Sorry for my delay in sending this. Please review this material over the weekend and be ready to pick up where we left off.
This past Monday, we again reviewed Lesson 4's Vocabulary and Dialogue, this time proceeding from the Recapitulation instead of the Build-Up. In the vocabulary section, we saw the following, repeated from the last email I sent you 2 weeks ago. Please remember that you can chunk your knowledge for the 43 vocabulary words of Lesson 4 so that in reality, especially once we go over the numbers more in depth on Monday, it will be FEWER items that you actually have to separately memorize:
- First of all, though it appears that we have 43 new vocabulary words, we actually have only 34 new concepts, some of them using multiple possible pronunciations or uses of old or new vocabulary items. If you group this new information properly during your home study time, you will only need to memorize at most 34 new concepts, not 43. You can further group these new vocabulary items into a very limited number of CATEGORIES, as I will try my best to explain below.
- Remember that 1 and 33 are the same word, same usage, but that 33 is with the initial "ng" sound and 1 is after dropping that sound due to "the ng phenomenon" that I have explained multiple times in class.
- 2, 7, 16, 28, 29, 35, 36, and 37 are all numbers that you will need to eventually know, but it will make more sense after next Monday's class, when I will draw a chart of the numbers on the board: first zero, then 1 through 10, and then using the words for 1 to 10, we will construct the Cantonese terms for 11 through 99.
- 4, 25, 26, 27, 38, and 39 are all sentence final particles that we will see in action in various places in the dialogue.
- 5, 21, 34 and 41 are terms related to telling time in 15 minute intervals or on the half hour.
- 8, 9, 10, 13, 19, and 24 are related to 3 different methods of telling time, which we discussed in class this past Monday. These 3 methods are the DAAHP6 + number 1 through 11 SYSTEM, letting us tell time in 5 minute increments (10 after the hour, 25 after the hour, etc.); the GO3 JIH6 SYSTEM (allowing us to do exactly the same thing as the DAAHP6 SYSTEM); and the FAN1 JUNG1 SYSTEM, allowing us to tell the exact time (9:17, etc.).
- The rest of the vocabulary words are related in this lesson to the concept of telling time: watches running fast, slow, ready yet, not ready yet, this kind of stuff. PLEASE MEMORIZE THESE WORDS, AS THEY ARE VERY BASIC TO CANTONESE AND YOU WILL EVENTUALLY NEED TO KNOW ALL OF THESE ITEMS.
Once we reviewed the vocabulary and recapitulation, we broke into Happy Happy Groups and everyone had a chance to run the dialogue with partners. Finally, we briefly went over some pronunciation points on pages 86-87, which is where we will pick up on Monday.
Though I had promised to cover a chart/table of the Cantonese number system from 1 to 99, I did not get to that, so THIS will be the first thing that I write on the whiteboard this coming Monday. Please review the vocabulary, dialogue, and scan forward to pages 92-93 for the condensed explanation that the textbook gives regarding numbers.
Don't worry -- I will make it much more visual for you with a chart that will be very clear and very tidy for you all to memorize. It will be up to YOU to actually memorize the numbers, but I will show you a very clear system to do so using only 11 different words to construct all of the numbers from 1 to 99. We briefly touched on this concept this past Monday, but we will spend more time with it next class.
For your homework, please review work on memorizing the vocabulary from this lesson, and please also review the textbook's explanations of the various pronunciation issues and concerns detailed on pages 86-88.
As I have said before quite a few times, Cantonese is a new language for most of you, and for those of you who did not grow up in a Cantonese speaking household, THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU THIS ENTIRE ACADEMIC YEAR IS SIMPLY THAT YOU START MAKING SOUNDS THAT ACTUALLY SOUND LIKE CANTONESE.
This may seem self-evident, but it is the single most important concept that I can possibly communicate to all of my Chinese students this year -- whether Cantonese or Mandarin students:
Most beginner students of Chinese anywhere in the world quit once they realize that it is very challenging to produce accurate sounds and tones that actually sound like real, spoken, comprehensible Chinese -- especially when coming from English or another Western language as the first language. It is even difficult for Cantonese speakers to make accurate Mandarin sounds and for Mandarin speakers to make accurate Cantonese sounds -- and they are coming from another Chinese dialect as their first language!
At a certain point during all beginner level Chinese studies, the student needs to decide once and for all that he or she WILL open their mouth and produce accurate sounds and tones of spoken [Cantonese, Mandarin, whatever] -- or that THEY WILL DO WHATEVER THEY NEED TO DO in order to make that happen as quickly as possible over the course of the first year or two of study. If the student is not able to get over this initial hump, then no matter how many vocabulary words are memorized and no matter how many hours are spent pouring over textbooks or mp3s or videos or whatever, the student might as well quit and take a cooking class.
IF THE BEGINNER STUDENT CANNOT GET TO A POINT IN 1 TO 2 YEARS WHERE THEY ARE PRODUCING ACCURATE CHINESE SOUNDS AND TONES WHEN THEY OPEN THEIR MOUTHS TO SPEAK, THEN THEY ARE WASTING THEIR OWN TIME AND EVERYONE ELSE'S. THE SOLE PURPOSE OF LANGUAGE IS TO COMMUNICATE, AND IF THE BEGINNING STUDENT CANNOT EVENTUALLY LEARN TO COMMUNICATE WITH NATIVE SPEAKERS IN THE NEW LANGUAGE -- NATIVE SPEAKERS WHO DO NOT ALREADY KNOW THE STUDENT AND WHO DO NOT NECESSARILY CARE ABOUT THE STUDENT OR WHAT HE OR SHE IS SAYING, THEN THIS IS FAILED COMMUNICATION. THE STUDENT MIGHT AS WELL BE BARKING LIKE A DOG OR MAKING CHICKEN CLUCKS, BECAUSE NO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION CAN TAKE PLACE UNLESS AND UNTIL BEGINNER LEVEL STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO REPLICATE THE MOST BASIC SOUNDS OF THE NEW LANGUAGE AT THE MOST BASIC LEVEL OF COMPREHENSIBILITY.
This has been my "Brendan is an asshole" guiding principle of learning and teaching Chinese since first studying at ALESN so many years ago.
Please tell yourself everyday that you need to keep making your sounds more and more accurate until they are within a window of comprehensibility that a native speaker would understand without knowing you in advance. To go back to something I said during your very first class last fall, you want to eventually be able to ask someone where the bathroom is and be understood the first or second time, before you pee and poop in your pants.
Thanks again to all of my dedicated students and see you on Monday,Brendan