NATALIE & RAGNAR
When and why did you start learning Chinese?
We started learning Chinese last NZ Chinese Language week on Duolingo. We got inspired to learn a language together. We have kept our daily challenge going since then pretty much consistently on our language app. We’ve done 234 days. We decided we would learn Chinese Mandarin because it was something we both wanted to start from scratch and I already speak some European languages so this was a bit of a challenge for us.
What is the best thing about learning Chinese?
Natalie: The best thing about learning Chinese Mandarin nowadays is that there are so many videos and apps to help with pronunciation – everything is bite sized which is great for us to fit into our daily routine! I am excited that I have already been able to pick out individual words and phrases when watching my favourite wushu movies like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.
Ragnar: The best thing about learning Mandarin is that you can speak another language, you can understand people when they are speaking Chinese and you can pick our characters in restaurants and signs.
What opportunities have you gained because of your Chinese learning?
Natalie: Learning Mandarin has given me the opportunity to make friends in my community with Chinese New Zealanders whilst practising the new phrases of the week. I have travelled globally using my other 6 languages for audit so I hope that one day I will be fluent enough to work in China for an assignment. There are so many great opportunities out there that I wish I was a student again!
I also want to visit China again.I have visited Beijing and Langzhou, Gansu province for work and have fond memories of steamed lychee rice. I would love to be able to order for myself in China and travel around to see famous sites.
Ragnar: The opportunities I think learning Chinese will give me is that if I learn enough Mandarin then I can go to China. I’ve watched lots of documentaries about dinosaur fossils in China and I want to go to the dinosaur museum in Shandong and see them in real life. I want to speak Mandarin so I can study in China one day if I’ve learnt enough.
What would you say to other Kiwis who are thinking about learning Chinese?
Natalie: I would say to other Kiwis who are curious about learning Mandarin to go for it – its not as daunting as you think – it’s a very organised and musical language. Just a few minutes a day really does make a difference. Do it as a family, its so beneficial for children to learn a language at a young age and we love learning together and doing role plays and games.
Ragnar: It starts off tricky and then gets easier and easier and easier week after week and then you know it. Also I enjoy picking out words in Chinese from signs and on the back of food packets.
Do you have a favourite Chinese word or expression? Why do you like it?
Natalie: My current favourite expression is “Mei guan xi – No problem” because it’s a phrase I use a lot in English.
Ragnar: My favourite word in Chinese is ping guo – apple - as I love eating apples.