Learning to Speak

Have you ever felt entirely and completely like a toddler at some point in your adult life? Right now, Nora’s English skills at a year and a half are way better than my Chinese skills. I’m working to improve that, but I’m making many blunders along the way. A few weeks ago I was brave enough to try purchasing a beverage a friend had introduced me to. So I walked into a drug store and asked for the Apple Cider Vinegar Juice…the clerk gave me a really puzzled look and we went from there, me fumbling over words I’d never used before, the poor lady trying to understand the dumb foreigner. At one point she thought I wanted to pull my pants down…as I gathered by her gestures. Eventually I got the juice, but I really felt like a toddler for a few minutes, knowing that I knew what I wanted, but having no way to communicate it and wanting to throw a tantrum!

Language is kind of important. So Chris and I have committed the first year or so of our time here to my language learning. Not that Chris isn’t trying  to learn language, but we knew that between the two of us, we could only make enough time for one of us to really dig in this first year. So I’m spending 6 hours of week with one tutor, 1.5 hours with another and at least an hour or two reviewing each week. This is a picture of most of the words I’ve “learned” over the last month.GPA Phase 1When I sat down to count everything up, the number I came up with surprised me–over 450! You won’t count that many above, but there are quite a few less concrete words that we’ve added in addition. Now, I couldn’t say every one of these words no problem. In fact, I sound pretty awful any time I try to speak (see above). But I can recognize them and do fun things like “Pick up the large red cow and run to stand next to the window.” Videos may or may not be involved in my language sessions…

We’ve been very blessed with a tutor who is willing to work with this somewhat unusual learning method and who spends a fair amount of time laughing at my mistakes. Like every time I reached for a bird when he said cow…or when I thought he said sit but he actually said walk…or when he made me act out emotions…oh the stories this guy has to tell! This week we add a speaking aspect. I’m sure that my tutor will have many more laughs over the next segment.

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