Having too much fun studying 汉语

12 Oct

When I was younger, I had this obsession with colored markers and pens. From second grade through high school, my homework assignments always looked like, well, a rainbow threw up on them (in the best way possible). In the younger grades I had to save my colors for coloring assignments, as all work had to be completed in pencil. But once I got to high school and several teachers let us use pens that weren’t black or blue, my homework turned psychedelic. I had almost every type of gel pen imaginable, from metallic to sparkly to swirled. Using my fancy pens actually got me excited to do my homework, especially when I had a new batch.

As you know, I’ve been trying to teach myself Chinese. This is my third attempt at learning the language, but I promised myself I was really in it this time. Of course tackling a language is easier said than done, so I need something to motivate myself. So I pulled out my colored markers.

If you can read Chinese, please ignore my obvious stroke order and radical errors. If you can’t read Chinese, look how cool that looks! And it definitely says important stuff like “peace, love and harmony,” and not “electric fan” and “communal garden.” Practically, it seems more important to be able to read Chinese characters than to write them, but I have a lot of fun writing them, especially with colorful markers.

That seven character-long blue word in the middle is the word for DVD player, according to my book. I showed it to Stephen who said that was crazy. “Just say DVD,” he said. Helpful.

For the most part I’m happy with my Teach Yourself book, but it’s a British book so I occasionally I find myself learning two languages at once. For example, it asked me to translate, “I’m a teetotaller. What about you?” I have never heard the word “teetotaller” in my life and had no idea how to translate it into Chinese or English. Then there was, “Don’t stand on ceremony!” It’s a bit difficult to translate sentences and phrases into Chinese when you have to look up their meaning in English first. I’m currently learning “around the house” words, and had to make some modifications to my flashcards, changing “hob” to “stove,” “tap” to “faucet” and “coffee filter machine” to “coffeemaker” (really, England, “coffee filter machine?” I guess that’s what it is though).

Speaking of flashcards, I’ve really joined the 21st century — I use electric flashcards now. You see, I’m slightly addicted to my iPod Touch and have a hard time putting it down and picking up my flashcard pile. So I found a free flashcard app and entered all my cards. I even figured out how to switch my keyboard to Chinese, which is pretty cool. Check it out:

All you have to do is swipe your finger across to reveal:

(The numbers refer to the tones. Typing the characters in Chinese was hard enough, I wasn’t about to attempt official tone marks.)

And now you know the Chinese word for England. I can always pick it out during a conversation because everyone is always asking Stephen, “Is she from England or America?” Soon enough I will be able to answer for myself!


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