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26. The Most Embarrassing Moment While I Speak Chinese

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
Kun Shan University-Carlo Renato Fumagalli Coudere

Taiwan it’s a very beautiful place indeed, but sometimes, I would like to go back to my country because of the embarrassment and frustration sometimes I feel. Of course after the embarrassing moment I just laugh of myself, and hope nobody noticed what happened. The first week after I landed in Taipei airport, I have learned only to say hi! I was saying “Ni Hao” to everybody, and it was very fun! But in a short time, I realized I needed to learn more words than just hello. In the first week my classmates and I started to learn some new words, and even how to write. For me was a very interesting experience, I never thought that I will communicate with other adults by a kind of complicated drawings! After a few days my teacher explained that those “weird drawings” were actually Chinese characters and could be called as logograms or sinographs and is the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world.

The Most Embarrassing Moments while I Speak Chinese: 
Are you skinny, stinky or ugly? Iran or Yilan? Mexico or Moscow?
National Cheng Chi University-Daniel Guzman Briman 

According to many rankings Chinese language is one of the hardest for foreigners, especially for those who are not familiar with the tones and the particular sounds of it. When I first came to Taiwan I thought that Chinese was not that hard to learn; I thought that the hardest part will be writing and memorizing all of those complicated and unique characters that look like small drawings, but after my funny and “dangerous mistakes”, my perception has totally changed and now I “respect” Chinese conversation as well, and I even think that sometimes speaking Chinese can be harder than writing it. Well, let’s look at my most embarrassing moments while I speak Chinese:

The most embarrassing moment while I speak Chinese
National Chengchi University-Prosper Zombre 

Learning Chinese, like learning any other foreign language is generally viewed as a great opportunity to widen one’s horizons, experience new culture and discover new people, etc. This sounds really exciting and from my perspective, having the opportunity to learn Chinese is like a dream coming true, for this language is considered as one of the most complex in the world. I was then at the beginning of my Chinese classes confused by everything that was said or written by my teacher, but inspired and determined to overcome the mystery of what will become later one of my most admired languages.

Of course, learning Chinese have not been going so smoothly. There were moments when practicing conversation led to frustration and embarrassing situations. The complexity of Chinese language is to me enhanced by the different tones you have to pay attention to. Besides that, I am often running short of vocabulary or reversing the order of some words or expressions and obviously it is difficult and sometimes even impossible to be understood. I have three stories about miscommunication and embarrassing situations I have experienced so far.

The Most Embarrassing Moment While I Speak Chinese
National Chengchi University-Josue Daniel Herrera Mayen 

Ah! The enigmatic and mysterious Chinese language, they said that it has been around for a while more than three thousand years, the exact time no one knows for sure, but what is for sure is that it came to stay. But then again is it fair to call Chinese language only to mandarin? Well as fair as calling America just to the United States.


China’s continental proportions has allowed her to be the cradle of many different languages which were reunited around the more systematic and in my opinion more beautiful script developed by mankind, is this script the one that properly deserves the name of Chinese Language (distinction which is crystal clear in Chinese since Guoyu-國語 or Putonghua-普通話are the names of the prestige dialect and Zhongwen-中文 is properly used mostly in the context of literature and other written language expressions).

The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Taiwan University- Fatima Del Carmen Caceres Santamaria 

To start speak a language you need to feel and live it, as the way as you are learning your mother tongue, why? Because sometimes you make mistakes in pronunciation or want to express different sense and some other mean of your thoughts, that’s the main reason to learn language and communicate with friends, family, teachers, for business or just even know more cultures in the word.

I was thinking that Chinese was easy to learn and communicate with Taiwanese; for this new experience in my life I cannot compare Chinese with other language, because is really difficult the pronunciation (talking about the four tones) and speaking right and polite to people in Taiwan, I don’t have any strong background in Chinese but I suppose to take one course online just to improve my Chinese and learn the most common word to buy my books, cloth, shoes and other stuff, even to order my food at any convenience store or just talk to my friends in my Department and new friends that I could meet in my new country and my home “Taiwan”.

