Thursday, August 31, 2006

The art of conversation?

The art of conversation? Less an art, more like a confounded mathematical puzzle at the moment.

Wedged firmly in the UK and initially knowing no Chinese speakers, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum from the immersion technique. Now I have both a Skype partner and a 'real world' partner that I can meet once a week or so, I am finding conversation (constructing sentances to say in real time, whilst still retaining enough brain cells to understand what they say) quite a different animal from listening.

Thankfully I am making a little progress and need to experiment a little more to find some way in which to speed up the progress. I have decided to finish the Pimsleur courses (I originally got bored at number 10). I think that the way Pimsleur keeps making you say things in a slightly different pattern and gives you only small pauses to speak helps excercise the conversation 'muscles' a little.

Chinesepod is helping a bit, sometimes I can just blurt out a whole chunk of stuff because I have become so familiar with listening to it

In the end though I don't see how any form of self-study is going to really provide you with all the skills required for conversation. I guess you just have to go out there and do it.

For the first time, I now understand how people can sometimes be very good at understanding a language but are incapable of speaking it. I really want to make sure that doesn't happen in my case.


linguafreak said...

I know what you mean. I tried teaching myself Chinese for months before I gave up and had someone else teach me. Fortunately I have several native speakers at work so I'll have someone to talk to when I get to a sufficient level to do so.

D.A. said...


First of all I found your site via "wodeblog." I too am an avid learner of Chinese. I find the language to be very difficult but just as equally rewarding. As far as speaking goes, you nailed the concept in your post-you have to go out there and just do it! Its hard at first but speaking a sentence or two a day will really help you down the road.

I like your blog. Feel free to visit mine @ I try to post one chinese idiom a day as well as measure words.

Silent said...

y0 keep it up, im also a student and feel in the same situation as you; after stumbling across this site whilst looking for mandarin interent aid for my learning i eel glad that i'm not the only one... zai jian