【Case Study】James Kell from Sailing Virgins

James Kell - Case Study

This article was written by James Kell. James is a member of The Mandarin Blueprint Method. He’s also one of the proprietors of a company called “Sailing Virgins.”


Here’s the Sailing Virgins story told in the third person. 

Picture from sailingvirgins.com

Sailing Virgins is a three-year-old California-based adventure sailing company. It looks after adventurous millennials, taking them on trips in Croatia, the Caribbean, and Tahiti. Over three years, it has become the highest-rated adventure sailing school in the world, according to TripAdvisor.

Picture from sailingvirgins.com

In 2019 the startup began operations in Tahiti, with young Chinese entrepreneurs as students. The trip was a success, so founder James Kell looked for more opportunities to expand in the Chinese market. Chinese language skills are essential not just for the apparent communication element, but for Kell to better understand the culture of this important market, and in doing so, mold the service offering to suit the market.

“Mandarin Blueprint has been a godsend,” says Kell, “I never thought I could learn Chinese without taking a full-time course. Not only is this the fastest way to learn spoken Chinese, but you pick up reading and writing as you go.” On the technique, Kell stated, “the creators of Mandarin Blueprint have innovated far beyond any other language teacher on the internet. They have cherry-picked leading methods used by memory world champions and adapted them to learn this hitherto impenetrable language. They do this all the while keeping the student in that enjoyable state of “flow,” so it doesn’t feel like a chore.” When asked how his progress is going, Kell stated, “At this rate of an hour a day, I will have comfortable spoken and written Chinese (HSK-4) in six months. That is about five times faster than any other method I have found.”

What problem were you facing that caused you to search for a Chinese course?

I run an adventure sailing school for millennials called Sailing Virgins. China is a tremendous potential market for us. I wanted to see if there was any possible way for me to learn to read and write Chinese. I found Mandarin Blueprint and was skeptical, but thought Phil and Luke seemed genuine, so I thought I would give it a go.

What would it mean for you personally/work if you succeed in learning Chinese?

It means I can potentially tap into the wealthy-adventurous-millennial market for our sailing business. This is huge.

How long, on average, does it take you to learn a character? How long did it take you to get to that speed?

I take a while to learn everything. It takes me around 5-10 minutes to learn a character. I’m up to 125 characters so I am getting faster at learning.

Which 3 parts of MB have made the biggest impact?

1. The memory palace method of memorizing is incredible; 

2. The Anki flashcards for daily review somehow make me remember it; 

3. The genuine passion of Luke and Phil keep me motivated

What results have you achieved & what impact has it had on your life?

After six weeks I’m starting to read sentences! What a breakthrough.

What were you skeptical about? 

I was skeptical about anyone who promoted an easy, fast way to learn Chinese, as there are so many ads offering crazy short times to learn a language. But the guys at Mandarin Blueprint are legit.

Any suggestions for how we can improve the course?

I find myself pressing 1.25 on the speed for a lot of talking because some of it sometimes superfluous. It would be good to stay well on point, even edit out the spaces as this makes for much more efficient learning. But that’s a refinement rather than anything major.

Would you recommend MB? Why or why not?

Yes for sure. I’m going to recommend it to some of my sailing colleagues/mates as a way to learn Chinese that is actually doable.

Picture from sailingvirgins.com