Sharing: One Month Mandarin Study

My Mandarin study at Chinese as Second Language School of Dr. Sun Yat-sen University Guangzhou was started on Sep 16. It’s one month already even though we didn’t have full schedule as we had one day off for moon cake festival (there were three days off but there were replacement classes on Saturday and Sunday) and six days off for the Independence’s day.
There are six classes in reading and writing by two teachers, two classes in conversation by one teacher and two classes on listening by one teacher in a week. Each class consists of two sessions of 45 minutes each with ten minutes break.
In reading and writing classes, we learn about initials, finals, combination of initials and finals, tones, discrimination of pronounciations and tones, reading the syllables, everyday phrases, common classroom phrases, and new words. There are dictations of the new words starting forth day of classes and the teacher will give mark. I got “hen hao” (=very good) most of the time as it’s based on memory. On time, the teacher asked to write “laoshi” (=teacher) in Chinese romanization (=”Pinyin,” it means in alphabet with tone mark) and Chinese characters (=”Hanzi”) and I only could write “师” (=”shi”) even though I learned how to write “老 师” the night before and in the morning. I even couldn’t remember what the first stroke of “lao” is. I forgot how to write “you” (forth tone) for “again 又” and made twice mistakes when write “you” (third tone) for “to have 有”. The other time, I forgot one stroke. After finishing 8 lessons, we had test for lesson 1-8: correcting based on spelling rules, writing in “Pinyin,” writing in “Hanzi”, and answering the questions. When the teacher asked me to read by myself, I should repeat it as I couldn’t read correctly for the first time. I use a magnetic writing and drawing board for kids to memorize the characters.
In conversation classes, we learn to make greetings in sentences, conversation, substitution and extention, new words, phonetics and exercise in reading, answering questions in “Hanzi”, and phonetic drills.
In listening classes, we read and listen to the finals, initials, and syllables. There are dictations of the syllables including tone mark from the CD or teacher. The voice in the CD is so fast so usually the teacher will do it. I usually made mistakes around 50% in distinguishing the tones and several initials e.g. “p” and “b”, “t” and “d”. After looking at the teacher when she spoke, I have an improvement a little bit.
There is an optional class in “Hanzi” on Mondays 12.55 p.m. – 2.15 p.m. We learn and write characters including new words. The weekly homework is writing the characters. I typed it by computer and sent it by email to the teacher.
The school organized an overnight outing to Danxiashan (=Mountain Danxia,, Nan Hua Temple ( and Maba Man Museum in Shaoguan on Oct 8-9. I climbed 840m to go to Elder Peak to see several stones and then climbed 50m to see the male stone from another location. We had meal and stayed at Hejiang Hotel for the first day. There were 10 dishes (meat, pork, fish, chicken, mushroom, vegetable, and tofu) excluding steam rice and watermelon for lunch and supper and six dishes (porridge, boiled egg, fried noodle, noodle soup, and two kinds of buns) for breakfast. There are four statues of Budhist monks with dark faces in Nan Hua Temple. Inside the statues was part of their unburnt body when they were cremated in sitting meditation position. It reminded me of the uncorruptable body of several Saints e.g. St. Vincent de Paul, St. Bernadette, St. Pio Pietrelcina ( Maba Man is the pre-modern hominid whose remains were discovered in caves near the town called Maba, near Shaoguan city in the north part of Guangdong province (
I planned to attend optional class in calligraphy on Wednesday 12.55 p.m. – 2.15 p.m. but it’s fully booked already. There is a movie followed by discussion on Wednesdays and Fridays 12.55 p.m. – 2.15 p.m. and The Chinese Corner on Fridays 7.00 p.m. – 9.30 p.m. The Chinese Corner is organized by the Master degree students of Chinese as a Second Language. I watched “Kungfu Hustle” by Stephen Chow and attended the Chinese Corner “Dream of Kungfu” on Oct 15.
I was moved when attending the English mass for the first time in Cathedral. The Cathedral was very full mostly Africans including the additional plastic chairs. There is a choir in green uniform. The booklet is very details including the Profession of Faith. Several Africans brought rice, toilet paper, oil, mineral water during the offering procession. There are long skirts for everybody who is coming without appropriate dresses. The ushers will quietly remind people who are sleepy.

"Why do we need to learn a new language? Why could not God make one language?" God did make one language, Love! We learn a new language, not so much that we can make ourselves understood, but rather that we can be so present to people that they experience that they are being understood! (Anonymous)

Kowloon Tong-Hong Kong, October 17, 2010

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible