A Travellerspoint blog

Chinese 101

I have decided that I will learn Chinese, Mandarin to be specific. I have always wanted to speak another language, it seems a bit ethnocentric not to. Working in a restaurant in Washington I was surrounded by a Spanish speaking kitchen for three years, how much spanish do I know? Un poco, I am not convinced I am one of the lucky ones who picks up languages as easy as some. But I have ambition and determination, I am also hopeful that one meal I will be able to order tofu and fried noodles! So I signed up for one-on-one classes at a school on Haidian Dao Island in Haikou.

Sharon, the director of PLS, speaks lovely English and helped me to get a date and time set up for my first lesson, she also just happened to have a friend who could show us apartments, how convenient! It is not uncommon for someone to know someone who you can call to get ahold of someone else who can help, easy right? That is beside the point- Learn Chinese!

My first lesson was last week, Cody and I took the bus to the island and he left me to learn. I came with my 'Chinese Express' book in tow and promised myself I would pay attention like a good student. A good student does not go unrewarded in my experience. Chinese is hard! Pinyin is the written form of the language in the english alphabet, then each word is also a shown as several characters. Although it is an english alphabet, the sounds are much different and the tone is very important. Four tones indicate the difference in expression and meaning- I think. So my homework tonight is to memorize all the different sounds of the alphabet, practice the tones and some basic 'My name is' sentences.

Being a student in a classroom is always an exciting experience. Everything is new, your brain is in overhaul and you are trying desperately not to fuck up. Unlike a good student I forgot any paper to take notes on during class, ended up canceling my second lesson because I didn’t study and now I am nervous as hell to go back tomorrow and disappoint my teacher. Gives a nice perspective on my class of two year olds, sometimes you just don’t want to feel like a fool speaking a foreign tongue.


Regardless I will go again tomorrow, try my best and get over this irrational fear of sounding stupid. It is important for me to learn, and I do understand that once I get my feet wet the language should flow from my mouth beautifully, or harshly, Chinese is rather tonal and obnoxious sounding.

Embrace the chaos

Posted by MissMaggieMae 06:34 Archived in China Tagged language chinese Comments (1)

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