Maria Holland

Archive for June, 2014|Monthly archive page

Topics of Chinese Conversation

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm

In roughly chronological order (but not exclusive):

  • Oman and the European Union
  • industry in Belarus
  • the One-Child policy
  • Oscar Pistorius
  • Catholic Charities
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • pirates (real and software)
  • tiger penis
  • snakes as aphrodisiac
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • bone marrow and organ donation
  • the giving pledge
  • McGyver speaking Chinese
  • Morgan Freeman’s voice
  • crying over Pixar movies
  • Bill Clinton (“I did not have sex with that woman”)
  • bystander effect
  • development in eastern China vs. western China
  • the Santa Barbara shooting
  • terrorism
  • Boko Haram
  • social media
  • Casablanca
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Immersion: Circumstances and Attitude

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm

On the way to my last Chinese class, I walked across Main Quad at noon – peak tourist time.  A lot of Stanford’s tourists are Asians, and I heard the sounds of Chinese floating on the air.  The irony did not escape me – here, with a dozen conversational opportunities within a stone’s throw, I was instead heading for my Conversational (with a capital C!) Chinese class.

When I lived and studied in China, I also noticed this.  In greater Xiamen, the ratio of native speakers to foreigners was probably 1,000’s to 1 . . . but instead, I was supposed to shut myself in a room where the ratio was more like 1:20.  Not exactly the ideal learning environment.

This all just reminded me that the ideal learning situation isn’t one where you’re immersed in the language, but one where you take advantage of opportunities to immerse yourself.  It’s a combination of both circumstances and attitude.  I was lucky to have both during the year I lived in China, and when I look at what’s missing from my current situation, it’s more the latter than the former.  (For heaven’s sake, I live with a girl from Sichuan.  It’s embarrassing that I had to take a class this quarter in order to speak Chinese regularly.)