Tuesday, March 27

Long Overdue

Well, it's been some time since I've been back here. Not intentional mind you, just 很忙。 I've been promoted at work (yea!) after a month of semi-intense training. On top of that we've just been exceptionally busy (people leaving, people getting hired, lots of calls) which has left little time at work to study. Sounds crazy but I have been able to learn so much while there. In between calls and waiting on hold are great times for me. The last month or so they have been few and far between.

Thanks to the change in weather though I've been able to get out at lunch and walk the parking lot, listen to CPod and mumble to myself while sneaking glances to make sure no one heard me. Can you image what it must sound like to someone walking by to hear "you kong de shi hou" and "wo jue de"!

I'll have some news about class in a few weeks but nothing at the moment. We have had great classes the last two weeks though. The Saturday before last we had a visitor from China (who I hope to spend more time with soon) and this week a 美国人 who speaks exceptional (he took exception to the term fluent so I'll say exceptional) Chinese. He speaks a number of other languages too so I'm not too surprised, and he is currently learning Korean.

Enough for now. Past time for bed.

Friday, March 2

What Helps 我

The first year of my 中文 quest is coming to a close. As a result of this, my previous post, and continued discussion on the CPod Blog, I've nailed down a few things that I find essential for my learning experience in no particular order.

1. Dynamic Input- This has taken two forms for me. Classroom experience and ChinesePod podcasts. I have six discs of audio to accompany two textbooks, a brief audio course I downloaded from Audible, and other miscellaneous resources. I will add Chinese films but these have not helped me learn any new words, rather they have enforced what I have already learned.

2. Speaking-I didn't know how much this helped until I stopped doing it for a couple of weeks. I need to repeat back what I've learned the way an actor rehearses lines. I don't know if this would be as important if I were learning a non-tonal language. Since the tones are important it helps me to practice them. Initially in isolation and now in sentences.

3. Reading-Initially this meant 拼音 and only 拼音。Now it means 汉字。In the grand scale of things I know this is for the best. But the reason I started paying attention to 汉字 is they are so damn interesting. Sure they may seem to be endless and impossible to distinguish, but now they are like little mysteries to be discovered.

4. Time-I can’t take it for granted. It takes time and lots of it to learn any language or accomplish any great task. I hope I’m not accused of claiming learning Chinese is a task I will ever complete because I don’t believe that. However I do believe there comes a time when I could become proficient enough to have a basic conversation with a child and if I continue a basic conversation with an adult, etc.

5. Determination- Will power, effort, whatever you want to call it. The things I love the most in life require a certain measure of effort. Learning Chinese will no doubt be in the top five of difficult tasks. And that’s OK.

I’ll be changing direction a bit in the coming months and look forward to seeing the outcome. For one I’m looking into the Octagon, a program that ChinesePod is promoting. Eight weeks of lessons with a ten minute call each day from a native speaker. Author Frank Fredella was the guinea pig for the program and saw definite results. I mentioned Chinese language boot camp and that it might be useful. This is as close to it as I can get and since there is a time frame (as opposed to an open ended God only knows when it’s going to end scenario) I’m interested. It’s not cheap though and it’s tax time. And I’m not getting a refund (insert tears).
So if it’s still going in a few months I’ll probably sign up.

Enough for now. Gotta get to bed soon. Class tomorrow morning.