Today's Student Updates from the Beijing Academy!

Read today's student posts from the Beijing Academy.

July 15, 2016

Read today's student posts from the Beijing Academy!



At the beginning of the month long program, all of the students are required to fill out and sign a number of different forms, promising to accept and abide by the MMLA ‘s rules and regulations. One of the documents is the language pledge.

After a student turns in the language pledge, they are committed to only speak Mandarin for the duration of the program. Once you sign the pledge, you feel a mixture of emotions. First, excitement, to a immerse yourself completely focus in on one language. But, secondly, nervousness about not being able to communicate with classmates, teachers, and to uphold the language pledge. However, within the two weeks I have been in Beijing, I can say that my Mandarin has improved. We have been giving many opportunities to practice our communications skills around the city during the daily class excursions and field trips we take part in almost everyday. Our day usually consists of three hours of class in the morning, followed by lunch and a culture class, which could either be calligraphy, Chinese painting or Taichi, and finally our excursion. We have been on several different excursions, where we can practice our speaking skills, such as asking for directions, or ordering food. Today, instead of an excursion, the program went to a park to interact with the elderly people at a park. We were required to ask them a list of several different questions to complete a survey. They were very nice and helped us fill out our survey, by answering our questions. The program has really improved my Mandarin skills this summer.




Today, we went to a park to ask some people some general questions. It took some time, but in the end I got some answers from people, and they seemed to like that park a lot and go there very often. Other people seemed to have gotten answers fairly easily. Later we had the class we usually would have had in the morning and we learned more vocabulary on sports and other things. The food is pretty good because we can choose whatever we want to eat. I don’t really have any expectations for whatever we are going to do next (like always), but I guess they will tell us whatever we are going to do and we will find out soon enough.




Being two weeks into the program, I would have expected that my ability to speak Chinese would have hit a wall and I would have run out of things to say. Yet I have been quite astounded at the power of immersion. Every day I find myself learning not only new vocabulary and grammar structures but I also find that even when I go out into Beijing my confidence to use and attain Chinese is growing at a very noticeable rate. Although I have to say that there are quite a lot of limits to my Chinese, especially when I am speaking to natives of Beijing, as the speed with which they talk is far greater than I can process. Yet I’m even more surprised by how well immersion works when it comes to recalling words. For example, I’ve found myself reading Chinese in all sorts of places and recalling words which I learned even two years ago, and which I would have been unable to recall in a normal classroom setting. As a result of this I think even with the little less than two more weeks to go I will still be challenged exponentially more than I have been, because I have found that the more confident I become with using Chinese, the more difficult the responses are. Yet in short I would have to say that nothing has aided my Chinese ability more than immersion, which has only inspired me to further challenge myself in Chinese, even after leaving this program.  




Another day completed. Another day marked off the calendar. This morning we went to the “Purple Bamboo Garden” so we could get an inside look on how old people live in China. To our utter dismay and astonishment, one of the afore-mentioned elderly folk asked her granddaughter to practice her English with us. As she began with the oh-so-hated “Hello,” Middlebury instructors popped out of the ground and helped us remember the language pledge. After returning from the garden and waiting out the awkward hour and a half before lunch, my class dined on what were basically Chinese tacos while I and the other vegetarian got noodles. I think we all know who got the better end of the deal here. Then, after waiting another hour after lunch, I managed to make the masterpiece I very aptly named, “Two Blobs and Rotting Kelp” in my Chinese Painting class of a pair of sparrows flying by a willow tree. I’m very talented (the teacher only made me start over once!!) Then, in my language class, we learned about old Chinese people and then watched a movie about an old Chinese woman. Gosh, I just can’t wait for tomorrow!

Student Updates from the Beijing Academy! Beijing Academy in the Students' Words Student Logs for July 6th from Beijing!