Since I’m going to be in Beijing for about two weeks on my own before the second part of my trip, my boss suggested that I get the Rosetta Stone program for learning Mandarin. Yippee! I thought, since I’m a dork and think languages are fun.
The premise of Rosetta Stone is that it directly associates the image with the concept, rather than going the route of translations. For example, it says the word for “woman” while showing you a picture of a woman. Same with “man,” “boy,” “girl.” Then cars, animals, colors, numbers. It seems so straightforward.
But I started getting things wrong that I was really really sure were right. I squinted, stared a little harder at the screen, and realized: the picture that I thought was a man was actually an unflattering photo of a woman. That cute little boy? Actually a cute little girl with a short haircut. And so on. Enter Complaint No. 1: if you’re going to have me associate words with pictures, make sure the pictures are clear.
Complaint No. 2: sometimes it takes me a little while to figure out what I’m supposed to be associating with the picture. In those moments, I really just want a dictionary so I can look it up. Oh, and I want to know how to use the dictionary when the same syllable (e.g. liang) can be pronounced with different tones and take on all sorts of different meanings. Oh, and I want tips for pronouncing Pinyin, so I can more logically associate what I hear with what I see.
Or maybe I’m just being picky. I’m learning, right? Which is cool, because I’m a dork. One who’s very excited about going to China.