William and Mary Law School

Learning Langauges

Dear Readers,

Part of doing international work is speaking an international language.  I will discuss a few languages.  Just some good studying tips.

Mandarin:  I can speak fluently but only write at an intermediate level.  I am trying to bolster my writing level this summer.  It takes about 1,000-1,500 characters to be fluent in writing.  But the tricky part is these characters are often combined to make words or phrases.  Although there are about 1,000 main characters, combinations create 10,000-20,000 words or phrases that an average person needs to know to read a newspaper.  Pretty difficult. 

Some of the best ways to study this language include listening to Chinese/Taiwanese music.  Chinese music tends to be very repetitive.  They repeat phrases over and over. The music is very catchy.  Some of the most popular musicians are Jolin Tsai, Jay Chou, F.I.R., and S.H.E.  Traditional baby lullabies are great for beginners.  

The main method I study Chinese is watching drama series.  Each summer I try to finish a few.  This summer I have already finished Fated to Love You (which I recommend highly), Mysterious Terminator Investigators (which is terrible), and my favorite this summer, They Kissed Again.  The great thing about a drama series is that there are English subtitles and also character subtitles.  By paying attention to the character subtitles you can learn the characters well.  This happens through mass repetition of speech and character recognition. 

The second language I am trying to refresh myself is French.  I am interested in relearning the language so I can grab the French audio for the MOMA (I heard it was better than the English one).  I know geeky.  I started listening to K’maro which is a French rap star (I think he’s a star) and Disney classics to brush up.  It is a lot easier learning a language the second time around.

And lastly, I am learning Japanese from scratch. Japanese has an alphabet (actually two) which makes it easier to start learning.  And Japanese doesn’t involve tones so it is easier to pronounce.  The grammar however is difficult to pick up.  Hopefully I will make decent progress this summer. 

Tony