Sunday, November 20, 2005

Field Day

What a fantastic day in the field.

We had a great Chinese/English study. I actually studied ahead and was able to read the questions in Chinese. The problem came when my study answered in Chinese. I could pick out a few words and sometimes got the context, but often missed most of what he said. Fortunately, I had Bill with me who could understand his answers. The best thing is that he was able to ask Chinese questions that he couldn't form in English and Bill could help me.

What an absolute joy it is in the Chinese field.

Dong is such a nice guy too. He asked me if I noticed that he swept the walkway of leaves because he knew we were coming today. I don't think that has ever happened on any of my English studies!

There were several paragraphs where I had Bill take over since I hadn't been able to study those paragraphs ahead of time. It takes me about 10 minutes per paragraph to lookup all the words I don't know, which is shorter than it used to take. It used to take me 30 minutes per paragraph so I'm getting better, faster, or lazier.

Book Study wasn't bad either. Although I had prepared several paragraphs and had my hand up, I didn't get called on. They were looking for the newer students I guess. So I struggled reading through a few verses out loud in the study instead.

It's very strange learning a new language. There are so many fits and starts. I've gone through many peaks and valleys and many plateaus. Plateaus are the toughest because it seems I just can't get past a certain level. Then suddenly, it clicks, and I say: "Yeah, I get it."

It's like being a child in a candy store. I can look up at the grownups talking but I can't understand a lot of what they are saying. I can sometimes make out that they are discussing a type of candy. But because I'm not grown up yet, I can't understand exactly what they are saying about the candy. I just want a piece so badly. I don't have the necessary vocabulary to ask. I can't seem to reach any of them. They are all just too high on the counter for me to get to them. I leave with only the satisfaction of the smell and memory of the chocolate delights.

That's what it's like to learn a foreign language.

The language of truth is simple. -Euripides