Get It Right From The Get-Go & Avoid These Mistakes When You Speak Chinese

Chinese grammar common mistakesOver the next few weeks I am going to highlight common mistakes native English speakers make when speaking Chinese, and introduce the correct grammar structures. I’m doing this for my benefit as much as yours!

While mistakes are inevitable, I think it’s important to examine these common errors early on so they don’t become ingrained as bad habits.

Today I want to look at the the following words when used with 來 Lái or 去 Qù:

  • 上 Shàng
  • 下 Xià
  • 進 Jìn
  • 出 Chū
  • 回 Huí
  • 過 Guò

The rule to remember is that when any of these words are followed by a place word or location, the place word comes before or.

For example, if you wish to express “He will go back to Taiwan next Monday,” English speakers will generally want to say:

他下個禮拜一要回去臺灣。Tā xià gè lǐbài yī yào huí táiwān. Incorrect!

The correct word order is: 他下個禮拜一要回臺灣。Tā xià gè lǐbài yī yào huì táiwān . Notice the word comes after the place.

Let’s look at another example:

(I want to move this table out of the room.)

我想把這張桌子搬出屋子。Wǒ xiǎng bǎ zhè zhāng zhuōzi bān chū wūzi. Incorrect!

The correct word order is: 我想把這張桌子搬出屋子。Wǒ xiǎng bǎ zhè zhāng zhuōzi bānchū wūzi .

I believe building good grammar habits is important! Are you with me?

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Do Western Women Want To Date Taiwanese Guys?

I’ve been conducting some internet research related to a book I’m thinking about writing. I’m in the research phases, so the book may or may not happen. No promises just yet!

In my research I’ve come across some interesting opinions and attitudes that I want to share with you about dating, love, and relationships between western women and Taiwanese (and more broadly Asian) men.

This is a summary of blog posts, blog comments, and forums that I read:

What western guys think: Asian men have small penises and are wimps, nerds, and “can’t get” western girls.

I’m not even sure why western men have so many public opinions about Asian men dating western women in the first place. I’m not sure why they believe to be authorities on Asian penises, either.

What Taiwanese guys think: See 10 Reasons Taiwanese Guys Don’t Date Western Women.

What western women think: It turns out that a lot of western women living in Taiwan express interest in dating Taiwanese men, but the differences between western and Taiwanese culture and dating customs are so different, that many western women just give up.

Some western women in Taiwan say they have Taiwanese boyfriends or husbands, while others lament about the situation calling Taiwan “Dry-Wan,” claiming not to have had sex in years.

Western women generally accept the fact (or assume it to be true) that western men living in Taiwan have “yellow fever” and only date Taiwanese women.

Western women also tend to compare their bodies to those of Taiwanese women and conclude that Taiwanese men consider their more generous curves to be “fat.”

My conclusion: There are abundant missed opportunities for western women and Taiwanese men to date. It’s a question of building a bridge between the cultural differences in dating, love, and relationships. So how to bridge the gap? I have been investigating this question and will share my findings with you in the future.

What do you think? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments.

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Tough & Tearful Lessons: Language Learning & Vulnerability

language learning & vulnerabilityIt always happens, but I never know when exactly I will burst into tears over language learning. It happened many times in Mexico when I was living there and learning Spanish. Taiwan is no exception.

There is no way to learn a language without constant and heavy doses of vulnerability. There is no way to learn a language without making mistakes, each and every step of the way. Language learning is not for the faint of heart. And even though I know this, I know intellectually and I know this in my bones as a language learner who has been there done that, I still struggle with the vulnerability and courage required to learn a new language.

Yesterday I had a “breakdown” during my Chinese lesson. Everything was going along just fine, but unexpectedly the flood gates burst and my face was a sopping mess of tears. My breakdowns are usually precipitated by periods of struggle with things like culture, language, and feelings that I’m not doing enough. Eventually my bravado wears and I surrender to the vulnerability.

Fortunately, my Chinese teacher has an enormous capacity for listening and holding space. We spent the rest of our class time together talking and drilling down to the crux of my tears.

Through our conversation a few key points surfaced.

Learning Chinese is super important to me. I want to learn Chinese with all my heart. I am stubborn and steadfast in my goal, and despite my tears and struggles, I want this.

I have been feeding the false belief of “I’ll be happy when…” Living in Taiwan has not been a cake walk. I struggle with some of the cultural differences, my appearance, and my unmet need to belong. I tell myself that everything will be wonderful when I can communicate with ease. I tell myself that when I’m fluent I will find a sense of belonging and acceptance here. The problems with “I’ll be happy when…” thinking are obvious. Each mistake feels extraordinarily weighty. When I feel my progress with Chinese isn’t up to snuff, or when I can’t seem to find the words to contribute to a conversation, a sense of despair washes over me. The subtext reads: C’mon Amy! Your happiness is depending on this! 

Reality, of course, is not so grim. I can disentangle my sense of happiness from my Chinese language ability. I can explore my feelings and struggles with Taiwanese culture with compassion for myself. My Chinese teacher gave me the mantra “kind and gentle.” I feel those are wise words to guide me. I can be awfully demanding and hard on myself.

Today is a new day, and I’m feeling kind and gentle with myself. While I know eradicating vulnerability and language learning breakdowns is not possible, I also feel more empowered to explore my vulnerability and struggles with compassion. It really helps to be able to share with someone who has been through it as well. I am so grateful this breakdown happened during class and not at the grocery store or at work. I am sharing it with you, because if you are a language learner, chances are you can relate to my story.

Immersion language learning is a process that turns me inside out. It calls forth my courage to be open and vulnerable. It requires me to confront my cultural perceptions and biases and asks me accept things I cannot change. It is sometimes hard to remain open to the experience as it’s unfolding, because it is often uncomfortable or painful. But I also know that through immersion language learning I reap the growth and joy inherent in such an experience.

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