5 to go?

So tomorrow is the last day of my second term at MTC. Finally. It’s been great; my teacher is wonderful and I love my classmates. But I’m getting to the point that I can’t stand these textbooks. The PAVC series is good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m ready to move on to something more challenging and less cheesy.

As I mentioned before, I did well enough on my test that I was able to skip part of PAVC Book 4. My teacher thought I should be able to skip further though, and so I was given another test to take. I passed, and so next term I’m taking Mini Radio Plays (迷你廣播劇). Most people take Far East Everyday Chinese Book 3 after finishing PAVC 4, but my reading is already beyond that book’s level, while my speaking and listening are lagging behind. Mini Radio Plays is very 口語, so that will help me a lot. Yes, it will still be pretty cheesy, but maybe in a fun way, since it seems like a lot of the plots are really melodramatic. That should make for some good discussion in class.

One of the great things about Mini Radio Plays is that the textbook only contains Chinese. All words are defined in Chinese, and English is only used when absolutely necessary, like when talking about flower names (something like 玫瑰花:花名,英文:rose). It looks like this only happens a few times in the book, so it will be great not to have to rely on some crappy translation into English (really, PAVC editors, you can do better).

Speaking of progress, I’m close to finishing Taiwan Today. I should easily be able to finish by the time the next term starts (March 5th), though my goal was to finish by the end of February. I’m also pretty much finished with Lessons 1-24 of Fuller’s An Introduction to Literary Chinese. That’s only through the end of the Intermediate Texts, while my goal was to finish Lesson 27 in February.

But that’s OK. The lessons very suddenly start to get longer and more difficult in the last few lessons of the Intermediate Texts, but then Lesson 25 (the first Advanced Text) is something like 4 times as long as Lesson 24. I don’t feel quite ready for such long and difficult texts yet, and since Literary Chinese for Advanced Beginners (進階文言文讀本) doesn’t seem all that much more difficult than what I’ve done so far (at least at the beginning of the book), I’m going to use that book as a bridge to the more advanced stuff in Fuller. This book is also 100% in Chinese, which is great.

I’ll also be using MTC’s book Learning Chinese with Newspaper I 讀報學華語(一) as a supplementary book. The first few lessons are pretty easy, but it looks like they quickly get more difficult. One lesson per week from this book should be pretty easy to do next term, and then I can move on to Newspaper II if I want.

As if I didn’t already have enough books to carry around, I’ll also be starting a book series I recently found called Supplementary Chinese Readers. They’re intended to be supplementary to a main classroom textbook (hence the name), and so should be perfect. I’ll be starting from the second book in the series, Chinese Customs and Traditions 中國的風俗習慣. The readings are fairly short and there are a reasonably small number of new vocab words per chapter. Should be good practice, and I’ll hopefully learn something new along the way.

I also intend to use 20 Lectures next term, but not in a big capacity like I had originally planned. It will basically be a little extra work each week, mainly for the purpose of learning some of the historical and cultural vocab in the book. Very much last priority though. So altogether that looks like this:

Main Text: Mini Radio Plays 迷你廣播劇
Self-study (reading): Chinese Customs and Traditions 中國的風俗習慣
Self-study (reading): Newspaper I 讀報學華語(一)
Self-study (speaking/vocab): 20 Lectures on Chinese Culture 中國文化二十講
Literary Chinese: Literary Chinese for Advanced Beginners 進階文言文讀本

Five textbooks! I must be crazy. But really, I don’t think the three self-study texts are going to require the kind of intensive study that Taiwan Today has. The newspaper book might be a little more difficult once I get further along, but still, one lesson per week is a pretty easy pace to keep up. Plus, let’s not forget the goal, right? I need to be able to read really high-level stuff like academic journal articles and books by the time I’m done here. The only way I know of to do that is to cram as much into my head as possible.

This comes with some side effects, of course. My work in class is suffering due to my spending more time with other textbooks than with my classwork/homework. What this really means is that I don’t usually do all of my homework, or if I do, it’s pretty half-assed. My teacher knows what I’m doing though, and I’ve been at the top of my class pretty much every test we’ve had this term, so she’s totally cool with it. It’s not like I’m slacking off. “Can I not do my homework so I can study more Chinese? Oh, and 文言文?” Yeah, she’s cool with it.

In other news, I seem to finally be having some success finding work. I did some CV and cover letter editing for a girl I met last week, and she was so happy with my work that she’s going to be sending her friends my way with their CVs, cover letters, essays, tutoring needs, etc. She’s working on her MBA, so I think there’s the potential for a lot of work here.

So the next term will really be as much an exercise in time management as it is in learning Chinese. In order to have time to do the editing and tutoring work that I need to do to make some extra cash, I have to be really efficient with my studying, and really rigorous with my schedule. I’ve never been a highly organized person, especially when it comes to my time (I’m pretty laid back in real life), so this should be interesting.

I have a full week off before the next term starts to recover from this week (which has been very busy), get everything finalized for next term, and buy a bike. I’m also revising my resume and maybe buying some business cards to make myself look legitimate. Hopefully I’ll have some time to blog, but we’ll see. Next term I probably won’t have tons of time to write here, but I’ll do what I can.