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abcdefg

There is no order of difficulty or magnitude in miracles or in language success stories. There are no big ones and little ones, hard ones or easy ones. They all are equally wonderful.

 

Congratulations! I know how good that feels.

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simc

One day after chatting in Chinese with some workmates in Chinese, a colleague (Chinese-New Zealander who couldn't speak chinese, I hadn't met him before) complemeted me on my "fluent" Mandarin. He said that initially he thought I was "the sort of Chinese person who doesn't look Chinese" (I'm european).

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Silent

In 2012, after a year and a half of selfstudy with a focus on reading I arrived in China expecting my Chinese would be of very little use. I managed reasonably well, that is not always very fluent, but managed to do all essentials in Chinese. Then after a couple of days a few girls chatted me up in a park. After about half an hour conversation mostly in Chinese one of the girls told me I was hard to understand as I had a strange accent. It wasn't meant as a compliment, but I saw it as a huge compliment that they did understand me (somewhat/mostly).

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ouyangjun

 

 

Nobody told me my Chinese was good. I took that as a compliment.

@Lu - yes

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roddy

Along the same lines of Lu's story - I think I've written this up on here before, but just before I moved out of Beijing I popped into a local convenience store to pick up some light bulbs. Was wandering around the shop looking for them. Guy behind the counter grunted '找什么?'. I grunted back '灯泡'. He grunted '隔壁有'. I went next door and bought some light bulbs. 

 

Hard to imagine a simpler interaction, but just the fact it went off without reference to anyone being foreign or having whatever level of Chinese, and that it was my last few days in Beijng so I was paying more attention to stuff, made me remember it.

 

It also contrasted with an earlier incident in the same shop where I'd almost missed a bus due to the lady behind the counter being shocked that not only did I have a bus card, I knew how to put money on it, and telling me about this at some length while I watched the bus I needed to get approach the length of Jiaodaokou Nandajie.

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simc

I've never lived in China, nearly everything I know about Chinese has come to me through a set of earphones. So I go to China on holiday and people would ask me how many years have I lived in China. I repled "Two weeks!".

I savour these moments of smugness. Its usually the case when you try to say or write something your delusions about your proficiency are quickly brought back down to earth.

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realmayo

No successes for far too long but it's a great topic and has in fact got me to book my first ever italki session so who knows? :)

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abcdefg

I get positive reinforcement every day or two here.

 

Yesterday buying chicken wings at the market, I asked the price. Vendor said they were 32 Yuan a kilo. Smiled and told the lady I thought that was a little too expensive and asked if she could make them cheaper. I suggested 25. "二十五块好不好?"

 

Reply was, "Since you know how to bargain and can do it in my language, I will give them to you for 30." We struck a deal and she threw in an extra wing free after weighing out the others. We both felt like winners.

 

--------------------

 

But what I actually find more and more is that locals want to beat me up because I'm not  talking 昆明话。It seems I have used up the free mileage that is available for just using 普通话。

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li3wei1

A long time ago, I was in Taipei, and I wanted to take the ferry from Kaoshiung to Macao, so I called ahead to ask about the details, how to find the pier, food on board, etc. At the end of the conversation, the woman said "And you'll need a visa". I said, "no, I won't need a visa, I'm American". "Oh, are you a 华侨?".

 

Unfortunately, as I said, that was a long time ago, and it's gone a bit downhill from there. However, several years later, after living in Hong Kong for a while, I came back to Taiwan and delivered a 45-minute talk with slides to an audience of academics and journalists, in Mandarin. I practiced, and it went well. People laughed in the right places, asked relevant questions which I could answer, and the translators were happily translating me for the other 'foreign experts'.

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traunk

A few weeks ago the wife and I were taking some Chinese friends to the St. Louis open air market (Soulards). The wife was having troubles finding a parking spot so I decided to entertain our friends with a joke. I took an old blonde joke I knew and tried to spit it out in Chinese. To my surprise, not only was I able to get it out without too many ums, but they also laughed at the punch line. 

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Demonic_Duck

I basically treat any new type of transaction successfully carried out in Chinese as a small victory (asking for something I haven't previously asked for at the supermarket doesn't count, though). The most recent one was going to the hospital, though it's not one that I'm hoping to repeat soon - the first hospital I went to was horribly overcrowded and dirty.

 

I guess my greatest success in this sense is being able to answer the phone in Chinese. Though there wasn't a definitive moment with this one, it's something I remember not being able to stomach the possibility of doing when I arrived in China, but now it's second nature.

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Flickserve

I came to this via the top ten posts of 2014.

 

I came to HK basically looking the part of a local, having a very cantonese name but not speaking any chinese except the odd word here and there. My job involves speaking to many people almost everyday.  HK people would saying I would pick up cantonese naturally. I guess it was because I look the part but it dawned on me that language diffusion doesn't work on me. Their next suggestion was watch HK soap opera series - well that is torture to a mind numbing degree. The plots are terrible.

 

So to get by, I learnt a few stock sentences that get me by. I would always be asked "Oh, you are from overseas - where are you from?" to which I replied England.

 

6 months later, after ten lessons of cantonese, this book and help from work colleagues, something happened. Instead of the same question of "where are you from?", the question now changed to "where in China do you come from?" I took that to mean my heavily accented british-cantonese accent had now improved immeasurably to something closer to HK.

 

Now, HKers ask me if I am from Singapore...:-(

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