Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tell Everyone You Are Learning Mandarin

At some point I am going to have to seriously consider the similarities between learning human languages and learning computer languages/frameworks. Having started a new job and having spent some time on the latter, I am now sure that spending a lot of time with computer related learning reduces my capacity to spend time learning languages in a way that learning anything else doesn't. Currently I am just ticking over watching the odd film or video and trying a little reading hear or there.

I feel one or two more reflective posts on the first three months learning Mandarin post and then I will get around to the next three months (after that probably leap in six month blocks). When I finally catch up to the first three years I will attempt to draw everything together into a coherent whole.

Back to the topic, one very significant thing I have noticed is that from my background learning Mandarin is special (as opposed to learning most European languages for example) special to the extent that it has been well worth while telling everybody I am learning it. Overtime I have received numerous books and materials (including Pimsleur mandarin and a very good Chinese character dictionary from China). I have received Chinese language films on DVD that have been picked up from charity shops and church fetes, including "genuine" Chinese pirated versions of the first two Harry Potter movies. I have been introduced to the occasional Chinese friend of a friend for language exchange.

The work situation is even more interesting, telling people resulted in encounters like this one, and eventually meant I got to spend an evening meal with a Director and a bunch of Chinese visitors. If I had not left my last job there was the very real chance I could have secured some Business Chinese lessons. As I was told at the time "you wouldn't get approval for this for French, we already have loads of people who can speak French etc."


Keith said...

Hey Everyone! I'm learning Mandarin!

Chris said...

I assume you have tongue firmly in cheek their Keith ;).

There is a serious point to the apparently obvious though, for example I gathered quite a lot of material (though no fellow students at first) from simply broadcasting via a company Intranet that I was learning Mandarin. I have a colleague there who was learning Japanese who didn't even go as fair as letting the couple of guys who worked in our Japanese office know, I think he could have got a lot of help if he had.

Keith said...

I am more like your colleague learning Japanese. I'd rather not let someone know I'm learning his language until after I've learned it. I don't want them to see me going from baby level and making some progress. They might say, oh how cute! He's speaking our language. What I want to go for is the big shocker. I like seeing the surprise on a person's face. If suddenly I can speak their language fluently, they will be shocked.

But you do have a very good point. Let people know and you may receive materials and opportunities.

Of course, for those who want to use a silent period, it would put them in an uncomfortable situation should they be asked to say something in the language they study.

Keith said...

Another thing, I envision this thread having over 200 comments from people telling everyone they are learning Mandarin.

Chris said...

Good point Keith, I guess you have to balance the opportunities against the problem of suddenly being dropped into a speaking situation that you are unprepared for (has happened to me on one or two occaisions).

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