A Holiday from Mandarin


I have been quiet on the Mandarin front lately. To be truthful I’ve really been very quiet since the beginning of January. A few things have happened that have kept me rather far away from Mandarin for the last 5 months.

Goodbye Mandarin for a short while… Hello French…

I took a planned break from Mandarin as I felt sick of Mandarin. I really honestly needed a break and so did a French course at absolute beginners level – in class with a teacher. I was super excited when I started but it turned out to be a bit of a disaster. The course cost heaps and it didn’t pay off. We stuck to a textbook (religously) and made very little progress through the six week course duration. The teacher didn’t speak English because she really couldn’t and misunderstood students’ questions in English. We also received full answers in French when we asked questions in English about French grammar and it turned out to be very frustrating when you really wanted to understand something basic. I really went in to the course with only a few words of vocab known to me such as soleil, je taime, jardine, bon jour and bon appetite and bouillabaisse, croissant etc. I could perhaps add five more if I think really hard… cafe au lait comes to mind.

Anyways, I really tried to be positive about the classes initially but missed the last few classes because I actually just could not get myself to go to a class where I felt like I was wasting my time.

Dealing with some difficult questions

After this course ended – middle of April, I tried getting back into Mandarin but questioned why I was doing Mandarin and whether I should simply quit and focus all my time into my career studies. Logically this made total sense as my career related studies is far more important.

Cultivating an unhealthy mindset

I also felt a sort of nagging doubt – a kind of pressure I was putting on myself based on the expectations I thought other people had about my level of Mandarin.) I have decided since that this is the worst thing I could do or for that matter – any student could do – to care about what other people think of their language ability and to compare themselves with others. I’ve realised that ultimately I am responsible for allowing this kind of doubt to create an unhealthy mindset. I have since learned from my mistake and will not allow this kind of thing from happening again. Of course it would be interested in knowing how other students feel about this sort of thing too and how they handled it but it took me a while to decide how to think about it and I’ve made my decision and it’s firm. I guess it’s part of “growing up”. The only person that should care about my progress is me.

Shifting focus to bigger priorities

Life has been in the way of presenting bigger priorities such as studying things related to my career so it means that as a hobbyist learner – Mandarin has been receiving and will receive even less time than it did before. I know I don’t want to quit Mandarin. I’ve come too far to give up. I just have to set a slow steady pace for the future and make sure I keep progressing even if it’s at a snail’s pace. This will mean more focus on my career studies and less on Mandarin. It is perhaps not a bad thing for Mandarin anyway. It might prevent me from getting sick of Mandarin as I will have other priorities to look after too.

So I will aim to be a little more active on the blog going forward and will keep blogging about my discoveries in future. I have also updated my About page and have mostly rewritten that page as a lot of it ties in with what I’ve written here. In some ways I want to say 新年快乐 realising that I’m a few months too late. Better late than never right? ;)

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