Friday, March 11, 2011

Tamen kaishi shuo

The title of this post means, "They begin to speak." I can finally say this about our kids when it comes to Mandarin. They have been taking class for about a year now. It's become more intense as this semester as they have it four hours a week. I also made the decision to have them start over in a more beginner class with some friends - best decision I could have made! In my experience, the people who speak Mandarin well are the ones who did the basics more than once. If you don't master the tones, forget it. You can just pack up and go home!

Since they have started over, it's really clicked for them. They are so far managing to remember how to read and write every character they learn. Even better, they are starting to use and understand it in public. I fear the days of Erik and I speaking Mandarin as code are numbered, as already Megan will overhear me speaking with our Chinese helper and understand what I've said.

I think the most fun is hearing them use colloquialisms like, "Wei?" (what we say when we answer the phone) or "Ai yo!" (their version of "Oh no!") or "Wa sai" which is more recent slang to express shock or amazement. Here they are hard at work writing: