So on the Monday we started our survival Chinese classes. I was given the Chinese name of ‘Luo Sha’ which I was later told by our students is a pretty name. However apparently ‘Sarah’ is normally translated into the Chinese word for ‘salad’ (sha la))…so I kind of like my pretty name better! It was interesting being a part of a Chinese learning environment and getting an understanding of their teaching practices. A lot of our language classes involved repeating after our teacher (who was actually younger than us but we were told we had to respect him because he was our teacher! We knew he was kind of joking but all in all teachers are well respected in China).
So yeah…Mandarin is not easy! Take away the reading and writing part? Yes, it’s still an impossible language!! But it is very interesting to study and I hope to continue with it while we are in Tianjin. There are four different tones in Chinese and if you do not say a word in the right way then you will receive a blank stare (as we have found out so many times!), even though you swear you are saying it right! When it finally clicks with the person you are talking to he or she will be like oh “blah blah” and you will be thinking “YES THAT’S WHAT I SAID!”. This is especially so when attempting to convey to a taxi driver where you want to go and you haven’t written down the place or address in Chinese characters (quite important for a quick and easy transfer from one place to another!).
In Chinese there are words that look the same and are spelt the same but because they have a slightly different tone (i.e. pronounced in a slightly different way) they mean completely different things…like the word “ma” which I think can mean the following – horse, curse, mother or it can denote a question. It is very unnatural for us but I am hoping to at least get a grip of it at some point soon so I can at least buy things properly in the shop instead of pointing at stuff!! We even struggle in McDonalds because I think we pronounce the food names in too much of an English way (we can’t win really!). I would like to learn a few symbols too so that our surroundings become less foreign. The only two I know at the moment are the ones for “forest” and the one for “person” which hasn’t come in too useful so far.
Oh one last thing I should probably mention is that in our first language class we were informed that we were required to do a class performance of a Chinese song at the TEFL closing ceremony! The song was called “Tian mi mi” (it is about smiling and dreaming and all things lovely). And not only that but during class our teacher decided to choose people randomly to sing a solo of the song in front of everyone in our language group…I luckily managed to avoid this terrible ordeal but everyone who was forced to stand up and perform, did very well!! (I was going to post the link below but I won’t subject you to it…the song will be stuck in your head for weeks to come, whether you know the words or not!).
|This is a new symbol I learnt while teaching our Beijing class a lesson on family and friends and it means 'friendship'|