My first occurrence of learning Mandarin was at an orientation held by International Cooperation Development Funds in 2009. Giving foreign students the opportunity to learn Mandarin is very wise. Language is a form of expression; I have certainly found myself in situations which required speaking Mandarin.

I was given a copy of the pronunciation of the sounds and recalled going over them so many times. Every sound was so similar. Then I was introduced to the tones which I tried to pronounce. Sometimes reading words with the tones worked well with some of my hand movements. Learning Mandarin requires a lot of time and commitment. The words I can more easily remember are the ones I use in every day oral communication. When someone speaks Mandarin fluently in my presence some of the words register in my mind. At first I tried to link the sounds to the English alphabet; however, that was no good. I just had to memorize the sounds. I recalled a day when the teacher asked if we knew our Chinese name. I taught to myself, why do I need a Chinese name when I have an English name. However, after I was given my Chinese name I taught it sound pleasant. I was happy to share my name with others. I also like the characters use in writing my name; moreover, they seem artistic. It was like the experience of writing the English alphabet as a child. There were Chinese names given to some of my classmates that did not sound too pleasant; there were laughers when the names were shared.

During the semester, I can recall my Mandarin lecturer doing a number of activities to maintain our participation in the class. When we were learning about currency she brought fake money for us to use during our role play. I can recall asking for potato fries and orange juice. The teacher also had us taking turns teaching our classmates how to write the characters. There were many humors like the time when she taught us to say teacher in mandarin. The tone was not correct; she asked please not to call her a rat. Students would say a few sentences to the lecturer in Mandarin and ask her if it is said properly. In several cases students used words that they did not intend to use. The teacher could not keep herself from smiling. In preparing for quizzes I would write the words on post-it. I would then place the strips on the wall so that I could have seen them. As for the characters, many of them looked similar; it was a task to remember how to write them. I felt like I was doing a work of art.

Knowing the importance of speaking Mandarin, I decided to enroll in a Mandarin class for next semester. I think it will be a challenging journey; but, I will be determined. I must say that the lecturer was patient and kind. She brought treats to class as an incentive for good performance. She also used encouraging words and praised students when they performed well. I am looking forward to meet my new Mandarin lecture; I trust that individual will also have very good qualities.


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