Its sometimes pays off to unashamedly flatter your teacher. On Thursday in a series of questions my teacher was asking she asked me:
"Jessica, shei congming?" (Jessica, who is smart?)
Really what choice did I have? It was the perfect opportunity to pour forth with;
'Oh Laoshi, ni congming" (Oh teacher, you are smart!)
She burst into red faced giggles and said;
"Bu congming, Wo bu congming! Jessica, ni congming!" (Not smart, I am not smart. Jessica, you are smart!)
Ah yes, well thank you!
Trying to make a joke in Chinese to my teacher is a gamble, and James has found the same thing. In learning how to use the word "half" (ban - fourth tone), I was asked to read the sentences at the bottom of the page. One of them talked about "half a book" (yiban shu). So I good-naturedly picked up my book and dramatically pretended to rip it in half. My teacher looked at me blankly. Needless to say, I felt a little silly! But there are other times that we laugh long and loud together, so I feel those times make up for the duds.
When speaking to Chinese people in everyday circumstances, I need to stop assuming that I am saying something wrong when they look at me blankly. My reaction until now has been to think that I probably said the tones wrong and then I'll try to change them, which then does make it wrong. In Canada, I often needed to ask someone speaking English as their second language to repeat what they said, usually because of their accent. So I realized that I am usually saying it right, and if I repeat myself and sometimes gesture, they usually get what I am saying.
I must be doing okay because I had my first exam yesterday (oral and written), and I scored a 90%! James has his on Monday.