Mandarin Milestones

6 Oct

I have been studying Chinese now for close to four years – with several breaks throughout so I think I’ve taken at this point a little over two years of intensive lessons, first in class (when I was teaching) and then individual lessons (once I started working full time).  I have been blessed with wonderful teachers who have seen me through plenty of struggles.

Last year I finally got to the point where not being able to read was hindering my progress and so I have bit the bullet and slowly started memorizing. This is very different than the previous three years where I was just trying to learn what to say.  Chinese – I like to say- is really three languages.  First learn how to say it, then learn how to read it and finally learn how to write it.  Long ago I decided that I wouldn’t focus on writing and I still can only write a few characters. 

October has been a month of milestones for me.  Three years ago I remember the first time I went and got my nails done and I understood everything that the manicurists were talking about – I was eavesdropping!  Two years ago I went to a meeting with an insurer that was all in Chinese and I understood what was going on – I followed a relatively complex meeting.  Last year, I did my first full client meeting/bidding presentation – in Chinese – and we won the work!

That bidding meeting was not intentional.  We had a colleague from Singapore (I’ll call her Sara) who asked if I would present a China perspective at a meeting.  Before we went I checked and said – “Is the meeting in Mandarin or in English?”  She said that it would be in English because all of the decision makers were from Singapore and she always had meetings in English with them.  That day, we got to the meeting and the client came out and said, “You’re presenting in Mandarin, right?”  Sara said, “Of course – Greta is going to do it.”  I looked at her, but couldn’t really do anything about it.  Luckily the meeting went well and I am glad that it happened three years in, not previously.

I’m not sure what my breakthrough this October – the fourth October will be.  My current Chinese teacher said that she wants me to do a self-test for the HSK which is the Chinese proficiency test here.  That may be it.  Or it may be something else that has yet to occur.  I figure I’m ready for another milestone.

Any favorite language milestones?  I know many of you out there have lived or studied in another country.  I’d love to hear from you.


4 Responses to “Mandarin Milestones”

  1. Christa October 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Have you had a dream in Chinese yet? That was a crazy milestone for me, when I started having dreams in Spanish. The funny thing was, while everyone else in my dreams spoke fluent Spanish, I still had the same broken accent as I did in real life… Though I continue to spend most of day in Spanish at work, I have not had dreams in Spanish since we lived in Spain.

    Another big milestone for me was the first time I made someone laugh when speaking Spanish. Then I finally felt like my language skills were getting good enough for me to have a little of my personality back in my communication.

    You’ve really been there for 4 years??? Wow…time flies…

    • gkm2011 October 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

      Yes, I have had many dreams in Chinese – there was even one where I could sing in Chinese! I don’t remember when that first started happening to tell you the truth but it is a pretty amazing feeling when you realize it. I know – four years….


  1. Another mandarin milestone « 中国 Jumble - July 24, 2012

    […] have typically had my mandarin milestones in the fall – October time period, but this year it came a bit early.  Maybe some day I will […]

  2. A mandarin milestone – traveling and translating | 中国 Jumble - October 20, 2013

    […] Mandarin Milestones […]

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