Monday, December 12, 2005

I really hate this cafe

This cafe is terrible for me. I reek of cigarettes when I leave it.

Anyway, I love lots of people in America, so I thought I would drag myself here to bang out some non sequitors.

I have started working with a private teacher. So far so good. However, having one teacher bearing down on me can be intense, as my listening is not used to fast constant Chinese. I realize that is why Rie got good at understanding fast, she had a native speaker blitzing her with the language.

I also am seeing things from my kids perspective even better. We are now at ever closer language levels (as my kids have somewhat decent English). We all need to be able to understand, should be expected to understand, yet often don't.

I really see why they don't have any idea what I am talking about for about half an hour, and then it seems like they grew up in America (not literally). The first half an hour of my class was terrifying. I was doubting not just my Chinese, but my capability to learn. But I dealt.

I need some way of launching my mind into Chinese. One of the great weaknesses of my Spanish was that it became an extension of my English. I learned the language by basically continually adding words to my English vocabulary, and then just using the Spanish ones when I "spoke Spanish." My grammar was decent because I enjoyed grammar, but I could never really improve my accent. And, something I am strikingly ashamed of, I have never really been able to understand fast Spanish, or Spanish television programs.

With Chinese, a few words have been added to my daily lexicon for that little thing so beloved here, Chingrish, but not nearly as drastically. One reason I think is that I have to speak English for three hours a day at least. If I throw in a Ni3 Hao3, something I often use in English speech, my kids would murder me for breaking my harshestly enforced rule.

Furthermore, Chinese grammar is so drastically different from English or Spanish grammar, and moreover, poorly explained. With Spanish, I learned every rule, and learned it well. Really grammar was the center of my studies. As such, even the most complex English sentences I could filter into Spanish slowly. But with Chinese, my grammar learning has been sporatic and oddly ordered.

This seems to be somewhat of a given with learning Chinese. For one, the language does not have a long history being taught to foreigners. Second, and I think more importantly, its a bitch to teach. If one is learning real Chinese, not just spoken, where do you start? Writing the characters? Words? What grammar rules? Tones? There are so many givens, that you can't worry about grammar until you are writing, and you can't really write until you know at least some grammar.

As such, I am basically trying to create a Chinese section of my brain. A part of my brain that really speaks Chinese, and relies on its grammar largely from instinct rather than translation or a rules barrage. Its actually working pretty well, at least I think so, we will see.

I am a little home sick, being that I will miss Christmas, but Jake is coming, which is going to be beyond any adjectives that comes to mind. Furthermore, the weather has become on par with Oregan fall (though with more sunny days mixed in), so its not like I am in a lonely winter wonder land.

Despite the many trees, the occasional lights, and the barrage of Christmas music, it just does not feel like Christmas.

Zai4 jien4.


Smiranda said...

Cigarettes yucky! I have the same problem when I go to the belly dancing performances they have at this bar. It sucks.

But yay for you getting a private teacher. Good job!

Miss seeing you online!

smiranda said...

If you have not read the Penny Arcade rant about the scrabble video game, you should. I highly enjoyed it and I could see you doing the same.

smiranda said...

Favorite word now. Scrabbelian.

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