Tag Archives: learn Mandarin

First Mandarin lesson and homework

15 Nov

I’ve started Mandarin lessons yesterday. After a lot of researching of schools, I decided to go with a private teacher at least until Christmas. Many reasons for this, the primary one being that if I register with a school now, I will be missing too many classes while I’ll be away for Christmas and New Year’s and, given the tuition and the intensity of the course (4 hours everyday from Monday to Friday), it would be a pity to waste so much money and time.

My teacher’s name is H. Tiffany from the relocation agency recommended her to me. She’s very nice and incredibly patient. The first lesson was mostly spent re-learning how to read pinyin (for those who don’t know, pinyin is the phonetic transcription of Mandarin) and work on the four intonations. I had such a hard time with this and we did it so many times that at the end of it I couldn’t pronounce my name correctly anymore and after two hours, I was glad the lesson was over.

This afternoon, after a bit of procrastination, I finally started my homework which consisted of the whole five chapters of pinyin from the book and mp3 that H. gave me. Basically, I have to repeat and read simultaneously each chapter twice. I cringed when I saw that each mp3 was between 6 and 9 minutes. I did not enjoy it yesterday, what will make me enjoy it this time round? Plus there’s no one to correct me… I started nonetheless, reluctantly repeating after my computer each sound and syllable…

An hour and 15 minutes later, I had done the first, second and third chapter. Quite satisfied, I pursued with the fourth chapter. As I was starting to enjoy the exercise and feeling more confident in my pronunciation of tones 2 and 3, I heard a knock on my door. It started slow but became more and more persistent. I walked to the door and was about to open it but then realised that the door is not equipped with a hole and because the knocking became more aggressive (even though it wasn’t really banging) and I could hear two voices from outside, I decided not to. I waited for a second, then heard a door slamming… I’ve clearly been bothering my neighbours. Concerned, I started testing all the walls and it turned out that most of them are made of bond stone.

Although I could understand that anyone could be annoyed by my monosyllabic repetitions and voice strangulations, I was really upset that all I was able to achieve with my first efforts to learn Chinese was to antagonise my neighbours… :-(

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