For reasons that are better left to another blog post, I am not teaching this semester. I have some project students, and am supervising a distance ed course.
Rather than have free time (like a normal person would opt for), I decided to prepare for my semester in exile by taking a Mandarin course.
Being on the other side of the lectern is weird.
And not just any Mandarin course, naturally. I’m taking the intensive course that our DDP students take. It’s basically the regular SFU Mandarin course at double-pace. This means that I’m going to learn a decent amount before I go, but it’s a little like drinking from a firehose.
The instructor has done a really good job of organizing the course to make it all bearable, but there is just a mountain of vocabulary to deal with.
Surprise #1: the written language doesn’t bother me so much—I’m actually pretty good at remembering characters, which I did not expect.
Surprise #2: I’m being a much more kinesthetic learner than I would have ever expected in my learning. The characters are less a picture than a series of motions to draw them. I often remember the tones of words with a motion in my head.
Surprise #3: I recently got a Chinese name (吴君睿/Wu Junrui) and a Renren account (the Chinese facebook equivalent). Using social media with only Google translate and conventions to guide you is a challenge. Doing the CAPTCHA to open the account took me like 20 minutes.
Current mood: cautious optimism.