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Mission Bilingual Summer

Image Courtesy of Almost Fearless (see below)

Okay, folks!  How many of you out there have been saying that you want to learn a new language, FOR YEARS?  Yes, me too/I have (and you haven’t).  In fact, before I [accidentally] started procreating, one of my requirements in prepping for motherhood was the ability to fluently speak another language, so that I could give my children the gift of being bilingual.  While I always intended for that language to be Spanish (of which I already have a fairly good foundation, but would like to gain something attuned to fluency), I’ve found myself living in China… SO MANDARIN! it will be (for now and for purposes of this summer, not necessarily fluency).  Language exposure for our kids (and ourselves) was an important and exciting factor in our decision to move to across the Pacific.

In terms of language development, a motivating AND frustrating aspect of living in China is that English isn’t necessarily as ubiquitous as it is in other countries.  It’s motivating because of the frustrating.  Which is basically a win-win.  I’m tired of feeling like an a-hole [North] American, who can’t speak the language.  I’m tired of Chinese people apologizing TO ME when we have trouble communicating (when it should be I who is apologizing).

My daughter is cruising on her Mandarin learning, at a rate that puts my husband and I to shame (she attends a Chinese Montessori School).  And SO, this is ME committing myself to catch up with her.  While my husband and I had already made the decision to learn Mandarin when we moved here (and have been learning… slowly), the ever inspirational Christine Gilbert of Almost Fearless officially fanned the fire with her Bilingual Summer challenge-of-sorts.

Starting today, June 1st, my own personal summer language journey commences.  To help hold myself accountable, here are my goals (the non-committal way of saying, objectives):

1) Study for at least 1 hour per day.

2) Write two new sentences/phrases per  day.

3) Adopt two new phrases into my life per week.

4) Speak as often as I can, especially to my children.

The workbook has been started (complete with brand new multi-colored pens from Muji), a text book has been ordered, and our tutor has loaded us with things to study for the next month while we’re back in the USofA.

I’ll join Christine and will be posting updates (which, realistically, will be stories in which I make and ass out of myself) on Facebook and Twitter, using #bilingualsummer.

Anyone else up for the challenge?

Time to go render my brain dead and study some Mandarin!

I Am Cavewoman, Hear Me Roar

Not knowing the language of the country I’m in makes me feel like a cavewoman, which is both exhilarating and terribly frustrating.  Sometimes I feel like I’m mute.  Sometimes I just wish we could all roar, in different tones and frequencies, and miraculously understand each other.  Homo sapiens have come a long way, oh have we.  We’ve evolved from roaring nomads living in perfect balance with our environment to device infested, sedentarians (that’s not really a word, FYI) living FAR outside the means of our planet.  But that’s neither here nor there and not the point of this rant.

The point is, don’t you feel like a total asshole when your in a foreign country and actually make someone’s day harder because it takes 20 minutes (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration – point being, far too long) to ask where the bathroom is?  Or when you actually have the audacity to get frustrated WITH THEM because they don’t understand YOU?  What do you mean, you don’t know english, english!, doesn’t EVERYONE know english?  And then you’re just the arrogant a-hole who moves to a foreign country and can’t speak the language.  Or better yet, you’re the a-hole American whose country is so superior that your education system doesn’t make learning any other language a priority.

I REALLY don’t want to be this a-hole for much longer, so either I need to learn Mandarin or start a campaign to de-evolve into roaring cave people.  What do you think?