Mandarin Day 1

7:58:00 PM

I need divine Chinese intervention now!

Me and my co-teachers are lucky enough to be given a short course on Mandarin and today was our first day. We were taught pin-yin. According to Sophie (our teacher), it's the pronunciation of the Chinese characters. To be more clear, pin-yin represents the characters in roman letters. She wrote the following on the board:

b, p, m, f
d, t, n, l
g, k, h
j, q, x
z, c, s
zh, ch, sh, r
y, w 

Easy to look at right? Everyone in the room thought so but not until when she started reading them Mandarin style. I can't really illustrate how they sound but you can click here to listen the individual sound. After struggling with producing different 'tzcsh' sound, we went to the second part which is:

a, o, e, i, u, ü
ai, oi, ei, ui
ao, ou, iu
ie, üe, er
an, en, in, un, ün
ang, eng, ing, ong 

I always struggle with vowel sounds in English specially when different sounds of the same vowel are close together in a word or sentence. My tongue bends and twists in different ways just so I produce the sound right. With the next part of the lesson, it wasn't only my tongue but my entire face was struggling. It felt like every muscle in my head had to align in the right places to produce the correct sound. 

We had such a good time making fun of ourselves and others, too. If it were in a real class though, I would have cried and soiled in my pants. It's fun that we're all learning this for the first time (except for the class valedictorian Andrew) so it's okay to look and sound stupid.

We'll have our first short quiz tomorrow and whoever will get the lowest score will have to perform something in front of everybody in class. Wish me luck please.

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