Time in China: +1 year
Chinese Level: Intermediate (HSK 4)
Other Languages: Spanish (native), English, French, Portuguese
GoEast Teacher: Winona 刘科含
Favorite Chinese Phrase/Word: 瓜田李下 (guā tián lǐ xià) you don’t have to put yourself in a suspicious situation, don’t look like a suspicious person
What is your goal in learning the Mandarin Chinese language?
I want to be a China specialist and work with China so learning some Chinese will benefit my career. I would like to speak it with some degree of fluency. To be able to talk with people, not very deeply but not so superficially. To have a 10-minute conversation.
It’s already helped me more in daily life. I can connect with people in the street better and understand a little bit of what’s going on around me. But I would say I still can’t have a normal conversation or even understand a [university] class.
What’s the hardest part of learning Chinese and how do you study it?
It’s a very difficult thing. Maybe it’s not the hardest part but memorizing all the hànzì (characters) is very difficult. I am very visual so I copy hànzì (characters). That it is the main part of my learning but I complement it with some exercises, writing words. I also listen to Chinese language podcasts every day and watch a lot of TV shows in Chinese. I don’t understand them but I make an effort.
What advice can you give to new Chinese language learners?
贪小失大 (tān xiǎo shī dà) when you’re ambitious with only small things, you end up losing a lot.
First of all, don’t get disappointed or demotivated because it’s really slow but you progress and you get there. I don’t know if I will really be able to have a good level of Chinese, if I will ever be fluent but I do my best and I struggle and I take all the HSK [levels] I can. I don’t think it’s a language that you can half study. You do it or you don’t. And it’s a commitment to do it for your whole life because if you stop it you will forget it. I cannot stop.
Why did you choose to come to China and learn Chinese?
China, we all know, it’s growing and becoming a more and more important country in economics and culture. In Latin America there is a lack of specialists, of people that know the culture, the language. So my aim is basically to be a specialist in China and to be this kind of bridge, 友谊桥 (yǒuyì qiáo).
I went to Brazil to do my master’s degree. I was not even interested in China at all but back then I had a supervisor who was a great, great professor of developing economics. He started to perceive China’s rise and growth and how it affects the way Latin American countries think about their development process. So this is my area. There is a moment that you just get the virus and you cannot stop. You just want to go and go and [learn] more and more and then I’m here doing a PhD.
What do you want people to know about China?
In the last 10 years maybe, China started to be a subject that appears in the news. It’s very present in the media there is a lack of interest of common people in spite of the perception that something’s going on. I think the language is a barrier but that could be overcome through English. The main barrier is the distance and the culture and lack of communication. I would like to work on this, to improve communication, understanding, and to raise the level of compassion. But it won’t be easy at all.
I am very passionate about what I do and about China because I think there’s something new and something amazing going on here, something that really will change the world.