Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Like a Jerk!

Joshua Trujillo of the P-I took this; it's on a closed-off overpass on 520 in the Arboretum. Who is Gina? It's a mystery.


So you know how I hate flashcards? Well, I'm doing some flashcards.

After my Mandarin summer intensive last year, I knew about 200 characters. Now I gotta get them all back, and more. I've been spending my days reading blogs from people doing study abroad in China, and one blogger reported that in my program they give them 50 new characters per day, with dictation the next day to quiz them.

That's right... dictation. Son of a bitch! What is it, the 50s? Should I bring my cassette recorder, for goodness sakes?

Man! But I can't change China, so I'm studying flashcards. Like a jerk!

Will flashcards help me do dictation? No. Doing flashcards will help me to do one thing well, and that is... flashcards. You know what will help me do dictation? Being able to speak Mandarin, that's what.

Sigh. But for now, I'm going to do my flashcards, and write sentences for the characters I don't know well.

Like a jerk!


Paradise_Found said...

I am so totally impressed by your polyglottedness. The fact that you are reading the kanji stuff. Whoa! I got hung up on hiragana and katakana many years ago, and now my mother just yells at me because I can't speak Ilocano. Sometimes, even English is a challenge. I hope I didn't ask you this before, but do you dream in another language? and if so, which one?

jp 吉平 said...

Thanks for your comment! The secret to French, Spanish, and Italian is that they're all just modern forms of Latin, so once you speak one, the others kind of fall into your lap. So don't be too impressed!

The other thing is that I really believe that language is learned by instinct, so that if people just learn to let their instinct happen, they can learn as many languages as they want!

Therefore, if your mama wanted you to speak Ilocano, she should have spoken to you in Ilocano. Children under five, because of thier instinct, cannot help but acquire the langauges around them, as long as there is authentic communication taking place.

As far as dreaming.... I don't know what language it is. I actually believe that dreams and thoughts happen first, and then get processed into language afterwards... this theory is called "mentalese" and you can wikipedia it, if you're interested!

Actually, mentalese is probably a future post...

Kelly said...

Wow...I haven't done dictation in my language learning since I was 8 (and that was in English class, not any foreign language classes).

In a way, I think dictation is a good way to sharpen up your listening and character recognition skills as you first have to pick out the tone and then figure out exactly which character should be used. Mandarin has a lot of homophones so it's good to be able to differentiate between them at an early stage.

Having said that, if all you want to do is learn to speak the language fluently (which is what most people want), then dictation is a waste of time.

jp 吉平 said...

Hi, Kelly! Thanks for coming by!

I *do* want to learn how to read Chinese, absolutely.

My problem with dictation is that it is a high stakes literacy evaluation, and that I am functionally illiterate. It is really more of a motivator than an actual learning tool. And the way I understand it, it's a quiz of the new hanzi they assigned you the day before.

And I believe rote memorization is a) the lowest form of learning, and b) not using your language acquisition instinct.

But, as I said, I'm not going to change China....