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26th issue by NCU on March 2011

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Taiwan Ocean University-Felicia Alicia Cruz

I like living in Keelung, it’s a very beautiful place and I wake up every day smelling the sea, seeing the sea feeling the wind blow against me and the residents and business community are really nice people. But, sometimes I wish Keelung was like Taipei, because in Taipei foreigners can more or less get away with the problem faced when visiting or living in a foreign country- the problem of Communication! We may also avoid that embarrassing feeling when we try to converse in Chinese and fail to send our message across or as in my case, pretending to know mandarin fluently.

I have been taking Chinese classes for a couple hours every week with twenty other international students for a couple of months. Now you can imagine the difficulty in learning a strange language and competing with your classmates to understand and to keep up with the teacher. I was and still am not an expert in speaking foreign languages especially mandarin; for the most part I only know how to exchange simple ideas, mostly for fun. I knew I would need to learn the language so as to move around Taiwan, whether it’s for site seeing, visiting friends or my favorite thing to do in the world, shopping! J

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I speak Chinese
National Taiwan Normal University-Vanda William 

Language is said to be a complex system of communication. I have found that this statement is indeed a fact when it comes to the Chinese language. My name is Vanda William and I am a first-year student studying at NTNU. I have been studying Chinese for a few months now and I must confess it has been the hardest language I have ever interacted with much less to learn it. I have had the privilege of studying French and Spanish at school, which to me at the time thought was challenging. Also there were similarities in the languages which made it easier for me to learn as an English speaker. For one, they both have Latin background and two with my French Creole background, some of the French words were similar and hence easier to understand, and the Spanish was closely related to the English. Chinese however, (Chinese!) sounds like nothing I have ever heard and to top it off it has characters, tones and makes one bite their tongue more than any other language.

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speaking Chinese
National Taiwan Normal University-Cesar Alas

 We always go through many difficulties when learning a new language. We have to dedicate a lot of time to first understand the logic of the language (if it has) and learn the vocabulary that serves as the base where the rest will be built on. I remember that during the first year we were taught basic things in Chinese like asking for directions, ordering food or school basic dialogues. When asking for directions, there is always the polite way of requesting information from others. My Chinese teacher taught me to first say 請問 (Qǐngwèn) which  is compound of the words “please” and “ask” but in this case means “excuse me”, when asking for something.For example; 請問,公共汽在哪裡Qǐngwèn, Gōnggòng qìchē zhàn zài nǎlǐ (Excuse me, where is the bus station?). 

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Taiwan Normal University-Andrea Moscoso



I have to be honest… I think that there is more than one embarrassing moment while I speak Chinese, and I also believe that I am not the only one who had experiences alike. In that sense I would like to share with you something that happens to me almost all the time and I consider this as part of my learning process in a non-formal environment and I hope it will give you some idea about how to learn Chinese or any other language.

When I came to Taiwan the first time, as some of you, I couldn’t speak any single word in Chinese… I just thought that it will be interesting to arrive in this country and give myself little bit of what I call “surprising effect”.  By that time I was living in Ping Tung, place located in the south of the island. In that place most of the people are aboriginal, which means that they can speak Chinese but I a daily bases they speak Taiwanese, Hakka or other local dialects; which means that only few of them can speak English. At the beginning, body language was the only way of communication, but later on I was able to repeat some phrases or words that my coworkers and friends use to say. After that, I was curious about the tones and new vocabulary so I started asking “How can I say this? Or that?” and it worked out well for me. In summary I was creating my own way of learning the language. At the end of one year I was very proud of myself and I realized that, in fact I could speak and communicate in Chinese.

 The Most Embarrassing Moments While I Speak Chinese
National Taiwan Normal University-Isatou A. F Jallow

My name is Isatou A.F Jallow, a first-year-student in the Graduate Institute of International Human Resource Development at National Taiwan Normal University.

