Sunday, September 23, 2007

Casual Grammar

I know there are a lot of different views out there on the topic of learning grammar - it's a personal choice in the end and my approach is what I would describe as casual. I don't mean casual as in casual dress - I don't dress down before studying (actually it would be difficult to dress any further down than I normally do). I mean casual more in the sense of, em, casual sex. If I happen to find myself with an opportunity to indulge in some grammar, no strings attached, then I'm likely to proceed.

Sometimes these opportunities will arise accidentally, and in fact temptations are on the increase. Over at chinesepod, there's a new grammar link on each lesson that shows bite-sized (guilt-free) theory behind some of the practice. Nice.

And sitting on the stack of books I keep beside my bed, there's a Chinese grammar book with small chapters that investigate various structures of the language. When I'm feeling, well, curious, then it's within easy reach for carefree, commitment-free perusal.

I guess I'm saying that if you're not looking for a learning relationship that will last for ever, the occasional fling with a dative construct or brief liason with the 'le' particle, will leave you unblemished - and perhaps even satisfied.

(PS: As you can see, if you have any weak analogies lying around that need killing stone dead, I'm yer man.)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Plans for the Last Lap

It less than 4 months now till touchdown in Beijing and as well as all of the other things that will need organizing, I have to decide how best to spend this remaining time most effectively so that I can hit the ground running. I only have 3 weeks in China and at the end of that time I'll be able to say either 'Yesssss, I did it. It was all worth while' or 'What the hell was the last 2 years study all about?'

My plan is Revision Revision and Revision (the three 'R's).

  1. I will circle back relentlessly over the lessons I have covered in Practice with Vera on Chinesepod, and over any others that I have covered in the past. Exclusively Intermediate.
  2. I will expose myself (nooooo, not thaaaaat way silly) to as many different source of spoken Chinese as possible (I loved this stuff from Chris) including making more of an effort to speak to my Chinese colleagues here at work. And perhaps even do some skype conferences with some fellow CPoders.
  3. Meet up once a week with my teacher and remaining fellow student (if they'll have me) and talk talk talk talk.
Any and all advice on how I should best spend this time would be very welcome.

My Aunt's Constipation

There's a scene from Madagascar when Alex the Lion, after listening to a garbled New York subway announcement asks of his companions Did it just say "Grand Central Station", or "my aunt's constipation"?!

This is the standing joke at home now. When we soon find ourselves on a Beijing street corner asking directions, I expect to turn Alex-like to my diffident family and offer them a multiple choice of translations:

The nice man either said:
  1. The bus going to the Summer Palace or
  2. The fuss is owing to my mother Alice or
  3. My hovercraft is full of eels (this will always be the third choice)
The holiday will turn into one of those "Invent your own Adventure" books.

You have chosen number 2. Turn to page 33 to see which beast you are about to be eaten by...