Chinese and English

Oh no! Another post without … pictures! Did you notice? Just a straight column of text! There are several reasons for that: 1) I wasn’t expecting to post about this subject and thus didn’t take any relevant pictures; 2) A rain storm took the power out at school, affecting the computer I was using to download the pictures I had for another post; and 3) A post with no pictures can be used to illustrate a point. Pictures and no pictures is the difference between Chinese and English. English is simple in that each “character” has a sound, you line up the sounds, pronounce them straight through and the resulting word brings to mind the desired picture. What isn’t so simple is that the English pronunciation doesn’t always line up with the English letters. Children learning to read lines and lines of English can be daunted by the task–especially on long paragraphs like this one. While it’s more tedious and takes patience both to learn and write, having pictures for words can be a lot more easy to remember, understand and use. To read Chinese, rather than going from pronunciation to a memorized picture, one goes from a picture to a memorized pronunciation. A couple times in the past few days people asked me if I thought Chinese was hard to learn and I found that my answer was ‘No’! Arguably, it’s the easiest language to master. Yesterday I had a memorable talk with one particular student and her teacher. This 8th grader had represented Nan Jung at a huge academic competition and among 20 participants from around the county she took third place. She had memorized five separate essays in English (thousands of words) and quoted from memory the one that the teacher chose at random. Since I’ve found memorizing in foreign languages to be helpful I asked them for some tips and the three of had a very fun discussion about the subject. Among the words of wisdom were: 1) Repeat, repeat, repeat . . ., narrow down on the vocabulary you don’t understand, and, thirdly, make associations with sounds or pictures that you are already familiar with. It will be worth it all if this blank-looking post can remind you of that last simple point. So anyway, remember that the next time you want to remember something! (I might remember this post for a long time.)


  1. Allen P. October 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    Thanks, Donald – that was very interesting! It might help me when I prepare my Spanish presentations that I’m not allowed to use notes for… 🙂

  2. Robert October 19, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    Great post, Donald! You really got your point across!

  3. Joshua October 20, 2008 at 9:01 pm #

    I like your introduction – captures the imagination in a creative way. May God bless your Chinese studies.

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