Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

After finishing up my last semester learning Chinese and starting a job, I’ve put Chinese to the side for the moment. Having become increasingly frustrated with how little I’ve learnt so far, I’ve decided to move onto Spanish for a while. Plus I have my own private Spanish tutor living with me which definitely helps!

I had a go at learning Spanish before, but I quickly realised that it was just too difficult to concentrate on two languages at the same time. But now I’ve really put more effort into learning the basics of Spanish, and so far I’m doing ok.

I’ve been using Duolingo, and overall it’s pretty good. There are some problems in how they teach it, but I’m getting the basics right and although I guess some answers, usually they are correct! So something is working!

In order to improve my pronunciation, I try and mimic the Spanish recordings until I get it right, this way I can sound more native like and also It’ll help me to practice speaking in Spanish.

What I need to do now is get my fiancé to speak Spanish to me all the time. The problem with that though is that because I’m only at a basic level, he really needs to dumb everything down. Maybe when my level is higher then he can do that with me. At the moment If I’ve any problems with grammar or what not, then I ask him and he tries to explain it to me.

But of course the Chinese grammar that I’ve learned creeps in sometimes.

For example, there was a sentence like ‘ I talk with my father’

So in my head I reverted back to my Chinese grammar and how I would say it in Chinese using the Chinese sentence structure: ‘I with my father talk’

So I start saying in Spanish “Yo con mi padre hablo”

My fiancé looks at me and says “No……Aisling that’s not right. Say it again.”

So I say again, wondering what’s wrong with my sentence.

“Aisling you are using the Chinese sentence structure. Just say it like you would in English!”

Ohhh….. I never even realised! I just naturally translated it into the way I would have said it in Chinese. Also, when he speaks to me in Spanish, I automatically think of the answer in Chinese, so it’ll take me a little while to get used to switching from Chinese mode to Spanish!

But anyway, I’m glad I started using Duolingo; it’s good for beginners and it gives a good foundation on the language.

Plus it’s free!

Aisling.

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Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about our experience going to the cinema and watching Kung Fu Panda 3… all in Chinese. We didn’t realise it was the Chinese version of the film until it started! You can check out my blog about it here:A Cinematic Surprise

Anyway, I said in my post that I would try and watch it again in one year and see how much more I could understand of it. So we successfully found the film on a Chinese website and we decided to watch it. And low and behold, I could understand about 60% of it!!!

This time round, I understood the storyline, most of the conversations and pretty much all of the jokes! The first time, I really had no idea what the storyline was about, and why the antagonist was so obsessed with finding Po. I didn’t understand pretty much any jokes, and I could only understand the gist of a sentence by a word I knew, such as ‘food’.

During the second time I watched it, I realised there were quite a few words which came up in the film were words that I have just learned in this semester of class!

The film also had Chinese subtitles so we can read the Chinese characters as we listen. I think pretty much every TV programme, film or drama will have Chinese subtitles. I think it’s because some older people actually have never learned the common Chinese language Mandarin; they have just been brought up learning their local dialect. So it makes it easier for them to understand what’s going on in the show. (I think this is the reason why, but I’m not 100% of it!)

But anyway, it was great seeing how much Chinese I’ve picked up in a year, and how I can actually understand the story! Now my speaking is still atrocious, but at least this shows me I’m improving in some area at least!

So I have to say I’m very proud of myself that I can understand this film now. It’s not a very difficult film with regards to the conversations and the words in it, but it’s a stepping stone at least.

I’ll have to find something else to watch and then in another year I’ll re-watch it and see how much I’ve improved.

再见

爱玲

My Class Routine In Uni

With having such a strict teacher teaching me, I stress out a lot over my reading and writing class. You need to preview, you need to review, and you need to listen to the teacher in class.

I hate stress in my life, and with your teacher asking you questions and surrounded by other students… I definitely don’t enjoy the attention!

So with our strict teacher, our class routine usually goes like this:

Monday: She usually reads a short story to everyone. After this, she asks every student a question about the story, like “Where were the people?’ ‘How were they feeling?’ Was it A or B that said blah blah blah?” I try my best; listening and writing as she reads. But there gets to a point where she is just talking too fast, and I don’t understand all the words, so then I become lost!

After this, she spends the rest of the class on doing exercises from the previous chapter in our book. If you don’t know the answer, she will wait until you figure it out. She doesn’t let you off! For me, I need to prepare this in advance; usually by having it already done. There are words I don’t know so I need to look them up. Then I need time to analyse the sentence and pick the right word. During this whole class she spends the time doing every single exercise in the book! So that’s usually our Monday class!

On Tuesday, again she reads a short story, however this time it’s usually one found in our book. Again, I prepare the night before; reading the story, writing down the new words, and even copying key points from the story into my notebook. (She makes us close our books when she is reading out loud). Then she asks us questions about the story. Thankfully I’ve already prepared so I’m a little more confident about this listening task!

