Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bucket List: Learning Chinese

After I made the decision to renew my contract in Tianjin, I realized how foolish I'd been. I'd lived in China for almost a whole year and I could speak maybe 20 words of Chinese. Ridiculous.

So, I inquired with some expat friends of mine, and found a fabulous tutor who teaches me Chinese twice a week.

I'll admit, it sounds very impressive. We've all been told that Mandarin is the hardest language to learn. But, I am here to say, it's not so bad. The tones are tricky, but easier to grasp when you hear them all the time. The grammar is a bit easier than English because you can only say things so many ways {unlike in English, where you can have all kinds of sentence structures and participles, and I don't even know}. And, I'm noticing that Chinese is a language that snowballs. You know a little, and then, all of a sudden, you know a LOT.

At this point in my Chinese journey, I can only do limited things. I can order my coffee, I can order food at restaurants, I can ask basic questions, I can buy train tickets, and I can answer typical questions from taxi drivers like, "where are you from? Why are you in China?" I can also get the gist of some signs and recognize about 200 characters. I'm on, maybe, a 1st grade reading level. But, it feels good to not be the "clueless foreigner" all the time.

Over the next few months, I'll be sharing this journey with you, and keeping you updated with my progress. Obviously, I am no expert, but I'm excited to de-bunk some of the myths about learning Chinese!


  1. Lauren, you're awesome! I love this. I commend you for wanting to do this.

    You were apart of our "Get Lucky" swap last year - I'd like to invite you to our Cookie Recipe Exchange swap - we would absolutely love if you joined us! You can join in here:

    Happy Monday :)

  2. Hi Lauren, thank you for stopping by my blog so I could find yours! I really admire your courage to learn Chinese! Even though I am a native Chinese speaker I still struggle from time to time to pronounce and write certain words the right way. The fact that you can get around with some Chinese language is already a step forward. Please keep up the good work!