November 13, 2006

Learning Mandarin

I talked with my mother this morning, and she told me she's been taking Mandarin since June. My parents travel a lot, and spent the month of September in China. She said that it was really hard learning the characters (she knows 6 languages, but they are all European, latin based languages). But walking around in China , she could converse and understand people.

One interesting thing, she said she started out online with the Rosetta Stone system, and lasted a month. She is on dialup a lot, because of their travel schedule, and lack of easy wifi networking on their window's machine (I suggested a Mac to solve that, and the digital photo sharing issues they also have). Rosetta Stone just wasn't set up well, she thought, for a dial up user, because the files were so big and the assumptions were all about the always-on mindset. And there were no "hooks" for her, since her lack of experience with that kind of language didn't give her the cultural context to frame the language around it.

She hit on the idea of trying the SF public library. They have an apartment in SF so it was easy. She buzzed down, and took a course that was made by a professor at Hayward, who set up the structure entirely around cultural explanations and frameworks so she hooked right in, figured out what was going on, and was speaking in simple terms in two months. Then the trip to China, with some small successes in conversations with people there. And now she's really excited about learning more.

She still says the character recognition at her age (68) is hard, but she's really into it and planning the next trip over there.

Posted by Mary Hodder at November 13, 2006 11:49 AM | TrackBack

Do you remember the name of the course by the Hayward professor?

Posted by: William Grosso at November 26, 2006 09:34 AM