大家好· Hello everyone, time flies at 北大 (BEIDA acr. For Peking University)!
My first week of classes went by in the blink of an eye and was packed with lectures, Chinese character dictations and homework. The current level that I am studying Chinese at PKU is called 水平二 (Upper Beginner) for both spoken and written Chinese – 汉语口语 & 汉语起步篇. Most people in this level have been studying Chinese for about 2-4 years in university or high school back in their home country.
We have three types of classes every week, 8 hours of speaking class, 8 hours of character writing and reading class as well as our elective, which is 听力 (listening comprehension) in my case. The classes are spread out over the week between 8 AM in the morning until 5 PM in the evening and are instructed by experienced Chinese teachers at the school of Chinese as a second language.
My teachers are very engaging and highly motivated to improve our Chinese levels, they focus their teaching on the correct application of grammar constructions, pronunciation of tones, writing characters with the right stroke orders as well as reading comprehension with texts from our textbooks. All core classes are instructed in Chinese, the 老师 (teacher) usually only uses a few words or phrases in English when it comes to grammar constructions or new vocabulary if the class doesn’t understand the Chinese explanation. This has been challenging for me, especially in the first week of classes, as I previously have not intensively exposed myself to the Chinese language in this context.
Being in this Chinese-language focused environment for the past two weeks has already tremendously improved my listening comprehension and character writing speed level. However, it has also made me realize how much there is yet to learn in spoken and written Chinese. While fluency （流利）seems unattainable at times, meeting non-Chinese students with amazing Chinese language skills on campus definitely proves that it is possible to achieve fluent spoken Chinese in a couple of years.
As with every language, I find the progress speed depends on the intrinsic motivation and effort of the student to improve and challenge language boundaries on a daily basis. My motivation to learn Chinese is based on many different reasons, one of them is to communicate with my Chinese-speaking friends in their native language and understand more cultural insights of the traditional Chinese culture. To explore the traditional parts of the city, I decided to join the school trip to Beijing’s summer palace – 颐和园. What an amazingly beautiful park, view across the city and impressive architecture we got to see that day.
I am looking forward to the next week at 北京大学！