What I can say in Chinese

My classmates in this program have taken more academic experience with Chinese than I do.  They are more literate, in that they read and understand written Chinese better than I do.  They are much more comfortable with the heavy focus on memory recall than I am.

Here are the things things they seem comfortable saying/talking about in Chinese.

  • situation, circumstances
  • western influence
  • social change, social phenomena
  • the importance of tradition and modern society
  • the impression than beggars leave on passersby

I have studied Chinese in three summer-intensive programs, plus I worked in Shanghai for a year and a half.  Here are the things I feel comfortable saying/talking about in Chinese:

  • turn right, turn left, do a U-turn, pull over, right here’s good.
  • don’t push me, don’t cut in line, we are waiting in line.  how uncivilized.
  • i don’t want to buy anything, I’m here to take the subway.
  • that’s too expensive.  is that supposed to be RMB?  you’re kidding for such a small thing.
  • don’t explain, i’ll look by myself.
  • you’re sick?  is it diarrhea?  drink more water.  next time i’ll treat you to japanese-style fried porkchop

4 thoughts on “What I can say in Chinese

    • Hi Corey, thanks for reading. I’m really enjoying this program; my teachers have some American-style proficiency based methods (rather than old-fashioned “just memorize all this crap” non-method. Classes are small, I’m speaking a lot.

      When we started, we were doing one chapter a day, which was too damn much; boring readings, 15-20 grammar points per day, 20 some vocab words, cold vocab quizzes. So I was like, “here we go again.”

      But it seems my grammar teacher has taken the initiative to take two days per chapter instead of one, do more practice of each item, and change the cold vocab quiz to a more communicative format. I told her I agreed; if I had wanted to read a chapter a day, not practice, and retain nothing, I could have done that at home in Seattle.

      So far thumbs up!


      • That’s great that you are getting a lot of time to actually speak. That is by far the worst part about studying Chinese at a university—theres no time to speak. I am very interested in the program you are at for next summer. Do you have any suggestions or pertinent information on financial aid or grants that you could give me? I’m currently at UC Davis and I get everything covered through federal grants.


      • I don’t know anything about funding. I was promised funding for teachers through the Seattle school district, but it hasn’t come through yet. I think it’s all grad students, don’t know of any undergrads. Finally, they’ll give the impression that it’s an exclusive program, but I think they take anyone.


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