I didn’t make any specific goals for October, and since it’s getting close to the end of the year, this post is going to be about how I’ve stacked up to my goals for the year.
My goal for spoken Chinese this year was to take Thought and Society at MTC starting in the Winter term. Well, I’m taking it this term (Fall), so that goal is very much accomplished. What I find funny is that I wrote that everyday colloquial speech should be no problem by this point. That is most certainly not the case. I’ve written some posts recently about what I’m doing on this front, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
I wrote that reading Chinese was more of a priority for me, and that is exactly how I’ve approached studying this year. My reading skills are a good bit beyond my oral skills, with listening and writing somewhere in between. My goal was to start The Independent Reader, and I have. I’m not currently using it, but I will be studying it one-on-one with a tutor after this term ends. At this point, I’m also able to read essentially anything in my field, and I can handle newspapers fairly well when the topics don’t get too specialized (I’m not so great with economic and business news, for example).
My goal for 文言文 was to read “a good portion of the Four Books 四書 and the Guwen Guanzhi 古文觀止”. My eyes were a little too big for my stomach, it seems. Or maybe I was just too lazy about this. I have read maybe two dozen selections from 古文觀止, and a few excerpts from 四書, but not as much as I would have liked. I’m finishing Shadick over the next few weeks, then moving on to the 古代漢語 series by 王力, focusing on the first two volumes, which are all Han dynasty and earlier. I’ll also continue with the high school 國文 reader I have (文言文40篇大探索), though 古代漢語 will get priority. During my MA, I plan to devote some time to continuing through 古代漢語 and 古文觀止, but they will be lower priority than my graduate work, obviously.
My goal as far as preparing for graduate school was to finally decide upon a field, then get ready to apply. My intention was to apply to MA programs in the US, but I’ve since decided to do my MA here in Taiwan, which will be cheaper, improve my Chinese immensely, and (I’ve been told) look really good on my PhD applications. I also have much easier access to primary and Chinese-language secondary sources here, as well as some renowned scholars in the field. Oh, and that field is pre-Han palaeography. I’ll likely be focusing on 戰國文字 for my MA thesis.
Other goals were to find some students (done) and to start playing chess again (failed). The tutoring I do pays for my tuition and costs of building up my collection of books in my field several times over, but I sometimes wonder if I’ve taken on too many students. The load will lighten up a bit in 2013 though, and I’ll likely keep it that way. Chess is a distant memory, unfortunately, but hopefully one day I’ll make the time to pick it back up.
I haven’t ironed my goals out for the coming year yet (it’s still early!), but they definitely include learning some Taiwanese and Japanese. I also have a list of books I want to read and classes I want to audit before I start my MA next fall, and I’ll be focusing heavily on speaking and writing over the next year. I also plan, especially once my tutoring load lightens up, to watch a lot more TV and movies in Chinese, and in general to absorb more of the culture here. Hopefully I’ll also have time to go out with Taiwanese friends more often rather than always teaching or studying. We’ll see.