Ever since I returned from my trip to Taiwan I have been hankering for a taste of the good ol’ 12-starred nation. However before I left, I preemptively chose Business Chinese as a class for an elective. It sounded easy, no pre-requirements, and since I took Advanced Mandarin-1 in my freshman year, I figured, I got this in-the-bag. And God knows, I’ve needed a GPA boost since like 7th grade…
So I go in on the first day, feeling pretty confident this class was beneath me… The teacher like the one that taught my freshman Mandarin class was also from mainland China. His English is… understandable and he comprehends pretty well, but his ability to speak/recall words is a bit slow as he hesitates between nouns… It kind of reminds me of Ross from Friends…x3.
Anyways. More than about half the kids in the class are from Taiwan, or grew up speaking Mandarin, and abilities far exceed mine. The other half were of other ethnicities having never spoken a word or very limited Mandarin.
We spend the first day introducing ourselves and then learning the lesson…How to say, ni hao… (hello). Literally, we spend the entire class period on those, two, words. After we thought the worst was over, he would break the words up… and then the syllables. It was like a chopped and screwed remix marathon that radios play at night. Eventually… He began to act the dialogue out…By saying “ni hao”, then shaking each of our, hands…All 13 of us.
What was so ironic about this was because his English was so bad, he’d often speak in Mandarin. However, while he was explaining the lesson in Mandarin, he spoke in a level significantly higher than the lesson. So while we were learning level 1 Chinese, he’d speak in like, level 30 Chinese, so to speak… After class, everyone was pissed off for having to pay for such a class…While I smiled. FREE A, BABY! I thought.
Two classes later, after more torture of various forms of ‘ni hao’… He introduces a new book. It was in full blown simplified chinese, first chapter is about airports, customs, passports, and taxes. Low and behold, within two class periods the class shrunk down to around nine students with me being the worst student.
I was hesitant to buy the book… it’s simplified, I don’t want to learn that garbage! I want to learn the full traditional shi-bang. So for days I searched on-campus/off-campus bookstores, and eventually was forced to ordered a used-copy from Amazon. I had to wait about a week before it came and had to share books with fellow-classmates. I felt so turned off by the simplified language I foolishly ignored that class.
When the book came in, I felt so anxious. I chopped it open with an axe, when it was sealed in a manilla envelope. OH BOY, I can finally learn, I thought. Slipped that sucker out, and bam. It was the simplified version… What the fu*boop*! Why is life so hard… I thought. My first thoughts were to give the guy I bought it from some serious lip. But I figured I’d use it first before I returned it until I got the traditional…
Unmotivated and unexcited I got like a 54 on the first quiz(Out of 100). Awesome. A classmate of mine had the traditional, she also ordered it from Amazon…Bitterly I went back and ordered a new copy. I did the homeworks with the used book I bought.
The next week the new copy was delivered. I drove through the cardboard box with chainsaw-ferocity. OH BOY, I can finally learn, I thought. I slipped it out and saw it was once again simplified… My house resembled pretty much any cable-reality tv show when there’s an altercation, or Jerry Springer. My mouth became an everlasting fountain of pure phallic imagery, cursing, and overbearing/unreasonable demands from Amazon, the user that sold the book to me and the teacher.
A few days later when my rant was over my dad offered to type up the chapter for me in traditional Chinese… I obliged, and then ran it through some online translaters to help me study. This is not bad I thought. He was going back to Taiwan and offered to take the other book and help type things up for me and send them to me. It’s the one thing he could teach me, he joked. I was able to study that week.
Next week I get my quiz back… Fourty-four. Nevermind the fact that the test was in simplified, and I was a bit slow in reading it. Nevermind the fact that most of my classmates studied and those that weren’t born in Asia still scored below a 70%. Nevermind the fact that those who were already fluent in Mandarin barely finished before the time limit, anyways. And nevermind the fact he disliked our answers to open questions because they were not word for word from the book. However I will mind that he gave us 15-20 minutes for a quiz that was front and back and then said the reason we sucked it up, was because we didn’t study. What the fu*boop*.