Posted in Health and Well-Being, Lifestyle, london, Self-Discovery, Stress Relief

Learning Mandarin: A Journey of Language and Learning and Finding Myself

 Part 3: 学习 (xué xí) : Learning

My first class at Practical Mandarin London I was very hesitant to speak up (yes, I know, it’s difficult to imagine), because I still had residual trauma from my previous experience with draconian Chinese teachers. 

But actually, as I attended more sessions, I realised that the discipline and precision that was forced on me during my formative years made it easier for me to pick up Mandarin again even though I haven’t actively spoken it in more than 10 years. It’s like they’ve imprinted it in my brain or something.

In addition, the teachers I’ve had at PM London have been nothing short of brilliant. They are the anti-thesis to all my previous Chinese teachers, and they created such a safe and open space for learning. I never felt embarrassed to ask questions or make mistakes. 

Because of them, 老师 has a totally different meaning and connotation for me now. It still means people who are experts in their field who ought to be respected, but I also now associate it with support, and warmth, and even friendship.

It also helped that I was so awed and inspired by my classmates, who were all from different nationalities and backgrounds, and all of whom were learning Mandarin with no prior knowledge or formal foundation of the language whatsoever. To me, they embody the meaning of the word 学 (xúe) which means to learn.

Learning is a journey, and it has taken me a long time to realise that the value of learning doesn’t lie in the outcome (nor in attaining that shiny gold medal for getting top marks in class) but rather in the process of learning itself.

I have enjoyed learning alongside my classmates in every level. I have fond memories of stilted conversations that gradually became more fluid, of having a laugh (mostly at ourselves) when we get things wrong and competing with each other during Kahoot games. 

It has been a really great experience to be a student again, to not be responsible for anyone’s learning apart from my own, and to do something not because I’m obligated to do it or because I’m getting paid for it, but for the sake of pure enjoyment. 

Author:

Extraordinarily ordinary. Nurse. Teacher. Part-time traveller, full-time bookworm and music lover. I incorporate wishes, dreams and being a hopeless romantic with a sense of realism grounded on life experiences. I have yet to fully take off my rose-coloured glassed when it comes to life -despite occasional disappointments - and I prefer to keep it that way. I am in love with London, my adopted city. Every day is a new adventure, a chance to try something new. It has become such a part of who I am that I can't imagine living anywhere else. I am under the illusion that people will actually want to hear what I have to say and if it does turn out to be just an illusion, who cares? I want to put my thoughts out there for anyone to listen. I want to be heard because I have so much to say and I'm going to have fun doing it. I enjoy banter and a good back-and-forth. There is nothing more stimulating for me than an interesting conversation. So feel free to comment, express your opinions and let me know what you think. Let's get the world talking, one blabbaholic at a time.

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