Capn's Blog

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wednesday night: Teacher only speaks Chinese!

Wednesday night we had a new teacher for our Chinese class. He's from Tianjin and although he speaks English, he speaks to us only in Chinese.

Woah. Haven't had that before. I think we can all understand about 20% of what he's saying. The dictation he gave us was a bit of a farce, because he'd say a few words, then offer some explanation. We didn't know what was dictation and what was his comments and it was very confusing. Also, since he wasn't looking at his page carefully, his rereadings of a sentence would sometimes be different from the first reading. And we just finished our holidays, so we were a bit rusty on our characters. Hope things improve!

Then there's the "mouth full of marrrbles" problem. He's from Tianjin, so his "rrrr" sounds are very thick. That's ok, we have to understand everyone's Mandarin, but he's also giving us special instruction on how to make those "rrrr" sounds.

While I'd rather say 哪儿 (nar) than 那里 (nali) and 点儿 (diar) rather than 点点 (diandian), I don't know whether I want to learn to speak with such a mouthful of marrrbles. He seems to think that southerners don't use all the arrrs because they can't. But really, maybe it's because they don't want to!

Having said that, I think it will be very good in the long run. I think the dictation especially will keep us on our toes, and the strong verbal component is enough for me to want to continue this year. Could be just the thing I need.

If you're interested, the dictation for last night can be found here:

Right-click on this link, and choosing "Save Target As...". You can then play it as you usually would for MP3 files.


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