My name is Mariana and my native language is Spanish. Studying English for me was not as hard as starting to know and learn the basic words in Mandarin, since I started school at 2 years old, I got used to listening words in English, and having a daily interaction with native English speakers helped me to improve my comprehension, accent, and vocabulary. Now studying Mandarin as my third language helped me realize the many other languages out there that most people have no idea how wonderful they are. Mandarin is a language full of meaning ,history and art.

I’m sure the first impressions are not always the most important, but they certainly count. Taiwan causes a big impression on me, the language itself is widely known by people as one of the hardest languages. Now coming to Taiwan meant three things for me, hard work, tolerance, and lots of adventures. My hard work had to start with my studies, and that meant my career and getting to know, and speak fluent Mandarin, that is the hardest part of all. I remember myself trying to pronounce the words correctly, and my teacher to whom I learned to call lao shi, -If you know Mandarin, you know that in English it means teacher-, well he had a hard task, and his work consisted of teaching newcomers basic words that could help us to have a brief but polite conversation with any person around us. When I was tough how to say “hi how are you?” in mandarin, and when they gave me my translated name I simply couldn't stop telling people around my name, and asking around how were they doing. It was so exciting for me to know at least two simple questions that make a big difference from only using signs as a way of communication, and from now at least knowing the name of person you are dealing with, it was simple but for me, it was a big deal. That was just the beginning, when having my first formal class with my new lao shi, I knew lots of hard work, dedication and tolerance had to be applied. As any typical foreigner I had to learn how to say hamburger , and how to find one. So finding food that I liked, and knowing how to ask for it became my personal quest. That's when the adventures started, when living at the university doors you get to have some advantages like having the night market close, the subway and the McDonalds’, finding them was the problem, I was lucky that the taxi driver understood McDonalds’ since it sounds similar with Chinese.

The most embarrassing thing that happened to me while learning Mandarin at my Chinese class. I mix words all the time, accents for me were not easy, and giving the proper sound was even harder, making coherent sentences sometimes was impossible, special when using multiple verbs to describe an event, or using words that sometimes sound familiar, and change only on the sound but briefly. My teacher form Chinese class always focused on having an interactive class, a class were everybody had a chance to participate and answer questions, one day I had decided to study the next lesson for class, and while being at class I felt so confident and determined to participate more that I keep calling the teacher all the time, answering and making questions .

My teacher was so happy that she just kept going and she liked the fact that I was actually doing something beside taking notes, I was practicing my verbal skills. When break came, someone asked to talked to me, it was one of my friends and I asked the teacher if I could go. Ahe gently said yes and my friend laughed at me. She told me I should be careful and I didn’t know what she was talking about. She explained to me that I had mispronounced the word" teacher" to "rat" !!... how could that be!!, when she told me the right pronunciation I realized that the sound at the end marked the difference. I also realized one little detail. I had been calling my teacher the hole class time, RAT. I was so ashamed, I immediately apologized with my teacher and from then. I haven’t forgotten the correct pronunciation. She told me she would have corrected me but she saw how into the class I was , so she didn’t wanted to spoil that.

I have learned so many things, I know next year I will be better and wish me luck because there are so many other things to learn and many other experiences to live, that I can’t wait to see what else does destiny has prepared for me here in Taiwan.


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