Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How to Really Learn Chinese, Part 2

For some reason I feel more compelled to practice my Chinese when other Chinese speakers are around me. Not with me...around me. I never noticed this until last Saturday when Steve brought it to my attention.

We were at Thomas Sweet's in Georgetown getting some bīngqílín (ice cream) as a part of Z's birthday celebration. We were engaged in a regular English conversation when I suddenly realized there was a group of Chinese women sitting behind me. I didn't have to see them to know they were Chinese because I actually recognized a few words. When I heard a " yě," which means "me, too," I raised my eyebrows and looked at Steve who smiled when he knew what was up. He had heard them minutes before and was just waiting for me to catch on.

All of a sudden my speech patterns changed as I began using as many Chinese words as I could muster. Why? I have no idea. In fact I didn't even overtly realize this until Steve said "now I know how to get you to practice...just sit next to a group of Zhōngguórén and you're good to go."

Perhaps that bodes well for August...I guess that's what immersion is all about.



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