I need a parent 😆

I finally started feeling close to normal today, so I got through a ton of stuff, trying to catch up on everything that I didn’t do over the past few days since I’ve been sick 👍

N flew to Japan today, so of course I tracked his flight ✈️

  • His fellow karate mate who is also on this trip with him lost her train ticket when they got to Osaka, and he was asking me how to say various things in Japanese that was relevant to their situation – eg: “she lost her ticket”. The problem is, I’m not there to help them! 😂 So I told them to use Google translate, which is actually quite good for a lot of things. I use it to help me with my Chinese all the time. I don’t use it word for word, but it sometimes guides me or gives me a better idea on how to structure a particular sentence that I can’t seem to get right on my own.
  • And of course they were fine – they’re in Japan, after all 😉

  • I had my online Chinese lesson again today. I’m really enjoying them! They’re freaking hard as, since we spend the entire time doing exactly what I need: speaking and listening practice! And since my listening is so bad, I swear I ask her to repeat every second sentence that she says 😳 I hope it eventually improves, because right now I’m feeling pretty dunce-y! I’ve already told her that my listening is the worst, so she already knows my biggest problem. She’s really patient, though, and rather than resorting to English, she just repeats herself a few times, mega slowly, until I get it. It is exactly what I need 👍 I just wish I had her with me day in day out, correcting everything I say – like a parent! 😆 But alas, as an adult, I don’t have this luxury. I just have to do some more studying on my own….
  • And so I finished the day watching a few episodes of Love O2O, my current Chinese drama, just continuing to persevere with the show for some listening practice, which is what I desperately need for my Chinese!
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    My polyglot dream

    They say that you should read as much as you can in your target language, and I realised today that I wasn’t reading enough Chinese material. So I went to the library and decided to borrow a Chinese book in the children’s section again. It’s a simpler version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess (eg it only has ten chapters vs the original book which has 19), but I still think it’s going to be a hard slog. It’s still not quite a relaxing read for me, I’m still effectively studying it. But I want to push myself and try reading something that’s aimed more at older kids, rather than the books I usually read, which are written for five year olds 😂

    For a Chinese language learner, the library is a treasure trove full of good reading material, as these books are written for native speakers of the language, even if they are five or seven or ten years old 😜 They haven’t been dumbed down for adult learners, like most of my learning materials. This is Chinese written for native speakers, so they’re not going to limit their choice of words to suit the language learner. Which of course makes it that much harder, as you’re constantly looking up words that you don’t know. But hopefully in the long run, all the hard work will pay off 🤞

    And then in the evening, we went out for dinner with a few of N’s workmates – another farewell dinner for the same workmate who we had the farewell brunch for last Sunday 😆 She’s had a bajillion farewell dinners! She probably started her farewell drinks and dinners three weeks ago 😂 But she loves her food, so she’s going to as many places as she can before she heads back to Sydney in a few days 👍

    They had a colleague from their Tokyo office join us, and when I found out she was Japanese, I immediately asked her “Are you Japanese?” in Japanese. She was quite surprised that I could say that, and was really impressed with my Japanese accent! OMG how cool is that?!? It totally made me even more keen to continue with my Japanese. I also realised today as I was speaking to her that my Chinese has indeed well and truly surpassed my Japanese level. I can express myself better in Chinese now, and the Chinese words come to mind much faster now too 😲 Although I have been much more focussed on my Chinese lately, so I guess this is to be expected. If I spent more time with Japanese, I could probably get it back up to pretty much the same level 😆

    And given that these two languages are apparently two of the hardest languages to learn for a native English speaker (along with Korean and Arabic), I think I underestimate just how much I actually know of these two languages, and the fact that I can have simple conversations in both. It may take a ton of effort to do so, and I will have a bajillion mistakes, but I’m communicating, and that’s effectively the point of language, right?! So with more practice, I think I could actually achieve my goal of conversational fluency in both languages 😊 Today has given me more fuel to continue pushing on with this polyglot dream of mine 🤓

