Post # 1
So I am a super-white Caucasian female who is engaged to a wonderful Chinese man. The FI in questions speaks 4 languages: Mandarin Chinese, a Chinese “dialect” spoken in his birthplace, English, and German (he moved there at age nine).
Since his parents speak mostly Chinese (no English, little German) I decided that the most functional way to communicate with them would be to learn Mandarin. However, I think it is also the most difficult, impossible language in the world to learn! My FI appears to be totally oblivious to the difficulty…he handed me the phone the other day and said, “Here, talk to my mom.” Whoa, now THAT was pressure!
I have been learning on my hour-long commute every day for the past year…and I am NOWHERE near conversational. I have always had a “gift” for languages and by feedback from him and Chinese friends am learning fast, yet according to my experience and research, it will be 2-3 years before I could become close to fluent.
Any other bees feel my pain?
Post # 3
I was going to say I’m trying to learn Spanish for my FI, for the same reason so I can actually communicate with his family, except that I haven’t been studying for an hour every day like you have. 🙁 I need to get off my lazy butt and practice some more. I’m sure Spanish is no where near as hard as Mandarin.
You should probably practice the most common types of conversation topics that are likely to come up at your wedding and reception with your FI’s family, like thanking them for coming, recognizing compliments on your dress, agreeing that you’re very happy and lucky to be marrying your FI, etc. Then at least you’ll be able to hold your own on the wedding day!
Post # 4
FI’s Mom’s family is fluent in Spanish and I’d like to learn. But I haven’t started at all. They speak English (except his grandmother), so its not as high of a priority.
But I want my future children to be bilingual, so I’m going to learn!
Post # 5
Aww I feel for you! I am learning Romanian but have been really lazy about it lately. I want to be able to talk to his Grandma other than to say, how are you? and isn’t it beautiful today? and Happy Easter (Christmas, New years, insert other holiday here).
But Chinese is a really difficult language to learn. I would recommend watching some tv at home with your FI like the news or a drama or something so you can start hearing more of it than just your tape!
Post # 6
My roommate in college was engaged and in a similar situation. To help her learn spanish, she placed post it notes all over our apartment to help her learn the names of general household items.
Her wedding ceremony was actually in Spanish and after a few months of constant practice she got pretty good. Hang in there!
Post # 7
i’m not personally, but my brother married a polish woman. she speaks perfect english, but her parents don’t speak any. she’s been teaching him a little at a time, so he can skype with her parents, but he’s really having a tough time. i can’t even imagine! you’re so brave.
Post # 8
I subscribe to Netflix and have gotten some Chinese movies to help me…but I’ve found out that Chinese movies are waaaaay depressing. I always end up traumatized and crying at the end of them, lol.
I have all this knowledge and vocabulary but then when I try to have a conversation, my mind goes blank!
FI isn’t much help. Since he moved to Germany at age nine, he has a heavy German accent. My friend from Beijing actually told me “Your accent is excellent! Don’t learn from xxx, he has a terrible accent.” So when he tries to teach me something I’m always wondering if it’s right, hahaha.
Post # 9
- Wedding: June 2010 - Ceremony - First United Methodist Church; Reception - My parents' house!
I’ve learned German. I’ve now had two years of courses, and am doing German lit stuff now. It’s stressful, but I like it.
Post # 10
I am! I’m learning Russian. Its a bit slow-going though, but interesting. His mom speaks English quite well but his dad and grandparents, not so much. And I’d like our (future) kids to learn it, but I don’t want them speaking in a language I don’t understand!
Post # 11
[email protected], you are awesome for learning chinese! I’m Chinese American but grew up speaking English at home. All the Chinese I know I learned from 1.5 years in college, but so much of it is lost since I’m too embarrassed to use it. I just don’t have an ear for the tones. It’s pretty awesome that you should be fluent in 4 years without formal classes or immersion, so keep at it!
And yeah, Chinese movies are soooooo depressing. I suggest watching soaps from Taiwan since the vocabulary will be modern and for everyday use.
Post # 12
I took 3 semesters of German in University, and still remember a bit of it. My german is still pretty pathetic but it certainly helped the 3 times I’ve stayed with his Grandparents in Germany who ONLY speak German.
Post # 13
I’m learning dutch. After 4 years I have a “working knowledge” meaning I can do day to day stuff like shopping and ask simple questions and directions. I can read cook books and children’s books too. I’m nowhere near conversational, mostly because everyone speaks english (except his grandma) and I work in an english speaking office.
However, I actually have to prove my fluency to the goverment in the next 3 years to prove I’m properly asymulated into dutch society. So I guess I’m doing it more to keep the govt off my butt than for the FI. 😉
Post # 14
Try chinese podcast. Based on what I have heard they’re super fun. I don’t know how effective they are when it actually comes to learning though. Good luck!
Post # 15
bruintx, where can I find those Taiwanese dramas? Do you have any links that you use?
Props to those of you learning German. My FI casually told me when I was done learning Mandarin I could move on to German….pffffff. German grammar frightens me. At least Mandarin grammar is easy…it’s just the tones and sounds that are tough!
carmel bride, we also want our children to be bilingual…or even multilingual 🙂
Post # 16
[email protected], props to you for trying to learn! Chinese is really difficult for a foreigner to learn (I’m Chinese)! I grew up speaking Cantonese (one of the dialects) but have slowly lost it from just using English, to the point where I am not fluent. I suppose if I applied myself it would be super easy for me to become fluent in Cantonese again and learn Mandarin. I am so impressed when I see a non Chinese person speaking Chinese.
@ldyparadox99 My fiance is Dutch and I just can’t get the G sound!