I’m sitting in the Melbourne International Airport waiting to check in for my flight to Hong Kong. I’m sitting here in that familiar feeling airport chair taking a quick final Mandarin lesson on my laptop. How is it that all airport chairs feel this way? Sloping up slightly as the chair reaches for your knees but never quite makes it, the lumpy cushioning for your back and the cold of the plastic arm rests. No matter where I am in the world I never quite feel this way unless I’m sitting in a chair just like this, it’s the feeling of adventure!
I have a conspiracy theory that all airports buy these chairs from the one manufacture, probably named “Experiential Chairs” or something. In my mind, airports want to create an experience that your always going to associate with flying, and though everyone does different things in the airport, everyone at some time will sit on a chair. Once you’ve sat on the same chair in enough airports you only associate this feeling with adventure, and the mission is complete. I know the whole theory would be debunked if it were possible to find this chair and buy it from anybody else, but if I ever do find it, its bloody mine.
Anyway, still taking this Mandarin lesson, this time being introduced to ordering multiple things from the menu. Such as “I want two beers” rather than, “I want a beer.” It’s a small change but damned if it doesn’t make it way tougher, why does this small change affect so much of the sentence? Argh.
I can actually credit most of my successful learning to … and you won’t believe it… Chinese Sesame Street! I found it online and boy is it amazing, it’s made the world of difference. I watched a TED talk about learning languages and the speaker talks about “language deafness” which is the theory that when learning a language there are lots of sounds you literally can’t hear, because the brain filters out sounds it deems unnecessary. There are all these sounds around us every day that the brain puts through it’s filter and deletes, and foreign sounds in language are included.
He therefore recommends watching movies in the language you want to learn, however adults speak far to quickly. I find Elmo speaks at just the right speed, so on the day I credit my Mandarin Chinese knowledge to saving the world (it could happen!) I will credit Elmo as my Sensei. (Yes sensei is Japanese but hey, I don’t know the word in Mandarin yet.)
So in the spirit of Sesame Street I’m gonna get off my amazing adventure chair and go find some cookies, if you’d like to know how to find Chinese Sesame Street or any of the other materials I’ve been using to learn Mandarin, please message and I can hook you up.
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