It's been raining on and off today. When I first went to school today, the rain was falling in a gentle mist.
My Mandarin class started off with finishing off our current chapter. He asked us to ask him a bunch of questions. One of them was his age. Prof. Yao is 52 years old. He went to University in Taiwan, and speaks 5 languages, but none of the Taiwanese languages. He believes in re-unification with mainland China. He speaks mainly English and Mandarin, but he can speak a little bit of Japanese, Spanish and French.
I hope that in a few years, I will be able to say that I can speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese fluently. If I can be able to walk around Chinatown and be able to converse with the shop keepers, I think I will consider myself fluent enough. I don't know how I am going to improve my Cantonese after next semester, since next semester is the last semester Cantonese is offered at SJSU. Perhaps I will be able to find a class in a cultural center somewhere. Or perhaps I will move to Hong Kong and immerse myself in the language there. I don't really know, and I'll worry about that after the class is over. All I do know is that I want to continue my studies in these languages, because I feel I lost a substantial part of my cultural heritage growing up in American suburbia.
I really do enjoy learning languages, and perhaps in the future, I will be inspired to learn more of them. The Chinese written language is very difficult for me but someday I would like to be able to at least read a Chinese newspaper.
Prof. Yao asked me in class today as we were going over the vocabulary for the last lesson how to say "dianxin" (pastry) in Cantonese. I just looked at him with a blank look on my face. The answer to this question of course is dim sum. I guess he remembered that I am also taking a Cantonese class in the same classroom that he uses to teach 3rd year Chinese, and that sometimes I make mistakes by using the Cantonese words/structures instead of the Mandarin ones. He also said that he likes our class better than his evening class, because his early morning classes tends to be filled with more renzhen (serious) students.
My class today in Cantonese was kind of interesting. It started off with a video that our professor made in 1979 regarding measure words in Cantonese. It was interesting seeing him 24 years younger in his late 30s. I think Dr. Leung was embarassed with it, because he left the classroom while we watched the video, and before he played it, he said the man on the video is his brother. When he came back into the classroom, the students in class said: "Neih hauhsaang" (you're young looking!) and "neih lengjai" (you're handsome). Dr. Leung said laughing in response "That's not me, that's my brother!".
After class, my group in Cantonese today filmed our final video project. It's supposed to be 5 minutes of us talking, and we wrote a script out. When we finally read and executed the script, it seemed quite short to us, so we improvised the remaining footage. I really hate video projects and seeing myself on film. The tape is due on Monday, so one of my group members will be editing it this weekend. One of the little improvised bits was one where we went around saying how old we were. I was complimented on my youthful appearance.
This weekend I shall spend memorizing a dialogue written in Chinese to recite on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday will be my last day of class.