Like any other foreign language learner I make LOADS of mistakes when I try to talk in my very broken Chinese.
Some mistakes are just bad – getting a tone wrong or messing up the pronunciation of a word – but there are others that I think are actually great mistakes to make.
Let me explain.
Yesterday I was trying to recount to my Chinese tutor a situation where I wasn’t being loud enough for someone to hear me but I didn’t know the word for “loud” so instead I used “noisy”.
She had a laugh, knew what I was trying to say and taught me the word for loud.
The reason this makes me happy is that in my long journey climbing the mountain of Chinese – I am still somewhere below that “breaking through the clouds” moment people talk about but constantly get addictive glimpses of the world above – I’m finally at a point where I can find an alternative (if very imperfect) way to say something rather than just asking “how do you say XX”.
These kind of mistakes make me realise how far I have come (unlike the mistakes where I mess up tones/pronunciation/fail to understand words I already know when somebody says them that make me feel like I’m taking 100 steps back to every 1 step forward!)
Happy mountain climbing!