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Year One Reflections (Perspective for Beginners) (Part 3)

David Ma

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Nice post.


As someone that went to China with no more than hello and goodbye under my belt, I found myself nodding sagely when you mentioned the benefits of going over with an intermediate level of Mandarin. It also reflects research someone pointed to in another post. However, as you also suggest, there are some advantages to going over as a beginner; the main one being that it is somewhat easier to develop a more neutral accent. Naturally, it also comes with the drawback you described, people tend to massively overestimate your level.


I also like your mud analogy. While I was over there it was hard to see the mud gradually accumulating. Letting it bake in the oppressive heat of an Australian summer has definitely given me greater perspective.


I'm looking forward to hearing how your project plays out.


Lastly, I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of Australians with decent tones and pronunciation. I can't remember which country you're from but I hope you continue to add to the pool of learners aiming for more than just passable.


Who knows, one day learners of Mandarin might actually need decent Chinese to get a compliment haha!

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Great post!


Hilariously enough, because most foreigners don’t make much of an effort with pronunciation aren't aiming for native-level pronunciation, if you do, people will immediately assume you can understand WAY more than you actually do.


It's actually hard to force yourself to slow down, or even to pretend you're at a more basic level. Nerves? Politeness? I don't know what it is, but if I walk up to someone and speak like a beginner I just feel condescending.


imron has helped me to see that this could be part of my chronic problem with understanding pretty much anything. Ignoring my battle with pre-recorded material just for the moment, It seems so weird that my ability to converse has collapsed as my speech and reading have matured, even when the other person slows right down. I dunno.

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