中文 Chinese

Maybe I was a slow learner. Maybe I was overconscientious. Maybe I simply didn't trust my own abilities. Maybe Chinese was just too difficult for me. I don't know. But I do know that initially I had only one method of learning Chinese: writing. Flashcards of characters, example sentences, lists of stock phrases, lists of specialist terms, lists of grammar points, lists of explanations. I filled dozens of notebooks from cover to cover. Whenever I encountered surprises or odd elements of the language, I would make notes. Notes on everything went into these books. Eventually, I was even cross-referencing my notes.

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It was probably in my third of four years of full-time Chinese study that I started reading real Chinese. Modern novels and film scripts were my favourite. I still love Chinese movies - everything from Kung Fu to Fifth Generation to low brow trash. I was very fortunate to have a brilliant teacher, Daria Berg, who was interested in both and not afraid to challenge us with relevant, authentic cultural material.

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