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Yang Ming University- Idrissa Beogo
Taipei-Nantshjao-Sinthiou-Nantshjao-Taipei has been the itinerary of the fastidious day journey I have achieved during my stay in Taiwan. This is a narration of a journey paved in my mind as a film band. It was a mix of feelings, fear, challenges, risk taken, and shame experienced because of my poor level in Mandarin. The purpose was to please a friend who has paid me visits many times. My misfortune began at Taipei Main Station. However I successfully got the appropriate ticket (for roundtrip), I missed the programmed departure. I guessed I completely understood the contrary meaning of what the officer told me in Chinese and I acquiesced. Once in the train gate I badly could not meet someone early to guide me to the right train. My train was moving when I was trying to make myself understand through my flat tone mandarin. The following train I caught could not provide me for a seat. So I stood up to the destination, the first one. Following the train, the final destination has to be accomplished by bus. Here came another challenge, getting the given bus. I could not remember how many persons I requested to reach the bus station. The only phrase I could repeat easily combining the correct tone was “I want to go to Nantsjiao” starting by sorry or hello. After heading to the station for a while, everyone I came across got the misfortune to be inquired. At the end, I was embarked by two gentle guys in a luxurious car. The innovative stratagem I used was to attract their confidence by quickly showing my student ID card while intermingling in my discourse English and the pitiable Mandarin. Of course, I could not understand the sort conversation they had but I realized my praying were fulfilled when more than five times my vis-à-vis repeated “ok, ok…” and concomitantly opened the their car door. By this time where human being traffic was a lucrative business, in other world, I would have kindly reject the proposition arguing anything. What amazed me, the seeking station is besides the train station I just dropped, in the back side with a corridor heading to. I took the ticket to Nantsjiao. At this middle point of the journey I have realized my English seems useless to interact.

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Tsing-Hua University-Alvarez Charles Conceicao 

I don’t write Chinese but speak foreign language!

I have been in Taiwan for more than a year now though, to give background - inspiration that got me most motivated about the "beautiful island of Taiwan "Ilha Formosa” as it was called by the Portuguese before. It is not the language in particular but the technology and its development and  usage for competitive advantage gains in various fields of specialities, thus in order to be able to meet and overcome the challenges ahead of me in the future especially in business and technological environment profitable, intersecting business and interesting new technologies together. For that matter, therefore, I was strongly committed to pursuing an IMBA program in Technology Management at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan, philanthropies by the TaiwanICDF. The package offers a range of disciplines and experiences with case-study-driven tools, in areas of science, business, technology and management fields which provide extensible knowledge that can be applied to lead technological and organisational change in business and Information Technology environment in my beloved country, The Gambia, and to maintain and strengthen the brotherly relationship with its valued ally, Taiwan.  Although, understanding Chinese Mandarin like most international languages makes a big difference in my life too, because I can communicate with many people across different boundaries around the world, and to enhance and contribute in international cooperation development for sustainable development for the people and my country, international business and commerce, new venture capital opportunities and innovation with innovative creativity and strategies, as well as to achieve the most out of every business and technological market situation. Speaking Chinese, I can communicate with one of the world's largest language populations, social networking.  It is good business  as Taiwan is becoming an increasingly important factor in the business, politics and technology, so will opportunities to work in Taiwan and China, for a Taiwanese and Chinese venture, or in a Taiwanese-related field.  For some of these jobs, speaking Chinese Mandarin will be a required skill while for international students in Taiwan speaking Chinese Mandarin will give us a competitive advantage in securing a position or promotion over others who do not have the ability.   I believe that the technology has a knack of arranging things around us and help to improve and limit communication barriers found in trade, and international business and commerce. 

The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Tsing Hua University- Adrian Garcia

A couple of months ago during my first semester studying in Taiwan, I encountered myself in a really embarrassing situation when I was trying to buy a cake in a bakery located in the city of Hsinchu.

It all began on a Tuesday night, which by the way I felt really tired because of the midterm’s exams and the weekly tests of the mandarin course I was taking at the moment. I and two other Latin-American friends, also studying in Hsinchu, went to downtown to celebrate the birthday of another friend in a nice restaurant.

Before we left from Tsing-Hua campus, we agreed to stop by in a bakery of Hsinchu downtown to buy a birthday cake for our friend. We wanted to give her a delicious chocolate cake, being that her favorite flavor. We took the bus to downtown and when we arrived to the bus stop near the restaurant we started walking in direction to the bakery, when suddenly my two friends were distracted in another store. I decided to continue walking and go ahead to buy the cake while they were in the other store.

 The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
Kaohsiung Medical University-Bintou Junaidi Jallow

Any attempt to learn a second language is wrought with difficulties. New words, new grammar systems, and new pronunciations are challenges that are universal to everyone who attempts to learn a new language, English as my national language I was no exception to this challenge. I was so excited on my first day in Chinese class, but I was soon to realize the following difference between the languages.

One of the most fundamental differences between English and Chinese is the fact that Chinese is a tonal language and English is not. A tonal language is one in which the way a phoneme (or a distinct symbol of sound) is modified through tonal inflection changes the phoneme's meaning. The first tone is high and level, the second starts in the middle and rises to the top, the third starts low, dips to the lowest point, and rises nearly to the top, the forth starts at the top and falls quickly to the bottom, and the fifth is flat with no emphasis. The phoneme Yi, for example, might mean something like "doctor" in tone one, "to shift" in tone two, "already" in tone three, and "strange" in tone 4.