If there’s one thing I take seriously while living in China, it’s learning the language of the nationals. With having a baby recently, it has gone a little on the back burner. But my latest language lesson was when I was introduced for the second time to a Chinese children’s book. I chuckle every time at the sight of a book like this because it’s something a kindergarten or 1st grade student would read. It reminds me of my place in learning Chinese.
Of course it includes pinyin (the romanized way of reading Chinese) and pictures different from any children’s book I’ve seen in the US. But hey…I’m having fun, acquiring new words, and using them all within a 40-minute time period. My teacher even chose this particular book because a friend and I bike to and from work every Thursday! (How could it get any better? Just wait…)
We have two lessons every week, and I’m really excited because my teacher said it would be okay if we played some chess in class. (Some chess!) This idea bloomed from the time I asked my teacher *Dannie if she knew how to play Chinese chess. She does, but it’s much more complex. Thus we agreed to start with a simpler form such as the chess I know with black and white teams. She doesn’t know how to play so I’ll teach her how while she teaches me the lingo and grammar.
Language learning is always a two-way street. One of the things I enjoy the most about attending these lessons is how I learn so much about how my students probably feel in certain situations within my classes. Following this understanding comes empathy in the struggles and joy in the successes. My expectations, in essence, are more realistic.