This week has been very slow for me. I could have done a lot more but I didn’t. One of the reasons is that I get distracted.

I started the week very well. On Monday and Tuesday I did not stop listening to repeats of my lessons. I gave myself a target of five lessons per day. By that I mean listening to only five lessons on repeat mode on my Mp3 then listening to a further five lessons just to familiarise myself with the sounds.

On Monday I completed ten lessons simply because the first five were very familiar phrases: (hello, byebye, good and so on), on Tuesday I added a further five lessons and it is Friday and I have completed 30 lessons of mini dialogues OUT of 60.

My process is simple:

  • I discover the five dialogues ( 20 secs each) by just listening to them
  • I listen to them a further three times or more each to get used to the sounds.
  • I listen and repeat the words.
  • I now look at the written dialogue to familiarise myself with the vocabulary and the characters (I try and figure out if within the compound characters there are characters that I already know. The mini dialogues start with the sentence in English, followed by how you would say it in Chinese, then it is repeated in Chinese at a slower pace. Each dialogue sentence is happening within a particular setting.

Let’s invent a possible scenario

You are at the bus station in China (sugoi) and you want to find out if the bus you are in front of is stopping at Beijing station. You turn to the first person you see and you ask: 不好意思,这个车到北京站吗?Excuse me, does this bus go to Beijing Station?

The person looks you up and down and says: 我听不东。I don’t understand.

Now you ask yourself does this person not understand what I said because of my Laowai (foreign) accent? or because that person is also a 外国人 (a foreigner like yourself)?  Well whatever the case may be you feel the ‘oops’ moment.

You then reply: 喔,对不起。 (oh, sorry)。 You now look around for someone you feel really looks like an urban Chinese person. You spot one and you ask her:  不好意思,这个车到北京站吗?Excuse me, does this bus go to Beijing Station?  

She looks at you and says: 不知道, 我是上海人。 我也想去北京站。 I don’ t know, I am from Shanghai. I also want to go to the Beijing station.

So now you have two people looking for the bus that goes to Beijing. Together, you find a bus driver taking a cigarette break. You ask him:

不好意思, 到北京站吗? Excuse me, does this bus go to Beijing Station?   (When addressing a driver, you don’t need to say ‘does this bus go to…..?  instead you say ‘ Does IT go to … ?) The driver then says ‘到.  Which is another way of saying yes, lit. it goes….

You feel relieved and you tell your Chinese friend 到, yes. So you both hop unto the bus. Seeing as the bus driver is also the one selling the bus tickets you both ask for tickets. He asks both of you: 几张?How many tickets?  Since there are two of you, you say 我要两张票。 I want two tickets。

And that‘s that for now。

Try to create preferably shorter scenarios in your head with vivid images, in doing so you will be able to remember what you have learned. I am still learning new stuff, so hopefully by Sunday I will have imagined lots of mini scenarios incorporating the different sentences I have learned. I also noticed that if I question too many things I won’t move forward. I now accept measure words as they come and other things. I just LOOOOOVE the fact that the word order (at least for now) is similar to word order in English. Subject + verb + Object.

Q. What is your take on creating mini scenarios? 

I wish I could draw, scan it and show them to you 🙂 hmm, something to ruminate upon.

 Chinese learning diary. Next post: Third week of Zhongwen .  Previous post: Second week of zhongwen