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Member Profile: Steven, from China

Published on
March 19, 2021
Updated on
November 15, 2022
min read
This article may contain affiliate links
Written by
Alastair Budge

Meet Steven, a Chinese native and a recent member of Leonardo English. Discover why pronunciation is particularly difficult for Chinese speakers, and why he doesn't believe in traditional English learning methods.

Member Profile: Steven, from China
Table of contents

My name is Steven. I am 31 years old, and I live in southeast China. As you might be able to imagine, my mother tongue is Mandarin. 

Most native Mandarin speakers can't distinguish and pronounce consonants clearly and correctly. For example, the consonants “b p m f k" in the Chinese character pronunciation system are pronounced strongly like "bo po mo fo kə", so I always pronounced them incorrectly when I first studied English in junior middle school.

I had real trouble pronouncing words like "text" Plural nouns are always hard for me to pronounce properly. 

For example, the word terrorist and terrorists (ˈterərəst" and ˈterərəsts"), because there are three consonants at the end. And these kinds of consonant groups are never used in Chinese. I thought English pronunciation was tough and strange, when I was a child studying in  school. After that, I started to learn grammar rules. Oh my gosh, it is so complex. I hated English class, so I gave up on it.

I restarted learning English when I was in university. But I still studied English through traditional methods: boring grammar rules and being taught by non-native speakers. It was the same result, and I didn't even speak any complete sentences in English when I graduated.

I am an employee of a medical company now. In 2020, I wanted to practice English and retry it, because by chance I watched an online seminar by Doctor Stephen Krashen. He said language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication.

And then I knew the correct way to acquire a second language is by listening to a lot of native speakers and relaxing just like a baby naturally absorbs language.

All of a sudden I realised that traditional methods are useless, for example grammar rules or vocabulary exercises. And that I must seek out some interesting English materials for listening. 

Fortunately, when I searched and found Leonardo English, I immediately registered for an account and bought an annual membership. 

When I listen to an English Learning for Curious Minds podcast, I enjoy the standard BBC accent and the light music background. Because when I immerse myself in the podcast, I feel like a warming wind passes me in the spring. That is why I like the original cover. The comfortable sense makes me calm down and I enjoy the process of listening. I let the English come into my ears and come out of my mouth without thinking.

Naturally, I use shadowing techniques to improve my pronunciation. I need a deep learning method and a lot of repetition. So I spend at least one hour listening to the Leonardo  English podcast every day. I enjoy Alastair's voice accompanying me while I am driving. I am a big fan of shadowing.

When I am at home after work, I listen actively and make notes on the transcript pdf that I have printed out. I act like a crazy person and imitate a native speaker's speech when I am alone in the room. I pretend I am an actor and speak English confidently to myself. 

There's a saying that psychology is 80% of success. In my opinion, Leonardo English is funny and can constantly energise me step by step towards my ultimate success.

Learning English is gradually becoming a part of my life. Obviously, I have quit my favourite mobile game. I don't care about my friend's invitation online to play Honor of Kings. Because I prefer to become the king of English learning with Leonardo English. 

I like every episode of the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast. Alastair, thank you - my best wishes to you.


Alastair from Leonardo English says: "It's great to welcome Steven, and I'm thrilled that he is enjoying his membership so much. He is a great example of the benefits of active learning, and I'm happy that he is using techniques like Shadowing and speaking to himself. He is living proof of how powerful these techniques can be."

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