School is for Suckers

A week ago I was flying high, listening to lectures on Chinese history and struggling through a children’s history text in Chinese. But this week I’ve got nothing. Not sure what’s wiped me out.

At school we started the next textbook in our series:
杨寄洲 (2003)。汉语教程(第三册)上,一年级教材。北京:北京语言文化大学出版社。

It already feels a little denser than the previous book. And our teacher keeps telling us that it’s really hard and she doesn’t know how to teach it. Great. Of course, I’m not sure what she means by “teach” it, because all she does is drag us through the book. Here’s our standard operating procedure for getting through a chapter, spanning 3-4 days:

    Read the new words, 生词: repeat each word after her and then a couple of students students read through the list aloud.
    Discuss the new words: lecture style, sometimes she gives examples, might ask us to make a sentence.
    Discuss grammar points, 语法: lecture style, gives examples, might ask us to try make a few sentences on our own.
    Read the text, 课文: phrase-by-phrase repeat after her and then a few students read it aloud.
    Discuss the text for comprehension: unless you ask questions, nothing really happens.
    Do exercises in the book, 做练习: she calls on students to read aloud the speaking portion, then the other sections she usually reads the questions and then accepts murmured responses from the class.

I know this is an improvement from what Chinese kids get in their University classes, but I find it unbearable. Sigh.

One-Year Update

My first anniversary is next week. On June 1, 2006 I landed in Kunming and started studying Mandarin. Since then, I changed schools and moved house three times. I also have quite a collection of Mandarin textbooks.

It’s a little frustrating that I’m still not through the first-year books even though I’ve been studying continuously for a year. None of the local programs seem to be equipped to actually keep pace with the Beijing books.

I’ll start the third level of the “First Year Chinese Course” in a couple weeks.