Saturday, January 27


大 da4 = big
中 zhong1 = medium, middle
小 xiao3 = small
北 bei3 = north
南 nan2 = south
东 dong1 = east
西 xi1 = west
号 hao4 = number, size
红 hong2 = red
黄 huang2 = yellow
绿 lu4 = green
买 mai3 = buy
卖 mai4 = sell

Thursday, January 25

Non-Native Speakers Speaking Out

One of the blogs I frequent is Lingual Bee. His post on January 25th 07 entitled "The Advantages of Talking to Other Non-Native Speakers" was great. I work with a guy from Malaysia who speaks Mandarin and English fluently. My Chinese instructor is the same, fluent in both (with some knowledge of French and Cantonese thrown in) and I am intimidated speaking to them both. However I don't feel the same pressure with my classmates and am generally encouraged in those rare moments when we share a word or two.

Wednesday, January 24

What Would You Do?

If you were enrolled in a 10 week language course and you had a say in the class structure, what would you suggest?

That's what a classmate and I were talking about on Saturday after class. We plan on getting together and discussing possible ideas for the next 10 weeks (and maybe more).

Any ideas?

Duh about "de"

We had a great class last week. We started with a list of proverbs containing numbers. Shortly after the sheet was passed out we realized we had seen it before. It was originally given to us in our first session many months ago. Try as we may we did not understand some of them though. Coming to grips with the numbers losing their meanings and the logic behind the sayings was taking every ounce of brain power I had. Here are a few of the “number proverbs” in the list

一五一十 (yi wu yi shi) = in detail
三天两头 (san tian liang tou) = every other day
五光十色 (wu guang shi se) = colorful
八九不离十 (ba jiu bu li shi) = almost
九牛二虎 (jiu niu er hu) = the combined strength of nine oxen and two tigers
十全十美 (shi quan shi mei) = perfect

The real fun started when we got to 的,地, and 得. I’m afraid that at this point my grasp on the three is so tenuous that I’m just going to post my notes and make no comments on them.

“All modifiers must come before the noun.”
“的, besides indicating possession, must come before two syllable adjectives modifying a noun.”

The example I have written here is:

她是一个好妈妈, 好朋友。

她是一个很好的妈妈, 好朋友。

In the first sentence only 好 is modifying 妈妈, hence no 的.
In the second sentence 很好 is modifying 妈妈, necessitating the inclusion of 的.

Oh, and someone sneezed. Instead of “bless you” we can say 一百岁 “yi bai sui”, or “longevity”.

Friday, January 19

The Method

There's quite a stir over on the CPod Blog about language acquisition methods. Someone posted a comment about CPod being in conflict with the Pimsleur method. I'm too tired to say much, but I agree with Ken that I don't believe there is one standard approach to learning a language. In fact I'm not so sure there's a standard approach to learning many things in life. Learning to play a musical instrument comes to mind. The only consistent factors seem to be time, willpower, and exposure.

Speaking of which I've been spending 45 minutes to an hour with the FSI material and so far am impressed. More on that later.

Sunday, January 14

Anonymous Poster

Dear Anonymous,

You have a point. I spend entirely too much time looking around and not enough time getting down to business. Honestly, I hate to study. I'm an immersion guy. Force me into the situation and I'm all over it. That's what I do at work. I support specialized software for Dentists. I knew nothing about it, I got some training, and now I can support it effectively. I "get" it. When I started the job, I couldn't have been more intimidated. I was ready to quit, thinking I had gotten way over my head. But I had to have a job and the pay was pretty damn good compared to what I was getting. I just told myself I would get through it.

If it was something I was doing for personal enrichment I would still be at the beginning stages. Even if it was something I enjoyed. Just laziness I suppose. Passivity. Which is why I believe the suggestions I had gotten about going to China, even for a short amount of time, would be very helpful. Unfortunately that's not feasible right now. And on a side note neither is adopting. With China's new regulations we have to wait a few years which has been quite a blow to my wife and I.

I say all that to say that I have decided to stop looking around for the "perfect" materials. I found a link to the Foreign Service Institutes language course in MP3 for the right price.
It's just my speed, it doesn't pretend to be everything (no characters, focus on speaking and comprehension) which will also encourage my mind to wander just enough to keep it interesting. I can practice reading and writing 汉字 hanzi in those spare moments.

I still have the class too. It looked like it was coming to an end. I asked the owner of the language institute if we were going to continue and he asked the other class members. I was very happy to discover they also wanted to continue. There is a core group of three (including myself) and a few others who come when they can. Having the class to attend each week provides a good deal of motivation (as does the $350 clams I have to pay every 10 weeks!).

So anonymous, I'm going to take your advice and buckle down for a little bit. I won't be filling out mountains of paperwork like I thought I would be so I'll have more time than I anticipated.

Again, to all those who have commented I just want to say 谢谢 for the encouragement.

Sunday, January 7

Note to Self - 1

汉字 "hanzi" study for most of the week. Class on 星期六 was a reminder of how important it is to spend copious amounts of time listening to the language. When instructor Kai begins speaking in Mandarin, even sentences we have reviewed many times over, I am lost. I have to ask him (several times) what he is saying. As the words are repeated and slowed down my mind pieces it together and I understand what he is saying. It's so embarrassing!

The flip side of course is that it keeps my learning in perspective. I find it easy to become excited about how much I seem to be learning only to forget how much I don't know.

I'm considering an MP3 structured course for a while, forcing myself through some program. I found an interesting post on the CPod blog which in turn led to a link to the Foreign Service Institute's MP3's of old cassettes that someone digitized. I'm listening now as I write this. I would love to try the Rosetta Stone course but don't have the cash to fork over for it now. I understand it's total immersion which I find fascinating. I would love to hear any feedback about that course (or any of the other standard courses available).