This week was my first week back after a lovely, long break. The Chinese New Year holiday was fantastic. My parents came to see us and their grandkids, and we had lots of fun going out together and sledging! The weather here is starting to warm up a little bit (comparatively), and my teacher reckons that we will be into the positive degrees in the next couple of weeks. This year was definitely colder than last so I'm looking forward to it getting a bit warmer!
I'm disappointed that I can't say how well I did hitting all my goals over the break. I pretty much failed all of them! I got half way through the book I wanted to study, watched maybe 3 Chinese movies, and didn't learn all the words I wanted to. I don't want to make excuses but I just found it hard with having visitors and wanting to do things with my family. On the plus side I was using Wechat for voice and text conversations very regularly, and I do think that at least some input every day has helped. I joined a couple of big Chinese groups as a kind of support method, so that I always have a way to get in some practice each day, if for whatever reason I haven't been able to talk/listen to people outside. This is of course not a main method of studying, but just intended to increase my exposure to and use of Chinese.
Starting back was really fun, and I am happy to be back at it! The ongoing absent student saga continues, with one class this week hitting an all time low of 5 students out of 26! On the plus side, it's much more focused for those of us that do go! We have started on some new books, and I am pleased that our comprehensive book will now use texts with no pinyin. Our reading/writing book seems to have taken quite a big jump in the size of the texts. Unfortunately our speaking book still has pinyin with the characters, which I find to be a real distraction, but never mind!
I also wanted to comment on what I have discovered to be a new, and quite specific, challenge for me. I'd like to see how I improve in this area over time, and also if anyone has any helpful advice! I find reading multiple 3 tone characters in a row to be especially challenging. I think in part it's because my recognition is poor enough that I haven't registered the following 2/3 characters which are also 3rd tone, and so by the time I have noticed the 3rd character along, I have already read the first or the second as a low third tone, and not as a second tone as it should be. This gives the whole sentence a really weird, stunted type feel. I am hoping this will just change with time as my recognition improves, but for the moment it's really annoying. If anyone has any specific advice I'd really appreciate it!
For the most part uploading photos seems to be working for me again now, so I have uploaded a few from the break!