The Most Embarrasing Moment While Speaking Chinese
National Cheng Kung University-Liliam Rodas

Speaking Chinese is definitely a very complicated issue, mainly because the structure of the language, as it is completely different from my mother tong Spanish and other languages that I have tried before, such as German or French.

However, knowing the vocabulary is not enough in this case, because the pronunciation of the Chinese language has to be very precise in order to get people to understand exactly what is wanted to say. Even thought it has been difficult, I have tried to push myself to speak to more people than only my classmates, whom I have made friends with in the language center of National Cheng Kung University. So I often decide to ask for things in several places or to use my vocabulary in order to generate conversation with Taiwanese people.

It is always exiting when I approach to someone and salute them. I might get a bit nervous, but after this, the conversation starts to flow. However, after some time it can get a bit confusing with the language and it becomes harder to continue a fluid chat with someone. Even though this happens quite often, most of the people that I ran into were very friendly and have tried to help me with my speaking abilities. Therefore, I get more confident and improve my language skills with fun in my day to day life.

However, it is quite common to still make mistakes, to confuse others and feel confused by the conversations. One of the most difficult issues for me has been to be able to ask for the bathroom in public places, mainly because of the pronunciation of this word in Chinese. This also happened to me one time when I was in a supermarket and needed to use a bathroom. So I decided to approach to one of the ladies who work in the place and ask for it. As I did this, I could immediately see on her face that she had no idea what I was talking about. She kept speaking to me in Chinese and pointing at products and areas. She was very caring and trying hard to help me, but after repeating myself about five times, she lost her patience. She grabbed me by the arm and took me to another lady in order for me to explain to her what it was that I wanted. So I explained myself another time, but unfortunately also this other lady did not understand me either. Finally, in my frustration I decided to mimic the act of going to the bathroom in front of them to make my point. As soon as I did this, they both looked into each other’s eyes and said together in Chinese: “Oh, you mean a bathroom!”. We all started laughing about the whole thing and finally one of them indicated me the way to the bathroom while all the way she teached me the correct pronunciation of this word.

Learning the Chinese language definitely has been a unique experience so far and despite the fact that it has been extremely difficult, it is fulfilling to see the results and to be able to talk and share with such a different yet interesting and rich culture.