Finally she starts on a new chapter of our book. This contains 40 new words and a long story with the new words in it. Before, she used to go through each word and tell us the meaning and how to use it. (All this in Chinese I might add). However now, she makes US tell her the meaning! I mean it’s so difficult, sometimes the word is quite tricky to explain it’s meaning. So a lot of times people don’t explain it right.

After this, we have a quick review and then she makes us close the books and she asks us to make a sentence out of a word she gives us. She gives it to us in Chinese, so you need to try and remember what it means! Our secret is to take a picture of all the words and we can secretly look through the list while she is asking the other students! Shhh!

Finishing this, she starts analysing the story, sentence by sentence. She asks us to shorten the sentence to it’s basic core. Like ‘There is a young man called LinWei and he is looking for a sales job in the city’ The answer she would want is ‘ a man, looking for a job.’ We usually get half the story done on this day!

Wednesday is the same as Tuesday, however we then start on the next set of 20 words and the next part of the story.

Thursday: She begins by reading the whole story which we have been studying, and she reads out a sentence with a words that’s missing. We then need to shout out the word that needs to be inserted, like ‘Before he felt confident, but now he began to ….. his ability.’ We would need to shout out the Chinese word ‘huaiyi’ which means ‘doubt’ At the same time she is keeping an eye on everybody in the classroom! If she doesn’t see anyone answering her, she will say ‘Oh I see Nangong hasn’t answered any yet!’ When she sees someone not answering, she actually moves closer to them, to put more pressure for an answer from them!!

So today, I actually did a good job with this part! I was able to answer some, while others weren’t able to. I read the story about 6/7 times before hand so I suppose that helped a lot!

After reading the story, she moves onto teaching some words which may be more difficult, and then doing the grammar. We then need to give her a sentence with the grammar. She wants to make sure that we know how to use the grammar correctly.

So my whole semester goes like this with her! I really feel like I’m learning things with her, but I just get so stressed. So my way of trying to tackle the stress is to prepare. Prepare prepare and prepare even more! I feel like I’m ready for the class now, instead of going with absolutely nothing done. I like the feeling of knowing that this is done, I know these words.  I don’t need to worry as much!

With our second teacher, it’s time to relax! She is a much easier teacher, and the classroom is much more upbeat! What I like about this teacher is that she gives each of us a word/ sentence and we need to explain what it is to the other students. For example one time I was given ‘build a snowman’ and I said ‘When it’s snowing, you make this thing….’ People have to guess what is on your card. I enjoy this because it gets you talking and you have to make it up on the spot.

We usually do some listening and some discussions on different topics. One time we discussed ‘Is it better to have a stable job or a non-stable job when you are 30?’ She puts us into groups and we should discuss why it’s good/bad.

So I work hard in the first class and then I’m rewarded by having a relaxing class afterwards!

再见

爱玲

 

We’re Staying Put

So… my assumption was correct. Our Uni won’t allow us to transfer our semesters over to someone else. Before, the office said that that’s no problem, we were able to do that… so I have no idea what made them change their minds. Thank god we didn’t book  flights or anything before we found this out!

It’s sort of bad on their part though. Either it’s a yes or no from them… don’t be playing us around.

I’m not really too disappointed by it, I half expected it to be honest. I’ll miss the family but I really had no clue what I was going to do once I arrived back home. It might have been difficult to find a job, I wasn’t sure about courses that I wanted to do. Also, with my fiancee only being able to stay for a maximum of 3 months, I’d have to be without him for a couple of months.

So now we have to sort out a new job here….aaggh so I’m not rid of teaching jobs just yet unfortunately.

And anyway I do want to continue my Chinese studies here. I know in Ireland I wouldn’t do a tap of study… so at least I’ll have studied an extra semester here. Oh and MAYBE do the HSK Chinese language test!

I like to think that everything happens for a reason… so hopefully I’ll find a few good reasons why we had to stay longer here.

再见

爱玲

Just About Coping

After 3 weeks of returning to Chinese class… I’m still very stressed with my class. My listening teacher is fine (she talks far too quickly and basically speaks to us like we are Chinese; so she’s just too fast for us) but it’s my first teacher where I’m struggling.

Every week she reads a story to us and we have to listen to her. Then she asks each and everyone of us to answer a question about the story.  Because she’s talking for like 3/4 minutes, I get the beginning bit… but after that it’s just gibberish. She speaks very fast and I just can’t grasp what she’s saying quick enough.

So I’ve realised my listening is quite poor in comparison to some others, so I really need to improve my listening ability.

Today, she asked me 3 questions about the story and I didn’t know the answer to any of them. So that wasn’t good!

She’s a great teacher though. She puts you on the spot and you have to answer. So you need to pay attention. I just feel my Chinese isn’t high enough for her class.

But I’ll stick with it though. I realise I remember the grammar and vocab more though compared to my last semesters classes. I actually can’t remember much of anything from that book! So that’s something anyway!

