountains and never-ending deserts, home to the Uighur people. It was the Wild West frontier bordering Tibet, Kazakstan and Russia.

That was the siren call beckoning me and I decided to leave everything behind in Sydney save a few clothes and books.

wild west China

Flying in and arriving at the Urumqi airport in the evening at dusk was quite an eye-opener.

My first thought was – oh oh. They don’t have much electricity here… The whole place was very dimly lit by only a few lights. It was almost black when I stepped out of the airport. I can’t remember how I got to the city but I somehow made it.

Teaching in 

One of the things on my bucket list was to speak Spanish. 

 

I’m warning you… Alex can’t stop talking!

Hopefully there’ll be a video sometime soon…

 

The first few people who motivated Alex to start ChinaSpeak

...it seemed impossible for me to learn a language without reading or writing...

June 2004

"I have been attending ChinaSpeak's Chinese lessons for a few months now and found he has a very unique way of teaching.

At the beginning I was not sure it was going to work because it seemed impossible for me to learn a language without reading or writing. But Alex proved the contrary.

It is very rewarding to see that at the end of every lesson, my speaking ability expands even more. I will continually attend his classes for a long time because every one of them is different and very interesting.

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Enzio Brolligo Price WaterHouse Coopers - Sydney, Australia

Easily the most useful hour I have spent with anyone this week...

Dear Alex

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for taking the time to come and give the Virgin Team a very useful hour of your time.

It was easily the most useful hour I have spent with anyone This week. Your teaching methods are innovative and importantly very Practical.

Right from outset we were able to construct simple sentences that will be immediately useful in our business dealings in China.

I look forward to continuing the sessions and also to receiving the audio CD’s to refresh each lesson.

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David Baxby CEO of Virgin Asia Pacific

If you want to try something that works, you should give Alex a go

When I first encountered ChinaSpeak I was a bit sceptical…
but now that I have fully experienced it for a number of weeks I recommend it to anyone who wants to speak Mandarin. The 3 key things that make this different from other courses are:
+ Friendly intimate style - the class sizes are small so you get to develop a real rapport with him, who can adjust to your personality and focus on you as an individual
+ Improved learning retention - with the individual attention and the focus on getting key content right during each lesson, my retention of what has been taught is much higher than my experience through community college courses
+ Flexibility - Working in a managerial position means I cannot always stick to a schedule as much as I would like to. With Alex, there is greater flexibility to fit things into my schedule and therefore ensure I can relax and learn rather than worrying about what is happening at work
If you want to try something that works, you should give Alex a go.

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Richard Wong Manager - CBA (Commonwealth Bank)

I have now taken 2 lessons and I am already saying full sentences...

November 2004

I will be traveling to China in two months time and thought it would be a good idea to learn some of the language to help me get by.

I got in touch with Alex from ChinaSpeak, who gave me a demonstration on how he teaches with no paper and no pens. I first thought it was a little unusual to learn this way but a week after his free demonstration I still remembered everything he had taught me.

I have now taken 2 lessons and I am already saying full sentences. I feel confident that with a few more lessons I will have no problems traveling through China speaking and understanding Chinese.

I found Alex to be a very good teacher, more like talking to an old friend. I feel very relaxed while he teaches and find that he brings a playful element to teaching, which helps me learn.

Alex’s training is first-rate. I highly recommend him to anybody interested in learning Chinese.

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Lloyd D’Rosario Optus - Melbourne, Australia
January 1, 2002

Moved to Wild West China

In the mountains and deserts near Russia and Kazakhstan

January 1, 2002
January 1, 2002

Trained Local Teachers in Modern English Teaching Methods

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January 1, 2002
January 1, 2017

Started helping friends start speaking street Chinese

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January 1, 2017
January 1, 2016

Moved to Sydney, Australia

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January 1, 2016
January 1, 2015

Taught Chinese on the side after work

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January 1, 2015
January 1, 2019

the AHA moment with Lloyd

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Back with Family

Moved back to Perth, Western Australia

January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Rented a classroom in the city

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Started creating audio CDs

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

ChinaSpeak website was born

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Filmed ChinaSpeak videos in a studio

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

First online ChinaSpeak customer

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

First ebay customer

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Helped prepare University students volunteering in Shanghai, China

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Spanish moment

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Family

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Legacy

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Richard Branson + Virgin CEO

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Radio

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

Newspaper

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January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019

ABC TV Documentary

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January 1, 2019

What about you? What’s your learning journey?

Comment & share your experience learning Chinese below

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