This is now my fourth week in China and my third week of classes. At first, I was in the upper intermediate class, along with 30 other students, making it quite a cramped and loud class with not much opportunity to participate in discussions or receive feedback from the teachers. A few of us thought that this class was also too easy, as we had already covered most of the grammar points and key words. We asked for an advanced group, and after much deliberation, the university finally agreed!
This was my first week in the highly esteemed 高级 class and it was definitely harder. The texts are longer, there are new words like ‘snail 蜗牛’ and Chinese sayings like ‘the stupid bird flies first 笨鸟先飞‘ which I may never find an opportunity to use….but I really wanted to push myself this year. I feel in previous years, Chinese class has been too easy. The proof of this is that I have studied Chinese for 4 years, whereas my most ofnclassmates that have the same level as me have only studied for 1 – 2 years. There are definitely different teaching styles, methods and requirements in different countries and the Cameroonians and Koreans have learnt a lot quicker than me.
I like the style of Mandarin teaching in China. The text books used to have explanations in English (in advanced level the explanations are now in Chinese too), but even so, each lesson the teacher will go through each new word and explain how to use it, as sometimes there are different uses – in English we can ‘spoil’ children, boy/girlfriend, a surprise and food can spoil. But in Chinese 溺爱 (spoil) is only used to refer to children.
We read the text and are given chance to ask questions about parts we don’t understand and then do the exercises in the text book, or have a class discussion. The teacher will always give us homework and we are expected to review the next lesson before coming to class. It’s going to be difficult, as now I’m getting involved with more things at university, I run each morning, I’m doing a talent show this weekend, I also signed up to some Chinese dance show which may appear on TV*. So I’m finding it hard to find time to sit down with my books and study.
The Chinese national holiday is coming up and I don’t have any travel plans, so I’ll probably use the time to continue my studies and crack on with my characters! I’m sure the teachers will give us plenty of holiday homework to keep us busy too.
*I’ve learnt my lesson never to write my name and Wechat ID on a list if I don’t know what it’s for.