Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm very excited about this latest attempt to study Mandarin.

My first formal attempt to learn Mandarin Chinese lasted for 2 semesters in college. Without consistent practice and use, 2 semesters quickly came undone.

Since I've been in Taiwan, I've had so many stops and starts. I started off overly ambitious, wanting to master speaking, reading and writing skills all at once. What made me think I could do all that at once when I hadn't even mastered the speaking part yet?

Well, this time around it's going to be different. Yes I'm aiming to master all 3 skills, or at least the first 2 of 3 this time around. Now, 3 years later, I have basic conversational and listening skills so, I'm confident that I can approach my study of Chinese in a more whole way. In other words, I'll be focusing on connecting and committing to memory the specific tone placed on the phonetic sound for a particular Chinese character. This is easier said than done because speaking Mandarin is mastered through the use of a phonetic system (Zhuyin or Hanyu Pinyin), so to speak Mandarin, one need not learn how to read Chinese characters. As a result, I've experienced a disconnect between knowing the pronounciation and meaning of a word, yet not being able to recognize the corresponding written Chinese character, and vice versa. This is complicated by the fact that a single sound, such as "ma" has at least 4 different meanings depending on the tone pronounciation and therefore 4 different corresponding written Chinese characters.

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