March 27, 2009

Jess - Lessons in Chinese, both in class and out

Lesson No1
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!

Lesson No2
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.

Lesson No3
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.  

Lesson No4
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. 


The Freys said...

Yeah, no pressure for James to live up to his wife's successes...

Dustin said...

just assume you will do worse, then you have nothing to worry about... or live up to