Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mandarin for Losers

I am studying Mandarin for Beginners.

When I signed up for the class, I envisioned myself strolling into the high school grounds on a balmy Wednesday evening and chatting amicably with the other students (in Chinese, naturally).
I imagined how astounded the waiters and waitresses would be with my new-found fluency the next time I ordered my prawn and chive dumplings at yum char.  Probably they'd snatch the bill out of my hands when I went up to pay, as they implored me (in Chinese, naturally) to let them pick up the bill, because it was such an honour for them to finally meet a foreigner with such a firm grasp of the tonal nuances in the Mandarin language.  The reverie ended as I smiled shyly and graciously assented to their humbling offer. 

So really, it was my imagination, my ego, and my stomach, that signed me up for an 8 week beginner's course in Mandarin Chinese.

That I hate.

I hate it.  When the teacher starts talking in Chinese I feel like I have just been flung into a sea of bewilderment, in which I flounder around, before sinking to my slow, painful death. 


To make matters worse, all the other students are upbeat, positive, and better than me.  When we go around at the end of class saying 'how we found tonight's lesson', they say annoying things like "I'm really starting to get the hang of it!" or worse, something incomprehensible in Chinese that makes all the other students chortle merrily.

There are only two possible explanations: 

One: they're all filthy liars.  They all hate it too.  They suffer through each two hour lesson (which, by the way, spans the prime hungry hours) daydreaming about food, what they're going to eat when they get home, and whether they'll bother coming back next week.

Or two: they are all robots, made in China, and sent here to bolster the dwindling Chinese-language classes, which have been bleeding students due to the impossible nature of the Mandarin tonal system.

I think it's probably the former. 

1 comment:

kaybee said...

you made me laugh on a shitty afternoon. thanks. you're a witty delight!