Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.
14 posts • Page 1 of 1
This will likely be my lasr post, as I am feeling more and more this board is a waste of time. Few are interested in really being happier abroad or learning how to get there. I just spent the evening with my wife, making baozi, a cheescake and bing, from absolute scratch, and DOING happier abroad is simply so much better than reading about all that is wrong back home.
I am writing this primarily for Xiongmao, who is out there DOING, and anyone else who might seriously consider China. The LANGUAGE makes a difference, a HUGE difference. I have been here almost 3 years, slowly picking up the language, but in the last two months, somewhere, I crossed that hump, the one there is with every language, where you begin to just start flowing with it. I have been living exclusively in Chinese for weeks now.
The other day, I was walking the streets, conversing with friends or family, casually, naturally, and you have SEEN the responses from people. Being a fairly tall, for here anyway, black guy, I always got stares, of course, but this was a totally different world. If you want to see girls in China begin to react like girls in the Philippines, LEARN THE LANGUAGE and, more importantly, USE IT.
Beyond the usual stares, smiles and horrible attempts at an English hello, I saw girls pass me, stop in their tracks, turn around and follow me for a while, especially in the market. On more than one occasion, girls approached and made conversation, usually starting with something like "wow you can speak chinese!" even when I was with my wife. I got a lot of cute blushes and giggles if I spoke to a girl. I have been asked a few times if I was single. It really changed to a different world, all because I opened my mouth and was not shy to try to speak the language.
I know many mentioned the language barrier being a deterrant to places like China. It certainly can be. Still, learning it and using it will change your experience immeasurably.
So that is my last happier abroad advice. I suspect few will read it, and even fewer will follow it. Those that do will be delighted beyond belief. I'm going back to ???, or make more steamed buns with my wife. Living happier abroad has to experienced. Just take a risk, get out there and try it. No amount of complaining about home will change it. A total change of life is just a plane ticket away!
This is true if you're Black, but White guys and other races (to a much lesser extent) can still have a blast not knowing any of the language. In fact, a White guy that just falls off of the plane not knowing a word will have a great time compared to a Black man that tries to learn the culture and language. That's how the world is. I find it very demoralizing and disconcerting, so I've given up.
Why waste your time and effort when you're still going to wind up losing?
I agree with you that the world is not too accepting of blacks; especially because of European imperialism and the subsequent negative media in the last 30-40 years. However, if you look beyond the stereotypes, you can find a different path in life and a girl who is Chinese or Japanese or other Asians who would like you when learning their culture and language.
White men do have an advantage in the world. This is unfortunately true. I think though that if you are positive and work hard to improve yourself such as The_Adventurer, you realize that you can learn a hard/difficult language and see that he was able to marry a beautiful Chinese woman and be able to live a nice, life in China.
I don't know how accurate this is in a broad practical sense. A lot depends on the particular individual. Just from personal experience a Native English speaking American:
French was much harder for me than Spanish. I tried to learn it in uni but gave-up. Not so w/Spanish. And Porto was harder for me to grasp too due to pronunciation issues. But at least it was doable for me unlike French.
Canto was much harder for me than Mandarin. Again I tried to learn it but gave up. It has a lot more sounds we don't have close approximations for in English and more than twice as many tones as Mandarin. I also find Taiwanese to be a lot harder for me due in part to it having more tones and a lot of hard to pronounce sounds. So I've picked-up very little after all this time. Tones are one of the biggest challenges to learning any type of verbal Chinese for many adult native English speakers. Also, I did learn some Thai and again, it was tougher for me than Mandarin because the tones are not as straight forward as the ones used in Mandarin. Some foreign learners just can't get a handle on the tones and others take to them like a fish to water.
In DR, I met an American US embassy IT staff. He had been working for the embassy for around 10 years, first in Venezuela and more recently in DR. The embassy had provided him with free ongoing Spanish courses over the years (even tho he didn't need it for his job) and he had been living in Spanish speaking countries for at least a decade and had a local gf in Venezuela. Yet, the guy still could not even function in the local lingo. It would take him so long just to string together a sentence of pidgin broken Spanish that he really couldn't converse with locals. He somehow never made it over that hump.
Language learning is very specific to the individual and not just a function of the languages he is already proficient in. At least that's what my own experience and observations tell me. Of course for those below the so-called linguistic critical age don't have such limitations. Most children can learn any language and reach native fluency and pronunciation if properly exposed.
Last edited by Rock on Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
Great last post and congrats for reaching one of the desirable HA endgames.
Your post and Xiongmao's tales have me itching to get back to China. I actually have a biz reason to go soon too and I hope to meet up with Xiongmao there.
It's getting to the point where weather in Southern China won't be too cold for me. Maybe I can go at end of May. The biggest hassle is getting that visa. I can only do it in Taiwan as PRC embassy here in Manila won't accept non-resident foreigners. And it's become very expensive
Anyway, hope to get there soon and follow-up with some interesting stuff for the forum.
The language rankings are from US Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Their School of Language Studies offer training in ~70 languages, ranked by difficulty:
Category I languages:
French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Danish, Catalan, Dutch, Norwegian
Category II languages:
Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Polish, Russian
Category III languages:
Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Wu
Some don't fit neatly into the categories, i.e. German is "1.5" and Finnish is "2.5".
It's important to note that people who enroll in these courses are doing so because of their job requirements, i.e. military service abroad. Just because the FSI specified 800 hours of instruction for a specific language, does not mean that all students would pass after 800 hours. If you don't pass, then you don't get the job. For the army, if you do not pass the foreign language proficiency test, then you're not eligible for the foreign language proficiency bonus ($) and will not qualify for language dependent military occupational assignments.
