I came across this interesting column in the Taipei Times highlighting the disgruntlement of some Taiwanese teachers towards the Ministry of Education’s dictate that the Four Books (the Analects, Mencius, Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning) be covered as a mandatory subject in secondary school. The reasoning, the government claimed, is that reading the four books would serve as a way to reinvigorate morality and moral education, as well as serve as a way to combat the growing phenomenon of bullying. As someone who primarily teaches and studies (Chinese) ethics, I must admit I found this situation intriguing. However, it was the response of the teachers in Taiwan that stuck me as most interesting.
Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category
The prospect of learning Chinese in your forties is…well…a bit intimidating. Of the four languages I’ve taken on (achieving various levels of success), this one is the most fun and the most challenging. For me, the hardest part of Chinese is listening comprehension. The coolest is learning all the hanzi (written characters) and reading. In the beginning, when I started my formal tutoring in China, I found this part to be murder even though I was surrounded by Chinese everywhere I looked. I just couldn’t remember the damn things. Somewhere along the way, I figured out that I was doing it the wrong way. I was making a newbie green mistake apparently.
My daughter big P (who is 4) has a strange relationship with Mandarin. Basically, she doesn’t like to admit that she knows any (which, after 5 months in a total immersion Chinese kindergarten in Beijing is impossible) and she gets annoyed when I try to use Chinese words now and again in sentences to see if she still remembers what I know she knows. Usually I catch her and don’t say anything, like the other week when we were in a diner and I asked her if she could find the fuwuyuan (service worker) and without missing a beat she looked around and then made a hand signal to the waitress to come over.
For whatever reason, lately she’s turned around, and now she volunteers words without being prompted and even reminds me from time to time that I’m not saying a particular Chinese word right (I have no doubt she knows better than me). The other day, really out of nowhere, she decided she wanted to learn how to write some hanzi. Below the fold is her first attempt, which, considering that she can barely write English, is really not too bad.