Wednesday, 1 December 2010

It's been a while....

Wow, is it really over 5 months since my last post here? Disgraceful, no?! Well, I'm still alive and kicking, back in the UK after our almost 13 months away and settling back down.

During our trip to Japan we were grateful for the English menus, photos and plastic models of food (even more so later on in Korea, as our Korean doesn't stretch much further than 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'thank you'!), and we loved this sign in a restaurant window, which proved it's own point.

We loved the willingness of the Japanese and their friendly efforts to help and communicate. We did learn some Japanese before we went, but it was the usual first lessons things such as hirgana and katkana syllabaries, simple greetings, basic grammatical structures (this/that is x, is this x? etc) and a few nouns, so not much help in ordering food. Good old Lonlely Planet phrasebooks were a great help in both countries then, alongisde the pictorial and bi-lingual menus. I always feel ashamed of being unable to communicate properly in the local language, but one has to be balanced really. After all, one can't expect to speak every language and we did make a diligent effort!

Now we're home and are trying to review what we learned at our classes in Taiwan. Sir is going back through our first textbook (which took up half the time we were there), and I'm pressing on with the grammar book I started out there and learning the vocab for the new style HSK 5 exam. There are 2500 items of vocab to be learned and I think I will already know about 2000 of them, so it shouldn't be hard to get the rest under my belt ready for the test itself in May.

I now have my own little study and here are my language books (all except the main Chinese section, which I've had to put in the living room!). No, I don't speak all those languages, but I am interested in them all and know some of many of them. At the mo, I'm really concentrating on the English course you can see on the left hand side of the lower shelf, just left of the sunglasses case. It has a strong element of linguistics and is really interesting. The current section is on the ancient development of English back in the Old English days, when things were written in Runes. Later books deal with learning, using and redesigning English.

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