Efficient learning strategy of Chinese characters based on network approach:
Thanks man, what an inspiring last post!
What I'll add, based on my classroom experience, is that Western dudes CAN learn Mandarin. Of all the students in the class, the native English speakers have the best tones. This surprised me as I thought the Thais would wipe the floor with us, but they're pretty terrible at Mandarin!
My main problem is that I'm too shy to use my Mandarin in public. It's mostly due to getting fed up with people correcting my tones. However, I'm gaining in confidence.
Already I know that speaking Mandarin does have an impact - I certainly floored the fake watch seller when I told him not to bother me! Obviously no foreigner's ever done that before.
I'd also like to work on my game, as I know a couple of guys who speak practically no Chinese, yet they're surrounded by beautiful women. All these guys have is a lot of confidence and they don't care that they're often making complete asses of themselves.
And yes Winston, the visa problems here are terrible. My expat friend told me the market for Chinese brides for Western men is stone cold. Nobody is coming here anymore, the Phillies have gained valuable tourist income at China's expense. I know plenty of single Chinese women who log into CLL everyday. But they're wasting their time - no foreign guys are gonna come here and visit them now.
Well I'm here until July, then I have the options to switch countries when I return in September.
By the way, this chart isn't everything. I personally found German very easy to learn, but I only did it for one year in school. It was easier than French though.
P.S. It's been cold and dreary weather in Southern China this week. It was far warmer in February for reasons I don't understand. Next week it should hit 30C though!
How about this language:
American Man: Hi, I'm an American! King of the World. I come from Hollywood.
Foreign girl: Ohhhh, Aaaaah.UUUUhhhh. Do you speak ( put a foreign language here)?
American man: No, I'm an American. I speak English.
Foreign girl: Oooooohhh. Aaaaahh. I love Americans, I want to learn English with you.
American man: Yeah, baby, come to my hotel now, honey. I'll give you some chewing gum from Hollywood.
Foreign girl: Ooooooohh, foreigner! Amerrican! Ahhhh, I am coming with you...I want to learn English, I want to marry an American.
American man: Yeah, baby!
The above exchange preceeded more happy ( or at least pleasant) relationships than those initiated by a humble, polite American who was actually interested in a foreign language and the culture.
English is a very tonal language but tones are in phrases, not words. American English is especially tonal. When I was studying Thai, it was actually taught with English tones.
In Thailand and in Japan as white man who speaks a local language becomes less interesting than one who does not. Eventually he becomes a nuisance for the local population. I am glad that things are better in China.
Now, what's with the visas? Do they not extend them anymore?
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
So by these posts, are you just venting that you didn't get the return you thought you would on all the hours you spent learning other languages, or do you think not bothering to learn the language is literally the right thing to do? In any case, you are making me feel better because I seem to have the usual Anglo instinctive subconscious refusal to learn other languages.
You seem to be thinking of "intonation", which is a different thing and which I tried to teach, without much success. It seems to be something people have to pick up subconsciously.
In certain countries which experienced a large influx of Anglos for decades or centuries- and Anglos with money, a deep seated perception was established that Anglos are monolingual rich people who come from a far away land of promise. The locals, over decades, developed a certain stratum of women whose dream would be to meet and marry such an Anglo and go live in that rich land ever after. For that, they study English to learn about that mythical creature's fascinating culture and to finally meet such a great hero. The image has been there for a long time. When you arrive and try to fit in, you are seen as weird and that stratum of people who are fascinated by Anglo foreigners no longer finds you interesting. You are an aberration. And the rest of society has no interest in foreigners period.
Am I venting? Yes. Years wasted on nonsense. Watching lanky tall Brits walking around like they owned the place, with locals tip toeing behind them like so many puppies made my blood boil. They did not speak a word of the language.
Now, granted most places are not like that, but Thailand and Japan are. And the Philippines to a lesser extend.
Nothing like this in most of Latin America except maybe Puerto Rico. There, they expect you to speak Spanish. It was such a relief to be there. And its good that China is the same way. Don't know how Russia is because they talk to me in Russian and I guess they talk to everybody in Russian. It's Russia after all. But the substratum is still there and it is usually a very wide river to swim in.
To answer your question # 2: I had a Thai book that compared English intonations to Thai tones one by one, and they were very similar. It was in ingeneous device and helped me a lot.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
I use English intonations a lot. I guess only native speakers are aware of them.
I guess they're useful with Chinese tones, but the trouble is that the Chinese words are so short it takes a lot of practice to fit a tone in as well.
The easiest way to learn the tones is to just live in China, then you'll pick them up eaily enough. Although Guangzhou is a terrible place for learning Mandarin - today the people on the bus were speaking some sort of Wu dialect, and downtown it's still very much a Cantonese stronghold.
More foreigners here at the moment because of the Canton fair, but foreigners are still so rare that most Chinese have never spoken to one - same in Japan.
Chinese women like it that I'm learning Chinese. It really impresses them. Men hate it because they know they won't be able to scam me - if I know the language then I'll know exactly how much everything costs here.
There's a huge craze for learning English in China. It's a national obsession. Really it all comes down to money - English speakers can earn more of it. Walking round the bookstore in the English learning department is a very strange experience.
On the visas, well it's a pain in the ass to get a Chinese visa now - you generally can't get a visa unless you have flights booked, a University course application letter, a job offer or you know somebody already living here. Plus they're a real nuisance about where you can live etc. etc.
This is music to the ears of the other SE Asian countries as Vietnam, Thailand and the Phillies have huge opportunity to take China's manufacturing off of them. All they need to do is slash red tape, taxes and make it easy for the smart people of the world to live there.
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