Friday, August 22, 2008

Speak to Me in Chinese, Please

An average "talk to Julie" situation...

Daddy is talking to someone in Chinese.

Daddy misses something that the person says, but I catch it and respond.

The person, whoever it may be, figures that since I responded, I must know more Chinese than my dad, so they begin talking to me at a rapid pace.

I, obviously knowing less Chinese than my dad, am often found saying, "Shenme?" and looking at everyone else for help.

Although this situation may sound tough (and believe me, it is challenging!), I enjoy it very much because it allows me the chance to practice my Chinese. This is exactly the kind of situation I have been waiting for in all of my two years of learning Chinese. It is the exact type of immersion anyone learning a foreign language needs to become better at conversation. Like everyone I have told about our China travels has said, I think all of our Chinese speaking abilities should improve drastically by the time we return to the US.

Another situation that we experienced today, was the "stop in the middle of a random place and chat" situation. As we strolled through yu yuan today (an area in Shanghai that has all the trinkets you can imagine), a group of Chinese students from Xi'an and other places came up to us and just began talking. I am not even sure what happened, but all of a sudden I was having a discussion, in Chinese and English, with three or four Chinese, one of whom was a working man from Shanghai who came along to try out his English on the waiguoren. It was a lot of fun for me because I got to try out all the Chinese I know, but I didn't have to depend on it since the students knew enough English to go on.

All in all, it was another language enriching experience that I know could have only happened with a spontaneous spirit. This type of situation is one of the many things I love about living in China...speak Chinese any time, any place, and to anyone.



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