A Childhood of Chinese at YCIS Beijing

In this edition of Student Blogs, we speak with Year 13 student Emanuele Finocchiaro. We spoke with Emanuele about his experience studying Chinese at YCIS Beijing and how the Chinese programme has equipped him with an excellent tool with which to succeed later in life.

Please introduce yourself!

My name is Emanuele Finocchiaro and I’m in Year 13. I’ve been with the school for 10 years.

How would you sum up the YCIS approach to teaching Chinese?


The level of intensity of the Chinese programme in Secondary School becomes higher, and especially in the later stages of IB where it does require a lot more self-study. From Primary to Secondary, pinyin is removed. Plus, words are a bit harder and it has been much more mafanto study! However, studying Chinese has been one of the most enriching and valuable experiences of my life.

What is your approach to learning the language? How do you study?

Using a dictionary is the first skill you need to learn in Chinese class in Secondary School. Practicing speaking and writing the words is important, too, as that will help you internalize them and become more fluent.

Chinese teachers here at YCIS Beijing are especially friendly and helpful. My teacher, Ms. Ren, is always asking if I want to stay after class or need extra tutoring or help with any of my lessons. She’s always very willing to help me go through a lesson, even one character at a time, to make sure I understand everything perfectly. They really give you all the tools you need to practice Chinese. All you need to do as a student is to make sure you take advantage of them!


What aspects of learning Chinese do you enjoy the most?

It’s very satisfying when you hear (and understand) something that you’ve been learning in class outside on the street.

How do you keep yourself motivated while studying Chinese and how much do your Chinese teachers contribute to keeping you motivated?

My dad places a lot of importance on learning Chinese and imparts that importance on me as well. Him and I both know that it’s an essential skill for the future with China’s economic and political growth. If you want to get a job here, you need to have the language mastered!


The satisfaction that one receives from being able to speak the language with local Chinese people, and for me, having three languages that I can now speak (Italian, English, and Chinese), is also highly rewarding.

Chinese is just an overall interesting language as well. I look forward to returning to China during my time in university to participate in some intensive studies programmes here and perfect my Chinese ability.

Describe one personal experience in which you were able to solve a problem with Chinese.

I don’t have a specific experience, but I do help my parents often with communicating with the delivery people, ayi’s, and so forth. Most importantly, being able to live in China and speak Chinese is really an important part of being here and makes living here so much more interesting.

What study tips do you have for students new to Beijing with no Chinese background?

Keep calm and keep a dictionary close at hand! Most of all, make sure that you’re using your teachers here at YCIS Beijing as resources. They know best of all what you’re studying and what you need to do to improve and they know what kind of student you are. There’s no better resource than them!

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