Call me Peckish… or call me Aimei – short for my Chinese name: Fú ÀiMéi / 福爱梅 (Good Fortuned Love Plum).
Peckish – why are you studying this crazy Mandarin language?
I’ve always been fascinated with most parts of the East and have always had a love of Oriental things but in 2006 it became clear to me that China would be a force to be reckoned with and thus it sparked the desire to visit this country – as a result I started learning Mandarin. A few weeks into my studies and I was immediately enthralled and fell head over heels in love with this very fascinating language. I moved to China in 2008 and spent that year abroad and just like a long-distance relationship gone sour, my Mandarin progress came to a stop when I set foot in China. Frankly speaking “immersion” is only immersion if you actually “immerse” yourself.
So me and Mandarin.. we’ve known one another since 2006 – we fall out with one another often and sometimes I do feel like ending it. (I’m sure Mandarin knows). We’ve had breaks in between too – stretching as much as 2.5 years in between but we somehow always end up together again. This leads nicely into the next question which is:
So Peckish, how long have you studied Mandarin?
I get this question often and honestly I do find it frustrating because quite frankly there is no easy answer to give someone unless you do it 24×7 every day for every year that you’ve studied or every year since you picked up your first Mandarin book.
I can offer this:
- It’s indeed NOT my seventh year of studying Mandarin. Just because I picked up my first Mandarin book in 2006 does not mean that I’ve never put it down since. (Forgive me if I’m dry. I must be thirsty.)
- Just because I have a blog doesn’t mean I always know what I’m writing about. (That’s just the nature of the web – seriously – have you seen the stuff out there?) I experiment, I try, I fail and I sometimes succeed – but I always aim to succeed and I mostly follow my gut.
- As a hobbyist learner and a person bad at forming religious habits giving any kind of answer as to how long I’ve studied Mandarin is kind of impossible and also sorry to say – rather irrelevant.
- I blog because I enjoy it and mostly it offers a chance to pen my thoughts on paper – with the hope that someone can nod their head in agreement (or disagreement). On a serious note, I almost always write from the heart so I hope though what you read here on my blog is somehow of value to you as a Mandarin student.
What’s Peckish got to do with it?
Like many other language learners I of course have ALL the usual excuses (a full-time job, living in an English speaking country, career-related focus / studies) which leaves me with very little time for Mandarin – normally just 20 minutes a day (that’s if I even do it every day – I’m bad with habit rememember). It does not include ANY speaking practice at all either – so to be truthful – I focus solely on input with very very little output. I know this is so utterly wrong for language learning but this is what I can do.
Now – all of this aside I reckon that studying a little bit here and there is still better than doing nothing at all and losing much of what you learned before and having to restart again later. (Been there done that). So that’s the idea for this blog – remaining ‘peckish’ in spirit or as peckish as I can possibly be but just consuming little bits at a time and making some (very) slow but hopefully – meaningful and measureable progress.
Peckish, do you think Mandarin is difficult (or as difficult as everyone says it is).
Yes without a doubt – but that should not put anyone off from trying to learn Mandarin. It’s fun. It’s fascinating I can tell you that for sure. It’s also quite addictive. It’s also very frustrating. That might explain the shaky relationship I’ve had with it. At least we’ve “grown” together.
I can also tell you this: judging by this guy’s experience (effort, immersion etc.) it just might take me a life time to achieve fluency. I figure most of us studying Mandarin might feel this way. And no – I don’t actually feel bad for saying this or making that assumption. I am quite ok with that but happy for others to disagree.
If you’re Peckish, will you be eating on this blog?
I wish. My blog is really just about Mandarin but some travelling and eating in and through Nanjing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore and Malaysia has left me too with a taste for the delicacies of the East and so I just might get peckish on this blog.
Thanks for reading
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