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 πŸ˜† 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 πŸ˜‚ 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! 🀣🀣

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Happy dance!

I got up quite late this morning, so had a pretty late start to my day. But having a good sleep did wonders to my productivity, and I did a ton of stuff today! πŸ‘ Despite being a night owl, I find that the most productive part of my day is in fact in the morning, so I find that the more I can get done before noon, the more productive my day will be. So I keep wondering if I can turn into a morning person…. Although it doesn’t help when I consistently stay up past midnight every night! πŸ™„ Kitty has been waking me up at around 6:30am each morning lately, so maybe she’s inadvertently helping me become one… (This is me looking on the bright side of being woken up by her every single day! πŸ˜‚)

I posted something on that quasi Facebook feed in that language exchange app today, and someone commented that he reckons I am past the primary school level with my Chinese! Phwoar! Now that’s a compliment and a half! I was so happy with that! **happy dance** But that’s all well and good in a lab environment like a classroom or within the four walls of our home, but when it comes to speaking and listening out in the real world, I still flounder pretty much like a toddler. So I’m continuing to work on both of these skills. I’m listening a lot to Chinese radio (more specifically Singapore radio 😊) to expose myself more to material that’s aimed at native speakers, so I don’t just get the clinical classroom “safe” dialogue that’s been slowed down – and dumbed down! – for learners of the language. But I am also listening to the classroom audio material, as this is, in fact, my listening level! πŸ˜‚ But I’m trying to be more active with them, and also following along with the accompanying text and reading along with them. Listening is by far my worst skill, so I want to dedicate more time to it so that it is in fact at primary school level, at the very least, and so more in line with the other three skills! πŸ˜†

Three hours of my day

I felt better today, and so actually got some stuff done, unlike the last two days πŸ˜’ I went down to the open public area in our apartment building and read my trading textbook there for about an hour, as our neighbours downstairs are currently renovating, and the noise was a bit too disruptive today. Plus the sun was out, so it was nice to just sit out there and enjoy it for a bit β˜€οΈ

I rang my mum and dad just before I was going to head out to buy some groceries. I just wanted to say hi and to also let them know that I was ok, since I have been absent on social media lately. Well, the language exchange apps are a form of social media, so that’s not quite true 😊 What I expected to be a 5-minute conversation turned out to be an hour long 😳 I forgot how chatty my mum is. How could I forget?!? πŸ˜‚

And then I wandered around the neighbourhood and went to five different supermarkets (!!), none of which stocked the brand of cat litter that I like! What is up with that?!? The one supermarket that I go to buy it has run out of stock, and the other four didn’t seem to stock it at all. That’s just ridiculous. So I might go online and see if I can order it from there and get it home delivered. Although this also seems just as ridiculous, since all these supermarkets are within walking distance from home! πŸ€ͺ

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 πŸ‘πŸ‘ 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! πŸ˜†

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! πŸ˜†

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! πŸ€ͺ 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! πŸ˜†

Life just goes a bit out of whack sometimes

I feel like I have turned learning Chinese into pretty much an obsession. Any time I’m talking to myself or to N or even Kitty, I try and say it in Chinese. I am also constantly looking up new words, and trying to remember ones that I’ve just recently learnt, to keep it in my memory. I want to build a solid vocab base, so I can follow what other people are saying, and also so I can better express myself in the language. So basically I’m trying to move up to the next level! I think I can now confidently survive as a tourist, knowing how to ask for immediate, basic things that I need, and I can generally follow what other people say if they dumb it down a bit for me. But now I want to get to the conversational level, where people don’t have to slow down for me, and I can talk relatively comfortably about general topics, and express my opinion on things. It’s a slowww process, but I think I’m getting there…! 😊

So today was bit Chinese heavy, and I didn’t really spend as much time on my other goals as I usually do. But that’s ok, sometimes life just goes a bit out of whack, but the keel eventually stabilises the boat πŸ˜‰

I also did help a few people with their English today, just giving back to the language exchange community 😊 I always feel good helping people with their English. And sometimes I do so simply because I’m just too mentally exhausted to do anything in Chinese! πŸ˜†

So motivating!