    Learning Japanese in a Chinese speaking city

    I decided to go to Causeway Bay for brunch today. I wanted to go to this particular cafe as they apparently serve scones, and I like scones 😋 But can you believe it, they open at 12pm! This city is sooo not for morning people 😂 I got there earlier than I expected to, and so I just wandered around the mall that the cafe was in. A few of the stalls in the mall weren’t open either, so I guess most places in this mall don’t open until later in the afternoon. I hung around until 12:30pm before I left, that was the longest time my patience could handle waiting. Such a shame that I didn’t get to try the cafe – and I didn’t get to have scones! Boo 😒

    After I found a substitute place for lunch, I decided to head over to Eslite, one of the bookstores here in HK. They have Japanese language textbooks – written for native Chinese speakers. So all the explanations are in Chinese 😲 I was sooo tempted to buy one, but looking through the textbooks, they’re actually at quite a basic level, so if anything, I wouldn’t be learning much Japanese, and if anything, more likely to be improving my Chinese, since all the explanations in the books are in Chinese! 😂 But having said that, what I do like about the textbooks though, is that they have no English whatsoever! I will effectively be forced to think in my two target languages, even if the sentences are at quite a basic level. But that’s not a bad thing! I can see how sentences are said in both languages. Hmmm… Maybe buying one of these books may not be a bad idea after all…! 😆

    A page in one of the textbooks I was flicking through at the bookstore 😆

    So when I got back home, I spent some time going through my actual Japanese textbook – a textbook written for English speakers 😆 None of the grammar is new to me, so I’m really just refreshing my memory of what I had learnt – omg – a quarter of a century ago 🤣 I still can’t believe how much of it I have actually retained after all these years. Now I’m just going through and trying to internalise the harder and longer sentences, and learning more vocab of course, continuing to refine my Japanese that little bit more.

    And then I just spent the rest of the evening continuing to watch Masterchef Australia. I’m up to the top ten! So I’ve caught up on a ton of episodes! 😆 Once I’ve caught up, my tv habits can go back to normal and I can resume watching my Asian dramas 😂 But for now, it’s all about binge watching Masterchef 😳

    Practice

    I booked an online one-on-one Chinese lesson for this coming Thursday! I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time, as I’ve never had an online lesson like this before. I wonder just how effective it will be. It’s US$16 for a 45min lesson, but it was 50% off as it’s my trial lesson with the company, so US$8 is not too bad a loss if the lesson is a complete waste of time.

    It was actually quite hard to choose a teacher, as there is quite a few listed on the website. I eventually chose a teacher, as she specifically mentioned “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue” as her focus during her lessons, which is exactly what I need. Plus reviewers were saying that she’s very thorough, and I like people who also notice details, so I thought I’d give her a go. So let’s see…

    I actually know quite a lot of Chinese words and phrases, but I don’t practise it enough to have them really internalised. So even though I know much fewer words and sentence structures in Japanese, I can still hold a basic conversation in the language because the words that I do know are internalised, and words come to me much faster when I need them. It’s all about fluency. So maybe I need to do the same with Chinese: repeat the basics to buggery, until they are well and truly internalised.

    Balance

    In an earlier post, I talked about my constant attempt to find the right balance in my life. And today I came across this quote on the interweb: “The quest for balance is universal, but perfect balance is a myth.” And as you can imagine, I am absolutely in love with it. It could be my quote for the year. Heck, I’ll make it my quote for the year! 😆 It made me feel better about not getting the balance right, and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

    I remembered Randi Zuckerberg’s book Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day), and she proposes choosing three areas each day that you want to focus on, and her categories were work, sleep, family, friends and fitness. I’m going to try and bring this back into my daily routine, but change the categories to better suit my own personal focus areas, and keep track in my Bullet Journal to make sure I don’t focus too much on any one area at the expense of other areas. June is about to start, so I’ll incorporate it into my monthly tracking for the new month. How exciting! 😊

    And I finally finished Nice Witch, my current Korean drama. I will have to decide on what my next drama will be, as I have a huge backlog to choose from! 😆 Maybe I’ll switch to a Chinese drama, to get some listening practice in… The only problem is that the Korean dramas are just sooo good, it’s hard to tear yourself away from them…! Maybe I should learn Korean instead… 😆 Well… Taiwan, Korea and Japan are my favourite countries in Asia (and Singapore, now, of course 😊), so it’s actually not a half-bad idea to add Korean to my Asian language repertoire… Well I have learnt the Korean alphabet, so it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few basics from here, right? 😉

