An educational institution in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning province, has begun teaching foreigners the Chinese language using the letters of the Roman alphabet.
“By adopting the spelling and pronunciation of the alphabet that the westerners are familiar with, we help overseas students learn Chinese much faster than traditional methods,” said Bi Zhen, innovator and patent owner of the method named “Learning Chinese Quickly”.
Starting with listening and speaking, the method puts the emphasis on meaning and grammar simultaneously.
Unlike pinyin - a system developed in the 1950s using Latin letters to make the language more accessible - the spelling used in this method attempts to more closely match the western pronunciation of letters.
The method also uses computers to assist the teaching and learning.
“Practice with overseas students, businessmen, tourists, and even the sight-impaired have proven the convenience and accuracy of using computers to assist with writing,” Liu Zhigong, president of Huali (Dalian) Educational Consulting, said.
After about 100 hours offline study, students of Chinese starting from zero can gain the ability for self-study and even be able to read classic works, Liu said.
Liu's team is developing a mobile phone app based on the same method.
“With that app, a foreigner can learn Chinese more conveniently,” he said.