The Most Emabrrassing Moment While I Speak Chinese
National Pingtung University of Science and Technology-Mervin Abilio Hernandez Ortiz

Going to another country is very challenging and it includes being surrounded in a new world which means to learn a new language like to born again. Language is a universal way of communication with people from different parts of the world. Learning a new language sometimes is very funny and interesting when starting to communicate with people.

After learning English, it never comes to my mind to have a great opportunity like the one I have now to come to Taiwan, to the other side of the world to learn mandarin. I say that mandarin most is a very special language, but it is not impossible to learn to speak it.

大家 (hello everybody), first of all let me say thank you to the ICDF’s Scholarship Program for sponsoring me with my scholarship to continue my education. This wonderful opportunity they have gave me to come to Taiwan to study my bachelors degree in Plant Science at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST), and very happy and lucky at the same time to come to the biggest and beautiful university campus in this great country. My name is Mervin Abilio Hernandez Ortiz and I am from the country of Guatemala; which is located in Central America.

I came to Taiwan the 27th of August of 2010 and since that time I have been working hard to learn Chinese as much as I can but this is a very special language that has a full meaning of history and art and I think is the most difficult to learn.

I am a native Spanish speaker and I can truly say that learning English for me was not as hard as learning to speak mandarin.

Learning Chinese has been sometimes funny but sometime not funny for me at all. Everything seems hard when learning this language because it involves things like writing or drawing, memorizing the way to do each character, the different meaning each character has, the way to place them when writing and the correct pronunciation of each word.  

But that is not the funny version of my Chinese skills I have learned so far while trying to speak with Taiwanese people. I think it has happened to every foreign student that has studied here in Taiwan.

Since I started to learn mandarin at my Chinese class I have been making a lot of mistakes that have embarrassed me. I mix up words most of the time, accents are not easy, and giving the proper sound is also harder. Also when making coherent sentences is kind of hard to do it, but is also harder to remember special when using verbs to describe an event, or when I have to use words that sounds similar to other words, or change in sound but with a little difference.

In addition, some of the embarrassing things that had happened to me start when I was in my Saturday’s mandarin class at the Chinese Learning Center at NPUST. The professor gave us a hand out with vocabulary and some sentences to practice and then to interact in the class with my classmates. There was a sentence that was talking about a girl and to make it more interesting the instructor told us to use our names in the sentences.

It was my turn and the sentence I have to read says: Excuse me. Is Miss Mei-ru Zhang in? I was a little nervous and I start making the sentence saying; excuse me. Is Miss Kamala in? Kamala was one of the boys in the class and I had to change it from(Miss) to 先生 (Mr.) and I did not do it, so I said Miss instead of saying Mr. because I have picked a boy’s name and when I start reading the sentence everyone starts laughing at me and I said to me why they are laughing for; and then I realized that I have made a mistake.

Some others embarrassing things have happened to me while trying to speak Chinese is when I am ordering food at restaurants or while buying things at seven eleven. You know that in Chinese to buy or to sell sounds very alike to each other so, when I want to say  我要買 (I want to buy) it sounds like I am saying   我要賣  (I want to sell), and people do not understand me and sometimes they say  沒有 (no). Most of the times I repeat what I want to say at least three times and they understand, and most of the times they do not understand what I am trying to say, but I think that after trying it, I am improving my pronunciation which is good.     

It was another good one but also embarrassing to me. It was late at night and I was doing homework and I was feeling a little hungry; I decided to go to seven eleven. I came in and I ask the vendor for hot dogs. He did not understand me because I was not saying the right word for hot dog so, I was saying  (dog) instead of saying (hot dog) 熱狗, and then I asked him in English and I felt so embarrassed because at that moment there where two Taiwanese girls buying and one of them was kind of laughing of what I was saying.

In last, trying to speak a new language is very interesting and also so important because once we know the correct way of speaking it, there is a special feeling and we get more confident. I still have a long way to go and my aim now is to learn more vocabulary, to keep talking in Chinese and to improve my pronunciation skills. Chinese is a special language, is the most difficult to learn, but it is not impossible to achieve it.