Saturday evening, a friend and I were waiting at the train station for her friend to arrive from Nanjing. When the friend arrived, we began to chat, making introductions, and decided where to go.
My friend ordered a Didi for all 3 of us and off we went to the Italian restaurant. When we arrived, the friend asked, “Ervis, what do you do for work in Shanghai?”
My other friend teased me and said, “Why don’t you try using the Chinese introduction you’ve been working on for the last 2 weeks?”
My moment had arrived: I could finally put to use my 15-day edugo.ai challenge and introduce myself in Chinese!
Once I finished, I felt extremely proud of my achievement (with the support of my friend who reminded me of some keywords). And my new friend began clapping for me.
I’d introduced myself in Chinese, and it took me only 2 weeks.
Thanks, edugo.ai, for the support and the challenge!
Moving forward, why did I take this challenge? For a few simple reasons:
A language is the fastest tool to the heart of people
When I first moved to Italy the fact that I was able to speak Italian from the very beginning was a blessing. Local people were happy to have me conversing with them in their language.
The truth is that we like others more when they speak our language. Language hides a lot of nuances that can be understood only if you understand and use it. Plenty of subtleties get lost in translation. You will always need the local language to grasp the full potential of communication with locals.
A new language in my toolkit.
Being Italian-Albanian and having 2 passports makes me proud of both countries, allowing me to speak 2 different languages. When I switch languages, a strange thing happens: I become a different person. This also happens with English and Chinese.
What did I learn through my personal challenge?
The other day, we had a special meeting at Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters club: a debate on the importance of A.I.
During the Q&A session, someone asked me if A.I. teachers could be enough to teach languages. My answer was no, because though A.I. can help you a lot and provide new information, you’ll always need an experienced, real teacher to fill in the information that only humans can understand—like a tailor who can make you a customized suit, perfectly fitted to your body and build.
That was how I felt with my teacher, Fannie. Her teaching style fit me a lot because we would talk about daily topics and even discuss some touchy aspects related to life in China, and the vocabulary was in line with my learning rather than some random vocabulary decided by A.I.
Of course, the algorithms of edugo.ai would help me by processing the words where I need(ed) most help, the sentences where I struggle(d) the most and ease the process. But it wouldn’t be complete with only A.I. A human touch and A.I. combined make the learning process faster and more effective! Thanks, team!
How was my overall experience?
It was tough. I won’t deny it. At first, I thought it’d be a quick race through hurdles and I ‘d exit with ease, triumphant. How wrong that expectation was.
The first 2 classes went by very quickly and easily. I had a lot of fun and breezed through. But it then it became harder. Every class added something new, and I still had to review everything from the previous classes.
It was not easy, but I’m so glad I did it. It made me aware of certain issues, built the habit of sticking to my commitment and reinforced the need to keep working on my Chinese.
My challenge was then over. Or, so I thought.
The other day, I was checking one of the shopping malls in Shanghai and decided to go around the B1 level. I found a small shop selling cakes and decided to try my luck to buy a piece of chocolate cake, using my new Chinese skills.
I felt very proud of myself; the cake wasn’t bad and the price was decent. So, I asked them who was the owner and out popped a Dutch guy. He told me a short story of what he’s been doing in China and that he’s running the store with someone else.
He left me and I kept eating my cake. After a while, I heard someone speaking in Chinese, taking an order from a waimai. Curious as to who it could be, I peeked around and saw a very bad surprise for me and my ego: the Dutch guy was speaking on the phone, in Chinese, like a pro. With a great 2nd tone, too!
I wanted to hate him, because his Chinese was impressive, but his cake was even better. So, I kept munching and enjoying it. Then I had a small realization: the 15-day challenge from edugo.ai was over, but a new 365 days challenge is about to begin!
Wish me luck!
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