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13. My Chinese Teacher

First of all I would like to mention that I have already lived in Taiwan for a year, so far, it has been an excellent experience assimilating the day to day environment Taiwan provides. If someone asked me, ‘how much has your Chinese improved throughout this year?” I would answer back, “Well at least I know more then when I came, and currently my progress is at steady growth rate”. But to my defense the Chinese language has a reputation of being among the most difficult of languages to learn, statement that I do not refute, never have I felt a language so complex to understand, since most of its pronunciation can be easily be misheard or misspoken leading to a non desirable misunderstanding. A simple example is the word “wen” depending on the intonation given; it can have different meaning starting from a question to a kiss. Of course this obstacle can be overcome with a lot of practice and also a good teacher.

Labeling a teacher as good is certainly very subjective but I also still believe that there is some sort of agreement among students about what makes a good language teacher. I personally believe that a good teacher is one who loves being with their students and motivates them to succeed. But, I think, patience is above all the most important trait in a good teacher more especially a language one.

According to the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary-2nd edition, a teacher is “someone whose job is to teacher in a school, college, etc.” Thinking in that line, therefore, my Chinese teacher is someone who teaches me Chinese. But for the purpose of this paper, I will try to delve into the general attributes of a teacher and then gradually move to the main theme of the composition: my Chinese teacher.

Teachers impart knowledge and help inculcate good moral and academic values in their students. Why the moral values? It is moral values that dictate what is considered right or wrong in any given society. Therefore teachers help students to know what is morally acceptable or unacceptable so that the students could adjust themselves accordingly. Furthermore teachers help to ensure that students learn and understand concepts been taught and to be able to decipher between good and bad academic masterpiece. In doing so, academic disputes are been resolved by teachers. In the execution of their duties, teachers serve multifunctional roles: tutors, mentors, researchers, counsellor, just to a name few.

Some time ago, my ideas of learning mandarin Chinese started to born in my mind. This because is one of the most spoken languages al over the world, mandarin Chinese is becoming one of the most important business languages, where 886 million people uses every day. As I know, Chinese mandarin is the official language spoken in mainland China and Taiwan. It is used in other places like in Singapore and Malaysia as secondary or tertiary languages.

Since I’m in Taiwan, part of those ideas had become true. My Chinese courses in my university were mandatory so it was a good chance to know a little at least about the language. Besides language courses I had to take complex engineering courses all semester. At the first, my impression was how can I handle both things at the same time? Because language courses success depend most on practice time I was having none of it since my engineering courses absorbed the majority of it. The solution was simple… my Chinese teacher cooperation.

In my view and perhaps that of many, learning the survival language of any language is of great importance. As graduate students studying in Taiwan, mastering the survival language will not only help us communicate with the local people but will rather help us integrate into the Taiwanese society thus making our stay rewarding. Moreover, it’ll give us an advantage in our professional lives.

Following the admission notification for the International Master Program in Information Systems and Applications (IMPISA) from the National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) and prior to coming to Taiwan, I embarked on learning the very basics of mandarin under the tutelage of a Taiwanese colleague, who at that time was a member of the Taiwanese Technical mission in the Gambia. Although he was not a teacher by profession, but taught me words that are used in the everyday Chinese conversation.”Nĭ Hăo” and “Zao.a” were the first words he taught me. The most important and difficult part of it were the tones (Vowels). This had to a great extent affected my pronunciation of many words. However, all what he taught me within the small time frame has filled some gaps in my knowledge of mandarin and served as a stepping stone for a more rigorous mandarin class that awaits me in Taiwan.

During the last academic year, I knew three Chinese teachers. All of them were women having the difficult mission to remove my blindness, my muteness and my deafness in that language. I am going talk about two of them.

It was in Taipei at NTNU, I met my first Chinese teacher during the orientation. Her name is Lǚ Pēi Jūn. I congratulate those who chose her to teach us the basic Chinese at that time. She remains unforgettable in on my memory, not only by her beauty and her elegance but also by her art of teaching.

Indeed, her beauty is comparable to the Haitian woman, Choucoune sung by the Haitian poet Oswald Durand. She was sexy, had a normal height, walking slightly and talking with a gracious and sweet voice. I confess my hidden love for that divine creature, a student love for his teacher, a love at first sight without her knowing. You can imagine how she moved my keenest desire to learn Chinese, specially pinyin what she was teaching. Unfortunately, this nice feeling of seeing her, fed by the presence every day in the class, was cut short on September 2007 when I had to move to Tainan to join my School NCKU.

My name is Raphael Munthali, MSc. Degree student at National Cheng Kong University (NCKU). Am proud of my pursuit at Cheng Kong (Success) University.

It’s my pleasure to have this long awaited chance of making a words - garment for my Chinese teacher. It was in September last year that I joined NCKU. The chance of learning Chinese did not stop at orientation level but trickled down. The so called “Strange words” started to be strange no more as days, weeks and months elapsed.

It was in the late days of September, 2007 that I registered with the Chinese Language Center and one of the interesting things is that students are given a chance to choose a day/days to study the language which provides flexibility and good combination with other courses.

The learning process and acquisition of knowing a foreign language is often a difficult and challenging endeavor, but not when you meet dedicated and committed staff members, the likes of Madame Wu Pei Wen.

For the past one year, I had the privilege to be a student in Miss Wu Pei Wen’s Chinese class and have seen the commitment to educational excellence she had dedicated herself in achieving. Miss Wu makes learning fun. She makes this a positive and fun experience by the use of modern teaching-learning techniques and the involvement of the student thus ensuring no one is left astray. Within the cause of the third week, a visitor to the class would have thought that we (students) have known each other for a long time because of the interactions in the class. Imagine having a group of diverse people from almost every corner of the world with diverse cultures, coming together to learn for the first time a language with different letter characters and tones, it only takes teachers with experience, dedication and a desire for excellence to be able to excel in these situations.