My Chinese tutor is very lovely (as my Chinese friends say). To make some snap judgements, she is a traditional Chinese girl. Her frame is feeble and her speech is slight and delicate. She wears high heels, light pastel skirts, and blouses, …yes I do mean blouses. She wears pretty things in her hair like headbands and small barretts. She doesn’t wear make-up and she has had a serious boyfriend for two years. She’s honest and direct about appearances. I asked her if her room-mates were pretty, and she responded that only two of them are pretty and the other 2 are hard-working.
In our study time, she is incredibly patient and careful not to use complex words. When she does introduce new words, she explains them using simple Chinese words that I already know; this is a skill that I would do well to model in the future.
We meet 2 afternoons a week for two hours. Usually, we speak in Chinese for nearly the entire 2 hours. This is a mental work-out for me especially since my vocabulary is limited. I circumlocute almost everything I say. Instead of saying the store’s name, I have to describe what I bought at the store and where the store is located. Instead of saying what I bought at the store, I have to describe what the thing does that I bought at the store, and so it goes. By the end of our time together, I have few coherent thoughts remaining in Chinese. It’s like I’m playing a game of scrabble only in this case, the game pieces are Chinese words instead of English letters. I have only so many words in my head. In order to be coherent, I have to work those words in such a way my tutor will understand. It’s challenging, but also incredibly addicting.