Rachel: If you can bust out like a Chinese song at KTV, the Chinese people will love that and it was a great way for me to just enjoy learning Chinese.
Kwadwo: Do you want to know that one thing that will help your Mandarin advance to the next level? Well, I got Rachel here from Rachel meets China. She’s on Instagram documenting your life here in China and she’s going to share with you, like you were her friend and you just moved to China. That one thing that’ll help you move forward on your Mandarin because it’s overwhelming here.
If you don’t know me, my name is Kwadwo, at Elementary Chinese and I help you learn the everyday Chinese you need to communicate what you want. Interviewing other ex-pats like her or teaching you Chinese straight from my heart.
What is that one tip that you would share?
Rachel: When I first came to China, you know it’s overwhelming at first. You have so many things and you’re learning a new culture and the new language and everybody’s like, oh, Chinese is so hard.
But if you can find a way to incorporate it into your daily life and find a way to make those little interactions matter. If it’s just focusing on maybe one vocab word a day or finding one thing that you’re really trying to practice each day, it gets easier and it’s more manageable.
And for me, I also found a way to use Chinese for something I enjoy doing. So I love music, I love to sing and I love playing guitar. I heard a Chinese song one day and I was like, I love this. I have no idea what they’re saying, but I like the music. What if I tried to play that? What if I tried to practice that?
Kwadwo: How did that go?
Rachel: It was hard at first, but I found the pinyin lyrics for it and it actually wasn’t so terrible. It was a great way for me to like, oh, what does this mean? What’s this song talking about? And I would hear those key phrases other places too after I learned that song.
Kwadwo: From the course?
Rachel: Yes, exactly.
Kwadwo: Okay. What app did you use to see the lyrics on that song?
Rachel: So I just looked up basically pinyin lyrics. I don’t remember if there was one particular website for it.
Kwadwo: Yeah, I know QQ music, if you guys can get it. QQ music. They kind of stream, like the song plays and the lyrics go down. You can sing along. You said when you listened to the chorus, you memorized it. Wow.
Kwadwo: How many times did you try to play this song?
Rachel: Oh gosh. Over and over.
Kwadwo: That’s a lot of effort.
Rachel: Yes, a lot. Yeah, like constant repetition.
So, find a song you really enjoy that you don’t mind listening to, and if you ask my friends like it’s the same song. I love to sing at KTV because I practiced it so much and I wanted to sing it more.
Kwadwo: Good for making 关系 guān xi (connections/relationships) with Chinese people, right.
Rachel: Exactly. If you can bust out like a Chinese song at KTV, the Chinese people will love that. Like, they love to see like, hey, you’re making an effort. Even if your Chinese is not perfect.
Kwadwo: So true.
Rachel: And yeah, even if you make mistakes, I practiced it a lot over and over and over again. And stared at the words on the screen constantly.
Kwadwo: Okay. My arm’s hurting. Say hi to Rachel on Instagram.
I like what you said when you learned that song, phrases from that song stuck with you, and helped you make connections with Chinese people.
Rachel: Yes, absolutely. I think that’s the biggest thing. Like so many foreigners and people come here and like, you know, they have their foreigner friends and that’s great. You want that kind of community.
But I think it’s so important to like also reach out to Chinese people and get involved. Like you’re living in their country and it’s awesome. Like the Chinese people want to be your friend and if you can make that connection with them, it will change your time in China.
Want more interviews from me?
Head over to my Linkedin profile where I publish a new article every week. I interview local expats here in China to give you the best tips for learning native, local Chinese.
Question of the Day
Kwadwo: What Chinese song are you going to try to commit to memory? Leave a comment below. Check out Rachel’s chat.
Both: Good, good study. Day, day up.
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