Archives for posts with tag: chinese

I’m back from Chinese school, everyone!  After surviving a month of hardly any English and a ton of suffering, I have returned!

Actually, I’ll be honest here: I miss it a lot.  The schedule was always packed (we had something like 45 minutes of free time a day) and we were all required to sign a “language pledge”, which stated that we were not allowed to speak English unless the RAs or teachers allowed it.  It was a tough promise to keep — the temptation to speak English was always there and all-consuming — but for those of us who didn’t break it, the pledge was extremely beneficial to our learning experience.  I’m certain that, had I not been required to speak Chinese at all times, I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t have even bothered to speak Chinese because of my undying fear of pronouncing things incorrectly or messing up grammar.  However, being in an environment where everyone was in the same boat and everyone was a little bit nervous about messing up, speaking the target language became a bit easier.  I found myself having an easier time than a good lot of my classmates.

Of course, I’ll miss my camp friends and classmates, too.  If it wasn’t for them, I’d have probably gone insane by the end of the first week.  Because I was placed in the level 4 group (4 out of 5, that is, and 4 and 5 was a split-level class), everyone in the class was learning, speaking, and writing at around the same level as I.  And since communicating with the lower-level students was challenging (it required a lot of effort to explain things to them without using English), I was always hanging around my fellow level 4 and 5 students.  I found that being around higher-level students was extremely beneficial to my language learning. My closest friends at camp were all in my class, and I found that we were able to communicate with each other much better as the weeks went by (maybe not so much because our Chinese was getting better and more that we were just getting better at figuring out gestures). 

  

One of the greatest things about the program is how diverse the student population is.  Most of my friends live on the east coast (New York, New Jersey, Florida), and a few of the students in my class are from Hong Kong.  They all showed so much enthusiasm in learning Chinese, whatever their ethnic background, and motivated me to try my best to learn. I’ve been keeping in touch with some of them over Skype, and I’m definitely thinking about going back next year. 

  

All in all, I had a great experience at MMLA.  My Chinese has improved tremendously — I can now speak some with my parents and grandparents. I’ll be sure to keep in touch with all of the great people I met!

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is finally over!

It’s actually extremely terrifying how quickly time goes by these days.  I still remember being 12 years old, thinking I had 6 years until college.  Now I have 2.

Now that I’m done with sophomore year, the pressure is starting to build.  I have to worry about the PSAT, the SAT, the SAT IIs, the AP exams, community service, and all that good stuff.  I started my blog when I was in 8th grade.  Though I was overwhelmed by everything at the time, things are so much more difficult now.  Scary.

I can’t wait until I’m done with junior year.  Senioritis sounds like a good kind of disease.

By the way, I’ll be posting one or 2 blogs every week for the next couple of weeks, before I go to Chinese immersion camp.  Yay!

~BTAS

The past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with the drama that resulted from a breakup.  Not my breakup, of course; two of my close friends decided to date each other about a month and a half ago, and as I predicted it would be, their breakup was devastating.  I could literally see this great schism within my friend group happen right before my eyes.

Moral of the story: when you date someone in high school, odds are you’re going to break up by the time you graduate.  So when you date someone in your friend group, you’re going to break up.  And then when you break up, your entire friend group is going to start feuding and you’ll have some major drama on your hands and your friends will slowly begin to hate you for causing it.  So don’t date in high school.

I’m kind of kidding about that.  It’s high school, you’re going to deal with drama all the time.  Dating’s fine and dandy when it’s not happening between two people in your friend group.  This situation has happened to me twice already, the first time being last year.  It’s not that fun.  And by “not that fun” I mean absolutely terrible.

It’s a good thing summer is coming up in a week.  I think we could all do with a break from seeing each other 5 days a week.  It gets seriously exhausting.

Speaking of summer, I’ll be going to a Mandarin immersion sleep-away camp for 4 weeks.  I know it sounds kind of scary, but I really do want to learn Chinese (read more in my previous post) and this is probably one of the best ways to do it.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to speak Chinese every waking moment of the day for 4 straight weeks, but I guess it can’t hurt to try.

Also, my Chinese friend recently pointed out that I have very undefined eyebrows.  This is true.  He says it’s a Chinese thing.  This is probably also true–can’t be sure, but he most certainly lacks eyebrows, and so does my dad.  Has anyone else noticed this?

Toodleloodlydoodlyloodleloo! (not entirely sure what that was)

BTAS

Part of what makes me so “whitewashed” is that I don’t speak Chinese. I had a private tutor to teach me Chinese for a few years when I was younger because I was too self-conscious to learn in a classroom setting. I dropped the language altogether when I entered middle school.

Boy, do I regret it.

It kind of sucks for me to not be able to communicate with my grandparents. Actually, I guess it’s not that I can’t communicate with them — they do speak decent English — but it goes without saying that their first language is Chinese, and it’s hard to have really comprehensive conversations with people when they don’t speak your language fluently and you sure as hell don’t speak theirs fluently. It’s a language barrier, and it complicates things.

Anyways, for 4 years I went without formally learning Chinese at all. At the beginning of these 4 years, I was mighty happy about that; Chinese lessons sucked because I had to do homework. Ew. So I went along, happily speaking my English and not letting the fact that I couldn’t speak Chinese bother me. I took a real pride in being able to speak and understand English well, and I thought that was enough.

But there came a time — about a year and a half ago or so — when I realized that the fact that I couldn’t speak a second language was lame. I learned Japanese at school for two years because my school didn’t offer Chinese, but I never got fluent. Heck, I’ll be lucky if I can remember how to say “hello”. And then I had all of my Chinese-American friends since elementary school speaking Chinese to each other. You know what was mortifying? When they’d try to include me in their Chinese conversations and I would just stand there and pray to God that they wouldn’t find out that I hadn’t the slightest clue what they were talking about.

So here I was, a few years of Chinese and a couple of years of Japanese under my belt, feeling sucky that despite having studied 2 foreign languages, the only language I was comfortable with was English.

I only started learning Chinese again over this past summer. I took a course designed for “heritage speakers” (which I wasn’t and am not, but my mom insisted I take the class anyways), and I did my best to keep up with all of the real heritage speakers. Of course, there were a couple of kids there who knew even less than I did — wow — but it was still pretty awkward to be hearing the teacher talking and not understanding. It was a lot of trial and error. But I actually got a lot out of it.

I’m taking Chinese at my school right now. Am I fluent? Nah. Can native speakers even understand me? Probs not. But it’s a step. I’m going to be fluent one day. I promise.

LURV,
BTAS.

P.S: Yes, the “listening” thing is a joke. Kind of. I really am listening to it now.