People can do a multitude of things through language. They can see the world more widely as they speak and read, and they can communicate with more people through it. Many people are trying to learn a new language, but it is not easy to make the new language one’s own. Some people will suffer unwarranted fears when learning the language, and others may find it difficult to continue learning the language steadily due to personal circumstances. For these such people, there is one group implementing special educational methods. SMT will introduce Color Project team and how it makes the Chinese language more colorful and attractive.
Before getting started, would you please introduce Color Project to our readers briefly?
Color Project manages the brand of 5 Color Chinese, which is a system of teaching the Chinese language through 5 colors. Color Project is a business in which members who have its own feature gather together to make their own color of Color Project. We added the word ‘color’ to the company name to stress our use of the color intonation method, a base of 5 Color Chinese.
Color Project operates the brand of learning ‘5 Color Chinese’. Please explain how the color intonation method works.
Mandarin has 5 types of intonation. Many people give up learning the Mandarin language because of difficulties with intonation. To make it easier, we devised the color intonation method. We gave each intonation its own color story. We associate the 1st intonation type with a black crow flying high in the sky, the 2nd intonation type with a fast-growing green tree, the 3rd intonation type to a yellow crescent-shaped banana, the 4th intonation type to a falling red apple, and the last intonation type also known as Gyeongseong to a tiny gray stone. This color intonation method has had excellent success. It has increased the efficiency of learning by about 60%, comparing to preexistence learning methods. It has shortened the time needed to learn some parts of Mandarin from 120 hours to 20 hours. Also, it has resulted in increased motivation among participants through checking and producing each learner's individual learning needs.
More recently, Color Project has developed ‘Peanut Card’ based on the color intonation method. Would you tell us more about these cards?
When I recall how I learned Chinese characters, my memory is filled with rote learning and the repetitive writing of characters. Most of those characters that I memorized when I was younger have all been forgotten, and the old learning methods made me lose interest in learning the language. We created ‘Peanut Card’ because we believed students would become more interested in learning Chinese characters and remember them longer if they understood the characters’ shape and meaning since the Chinese character is based on hieroglyphics. Peanut Card is a card with a picture on the front and the Chinese character on the back. Students will retain the learning longer if they can bring the picture to mind when they see the character. In other words, our passion to help students study Chinese characters more willingly and our desire for students to retain their learning longer motivated us to create the Peanut Card.
Since you offer your products to nations other than Korea, what do you think is the most important factor to consider?
We need to think about naturalness because each country is very different, especially in terms of culture. We did not attempt to translate our services directly. We employed local people to translate our products and services into their native language and ask them if our products and services are effective in their country. Because the characteristics of each country differ, we modified aspects of our method to match their needs. In other words, we focused more on naturalness because there was no guarantee that an education method designed with Koreans in mind would completely suit other nations.
Please tell us more about the Chinese language education for merchants in Yongmun market.
The Chinese language education training program for Yongmun market’s merchants is operated under the supervision of Sookmyung Women’s University and the 5 Color Chinese Team. It is a program designed to help merchants learn Mandarin through one-on-one sessions with Sookmyungians. Our color intonation method has helped merchants learn Mandarin and how it could be applied directly to their lives. We divided the type of Chinese language learning according to trade types that can be seen in almost every market such as optical centers groceries, grocers, butchers, and so on. The program ran for 8 weeks, and we held it twice. At the end of one of the programs, one merchant brought flowers for a Sookmyungian partner. We view the program as not only enhancing participants’ Mandarin language ability but also providing merchants and Sookmyungians with the chance to get close to others. For us, it is the most worthwhile moment in our activities.
Then, what has been the most difficult aspect of a startup company?
We haven't had any major difficulties yet, but we don't have many business members since we have only just started. Just starting also means that each member must perform a lot of important tasks and take on a heavy responsibility. Because of that, we often feel small mistakes are huge, so we guess psychological burdens are our biggest difficulties. Therefore, we always ask for a lot of feedback and comments both before and after our services. We think that it is important to give constructive feedback to each other on work performed before the service is released. Because each member takes on much responsibility, as mentioned above, by providing feedback to one another, we can learn things we may not have considered when we work alone. After users have made use of our services, we also ask for feedback from them. In fact, the feedback from users is the most beneficial and exciting because we cannot see our own work form the viewpoint of the user. Also, users are very observant and notice small details right away, so we try to be very cautious of details. We once received a negative comment from a user who had learned Chinese through another learning method before us. The person said our method combined in such a way confused her/him. We were a little disheartened to read the comment, but we felt it important because it wasn't something we had considered before. In other words, some comments hurt, but they are the step towards creating a better learning method.
What are Color Project’s future goals?
We eventually hope to formalize ‘The first step to learn Chinese is 5 Color Chinese’. Our larger goal is to provide Mandarin learning services outside of Korea. Globally, there is the stereotype that learning Chinese is difficult because of factors such as vocal tones and sounds, which are barriers to a learner’s learning. We hope to eliminate the distance between the Chinese language and the learner through 5 Color Chinese. I hope that more people will have access to our services and products and that learning Chinese becomes easy and less fearful.
Last, please leave a few words for Sookmyungians.
We were offered a great opportunity to found Color Project through funding provided by the scholarship program in Sookmyung. Generally, it can be difficult to find a job that best suits your talent. However, if you look around carefully, you will find plenty of places that will provide you with invaluable experiences. Embarking on a startup means taking on important tasks and experiencing many things for the very first time. I hope all Sookmyungians seek out and participate in a variety of activities while in school.
Jang Hyun Gee
-Department of Painting, English & Literature ‘14
-Contents Designer of Color Project
Park So Eun
-Department of Painting, Visual & Media Design ‘14
-UI/UX Designer and Editing Designer of Color Project
Oh Kim Youbin / Culture Section Editor
Choi Cho Huiryung / Reporter
Kwak Lee Shinyoung / Reporter