Wo3 xue2 pu3ton1ghua4 hen3 hao3

Christina and I have begun studying Mandarin on our own in preparation for our journey to China. We have set aside Tuesday and Saturday as our “Mandarin Lesson” days, Tuesday being a new lesson and Saturday being review (in a perfect world, what we were reviewing separately). We started with the Teach Yourself approach, but then last week my parents bought me the Rosetta Stone Mandarin I language software, so we’ve started using that.

It’s . . . slow going—like those Chinese people have a different word for everything. I’m not even sure the title of this post (“I study Standard Mandarin very well”) is entirely correct. But I am also incredibly excited about being able to speak Mandarin (as well as watching kung fu movies without subtitles), so I have no intention of slacking off.

The tones are a little arresting. There are four in Mandarin: high (1), ascending (2), descending then ascending (3), and descending (4). This is kind of a pain although it could be much worse. Cantonese, for instance, has eight. Furthermore, we aren’t really supposed to be worrying about the tones right now, just focusing on the bigger Mandarin picture.

We’ve learned some vocabulary, but since the Rosetta Stone thingy uses an immersion technique it’s a little hard to say anything beyond some silly phrases at this point (i.e. “Zhe4 ge nan2 hai zi zai4 chi1 fan4,” which, I think, means “That boy is eating food”). But we’re sticking to the lessons and have been assured by the box’s pretty packaging that all will become clear soon.

I’ll keep you updated on our progress.

Zi4 jian4!

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