Monday, May 28

Week 5

Starting on Week 5, only 3 more left. I am more impressed now than I was to begin with. Vera is terrific. I was concerned the lessons and teaching would be rigid. I thought that regardless of progress (or regress) that she would maintain the same teaching style, going over each lesson the same way. This has not been the case. I haven't had any problem reading the dialogs so we spend less time on that than we used to and more time on translating and conversation.

She also incorporates more and more Chinese, again, based on what I am able to do. I don't mean that she keeps it so simple that I can easily answer or respond. No, the words and phrases are always just above what I am able to do. It's like working out. She's adding the weight to our lessons week by week. Very impressed.

I am very fortunate that I am able to test my abilities and weaknesses on a couple who are visiting from Beijing and staying with my former instructor. Last Friday Jenn and I had lunch (delicious noodles!) and conversed a little here and a little there in Chinese. I was able to recognize more than last time and they were surprised that my tones were so good. So was I!

I'm already thinking ahead. I can't afford to keep doing it month after month. I am hoping to go for a month, take a month off, etc, etc. Probably not the best option but when money is an object..., you know how it goes.

If only it had not taken a full month for me to get in the swing of things.

Newbie Comics 3

From the lesson "Ordering Food":

Wednesday, May 16

Week 3

All I can say is WHEW!

I've made it this far. And I still look forward to my calls each day. The combination of compressed work week and the call shortly after I get home is difficult. I think I've touched on this so I won't go on about it again.

I'm impressed once again that the lessons incorporate words from previous lessons providing a great system of review and expansion. For instance I had lessons separated by a week and a half that included the word 经常 (jing1chang2). I need as much of this as I can get.

It's also helping me realize I just can't learn it all at once. My goal before was to have a lesson memorized, to be able to pick it apart, and translate it without a transcript while listening. I have only been able to do this with Newbie lessons and was constantly disappointed that I could not do the same with Elementary lessons like this one. I could listen all day till I was sick and STILL not be able to translate all of it.

I still can't do it but I don't care either. I'm convinced I need repetitive and broad exposure to the language. It's too early in the game to determine how effective this will be in the long run but I have a good feeling about it and it keeps the experience fresh.

In the mean time I will direct you here to read about John Pasden's fascinating and humbling experience learning Chinese.


Monday, May 7

An Update

Still here.

My wife had surgery a couple of weeks ago and I was home taking care of her 24/7. With all that time you would think I would have really worked on my studies for ChinesePod right?


You underestimate how much I hate to study.

There were moments of discovery in that time, when sentence structures that Vera asked me to work on clicked in my mind. But then there were other things.

Today she asked me to translate "I never...". Well, I knew the rest of the words and the structure but forgot how to say "never" (my wife would concur) and just shut down at that point. Mental block.

It's true. I hate to study. My mother recently told me that I was gifted but easily bored. I asked if she meant gifted in the shortbus way or bright and she assured me she meant bright. I was in all the advanced classes in High School but did terrible because I hated the classes. Instead I went home and read Steinbeck and King (Stephen).

So Vera (and Kai), I give you my apologies, I am a terrible student.

Oh yes, an update on the 8 week course. Well, not much to report since China had a week long national holiday which meant no calls for a week. We started back today and I did terrible.

Speaking of starting back today I went back to work for the first time in 11 days (hey, when I said Jenn couldn't do anything I wasn't kidding!). The combined stress of being back at work and having studied very little for the lesson tonight almost gave me a coronary.

Well, there's always tomorrow.