Tuesday, September 25, 2012

my chinese so good!

Well my adventure in Taiwan is almost over so I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about my handle of Chinese and if I've mastered it in the short time I've been here. Prior to coming to Taiwan I had tried to learn Chinese on my own using Rosetta Stone or just random language websites. You know because China is becoming a superpower so knowing Chinese can only help me succeed. Of course I only spent a significant amount of time on it when there wasn't any television shows to watch or I was just super bored and wanted to feel like I was being productive. The thing with learning Chinese on my own is that it is entirely dependent on my own motivation which wanes when I have distractions like TV and internet. My mom and dad were adamant that I learn Chinese while I was in Taiwan. Every time I video chatted with them they were asking me if I had enrolled in classes and such yet. I procrastinated because my work schedule only allowed me to take classes either super early in the morning or on the weekends. My parents were all for me going to class on the weekend but that was gonna happen over my dead body. Seriously weekends are for exploring the country not to go to class. Blah so after my parents incessant nagging I finally found a private Chinese teacher.
There were three other students (all English teachers) in my class, all from America. I already had the advantage with my Cantonese skills. Mwhahaa! I can't even comprehend trying to understand Chinese without any foundation or basis in it. If the teacher said something, it was easy for me to just draw on my Cantonese vocabulary to understand what was going on. No clue how the others did it. The only other student who was getting it studied a lot. Anyways the other two soon fell behind and then just dropped out because they either moved or couldn't comprehend it at all. That is when things got craptastic. Chinese vocabulary was getting harder and started to deviate from Cantonese more and more and since I don't study the other student was kicking my ass in class. I couldn't even pretend I was studying because every weekend I was going out and only opened my Chinese book for class. I especially hate translate this English sentence to Chinese. BOOO....

I don't know why but now when I need to say something in Chinese my brain doesn't try to think of it in Cantonese first. Ugh this is where my informal learning of Cantonese really hinders my Chinese learning. Since I learned colloquial Cantonese and not in a formal institute, I missed out on all the grammar and such, that when I speak Chinese I usually just speak in slang or in shortened sentences. My communication skills are great...with kids. I can have entire conversations with them! It is also because of my bilingualism that people say I speak Chinese with a Cantonese accent instead of an American one. I can totally pass off like I'm from Hong Kong.Whoop Whoop!

So did my Chinese get better because I took classes? My local friends tell me my Chinese has definitely improved and when I opened Rosetta Stone again I was hitting the tones more so that's good enough for me. It helps that I live in a country that only speaks Chinese but everyone I know speaks English so I never really get a chance to speak it. My speaking skills are atrocious. I can understand what people are saying but I wouldn't be able to respond to them. If the other person even questions what I'm saying I automatically go into failure shame mode and just revert back to English to prevent embarrassing myself more. :( Most times when I hear Chinese my mind just blanks out and I don't even pay attention I just utter "I don't understand." I'll prob have to enroll in classes or something when I get back into the states just so I don't lose what little Chinese skills I got. I think everyone I know speaks Cantonese but anyone who does speak Chinese want to practice?

Now don't think I'm such a lazy student that I barely did any work, I'm still Asian enough to put SOME effort into my Chinese. Since my classes don't cover writing and reading I've taken to doing that on my own. Looking at the dictionary/index at the back of my Chinese book and just writing it repeatedly over and over - so monotonous. Then I use my students to tell me how to write the correct stroke order and to test me. Haha great use of their English class time :P 

1 comment:

  1. Funny, the parents haven't encouraged me to learn Turkish yet...