I only have one class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 0730, so I'm done with class by 0830. Originally I had planned on only taking Cantonese (which is 3 days a week from 930 to 1030), but because I was unsure about whether or not I'd be able to add the class, I also signed up for Mandarin as well (which is 5 days a week). You'd think that learning two languages at once would be difficult, but it's actually not that bad. I spend a couple of hours every day going over the material which definitely helps for the quizzes.
Mandarin class today was pretty fun. We started the lesson on measuring counters today. Those who have taken an East Asian language before should know what measuring counters are. Basically, there are different counters based on the object being counted. Even in English, there are measuring counters (pieces of, cups of, pounds of, etc), but in the East Asian languages, the measuring counters are usually classified by the shape of the object or the type of object. So you use a different counter for round objects as opposed to flat objects and so on. I remember when I was introduced to this concept when I was a first year Japanese student, and just trying to remember what goes with what. I think the concept of counters has also been reinforced by taking Cantonese (the first chapter was all on buying and selling fruit, which are counted as go(classifier for round objects and people) or bohng (pound). Anyways, I bring this up, because in class today, we learned ge, the counter for over half of the objects in Mandarin. I feel very empowered by this information, for when it is combined with knowing the numbers in Chinese, I can now go into a chinese bakery and order pieces of bread or cake, or go to dim sum and ask for things in quantities in either Cantonese or Mandarin, which is a very important thing to know, when you like food as much as I do.
Part of the joy of learning a foreign language is being able to utilize it, so I feel really blessed and fortunate that I live in the Bay Area, where I can hear it spoken walking down the street and in restaurants. There's a big difference in my Cantonese and my Mandarin class. My Mandarin class is formal, and we are taught through discipline and structure, while my Cantonese class is more informal, but we learn the practicality of the language (our current chapter is on introductions).
But, there are days when the class is different, and today was one of those days. We first did a quick review of the numbers, and stopped at 44. 44 is si shi si, and he went through the room and made us all says si shi si shi bu shi si shi si (literal translation: 44 is or is not 44?). Yes, quite a tongue twister. Then we broke up into groups and pretended to be parents of a daughter and to come up with a list of 12 things about the future son-in-law, using the Mandarin vocab that we already know. My group's list of 12 things:
- Ta chang mayou he pijiu (He doesn't drink beer often)
- Ta you che (He has a car)
- Ta shi daifu (He is a doctor)
- Ta shuo Yingwen. (He speaks english)
- Ta kan shu. (He reads books)
- Ta mayou xi yan (He doesn't smoke)
- Ta mayou nu pengyou (He doesn't have a girlfriend)
- Ta you hao fangzi (He has a good house)
- Ta de pengyou shi hao. (All of his friends are good)
- Ta mayou haizi (He doesn't have children)
- Ta you he cha (He drinks tea)
There's one missing, but I don't remember what it was. Some of the other groups had Ta mayou airen (He doesn't have a lover/spouse), Ta mayou he kafei (He doesn't drink coffee). But most of the other groups' lists were pretty much the same, given our limited vocabulary. Our teacher made fun of one of the requirements of our ideal son-in-law. "Very important," he said, "that the son-in-law drinks tea".