Sì Gè Cí (四个词)

“Yī èr sān sì, sì gè cí”.

The mind is really an interesting thing. Unless you know Chinese, I was just as confused in the past 3 weeks when I heard this sentence as you are now when you read it.

Everyday since September 6th (Monday – Friday) I have had Chinese Language Class from 8:00am – 12:00pm. I have four teachers (Chinese Character Reading and Writing, Listening, Conversation and Elementary Chinese). Everyday we rotate 2 of the 4 classes, with each class lasting 2 hours each.

My Character Reading and Writing class always had me feeling hopeless, because while the other teachers would speak English in class, this teacher just stuck to her Chinese no matter how confused everyone in the class looked. I know that she knows some English because when every single person looks completely blank, with no hint of understanding, she drops in an English word or two so that we can get what she is talking about and move on with the class.

So for the first 3 weeks of Character Reading and Writing, I didn’t really understand what was being said. Every class this teacher would come and show us a character, tell us some phrases or compound words that we could make from that character and then say “Yī èr sān sì, sì gè cí”, and everytime she said that I would wonder what on earth she meant by that. Then one day in the 4th week of school, she said this same phrase, “Yī èr sān sì, sì gè cí”, and suddenly I understood. All this time all she was saying was “1, 2, 3, 4, 4 words”. Out of that one character I can make 4 words that I can use in my daily life.

And that is why learning something new is so fascinating. Before I came to China, I would hear people speak and see characters and it would mean nothing to me, but now I can read, write and understand a little. Never again will I just give Chinese Characters a cursory glance because now I know what to look for. This has also taught me that nothing in life is far fetched. Learning how to speak Chinese…ok, but learning how to write the characters…no way, how am I ever going to do that? The same way I learned my ABC’s and how to write English sentences.

The mind is amazing and now I really believe that we can do anything we set our minds to do.


4 thoughts on “Sì Gè Cí (四个词)

  1. Loved reading this post. Awesome adventures. You are going to love that you decided to do a blog when you get the chance to come back and re-read it all and re-live all these memories. Thanks for sharing Dani!! Love.

  2. So now I can speak to my Chinese daughter in Chinese: te yer sen se ci. I see you are making progress (in Chinese).

    NB the blog is still a wonderful idea and a useful project.

  3. Ah my dear, Any new thing will be stressful at first, When it breaks and your confidence increases then you will wonder what it was all about. Soldier on there my dear. better will come, Brendan.

  4. Yes it’s true nothing is impossible to learn, it just takes time and commitment. What we forget is that the English we speak naturally can be just as bewildering for native speakers of other languages.

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