I went to my first language exchange meetup in HK today, and it wasn’t too bad at all. I didn’t speak that much Mandarin, but when I did, people understood me, so that was promising. I felt a bit better with my language progress knowing that people can understand me 😊 But my listening is still sooo far off. And I still speak way too slowly. A lot of the people at the Meetup are Hong Kongers, so they can already speak Cantonese. And I still think that if you can already speak one Chinese dialect (and at native speaker level, at that), then adding another one to your repertoire is way simpler than for someone who is going directly from English. So even though a lot of them claim that their Mandarin isn’t very good and they want to improve it, they can at least still follow a conversation relatively easily and contribute to it without slowing down the pace. I am still trying to work my way to being able to do that 😔
Nonetheless, everyone was really nice, and luckily I was sitting next to people who could speak Mandarin well enough to follow, but also spoke fantastic English to be able to translate for me whenever I was floundering (which was pretty damn often!). But as usual, because English is such a universal language, people eventually revert to it, and so for perhaps the last hour or so of the Meetup, we were all just chatting in English. So it was great to have met all these people, but my Mandarin probably didn’t improve all that much tonight 😔
So maybe I’m wondering if I should just take some private lessons to improve my listening and speaking, so I can at least get it up to a level where I can converse a little better than where I am at the moment, and so I can actually contribute to these sorts of Meetups a bit more than what I am currently able to – ie not have to drastically slow down the pace of the conversation whenever it’s my turn to talk! Or perhaps do both. I’ll do a bit of research on private teachers and see if there’s anything I’d like to try. Online is definitely one option, I’ll definitely look into this.
And so the language journey continues…