I am a nineteen-year-old Chinese-American. My family’s history is pretty common: My mom and dad both got scholarships to go to the US to study; four or five years of study soon became twenty-odd years of living in the US. They have American passports; after my dad got his PhD, I was born.
Now, this is just to say, I’ve been speaking colloquially with my mom and dad for nineteen years, and even my colloquial speech isn’t that good. This semester I came to Beijing to study abroad; I’m studying Chinese at the Beijing Institute of Education. Since I can take tests well, and I can speak colloquially pretty fluidly, I placed into the highest class: 500. But although I can speak conversationally and my pronunciation doesn’t have too much of a problem doesn’t mean that my academic speech is good.
In reality, the fact is, my academic speech is lacking. Even from these short paragraphs, you can already see it: I’m using conversational speech to write it. There aren’t any advanced academic words. My classmates have already spent three-ish years learning Chinese, and they’ve been learning academic Chinese.
Me? Although I’ve taken three Chinese classes, my teachers’ teaching methods weren’t particularly good. After I finished the classes, I still felt like I didn’t learn much.
Now I’m already feeling a little bit frustrated. My Chinese learning journey is still really long.
If my mom were sitting beside me right now, she would say to me, “Then just learn at your own pace.”
Okay, I’ll learn at my own pace. It looks like I’m already improving.