  • Nah, languages is one area where I can’t take a balanced approach. I am dedicating as much time to Chinese as possible, so I can work on my proficiency in this language as quickly as possible. And I already have Japanese lined up after it, so if I do want to learn some Korean, it may have to slot in to third place. That is, if Spanish or French don’t call me with greater urgency before then…! 😆 #polyglotdream
  • Chinese Taipei controversy

    I looked up “Chinese Taipei“, as they were one of the countries participating in the karate comp on the weekend. So N and I were wondering why they are officially known as Chinese Taipei at these Olympic type events, but they are known as Taiwan to the rest of the world. Well it’s all in the above very interesting Wikipedia link! It’s all very complicated, if you ask me, but I now understand the situation that they find themselves in. It’s all so hard!

    I continued studying the Chinese version of The Little Prince tonight. I’m reading about a page a day at the moment. At this rate, it’s going to take me the rest of the year to finish it! 😱😩 I’m still hoping that there will come a point where I will know enough words that I don’t have to constantly refer to the dictionary anymore, and that I can just figure out the words that I don’t know from the context 🤞

    Someone mentioned in one of the language exchange apps that I should read an official Chinese version, not the version that I am reading (which happens to be from Taiwan), as it will ruin my learning of the language. Hmmm… I don’t quite agree with that. It’s like saying that reading a British version of it will ruin my understanding of English. So it may have slightly different ways of expressing certain things, but by and large, it’s still Chinese! Anyway, I suspect there is an element of what is mentioned in the Wikipedia article influencing them… and I shall leave it at that 🤐

    They also feel strongly about traditional vs simplified Chinese characters, and a lot of people persuade me not to bother learning the former. I am actually learning both styles, as I have friends who can read one or the other, but not necessarily both, and I’d like to be able to message everyone 😆 Plus I like Taiwan, and we now live in HK, and both these places use traditional characters. AND Japanese uses them both in their kanji 😂 So basically I don’t want to restrict my learning to just one style. And the simplified characters are usually derived from its traditional equivalent anyway, so it’s not really all that hard to learn them. But yes, there is the occasional character that is like whaaaat, that’s an insane looking mother F! 🤣 🤣 Case in point is this character:

    The left hand side is the traditional, the one in brackets is simplified. Good luck with that one! 🤣🤣

    Foreign language progress (or lack thereof…?!)

  • I went to a cafe near home today, and I had to wait for a table because they were all occupied. While I was waiting, one of the waiters came up to me and asked me something in Cantonese, and pointed to their lunch set board. I asked in my usual bogan Australian accent if I could have a look at their regular menu, and of course he didn’t understand me. So I put together some dodgy Mandarin and said something that could possibly resemble “regular menu”. I don’t even know if what I said was right or not, and of course I struggled with my tones, as I always do, but he eventually understood what I meant and gave me their regular menu 😆 Sighhh… So obviously my speaking skills still need some work! I’m going to talk to myself more often in Chinese from now on, just to get used to saying things out loud. So whenever the time comes in the real world when I need to use it on the spur of the moment, something more coherent will hopefully come out! 😂
  • Interestingly, I don’t have this problem with Japanese, this language just comes more naturally to me. My knowledge of Chinese is actually much greater, but I can somehow converse better in Japanese. It is so weird. Maybe I’ve had more speaking practice in Japanese than I have in Chinese… So in summary: I need to practise speaking more in Chinese!!

  • And speaking of speaking 😉 I posted something in HelloTalk, that language exchange app that I’ve been using lately. I’ve been posting both text and a voice recording so native speakers can hear my spoken Chinese and comment on my pronunciation and what I need to work on. One person today commented that my pronunciation is good, and that next time I should focus on the pace at which I spoke. Little does she know that I was already pushing myself to speak faster in today’s recording! I was pushing myself to speak faster while at the same time retaining my tones. So maybe I need to focus less on the tones – which is what I’ve been doing up until now – and start working on speed. Small steps! But it seems like I’m heading in the right direction 👍