Attempt No 1 to improve Conversational Chinese

B has entered P1 this year and seriously, the Chinese has gone way over my head. The truth is I had already submerged and drowned in the sea of Mandarin characters a few years ago when she started her enrichment with Berries. I couldn’t even catch up with her flash cards then.

My Chinese is picked up from the years of watching Channel 8 series and even then, I rely a lot on subtitles, so the actual understanding is, I don’t know, maybe 40%? and… because my learning is from Channel 8 series, the phrases that I know are not exactly the most scholarly – ” kan ma?”  “hao lian” are not exactly words that a P1 student would use. My actual use of the language is honed by use of it with taxi drivers which means I know how to say left, right, traffic jam and some words when the drivers use an obviously longer route!

Now, it looks like I have to take my Chinese to a higher level because the feedback for B is that while she is good at reading and writing, her conversational Chinese is not good. I don’t blame her – how does one speak well in a language when you don’t speak it at home?

So we have a new rule – only Chinese to be spoken in the car. 10 cent fine for any English words spoken. (we have an imaginary 10 cent fine when anyone says “la” and now that fine has been extended our Conversational Chinese car time). The radio has been changed to a Chinese channel because I remember that Pierre Png did that to improve his Chinese (I honestly don’t know why I retain information like that!). I think we both only understood 20% of what the presenter was saying. Maybe I should get a Chinese story CD.

It was our first day yesterday. There was a lot of gesturing – I didn’t know how to say arrow in Chinese in reference to the turning right arrow at the traffic lights. It was not easy asking how was your day and talking about it in Chinese.  I think we both felt a big relief when we got out of the car and started yakking in English!

zhǐ wàng  huì gèng hǎo!

My  little taskmaster has set some high expectations for me.

First she started by giving me this to do.

Ting Xie No. 1

Ting Xie No. 1

Which I “kuai kuai” finished.

Then came another one. She said, “This one is too easy. Discount for you. ” (This phrase which I use on her is boomeranging back to me now.)

Ting xie No 2

Ting xie No 2


I suppose because No.2 ting xie was too easy… she upped the skill difficulty to this:

Ting xie No. 3

Ting xie No. 3


All I can say now is:



3 Responses to “Attempt No 1 to improve Conversational Chinese”

  1. hi Cecilia, have u tried listening to podcasts on learning chinese? “Mandarin Chinese Lessons with Serge Melnyk” is pretty good.

    • Petrina, I will definitely check it out. How do you do it with Caleb? The past few days of Mandarin only car rides have been quite frustrating for both of us. I probably need to tweak my strategy.

      • I don’t do Chinese with Caleb, it would be like the blind leading the blind 😛
        CW speaks mandarin, so that helps a lot. Everyone at the school is also Chinese-speaking, so he had no choice but to start speaking it too. It took quite some time for him tho, he had a strange accent in the beginning. Maybe u both can listen to podcasts together instead of the radio, and give yourselves some leeway – maybe mix some English for words that u don’t yet know 🙂

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