When I first began classes here at IES Abroad, I was definitely a bit overwhelmed and wondered if I would be able to keep up. Chinese class is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8am to 10am, plus two one-hour sessions of one-on-one lessons per week. I am also taking Chinese Government and Politics on Mondays 1pm to 4pm, Late Imperial China on Tuesdays 1pm to 4pm, and HSK Preparation on Thursdays 10am to 12pm. And of course, Calligraphy on Mondays, 10am to 12pm.
At the beginning, my government and history classes were overwhelming because I had zero starting knowledge. The history and politics of China was (and still is, but slightly less so) a complete mystery to me. I couldn’t ask questions because I wouldn’t even know where to start. Slowly but surely, I have been able to catch up.
The field trips we have taken as a group have been enormously helpful, seeing the remnants of the dynasties we’re learning about in history class and observing the present-day effects of the politics we’re learning about in government class. We also often have guest speakers in our government class, which is an amazing opportunity.
Our visitors have been everything from a protest-leading migrant worker to the strategic advisor of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission of China (in other words, the man in charge of managing China’s 55 ethnic minorities). Listening to the guest speakers has not only given me direct insight into these issues, but has also really improved my Chinese (though our teacher, Wang Laoshi, does a great job of translating).
My Chinese classes were also extremely difficult in the beginning. I didn’t feel that my vocabulary was extensive enough to allow me to discuss the topics we were learning in class, and I had a really hard time expressing my thoughts out loud.
We also have a daily 听写, a small quiz that test vocabulary words of the day and requires us to copy down two dictated sentences as well. It’s no big deal now, but took me a long while to get used to, because every day we had up to 50 vocabulary words that could appear on the quiz, not to mention other unfamiliar characters in the text that could appear in the dictation. Now I know what study methods work for me and don’t have to spend hours and hours drilling every character; I’ve successfully found a balance. I also appreciate that the daily quizzes are an effective and satisfying way to track my progress.
Though now I still need some time to collect my thoughts before speaking, I’ve seen immense improvement in my Chinese speaking ability. My vocabulary has increased exponentially, and I’m getting much more comfortable with the language. I’m excited to keep improving for the remainder of the semester!
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<p>I'm a junior majoring in Asian Studies and minoring in Graphic Design and Leadership Studies. My favorite hobby is language learning, specifically Asian languages! I also enjoy making music and taking photos.</p>