I am curious about other cultures and I always wanted to learn other languages and this is the reason why I start to learn Portuguese and Italian. My native language is French but I also speak English and Spanish. While I was visiting Greece I catch some words in Greek but I never had the time to continue with it. .

My first experience of learning Mandarin was in the ICDF orientation that we have last August when we just arrived to Taiwan. I was excited to learn this new language and I was hoping that I will soon be able to talk with the people here. Those five (5) days that the teacher teaches us the basic of Mandarin was really instructive and interesting. I was discovering the “pinyin”, the tones and the characters and another exotic language. When the course ended I couldn’t wait to go to my university to continue my learning.
The teacher that we have, Cha laoshi, explains to us the difference in the teaching method of Mandarin, the Bopomofo and the hanyu pinyin. She also tells us a little bit of the Taiwanese culture. I was enjoying this class a lot and she was telling me that my Mandarin pronunciation was good.

Arriving to my university, Taipei Medical University (TMU) I had another teacher for our Chinese class. I was expecting to find the same teaching method and I couldn’t wait to go to the street and talk Mandarin. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed by her teaching method that was really different from the previous one. Since Mandarin is a difficult language for western people because there’s no A, B, C but characters and it’s was totally different from the other language that I know. I try to understand the class but my first semester of learning Chinese was really bad. I think if a foreigner had to learn Chinese they should be some appropriate teaching methods and the teacher should find a way to adapt to us and helps us. Most of the time, our last teacher was talking to us in Mandarin even if we couldn’t understand anything. I used to say “ding bu dong” but that didn’t change anything.

After the first semester, we went to the International office of TMU to tell them that we can’t learn anything in this Chinese class and we need to change the teacher. Honestly I was really upset because some of my friends could talk a little mandarin when we were going out and I couldn’t say a word. Imagine the writing or trying to understand the meaning of the characters. I was so frustrated that I wanted to cry sometimes. At the international office, they understand our concern and they change the teacher. We have the chance to have a good teacher for the second semester and my progress was really extraordinary. I could go in the street and talk a little mandarin and people do understand me. My friend and me use to go out and try to recognize the characters we learn in the class. When we can identify one and actually understand the meaning, we start to jump in the street like little kids. I was feeling so good because I used to dough about myself and think that I will never be able to learn Mandarin. I remember one day, my friend and I went to a temple. We were sitting near some Taiwanese and they start talking to us and I was able to understand what they were saying and even answer. This day I was so happy and proud of my progress.

My learning experience of Mandarin shows me that Mandarin is not that difficult or impossible to learn for a foreigner. If you have a good teaching method and a good teacher, you will be surprised by your progress. My second semester of Mandarin was so good that I’m willing to take some more Mandarin classes next year and try to improve my Mandarin.
My first year of learning Mandarin makes me realize that the process of learning Mandarin is going to take quite a while. It will also require some time, the more time a student can spend with the language they are learning the better it is. An advice that I can provide to those who want to learn Mandarin is to be patient and be dedicated. If enough focus is applied and the proper learning methods are used, you will be surprised by your progress in Mandarin. Good luck to anyone who want to learn Mandarin, it’s a little hard to learn at the beginning but not impossible. Zhu ni hao yun!


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