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˜†

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Language exchange apps

I continued with my detailed schedule today, working in half hour blocks, and using Pomodoro to keep me from going overtime with any one particular task, and making sure I take short breaks along the way. I managed to stay on track, and pretty much did everything as per the schedule. This is working for me really well! Let’s see how long I can keep it up for…! πŸ’ͺ

I logged in to that Tandem app again today, that language exchange app. Someone asked if I could speak Chinese, and I replied back (in Chinese) with “I can say basic sentences, but I’d like to be able to say longer and harder sentences”. He then replied back and asked if I wrote my previous sentence myself or if I got the computer to help me. Why would I get the computer to help me?? What would be the point in that, since I am using the app to learn the language?? 🀨 And if I was going to use the computer to help me, I would have gotten it to translate exactly what I wanted to say, not just use the basic sentence structures that I already know! πŸ€ͺI took that as a compliment anyhow, since there mustn’t have been any problems with the grammar of my sentence for him to have said that – YEAH! πŸ‘ But you get all sorts on the app. I’ve blocked more people now too, I’m so sick of guys who are obviously just there to meet women πŸ™„ But I guess with all people, you click with certain people and not with others, so you just maintain chats with those who you do get along with.

The HelloTalk app is better on this front. The guys don’t come out and say stupid things like “you’re beautiful” as their opening line – but that’s because I have a photo of Kitty as my profile pic on that app πŸ˜† They won’t let you submit a photo on Tandem that doesn’t show your face. They say it’s more personal. Whatevs. I wonder if they’ll let me change it to some random person’s photo from one of the stock photo sites, then 😊

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! πŸ‘ 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 πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ So we felt rather overdressed tonight! πŸ˜† But despite the language barrier (they spoke very little English and I know next to no Cantonese), I still had a fun evening.

A little bit of progress

We had quite a relaxing Saturday, despite a rather early start to my day – I got up at 7am 😲 That’s early for someone who’s not a morning person!

We went and had yum cha πŸ˜‹ and then went home via the vet to pick up some medicine for Kitty. We then just chillaxed at home for a while before N went to karate, while I went to the gym. I did some more samba to that Dura song that I’m obsessed with at the moment. I’m going to milk this song for as long as I can, as it’s apparently making me practise samba a whole lot more than I otherwise would! πŸ˜‚

And I also spent some time on Tandem, that language exchange app. I probably spent more time chatting in English than in Chinese today, as I was just too tired to focus for too long in Chinese. I helped people with their English instead 😊

So a bit of progress on a few of my goals today, so I’m happy with that 😊

Language learning day

I like reading these bilingual picture books at the library, where one side is in Chinese, and if you flip the book over, you can read the book all over again in English. It’s really handy to make sure I’m understanding the Chinese correctly. I also get to learn more everyday words and phrases that won’t ordinarily be taught in adult classroom lessons, words that kids will naturally hear at that age, like “toys”, “games”, “dinosaur” etc, and expressions like “my mum and dad don’t have to hold my hand”‘ or “I can put away my toys by myself”, continuing to add to my vocab.

After working on my trading, I then spent the evening just chatting to people, this time on a different language exchange app called HelloTalk. The guys on this app seem genuinely interested in improving their English, unlike in that Tandem app, where I had one guy open with “Hi beautiful”. Wth?! 🀨 So I’ll just continue to use HelloTalk for a while and see how I like it.

Grossness and annoyingness

I had the strangest dream last night: I unintentionally put an insect in my mouth, one of those insects that looks like a leaf. I don’t even know why I’d put a leaf in my mouth in the first place, wthhh 🀣🀣 And then the insect left some gross stuff on my tongue! 🀒 I’m still so grossed out, even though it didn’t even actually happen!

I did a quick Google search to find what it means when you have insects in your dream. β€œDreaming of bugs and insects suggest that you are worried about something. They are symbolic of your anxieties or fears.” I wonder what I’ve been worried about…

And then coupled with Kitty’s new regular routine of scratching at various doors in the middle of the night (it was 3am last night 😩), I had yet another poor night’s sleep. I was struggling to concentrate today, basically falling asleep at my desk, and I could barely focus on what I was reading at the library 😴

I went to the supermarket near my local library for the first time today, after spending probably a rather unproductive hour at the library. Apparently this supermarket has a nice selection of fresh, ready-made Japanese food! They also have a nice range of salads too, but I was paying much more attention to all the nice sushi and sashimi πŸ˜† So I bought lunch and dinner from here today, and will probably be back here for more in future 😊

I didn’t make it to the gym again today, as I was focussed on my Chinese practice yet again. I’ll have to make an effort to go on the weekend. I focus on one goal, only to have another suffer. I can never seem to get a good balance… πŸ˜”

I blocked someone for the first time on the Tandem app. It felt like he was stalking me, constantly saying hello every time I was online. I didn’t want to talk to him, as his profile just didn’t interest me, but he never got the hint and just kept bugging me, even asking something along the lines of, “Why aren’t you talking?” Errr, perhaps because I don’t want to talk to you?!? Hopefully this block will be the end of him. Unless he creates a brand new profile (that actually appeals to me), comes back and says hi again, and I wouldn’t even know… 😱 But apart from annoying creeps like him, in general, it’s been pretty good. I’ve been able to practise the same sentences over and over again, as I’ve said the same things to a bajillion different people now πŸ˜‚

Practising

Kitty woke me up at 5am, after she had cleaned out her food bowl. Argh, why is she going through this phase at the moment?!? Why can’t she just sleep through the night?? You’d think she was a kitten, not the pensioner kitty that she is! πŸ˜‚

I used the Tandem app to chat with a few new people today. I always get all these guys saying hi, so I went looking for women to chat to. A few other women said hi too, so I got a good mix today. I do think that certain sentences are flowing much more easily easily now – eg “we recently moved to Hong Kong”; “it was nice chatting with you”; “I’m trying to log into this app every day now to practice my Chinese” etc etc. But constructing sentences in reply to other people’s questions still takes me a while to put together. I’m still just trying to improve my conversational fluency, not just on my side, but also on the listening side – the harder side, in my opinion, as the other party can say any number of things. So I’m also trying to work on my vocab, which I think will help with the listening too. Slowly… 😊

N flew to Japan today. I was tracking his flight, of course, and that’s when I noticed just how close Taiwan is to Hong Kong! His flight to Osaka was three hours, so to Taipei, it’ll be more like just one hour 😲 We’ll definitely have to go there a few times while we’re living here! It’s basically like a Sydney-Melbourne trip, so it’s pretty damn close! N will want to go for the food, of course, while I want to go to practise my Chinese 😊 And no visa required for Aussies, unlike China, so it’s even easier to visit πŸ‘ Oh, and Seoul is close too. We are basically in North Asia – my favourite part of Asia! Wowwww, this is so exciting. One of the best things about living in Hong Kong may just be its proximity to these awesome North Asian countries! πŸ˜„