It’s kind of fun being both a teacher and a student at the same time. As a student in Chinese class, I’m constantly (over)analyzing the teaching techniques used. It’s helpful to remember what it feels like when directions aren’t clear, or how boring a class can be when you listen to the teacher for the whole class period. Kimfucius says… all good teachers need to remember what it’s like to be a student!
Overall, my Chinese classes so far have been so-so. I’m in an intermediate class (level 3 out of 5), and the lessons seem to fluctuate between being a little too easy or way too hard. It’s frustrating because I can only attend 6 of the 12 weekly classes due to my teaching schedule. Some days I show up to class completely unprepared, with the wrong textbook and no idea which chapter we are on. Thankfully the teachers are understanding, and because I’m taking the class purely for personal interest, I don’t get harassed for not having my homework etc.
My classes are broken down by the skill set that they focus on. I have a listening/speaking class (听说), a reading/writing class (读写） and a lecture course that focuses on grammar and vocabuarly（教程) each taught by a different teacher. Of the three, my favorite is the listening/speaking class. For one homework assignment, we had to eavesdrop on conversations in daily life to find phrases we didn’t understand. Our teacher then explained the phrases, which led to us learning some useful slang and random tidbits about Chinese culture. We were also required to watch a Chinese movie and report to the class about it. I watched Beijing Bicycle (十七岁的单车) and really enjoyed it!
My classmates are from all over– Belarus (1), Russia (2), Korea (6), Japan (2), Thailand (1), Indonesia (1) and the UK (2). I’m the lone American. As a class, our only common language is Chinese, which means that our teachers only use Chinese to explain new vocabulary, and if we want to talk to one another, we have to do it in Chinese. It’s great practice! We have 16 people in the class if everyone comes, but several students are also graduate students at DUT, so occasionally their graduate class schedule conflicts with Chinese class. Most people are here for either a semester or year-long study abroad program.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel like my Chinese has improved drastically since being here. My classes are great for listening to the teacher talk, but we don’t get to practice much. And in daily life, I can get by fairly easily with the Chinese that I already know. So I really need to be more diligent about spending at least an hour a day studying/practicing. Easier said than done… but it is possible! Please hold me accountable and make sure I follow through with this goal!
I’ll end this post with one of my favorite new Chinese phrases, 慢走 man zou, which is literally translated “Go slowly.” It is used in place of goodbye, and conveys kindness, similar to “Take care!” After chatting with the cashier at my favorite little shop, he’ll smile and say, “慢走!” After eating lunch at a little hole in the wall, the owner will poke out, wave goodbye and say, “慢走!” I just love how poetic it sounds, and really like the idea behind it. It’s kind of like, “We’ve had such a good time together. I hate to see you go. Please take care.” compressed into two simple sounds.
So, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this mini Chinese lesson, and “慢走!” Enjoy the picture below from a park (劳动公园） in Dalian on a sunny Fall day!