Sunday, March 26, 2006

A 50-Word Essay on a Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon, I battled with my private student on persuading him to write an essay for the China Post Writing Contest. He's a 6th grader in elementary school and, in this category, he is required to write within 50 words on the topic "The Future of the Internet".

We already brainstormed last week regarding what can Internet do right now. And we covered from games, news, chatting, shopping etc due to my haggle skills. (So he can play with my Sony PSP for 30 minutes) I asked him to write down the ideas instead of "thinking" as his homework. To my disappointment (but expected), he didn't bring in anything. Since he's a smart kid, we discussed very quickly and moved on the "future" perspective.

He seemed rather surprised when I told him about a GE (or LG? Samsung?) fridge can go online to get the latest shopping info, weather, recipe, nutrition facts etc. I told him, that this is technology. And we started weaving the dream for the future world.

Internet is also about CONNECTING PEOPLE (sounds like a slogan for a cell phone) and making our lives easier, I asked him,
"What do you want the Internet to do for you?" I asked.
"I want the Internet to make me happy." he said with a big smile.
"But... do you know what HAPPY means?" I said.
"Yes, I am a happy boy."

Indeed, as lucky as thousands of other children here in Taipei, he is a happy boy. I'm glad for him. But I felt the urge to discover more regarding happiness with him. I had to ask him,
"What makes you happy? How can you be happy?"
"Play games. Chat with my friends."
"Really!?" I rose my eyebrows.
"Well, I think the best way is being with happy people. And naturally you'll be happy. It's the same logic if you are with unhappy people, you'll be unhappy too." I tried to give him this statement so he can pander on later on.
" Yeah! I think so too." he replied excitedly.

Gosh, I have such a smart student! Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that, it rarely happens that teachers in their daily lives talk about these kind of things with them. And the kids have no way of finding what life is all about through different point of views. Well, he certainly is learning. I'm glad.

Anyway, we finally managed to complete the article. He went from frowning to screaming with joy the moment we finished the essay. We  actually edited loads of words out to its 50-word limit. And God forbid me to put words in his mouth or even write for him. Not that I didn't help, we talked and talked then he I gave him a hint so he just went with it. It was a great relay. We got the essay EXACTLY 50 words. No more, no less.

This is the part I love for being a teacher.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the lesson 5 podcast I heard "ye" at the end of two sentences ("wo e le ye" and "ei you e/ye"). What does it mean and what character is used?

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to type "mei you e/ye"! sorry

9:33 PM  
Blogger JT said...

Hi there!

"ye" (耶) is an expression commomly used when "surprised" or "excited", in some cases, "discouraged". Think of the exclamaion mark. It goes hand in hand with it. And it often reveals a piece of information in it.

Oh, great! (Hao ye!)
Sorry, no more! (Mei you le ye!)
He's back from America! (Ta cong mei guo hui lai le ye!)

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. 耶 a good word to know! I wonder why it's not in my dictionary (word dictionary nor 汉字 dictionary either), but it does show up as one of the options when I type in Chinese. Besides that, I have a few more questions. Is there much of a difference between 差不多,大概,大约,几乎,and 左右? What about 无所谓, 在乎,不反对,and 介意?
What about 看/听起来,似乎,好像?
Also, do 在 and 再 (and maybe 菜?) ever get mixed up/confused?

9:37 AM  
Blogger JT said...

You may say "謝謝摟 (lou1)!" may sound more casual.

"耶(ye5)" is a rather informal usage. Perhaps that's the reason you can't find it. They are used to give emotional expressions ( I can't remember the term in English). You may say:
Your cooking is really delicous! (你煮的菜真好吃耶!)

It reveals your emotions as well as a piece of information "the food is good". There you go. You can try some and let me see if they work.

As for "差不多,大概,大约,几乎" all means "roughly, around, about, more or less, almost" but you might use "大约" when writing. in fact, 差不多 can combine with 左右. For example:
這差不多五百塊(kwai4)左右。(This is around 500 dollars, more or less.)

幾乎(几乎)is nearly, almost, might refer to a bigger ammount of longer period of time. Or it means merely, rarely. Ex:
那幾乎是不可能的事。(It's almost impossible to achieve!)
我忙到幾乎沒有時間睡覺!( I was so busy that I almost rarely had the time for sleeping.)

1:51 PM  
Blogger JT said...

无所谓 doesn't matter (neutral) 晚上要吃什麼我都無所謂(It doesn't matter what you wanna eat for dinner.)
在乎 care (a lot) about sth., mind about sth. (or... give a damn...) 我很在乎我孩子的教育( I care a lot about my child's education.)
不反对 not opposed to, not against to (passively not against to sth) 你要去旅行(luu3 xin2)我不反對( I don't hold against you if you want to go traveling.)
介意 almost same as 在乎 but at a smaller scale. 你介意我抽煙嗎?(Do you mind if I smoke?) 我不介意(I don't mind; It's fine with me.)

