Zuotian (yesterday) was tough. I was presented with many roadblocks and felt stalled each step of the way. I was five minutes late to my Mandarin class and thought that I wouldn't absorb much. In addition, the format to the platform, Mandarin Cafe, where I review all my notes was completely changed and the app is temporarily not working. I wasn't able to review as much as I wanted, felt unprepared, and was worried that I'd disappoint my teacher. To my surprise, it was one of my most productive classes since beginning lessons in March.
Today, I learned dates; in Mandarin, the date starts big and gets smaller. That is to say, when you say the day, you start with the year, followed by the month, date, and finish with the day of the week. I quickly connected this to how the Chinese share addresses; they start with country followed by city, neighbourhood, and finally street address. My title today, 今天是二零一八年八月十号星期五, is actually the date (literally, today is 2018 year, 8 month (August), 10 day, Friday). I recognized elements of the character, 天 (tian); it contains 大 (da; big) and was told that the addition of the line at the top meant 'sky', since the sky is so big. The same character, 天, can also mean sky. I knew this since it is the first part of one of my students' name: Tian Xiong. I was really excited to make the connection to my professional life, and something that seemed to be out-of-context.
My teacher, laoshi Liu, and I discussed birthdays and Chinese horoscopes. I was born in the year of the horse (马, ma), so I could tell others, wo shu ma (I belong to horse).
Before class ended, I wanted to share with laoshi Liu a sentence that I'd prepared from the vocabulary that I'd learned last week: zuótiān xià le fēicháng dà de yǔ (yesterday it rained a lot; literally yesterday it very big rained). What made the phase special for me was that it incorporated what I learned from the previous class, but also that it was true and an authentic use of the language.
I fully appreciated that yesterday I was able to practice the four language domains of reading, writing, speaking, and listening, but that I incorporated characters, not just pinyin, in my learning.
Liu. “Yesterday.” Unit 5 - Lesson 1. 1-on-1 Part-Time Mandarin Course, 9 Aug. 2018,
Beijing, That's Mandarin.
That’s Mandarin Co. Ltd. “Mandarin Café.” Learn Smarter Chinese, 1.63.0, That’s Mandarin
Co. Ltd., https://new.mandarincafe.com/app/#!/home.