I just got home from my final exam of third semester, and so my first year is over! The exam today was quite difficult. It consisted of 5 questions which had long answers， basically like essay questions but much shorter. They were based on what we have covered this semester in our week of class, and the places we went to visit.
I am feeling really good about how this first year has gone. I have a very long way to go, but I can feel that there has been a big improvement since I started, and that I have a good foundation for the next 3 years. I'm not sure that there is one stand out area that I need to improve a lot more than anything else, but rather just that I need to keep continuing right across the board. I was at a little show thing yesterday that my kids' kindergarten put on, and one of the teachers was speaking at the front and I understand almost everything she said. Then when we ate together later on she was talking and I understood next to nothing! This may have been because slower, more 'formal' type Chinese is easier for me to understand than dialect laced chit-chat, but it was both a great encouragement at being able to do something I never could have a year ago, and a reminder that there is so much more I need to learn, and so much more time I need to spend practicing. The same rings true of my speaking, reading and writing. I'll express myself really clearly, and then be misunderstood when I try to tell someone I'm from England. I'll write something my teacher says is great, and then forget how to write 年 or 唱歌 in an exam! I'll find a sentence out and about that I can read and understand, and then find one where I don't know a single character.
Over the break I want to try and keep up with study, but I haven't yet thought out exactly what I am going to do. I think I will try reading texts from a text book that I haven't used yet, in order to keep my reading up, and also to pick up new vocab. I will try my best to speak Chinese at home (not just out and about), and try to do things where I can increase how much I am listening.
I think this might be my last post until September when we start back up again, although I may drop a mid-break post if I remember.