It is rather hard for me to just talk about my most embarrassing moments while I speak Chinese and not to say some things to this beautiful island, Taiwan.

Ever since, I was doing my undergraduate studies, I have noticed that my Lecturers admired the Asian Tigers, particularly Taiwan on their rapid transformation from a developing country to a newly industrialized country. To be honest, even me, I have been admiring this island for a long time and I have always ask myself this question –“How did Taiwan do this within a short period of time?” unlike most African countries that had gained their independence since the 1950s and still underdeveloped. When I learned that I was part of the 2010 TaiwanICDF Scholarship recipients, I was more than happy and excited to visit and study in a country, I admired so much. Most importantly, it presented an opportunity for me to understand and try to answer the question I have been pondering over the years and an experience of a lifetime. I know most of you are enthusiastic about the answer to my question.  To let the cat out of the bag, the answer is, it is the Taiwanese’s’ attitude towards work, their discipline attitude towards time, their ever willing attitude to strive against all odds, the love and respect for their culture, their none tolerance to corruption, their continuous adherence to peace and stability, their respect for law and order amongst others that have made this island to continuously progress along the lines of prosperity and development to date.

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.

 The Most Embarrassing Moment While I Speak Chinese
National Pingtung University of Science and Technology- Marnus Cherry 

Language art and learning has its “perks” likewise its “snags””. I will never forget the one moment in which I thought of as most confident when speaking a foreign language. However, this moment happened to be the most embarrassing one ever. The talent of speaking more than one language has always been fascinating to me.

On arriving here in Taiwan, I embarked on the opportunity of learning Mandarin Chinese; I knew according to human population that Chinese was the number one spoken language in the world followed by English and then Spanish. A prior research had shown that being able to speak all three languages (Chinese, English and Spanish) would rate one at ninety-seven (97) percent of the smartest people in the world. My anticipated goal was to be part of that range of “the smartest people in the world”. I already had a strong foundation in the latter two languages (English and Spanish), and needed to only embark on the first one (Chinese).


The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Pingtung University of Science and Technology-Edwin Henry 

It was on the 31 of December 2010 my African Moslem friends and I decided to visit Kaosiung, the second largest city of Taiwan. We were interested in the festivities for the 2011 New Year. As it had been relayed to us that there would be lots on display and entertainment such as gaming, clubbing, performances from various local entertainers and most importantly the magnificent showcase of fireworks which none of us had ever seen before.
We left the school at nine. Everyone was excited as we rode our scooters to Ping Tung city where we boarded a train to Kaosiung. We arrived half an hour later.


The Most Embarrassing Moment While I Speak Chinese

National Pingtung University of Science and Technology- Edgardo Reyes

The most embarrassing moments while speaking Chinese, is a common but difficult topic to write frankly. Nevertheless, in the next paragraphs I highlight occasions when I have had extremely difficult situations while speaking Mandarin.

It is easy to make a language blunder in Chinese, especially, using the wrong word intonation. Because most Chinese words have four tones, using the wrong tone in a word, sentence, or conversation is something not completely uncommon, at least for me. I categorize my most embarrassing moments in two main areas: (a) not getting the message through, and (b) uttering an unintended “nasty” or inappropriate word.

 My most embarrassing moment while speaking Chinese
National Cheng Kung University- Jose Divas

I have being in Tainan for about one year and six months and do appreciate the free Chinese classes that are given to us by the language department.  I attended all class, though I might skip on the quizzes, and final exam.  I strive and emphasize on the tones, sadly I will tell you that I have not being so successful with that.  Well here is a little anecdote.

Close to my school there is a famous alley that sells food relatively cheap. I have made friend with almost all the 老闆 (Lǎobǎns) on that stretch.  Given that my Chinese is not as good as I would like, I have chosen one stall per food that I want to eat.  Therefore on my arrival to the stall upon signaling, the Laoban already knows what my order is.  This has work for me for the food stalls that are already establish, but I am facing difficulties with the new ones.