I am a week late in updating my blog for a couple of reasons. Firstly because of the week off, and secondly because we moved house last weekend. Our landlord wanted to sell her place, and we wanted to move out before it gets really cold. We have found an awesome place, cheaper and bigger than the last one.
Mid-terms are fast approaching, and I have 5 out of 8 of them over the next two weeks. Speaking was last week.
For someone Chinese, our speaking teacher is very direct when it comes to telling us how we are progressing. I can't remember if I mentioned it in my last post or not, but we had to do a dialogue with a friend, and then do a short powerpoint presentation on a topic that we were allowed to choose from a selection of 7 topics. I felt that it went ok, but because of nerves my pronunciation was even worse than usual (my tones are pretty bad at the best of times). The teacher said the presentation was fine, but my pronunciation was pretty bad. I already knew that, but being told it by the teacher was discouraging! However, I am glad he hammers me on this because it challenges me to improve.
For our midterm we were randomly put into groups, and then given 3 words. We had to do a 10 minute presentation. The first task was to explain each of the 3 words, basically as if we were teaching the class. Then we had to write a dialogue which included the 3 words, and present that. Having been blasted for my pronunciation, I made sure to practice this over and over so it would be better. I got a 98 on the exam and my teacher said that this time there were no major tone mistakes, and that it was way better than before. I was really encouraged by this. In general my pronunciation isn't really any better than 2 weeks ago, but because I have seen that I am CAPABLE of having much better pronunciation, this has sort of re-energized me to put more effort into getting it correct. The task now is to get to a point where I can speak like I did after 3 days of continually practicing the same 10 minute talk, without having to think about it. It wouldn't surprise me if this takes a lot longer than my time at university here! However, I have to start somewhere! I got some advice from my teacher, as well as trying to follow some points from one of Imron's posts on improving speaking.
I am also really encouraged to be hearing more words I know in general conversation. Over the past few weeks these are a few of the words/phrases that I learnt, and then heard/read and immediately recognized when chatting with Chinese people - 露一手，侵略，急于求成，结巴，挖.
Until next time!