Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chinese language learning update

OK, I'm back on track, actually studying--and enjoying learning--this crazy, wonderful language.

I've signed up with Chinese Pod ( I'm past the Basic stage and am listening to the Elementary level lessons. One of my favorite learning tools of theirs is Skritter (, which I guess you could call "e-practice" for reading and writing characters. The combination of listening, reading, and writing should help my old-man memory.

As far as speaking, my goal is to force myself to speak to someone, anyone, everyday. I've found a great motivator online who uses the handle Khatzumoto. He runs the site "All Japanese All The Time" (

Briefly, this young man was living and going to school in Utah, had an intense desire to learn Japanese, but had no classes nor native speakers where he lived. So he studied on his own, using Internet resources, movies, music--whatever he could get his hands on. He totally immersed himself in the language. By 2005, after only 18 months of study, he was fluent enough to read technical material, conduct business correspondence, and have job interviews in Japanese. He landed a job as a software engineer at a large Japanese company in Tokyo, where he still lives today.

This guy is amazing; yet, he'll be the first to tell you that what he did is not amazing, that anyone can learn any language with enough desire, motivation, and, most of all, fun. Not only is he a great motivator, but his writing is funny as hell!

So, most every morning I've been visiting the breakfast shop near by apartment, ordering a different menu item in order to 1)practice my Chinese, and 2) enlarge my repertoire of Taiwanese cuisine.

This morning I got 吉士豬排堡 Jí shì zhū pái bǎo. I already knew that 豬排 is a pork patty, and 堡 means it comes on a bun, but my handy dictionary translated 吉士 as "custard." Eww. So I took the plunge and ordered it, and was pleasantly surprised. Turns out that the pork patty is breaded and stuffed with a thin slice of ham and cheese. Delicious.

UPDATE: I found out that 吉士 can be pronounced almost like "cheese" in English, hence its use in this dish. This "ham-and-cheese-stuffed" dish is also known to as 藍帶 lán dài "blue ribbon", referring to the French style cordon bleu. I just love when pieces of language all come together!

Chinese....onward and upward! 加油!

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