The fun of learning a language

I felt a bit better today, but not quite well enough to go to the gym, so I stayed home tonight and worked on my Chinese. I realised by reading other people’s posts on the Facebook type feed on the HelloTalk app, the language exchange app, that you can post both text and voice messages in the one post. I’ve been writing both Chinese and English in my posts, so people know what I actually wanted to say in Chinese, in case my Chinese translation doesn’t make any sense (which has happened a number of times before!), and also so English learners can get a bit more English practice. But now I’ve also included the audio version of both the Chinese and English, so everyone gets some speaking and listening practice as well 😊 And a few people have actually commented back – reading the English component of my post! 😊 It makes me happy that other people are actually practising their English speaking and reading through my post, which is exactly why I posted the English in the first place 👍👍 And then a few people commented back with voice recordings of them saying the Chinese half of my post, to help me hear how a native speaker would say it. Sooo good! I’m going to have to continue doing this! I like how we’re all helping one another, which is exactly the point of the app 😊 I think I prefer this app to Tandem, the other language app that I’ve been using. I feel like more people use Tandem as a dating app, which is a shame, as it detracts from the real use of the app, and so puts off true language learners. I still think I should try changing my photo to a random celebrity or stock photo, and see if that will make a difference to the type of people who say hi! 😆

Someone also mentioned that she thought my Chinese was really good, and she was quite surprised to hear that I only know a limited number of words and sentence structures. I said that I think that I’ve just learnt to express myself as best I can with the limited number of words that I do know. It’d be nice to expand my knowledge of the language and not be constrained as much as I currently am! 😆

I’ve also been working on my listening, watching a Chinese sitcom on YouTube called Home With Kids. I think I’ve mentioned this sitcom before? Although “watching” isn’t quite the right word… Maybe “studying” is better! First I watch the episode once through, listening purely to what is being said and trying to get the gist of the story based on what’s happening on screen. And then I watch it a second time, pausing constantly to read the Chinese subtitles, and looking up any words that I don’t know. And then I watch it a third time, again just listening, and not paying attention to the subtitles, but this time, I now have a few new words under my belt. I still don’t hear everything, but the third time around is definitely better than the first time! It’s tough going, trying to listen to native speakers. At the moment, first time around, I barely pick up 10% of what’s being said. This perhaps doubles to 20% the third time around. And also, there are no English subtitles available, so I’m having to get the gist of the dialogue based on my knowledge of the language alone. Craaazy! ðŸĪŠ But in a way I think that’s good, as I “stay” in Chinese more, if that makes sense.

Ah the fun of learning a language as an adult! 😆

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Moving in the right direction

I spent quite a fair bit of time learning Chinese today. Someone on the Tandem language exchange app recommended that I watch this Chinese sitcom called Home with Kids, as I was asking for some suggestions for tv shows to watch, something relatively easy to understand for intermediate learners like me. I watched the first episode on YouTube today. YouTube has Chinese subtitles for this show, but if I don’t look at them, I pick up next to nothing of what’s being said. But once I start reading them (or rather, skimming them and picking out known words as fast as I can, as people speak faster than I can read!), I can at least start to make out the general gist of what’s going on. I obviously still need subtitles, and apparently even Chinese subtitles are better than none at all! But I think my listening is definitely getting better. Words are starting to sound much clearer now, and I am even starting to get better with the tones. I now just need to get my brain to start turning these sounds into words to give them meaning, if that makes sense! And to continue to add to my vocab, as that will also help my brain know what certain sounds mean. The little bit of improvement in my listening skills that I saw in myself today has given me hope that my listening can indeed improve over time, with some more active practice! 👏 It’s very motivating when you notice progress. It’s like with dancing: you don’t notice the improvement on a day-to-day basis, but then one day, a few months down the track, all of a sudden you have this “Woah, I can do that now?! Where did that come from??” moment, and you are just so pleased with yourself and what you’ve just accomplished 😊 No matter how small the improvement, you’re still moving in the right direction, and that’s so motivating for me.

We then spent the evening at a karate dinner. It was an annual dinner, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t look too shabby on such an evening, so N asked what the attire was, and he got the gist that it was “smart casual”. So we both wore jeans, a collared shirt and nice shoes. But the other guys, all being karate people, just rocked up in their training gear! Sneakers, training jacket and all. Maybe they just finished training, we don’t know ðŸĪ·â€â™€ïļ So we felt rather overdressed tonight! 😆 But despite the language barrier (they spoke very little English and I know next to no Cantonese), I still had a fun evening.