LEARN CHINESE IN CHINA
Today I’m here with Yvonne from GoYvon, and I asked her to share the one thing that has been the most beneficial for her Chinese.
She has been in China for 8 years, she has spent the majority of her time in the capital, Beijing.
Yvonne’s Best Chinese Tip:
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE!
Yvonne: It’s really important not to be afraid to try and speak the language. People will really appreciate it when you try and speak their language, rather than communicating in English.
It’s super difficult with all the different tones, so it’s easy to make mistakes. But as long as you use sentences so that you’re speaking within context they will be willing to understand you, chat with you, and help you out.
Kwadwo: Try to communicate.
What was it like for you in the beginning when you were trying to communicate?
Yvonne: When I first got to China, I was living in the South, in a place not too far from Hangzhou. I could get around, I could get to my University.
Then, I moved to a city in the north of China. The dialect there was so different from what I was used to in the south. I was confident I would be able to speak basic Chinese with taxi drivers, but when I arrived they looked at me like: “what are you saying, girl? You’re not even speaking Chinese.”
I learned that is it really different all over the Country.
So you practiced still? You weren’t afraid to, even when you couldn’t speak?
Yvonne: Yeah, I practiced still. I wanted to get places. And, I wanted to buy things and get things. You have to try it. I never thought I was going to be able to speak Chinese. Now I can.
Kwadwo: You can’t expect to learn Chinese unless you struggle.
Yvonne: Chinese people are super nice. You say “你好” and they’re like “Woaaaah! Your Chinese is so good.”
Kwadwo: Just let your ego inflate and keep practicing.
To this day I have not had Chinese people walk away from me or not be willing to talk to me because my Chinese sucked. Okay, maybe a couple of times, they absolutely gave up. But, it wasn’t like they were looking down on me thinking “silly foreigner, you can’t speak Mandarin”. They are always so happy to talk to you.
Yvonne: But I do understand that it gets frustrating. Because you think you’re pronouncing words the right way, but they still don’t understand you. But, if you continue to practice, I’m sure you’ll manage.
If you’re having a conversation and using sentences then the tones are not that important because it’s more about context.
Do you agree? Leave a comment below.
Chinese is a context-rich language.
Kwadwo: Context is key. You’re correct. Chinese is a context-rich language.
Yvonne: If you understand the majority and the tone of one word is off people will understand what you’re trying to say based on the rest of what you’re saying.
Kwadwo: We listen and we understand in context. So, level-up your vocabulary but get away from the individual words as quickly as you can, and go to phrases because context is your friend.
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