Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The first day of classes

Starla and I started class this morning bright and early. We each have three 2-hour sessions each day, totalling 30 hours per week for the 6-week course. In addition, we will have two 1-hour individual tutoring sessions each week. Each 2-hour session cover things like reading, listening, speaking, writing, and combined lessons. We will also be taking elective classes in taijiquan (tai-chi) and some caligraphy, mainly for fun. The classes run between 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM every day, with breaks in between. Plus, it takes us about 1 hour 15 minutes to commute between my grandmother's apartment to the classroom, so the next six weeks will be rather busy.

The placement exam put me in a higher-level C, while Starla is in the mid-level B. Most of the other new students fell in one of the four lower A levels.

Since I'm in a rather unique situation where I am natively Chinese and conversationally fairly fluent, I'm in classes by myself for the most part. Starla's classes have a few more other students, but one of the reason we chose this program is because they guarantee no more than 8 students per class so that each student receives enough individual attention.

One thing I had expected is that I may be the only ethnically Chinese student in the program. However, what I'm seeing is that about a third of the students are ABCs (American born Chinese), BBCs (British), and CBCs (Canadian). It makes me feel somewhat better. It's also quite amazing how already fluent some of the foreigners are in Chinese. We've seen many foreigners haggle with shopkeepers or talking with Chinese friends in fluent Mandarin. So I guess that means Chinese isn't so hard. Anyone want to come and learn Chinese?

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