September 11, 2020 at 3:38 am #8736MandarinMonkeyKeymaster
My journey started after being in a soul destroying sales managements role. My team where responsible for outgoing sales calls into the EMEA region and all of them could speak multiple languages. Me on the other hand, got an F in my French at school, could say a few things in Spanish and count in German. But generally didn’t have much interest in languages up until that point.
I was green with envy, listening to my team speaking in Arabic, Welsh, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Dutch, German and Japanese. After discussing with them about their own motivations for learning I decided I am going to do the same. But didn’t want to do any of the languages already covered by the team. So went with Chinese. Was always told Chinese is the hardest language to learn and was well up for the challenge.
I made some pretty big decisions after this point, including selling all my things, renting my house out and moving to China. I got myself a private teacher who would come to my house or I hers for two hours every week to study Chinese and started saving for the big move. My Chinese teacher at the time, convinced me that if I wanted to experience real Chinese culture I should go to Taiwan. Felt a bit counter intuitive at the time but I totally get it now.
I changed my Chinese moving idea to Taiwan and started the plan. I was going to go out there for as long as my visa would allow and study as intensively as I could. My visa would only allow 90 days, so I might have to do what’s called a visa run and jump over to Hong Kong to get stamped out of the country and then return the next day to get stamped back in.
I landed in Taiwan and immediately found a Chinese school that my Teacher back in the UK recommended and booked 6 hours per day for 3 months with them. I will tell you that this was a very expensive thing to so, and was only made possible by me selling my car and motorbike (sales job allowed me to afford these things but I lost sleep, relationships and hair in the process).
By the end of my three months my visa was about to expire when per chance and as if by fate I got an email from a contact I made back when I was studying and doing my 140 hour TEFL course. A Taiwanese man with the English name Bryan contacted me and asked if I wanted a job in Taichung started the following week. All I needed to do is go and interview and bingo I could start. This would also allow me a 1 year ARC working visa. The choice was obvious. Also, because my money had started to run out.
Little did I know that this decision would also find me a married man with a litter of children within the next 5 years.
I moved to Taichung and continued my intensive studies. This time with several different teachers but within the same language company. Each teacher had their own style of teaching which was both interesting and irritating. Some teacher would not explain when I asked why and others would speak only Chinese without question so I became very frustrated and didn’t grasps certain concepts quickly.
It was only after I had started to gather regular speaking partners and had met Ula that my language ability increases. When we met, both our grasps on the spoken side were basic. So we had to struggle through some very difficult conversations. But once breaking through the walls and plateaus it was a great relief.
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