I’ve realised that a lot of people on the language exchange apps reply with “I’m fine” to my question “How are you?”. When English speakers say they’re “fine”, they’re actually not fine, and are being all passive aggressive about it! πŸ˜‚ So the first time I heard this reply to my question in SG, I was taken aback, actually, and l was wondering if I had done something wrong to upset him. But he didn’t have a sour look on his face, he just had a friendly tone and expression, so it took me a second or two to realise that this was just a standard reply. And soon I heard “I’m fine” often enough that it just became one of those quirks of the use of the language around the world. It still gives me a bit of a mental jolt, to be honest, and I probably still have some sort of micro expression that would reveal this involuntary reaction of mine whenever I hear this response, but I’m getting used to it 😊

I discovered this Facebook feed type feature in the HelloTalk language app today. You basically post whatever you feel like, much like in FB, except in this app, if you post something in your target language, native speakers can correct what you’ve written. It’s so good! I can do a bit of social media sharing, and learn at the same time πŸ‘

I have also started watching this Taiwanese show called 2εˆ†δΉ‹δΈ€εΌΊ, Half and Half. N discovered this show when he first started flying to HK for work last year, and I might’ve mentioned it once or twice before in this blog. They have a panel of all these westerners talking about their life experience either in Taiwan or in their home country – entirely in Chinese 😲 So when N told me about this show, I was so in awe, and was so motivated to be able to speak Chinese as well as these guys. Back then, though, I couldn’t follow anything that these guys were saying, as they were just speaking so damn fast, and I couldn’t read Chinese subtitles that fast either. So at the time, all I was really doing was admiring these guys’ ability to speak Chinese so fluently 😊

Fast forward six months later and I can now get the gist of what they’re talking about, if it’s on a topic that’s pretty basic (like their favourite food or their home etc), and it helps if they have a prop to show what they’re talking about. And now the subtitles further enhances my understanding, as I can now read that little bit faster as well. The jumble of noise is now becoming that little bit clearer, and I am starting to hear the individual sounds. I can pick up a lot more individual words now than I did before, and I can hear whole phrases if I read the subtitles as well. So hopefully over time my listening will get better and better🀞

The progress is seriously so motivating!

The focus continues – as does the dodginess

Ever since I started this detailed scheduling, I have been so mega focussed – and it’s so addictive! I don’t have to think about what I need to do next, I’ve planned it all out in my schedule and I just go ahead and do it. No umm-ing and ahh-ing, no putting things off, because I know that if I procrastinate on one thing on the list, the rest of the schedule will be out of whack, and I just don’t want to be in that position. So I just do. It is sooo good! 😊 I just feel like the more I focus, the closer I will get to my goals, and therefore the more motivated I become – and the cycle continues. It feeds on itself, it’s insane. I even thought about taking a bit of breather today, to give myself a bit of a reward, since I’ve done so much this past week. But this bizarro, focussed me pretty much said no to that, and so I just pushed on, in exactly the same way as I have been the last couple of days, as if my life depended on it. It’s all a bit insane at the moment! And so I’m fully taking advantage of it! πŸ˜†

And my learning Chinese is part of all of this. I’m learning at any given opportunity: I learn new words and phrases from various people on the language exchange apps; listen to native speakers speak to improve my listening (which is still by far my worst skill πŸ˜”); and I even try to talk to myself in Chinese – and even to Kitty! πŸ˜† I’m hoping that all this effort is helping me get to that next level with my Chinese…

There are still some guys on the language exchange apps, though, that are a little creepy. I know there could be a bit of a language miscommunication, but still, some people still freak me out a little. But like I’ve said before, you get all sorts on these apps, and you just have to filter through all the crap to find some nice people, and also people you get along with. And in the meantime, just focus on getting some more practice in! πŸ˜†