[quote=“bismarck”]I received a letter from my cable company, which I couldn’t quite read. My Chinese reading is not quite at a point yet that I am functional, but it is getting closer. So, I showed it to a Taiwanese coworker.
“Would you mind telling me if this note from my cable company is a bill, which needs to be paid, or, is it a receipt for last month’s payment?”
She looked at the note a long time and finally said. “This is about your TV.”
“No, it’s about my cable.”
“It is from the company which provides cable to your apartment.”
“Yes, I know. I already told you that. I just need to know, is this a bill or a receipt?”
“If you wish to cancel the cable, you need to call this number.”
“Uhm, hum.” I said, hoping she would get to the question I actually asked, as opposed to the one she wished I had asked.
“Do you want me to help you call this number and cancel your cable?”
“No, I don’t want to cancel. I just want to know if I need to go pay this.”
“This can be paid at 7-11.”
“Yes, I know. I do all my bill payments at 7-11, as does everyone else in Taiwan. But I still don’t know if this is a bill.”
“There is a 7-11 in front of our office.”
“Yes, there is.”
“Do you want me to go with you to pay it?”
“So, this is a bill?” I asked for confirmation. My coworker just smiled. Vowing, once again, to never try and get Chinese information from a local again, I walked across the street, and handed the letter to the 7-11 guy.
“You already paid this.” He said, instantly. “It’s a receipt.”
The coworker who I showed the bill to is a Taiwanese English teacher with years of experience, and a vocabulary of thousands of words. Why couldn’t she communicate at all? Why couldn’t she engage in a meaningful two-way dialogue?..[/quote]
Bloody hilarious bismark. I will use that as teaching material. Really.
My wife is Taiwanese and is “never” “nice” to service staff in Taiwan. Never. It embarrasses me but works for her. She gets what she wants the first time and if they wander off mentally she brings them back round to it pronto.
As a teacher I am sometimes a little like her. Perhaps the following dialogue might prove instructive:
Me: The secret to language learning is easy, interesting “listening” practice. The material can get become more advanced as you improve but it should remain easy essentially because “for your level” it is easy. You need to “listen” a lot.
Them: My English teacher from the ever so prestigious university says I need to study grammar.
Me: What structure was that last senetence?
Me: What structure, 1,2,3,4 or 5?
Me: The five basic sentence structures. You don’t know the five basic sentence structures? That is odd. I can promise you that the five basic sentence structures are about all you have ever heard. Here they are…
- Subject + Intransitive verb (v.i)
(Zhu3ci2 + bu4ji2wu4 de dong4ci2.)
For example: Fish swim.
- Subject + Transitive action verb (v.t.) + Object.
(Zhu3ci2 + ji2wu4 de dong4ci2 + shou4ci2.)
For example: I eat fish.
- Subject + Be Verb + Noun
(Zhu3ci2 + Be dong4ci2 + ming2ci2)
For example: I am a man.
- Subject + Be Verb + Adjective
(Zhu3ci2 + Be dong4ci2 + xing2rong2ci2
For example: I am fat.
- Subject + Linking Verb + Adverb Phrase of Time or Location.
Zhu3ci2 + Be dong4ci2 + shen2me5 shi2hou5 hai2shi4 zai4 na3li3 de fu4ci2 ci2zu3)
We are in Taipei.
In structures number one and two the subject performs the action of the verb.
(Zai4 di4-yi4 he2 di4-er4 ge jie2gou4 zhu3ci2 biao3xian4 dong4ci2 de dong4zuo4.)
In structures 3,4 & 5 the subject is described by the rest of the sentence.
You can transform these senetnces through: addition, subtraction, substitution or transformation from one verb tense to another, from statement to question or from active to passive.
If you think this is wrong give me an example of a sentence that is not made in this way.
Them: I can’t. Anyway, why are you telling me this?
Me: Because, as an English teacher, I won’t be dismissed causally, not when the topic under discussion is language learning. I’ve been a fairly serious teacher and student of languages for fifteen fucking years. If I tell you that the secret to language learning is easy, interesting “listening” practice then the secret to language learning is easy, interesting “listening” practice. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that I don’t give a shit what the professor from the famous university says.
Them: But my other teacher says language learning is all about communication.
Me: It is but you can’t communicate if you aren’t “listening”. You can’t learn anything if you aren’t “listening”. Language “is” sound. How the hell could you learn it without “listening” to it and understanding what it means?