10 October, 2017

The Tragedy of Mandarin

Some days, I despair of ever learning Mandarin. There is SO MUCH! I've started spending a lot of time in review. Just review. Characters mostly, but also my notes from our lessons.

Our 2 hour classes are primarily spent in discussion based loosely on a textbook. We learn a new key phrase or topic - like introducing people or giving directions - and a
Brett, conducting his speech in class.
particular sentence or phrase structure: S+V+direction word +S2. When our teacher writes on the white board, she incorporates characters if we've learned them, but otherwise spells it in pinying. (Our first few lessons were all to learn pinying.)

If there's time, we do 2 or 3 grammatical structures, and for about the last half hour we learn new characters. Often she includes a few ways that character is used, or adds another character to show it in context. She's quite a good teacher.

Homework has two parts. First, sentences that she's spelled in pinying and we have to write in characters - which is harder than it sounds, when there are a half-dozen characters all spelled the same in pinying. Second, she'll list the new sentence structures and we have to write out a given number of sentences that fit it - using characters we've learned, and pinying.



Sound confusing? It all makes sense at the time, but days later I can only remember 3 of the 15 characters we learned. That's when I want to just chuck it all and stumble around using only English. Will I NEVER be able to communicate in Chinese? 


We had a test recently, and she corrected the tests, but there's no grade given. No pressure, except that learning this is actually a life-skill here - a bigger deal than a grade! I did better than I expected, but still had a lot of holes in the character-recall section.
Part of my actual test. I don't recognize my handwriting yet.

Should I just stop? Quit the madness? But then I remember my lofty goals:

1. I want to learn calligraphy. I've wanted to since I was a teenager. Now's my chance. Learn the language, then the art.

2. Read the I-Ching in Chinese. Even my Chinese friends say it is hard to understand.

Regardless of how long we live here, I must persevere, no matter how painful!

5 comments:

  1. Like mowing the grass with a pushmower, the process is less than desired but the results are so good! I can't imagine wanting to read the I-Ching. I'll have to look up what it is.

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    1. It's a book of ancient wisdom. I've seen it in English, but I imagine it's like Shakespeare - a lot gets lost in translation. So I intend to learn it in its original language.

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  2. China has FOUR GREAT CHINESE NOVELS. They are considered to be THE classics of Chinese literature. I really want to read those in the original Chinese.

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    Replies
    1. You're ambitious. I'll take my ambition in bite-sized chunks.

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  3. That's awesome that you're not giving up. That looks way, way too confusing to me. Then again, I don't claim to be the sharpest crayon in the shed.

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I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.