看起来 looks like, seems like(from appearance), seems to be(based on the facts) 他今天看起來很沒精神的樣子(He looks (like) drowsy today; He looks lacking of energy today.) 這件事看起來不單純(dan1 chun2)( It is not as simple as it looks.)

聽(听)起來 sounds like (from the sounds, noises, music, voices etc), seems to be(according to some one's words) 他的中文聽起來有北京腔(qang1)(His Mandarin has Beijing accent. He sounds as if he's from Beijing.)
似乎 seems to be, as if, appears to be (more used in writing)
好像 as if, similar to, look alike (more colloquial) 你長得好像你爸爸(You look like your dad) 她好像很開心(She seems to be in a good mood.)

在 (prep.) exist; to be living be present be in the process of indicator or location (in space or time)我住在台北(I live in Taipei.)

再 (adv.) 1.again
2.more; further
3.and then
4.furthermore 請您再說一遍(Please repeat again what you said)

菜 (n.)vegetables (adj.) describes some one's poor skills in something; awful; or may refer to a rookie, a newbie, inexperienced
我喜歡吃蔬菜( I like to eat vegetables.) 他是個菜鳥(He's a rookie. He just joined the company and knows nothing.)

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the meanings of 在, 再 and 菜. But since they sound the same in spoken speech, do the ever get confused? What about 上 and 下, especially on radios and phones?

7:34 AM  
Blogger JT said...

Sorry!! Haven't been checking for a while.

Although 菜(cai4) sounds similar to 在 and 再(both zai4). It's not likely to get confused since they are in totally differnt usage and in different parts of a phrase. However, 在 and 再 are more commenly misused and maybe be confused when writing.

As for 上 and 下(the branch-shaped writing indicating upward and downward best explains themselves), they are both directional words. Hence, when one is familiar enough with the language, they won't be confused. Let's say, would you get confused if people ask you to look "up" or look "down"? I don't know if this example is good though. Shoot more questions if you like. :)

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean do 在 and 再 get mixed up when speaking-- such as confusing "I am studying" with "I'll study again" (maybe that's a bad example)...
With shang and xia, since they both start out with a sound that sounds close to the "sh" sound, and have an "ah" sound following,... they don't ever get confused? Not even on the phone?

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, how is 可不 used?
And how can I connect 2 verbs (for example walk and talk; or even past– listened to CDs and read a book)? Is 边 used by any chance?

7:40 AM  
Blogger JT said...

Nope, nope, you won't get confused with up and down. I hope someone can back me up with this!! :) It's true!! Well, perhaps I'll try it on the next podcast and see if you can tell the differences, how 'bout that?

And 在 and 再, when speaking, mmm..., people just don't think about it. After all, speaking Chinese doesn't involve with too many "phonetical" factors. People simply just say it. The sentences should be formed natrually and within logical terminology. Therefore, people would say either "我正在讀書(I'm studying now)" or "我會再讀一次(I'll read/study again)". So chances are you will put them in different phrases. But when writing is conerned, it depends entirely on one's wiriting abilities.

As for "可不", I can only think of a few situations that one might use:
"可不是嗎?" Isn't it so?
"那可不一定!" Well, it depends.
"可不可以...?" May I...? Could you...?

To put verbs together, same as in English, conjunctions or adverbs are needed.
我邊吃邊喝 I'm eating while drinking.
我又吃又喝 I was eating and drinking.
我有吃也有喝 I ate and drank.
我吃了也喝了 I've eaten and drunk. (I ate and drank.)
我吃...也喝... I eat sth and drink sth.
我不吃...也不喝... I don't eat ... nor I drink...
我想吃...也想喝... I (think) want to eat... and drink...
我要吃...要喝... I want to eat... and I want to drink...
and the list goes on and on I guess. Use it! Or you can tell me how you'd like to put them in a sentence and I can give you better suggestions.

Wan an!

2:01 AM  
Blogger JT said...

Sorry! I need to change :

I've been eating and drinking.

That's better :)

2:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there differences in choice of words between traditional and simplified characters? On my iPod when I set it to traditional characters, some things are different, such as 正在播放in the simplified and 播放中的歌曲in the traditional, or 不要断开in simplified and 請勿中斷連接in traditional.

10:46 PM  
Blogger JT said...

Well, you pointed out something very interesting. In theory, both simplified and traditional writings should use the same choice of charactoers. But in fact, just like some English are used differently in the UK than in the US or other English speaking countries, like slangs or dialects. But generally, I think both are the same considering that I can read books published in China. (though a bit tricky at first).

However, new words (especially like computers, technical terms) may be translated (or created) differently. Therefore, it's very likely when you read something different on a machine or in manuals. For example:

Internet 網際網路(Taiwan) 互联冈(China)
menu (@restaurant)菜單(Taiwan and China)
menu (machine) 選單(Taiwan)菜單(China)

This is what I think. Anyone have ideas?! :)

12:39 AM  

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