Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Finally I understand the importance of mastering the Chinese language

Since young English has always been my preferred language. I was not a 'banana' though, I was able to speak Chinese reasonably well. When I was in Primary School or Secondary School I even attempted to read Chinese books. But the language is simply difficult and I gave up. On the other hand I continued to enjoy the English language as well as reading. Through reading, subconsciously, my English gets better and the divide becomes bigger.

So why did it take me thirty years to appreciate the Chinese language? The first hard hit came a year ago. There were Chinese visitors who were coming to our company and I had to do an introduction in Chinese. Now, if it were in English I could do it impromptu. But Chinese... I had to write a script first.

I started writing, and I got stuck within the first 5 words. So I asked my colleague who is from China. She suggested an introduction, I started to write again but I got stuck every 2nd word. She had to write the whole page for me. And then it hit me. I was embarassed, ashamed. I am Chinese yet I can't write it. Honestly in the past it may even seem cool to be bad at Chinese, but this time I was truly ashamed.

After this, I made myself copy the script as a form of redemption. Subsequently in my self reflection, I realise that learning the Chinese language is more than just mastering the verbal and written ability. When you learn Chinese, you learn the values. I love Chinese values, especially fillial piety. You also learn the depth of your emotions. Through simple verses, you appreciate that the Chinese language allows you to describe your emotions and thoughts to a depth that makes you sigh... and say... "that's deep!".

Now Lucas also has a preference for English. At times when I speak in Mandarin to him he does not like it. But I keep trying, and now he responses in Mandarin at times.
If I don't show an interest in the Chinese language, and don't show him how beautiful the Chinese language can be, how will he ever be interested in it? Perhaps he will not appreciate it in the next ten to twenty years, but at least if he has the foundation and he finds the appreciation years later, he will have the ability to pick it up. Just like what I am trying to do now.

I bought a book about Buddhism. I have been trying to know this religion more, but the Chinese books always baffles me. It's hard, I don't understand them. So I found this, not exactly what I want, but I will tell myself to read one story a day so as to improve my Chinese. Step by step, the divide gets smaller.

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