June 5, 2009
mandarin for dummies
i’ve never been a good student in listening comprehension. they say everyone learns differently – some people learn by doing, some by listening, some by reading, and i’m most definitely a visual learner. one of my favorite things about travel is getting to pick up pieces of new languages and cultures. but the difficulty for me in learning new languages is that (especially with a tonal language like mandarin) it’s almost impossible to learn just by reading the words on a page.
so, in additional to my mandarin phrasebook and southwestern china guides from the library, i decided to download some “chinese survival phrases” podcasts from chineseclass101.com. i’d previously used their french podcasts (frenchpod101.com) and found them really helpful.
i made a couple of cds out of the podcasts i downloaded and i’ve been listening to them in my car. it’s going to take a while for it all to stop sounding the same to me, so i’m just going to keep playing them on repeat. so if you see me sitting at a traffic light, talking to myself, you’ll know i’m not going crazy – just trying to learn a little bit of chinese! =)
even on a short trip like the one we’ll be taking, i think it’s really helpful to at least make an effort to communicate in the language of your host country. even if it’s just to learn please, thank you, good morning, how much? and where is the bathroom? in general, i’ve found that i’ll get better prices when i try to bargain in anything other than english. although this time, i’m a bit worried that my mandarin is going to be so hopeless that it might make things worse! we shall see…