Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chinese classes

This week I finally started taking Chinese classes. Since March I've been saying that I want to learn to read Chinese but haven't really done anything about it until just recently. A month or two ago I began paying attention to the characters in the world around me, noticing the patterns and trying to guess the meanings based on the little bit that I knew. I've also been sending text messages to my Chinese friends in Chinese with the help of the predictive text input. Being more attentive to the characters has made me realize how much I want to learn to read and how difficult it will be, but also how knowing a few characters can go a long way.

I wasn't all that interested in taking classes because I knew that I could learn just as well if not better on my own with a dictionary and a few textbooks. Unfortunately, I've known that for a long time and didn't have the dedication to keep up with it. That's why I'm taking classes now—to have someone looking over my shoulder, obliging me to study. They are private classes at the largest private Chinese language school in Chengdu, Chinese Corner. The textbook we're using is boring as far as grammar and vocabulary go since my spoken Chinese is quite conversational, but there are still many characters I don't know in the sample texts, so I guess it's about the right place to begin learning to read. I'm not sure how much I like the teacher's methods, but he seems pretty flexible and open to suggestions, and the second class went much better than the first, so at least we're moving in the right direction. I'll keep going for the next couple of weeks and then reevaluate the effectiveness—hopefully by then I'll be over the hump and able to study on my own.

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