On my way into work this morning, I passed by a mini poodle on a park bench. It was white with hot pink dyed onto the tips of its ears. For some reason, even though I've seen it a hundred times, hearing the owner speaking Shanghainese with the dog caught my attention. I was reminded of how really great it is that there are so many languages in the world. It really is a simple sign of how wonderfully diverse the world is. Learning a language can be a great view into the culture and modes of thinking of a place.

Well, anyways, upon seeing this poodle, the idea popped into my head that it would be really fun to have a video podcast of people from around the world telling their dogs to "sit" in their native languages. Maybe future revs could include "shake" and "rollover." Not sure what this would serve other than pure entertainment. Maybe these international dogs can show the way to peace. Er, yeah, world peace.

June 17, 2005 at 09:59 AM in Chinese Language | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Had my first session with a new Chinese tutor last night. It made for a long day, studying for about two hours after work and the long commute. But it was definitely a lot of fun.

Jessie is our friend David's tutor and she came highly recommended. She studied international business here in Shanghai and is about to work for a bank, so her vocabulary is great. We zipped through most of one of the books that my last tutor, Daniel, suggested I buy. Then we went through about 1/3 of a list I'd drawn up of terms that we're using English for in a lot of meetings. We're concentrating on the speaking and listening, and I'll practice my writing independently. My goal is to be able to deliver in Chinese a few of the presentations that I'm currently using English for. A bit lofty, I know, especially with my b-school readings, but I'm confident I can manage.

In the other room, Angie was meeting with Jessie's friend Amy. Angie's working mostly on extending her vocabulary, which is already great, and viewing her sessions as just more conversation practice time. Amy's younger, and maybe less experienced, but she knew her way to Angie's heart by bringing over a few hip Chinese magazines to supplement Angie's goals.

We both have heard all the stories of increased marketability with Mandarin fluency. It's not just the number of opportunities, but also the quality. Up til now, a lot of expats had unique work and educational experience that could get them over the language hump [myself a case in point], but I think we'll see an increasing trend of localization of management, even at the Chinese rep offices and subsidiaries of MNCs. So we're investing now, not with the idea that we'll quickly be able to compete with native speakers on language alone, but with the idea that we'll keep creeping ahead of the curve. Besides at 50rmb for 90 minutes, what excuse can you drudge up?

June 17, 2005 at 06:42 AM in Chinese Language | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack