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  • Wǒ huì shuō zhōngwén yīdiǎn dian...

Wǒ huì shuō zhōngwén yīdiǎn dian...

Hi everybody!

I'd like to share with you how I learn to speak Chinese.


First of all, sorry for my english, I'm part of those who used the "minitel" to enroll in the baccalaureate... if you see what I mean (very few ways to learn informaly).

Résultat de recherche d'images pour




It started in 2011 when I decided to move to China with my "ex"boyfriend and this is an important detail in my learning process; you will understand why! ^^.

It was his will to go there to work. For my part, I wanted to expatriate for a long time but I felt more attracted by latin culture and South American countries since I already knew spanish. I didn't know nothing about China but I considered this as a good opportunity to change my way of life.

I first found a job of teacher in an international French school in Wuhan and in July 2011 I took my first flight to Wuhan, a little town of 12 millions of people...surprised

My "ex" (who wasn't really benevolent), hadn't waiting me. He was already there and had already find a knew chinese secret girlfriend. Here is the moment you understand why it's an important detail; I had nobody to help me to live a chinese daily quiet life. So I had to learn quickly chinese if I wanted to eat, move in the town, go to work, pay my bills...It was a question of survival!

It is in these kind of moments that intrinsic motivation trigger an incredible efficiency to learn. What happened in my mind was: "ok, come on Sophie, you're alone, in China, you know nobody, you can't speak chinese, you can't read chinese and you're hungry. Let's open this funny little book called "le chinois sans peine" that you bring carefully from France!laughing".

Le Chinois Sans Peine   de philippe kantor  Format Broché

That was the first reason I started to learn chinese in a formal way: reading and using language methods, having lessons of chinese with a private teacher.

I improved my chinese very quickly since I directly use what I had learn immersed in everyday Chinese life.

It was sometimes very funny because I badly accent the words; chinese people laughted a lot...


I finally found informal way to learn as watching TV shows, using games apps/taxi apps...

Sometimes French expatriates used funny informal way of learning like using french sentences to memorize chinese sentences; for example "douche à l'eau tiède" to memorize" Duōshǎo qián?" which means "Combien ça coûte?".

I could talk about my chinese experience for hours on end...

再见 Zàijiàn!


  • Amelie Cailliez 18/11/2019

    Sophie, thank you so much for this article. 

    I reminded me of my first words in Russian. I remember that I was playing Twister with my guest family in Dnepropetrovsk, and I could not dissociate "hand" (ruka) and "leg" (noga). So I decided to associate "noga" with "gambette" and …. It worked ! I remembered it and never forgot. 

    Yes, I think the "douche à l'eau tiède" trick is not so stupid. We are alone in our head (I hope so) so we can use whatever trick we want to learn vocab :)

    You're not the oly one who is laughed at because of accentuation. I have the same problem with Russian. But, people's laugher doesn't help me to learn.

    For instance, I know that the word "spiski" may mean "lists" or "from my sealed", dependig on where you put the stress. And I cannot remember where to put the stress ! I Simply remember several times people laughing at me, but it does  not help me to remember why  and to correct myself. 

    On the contrary, Mr Sockett's papelard happened only once ! After having been laughed at, he managed to correct himself ! Why ?

    What do other people think : Does ridiculous help you to progress or not ?