再见

爱玲

Recap Of My First Day Of Semester 5

Tiredness has befallen me! With our rude and disrespectful neighbours listening to loud loud music until 1:45am last night…. I was not exactly hopping with energy this morning only having gotten 5 hours sleep.

All this crap is just making want to leave  China as soon as possible.

But anyway, I managed to make it to class on time and not fall asleep! And I tell you, I definitely won’t be able to day-dream this semester!

Reading and writing is our first class, and in comes the teacher. I was expecting her to greet us and then start with the story and grammar… but no…. she doesn’t touch the book but instead starts to read a passage from a book about Chinese culture and what gifts you should give your friends/ girlfriends/ boyfriends/ friends girlfriend and so on.

She told us to listen to her and then she will ask us questions based on the passage. What?? No easy class of reading??!! This is not a speaking and listening class teacher!!

And she meant it…. asking each student a question about the passage… most of us didn’t understand all of the passage or didn’t understand what she was asking…. but we all got through it in the end! PHEW!

After the break it was then that she started the book… but oh no… it wasn’t all that easy. Once she finished going over some of the words, she asked each of us to make a sentence with one. (we didn’t even get to pick the words we wanted to use aka the easiest!)  With me, my problem with new vocab is that I don’t know how to use it in a sentence properly, so I didn’t really know if I would say my sentence correctly. Thankfully though I did!

So that wasn’t exactly a relaxing class. My last semesters reading and writing class was much much easier! Oh the memories!

Onto the next class: Listening and Speaking. And I really don’t like this class. My weakness is speaking… I don’t particularly enjoy speaking Chinese ( I know, that’s a bad sign when I want to learn it!) but I need to get over my fear of speaking!

Our next teacher seems nice, but she spoke quite fast for me and used too many new words… so it was difficult to keep up with her sometimes.

In this class we had to introduce ourselves, where we are from, our hobbies, and what we want to learn/ achieve in the class.

So when she got to me I said I don’t have a lot of confidence so I want to gain more confidence in speaking and listening. She then replied in Chinese “Oh come up and stand in front of the class and speak…that will help your confidence!”

Haha funny joke teacher.

The rest of the class went smoothly enough. At one point she unexpectedly said “aì líng, nǐ kěyǐ dú dì èr gè wèntí ma?”

“Aisling, can you read question two?”.

What??? Did I just hear my Chinese name being called out?? I definitely wasn’t expecting this! Calling on me to read??? That’s a first! Thankfully though I was sort of paying attention so I figured out what she wanted of me… but yeah, I definitely can’t switch off in class now.

The good old days of Level 5 is definitely over!

And then…..I heard my listening and speaking teacher mention the dreaded word presentations and getting up in front of the class and speaking about a topic. 

Oh no, I definitely don’t want to do either of those…. No no…

Teachers…just let me sit quietly and ignore me please! I’ll be a good student and won’t disturb you while you are attacking the other students with your gibberish….I promise!

再见

爱玲

Back To School Tomorrow! 我不要去! (I don’t want to go!!)

AAAGGHH….School.Tomorrow! Forget.Everything!

My Chinese has literally disappeared since not attending University. Today was the first time that I opened my books which we will use from tomorrow onwards. . and the first two characters are 从前 and I forgot what they meant. The first two characters!

So that’s definitely not a great start, plus it’s not even a difficult word! It means ‘previously;formerly;once upon a time’ by the way.

Also, getting up earlier than 9am has been a struggle for me lately… never mind having to get up at 7am! I think once this week is done I’ll be used to the early morning… it will also be good to get into a routine again!

Usually I’m really excited to be going back. But this time around not so much. I think it’s due to the fact that my last semesters teachers didn’t put too much pressure on us in class. My reading and writing teacher just went through the story, grammar and vocab, while I listened and took notes. It was an easy class and I knew she wouldn’t ask us anything.

Then my listening and speaking teacher spent most of the time chatting to us, so I wasn’t too worried about having to speak. Good for my listening though!

But now I’ll be having new teachers… and they might actually expect me to do some work in class!  Oh and talk Chinese!

Oh and I also have to laugh at our Chinese books sometimes. Some of the stories in them are quite strange! For previewing my text for tomorrows class, I found out that this weeks lesson is about a donkey which fell into a well…. obviously the owner has no idea how to get it out…. so he decides (because the donkey is old) that he’ll abandon it…. and fill the well with soil.

So he’s going to kill the donkey!!??!!

To me that’s an awful way to deal with this situation! haha I have no idea who came up with this story.

img_0622

The story in question

Thankfully though, the donkey found out what the owner was doing, and was clever enough to stand on the soil as they threw it in, so finally there would put enough soil in the well so that the donkey will be able to escape.

So, it ends well at least!

But I’d definitely find a new owner If I was the donkey!

img_0623

Poor donkey, nobody wants him

But anyway…. that’s the sort of thing we learn in Chinese class!

I wonder what other weird and wonderful stories I’ll be learning in the next few week!

再见

爱玲