Bridie 宋玉滢 was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Apart from English and Chinese, Bridie also speaks Italian at an intermediate level as well as some Spanish. Bridie has been studying Chinese for 17 years since primary school, but more seriously since high school. She has lived in China for about a year all together through various trips. Bridie is now 22 years old, currently doing her third year of Bachelor of Arts majoring in Chinese at the University of Melbourne. She is also the president of ACYA (Australia-China Youth Association), Unimelb Chapter. Bridie is really passionate about connecting the Chinese and Australian communities and promoting the Chinese language to other Aussies.

One interesting fact about Bridie: She loves to dance! From ballet to salsa to contemporary, that’s what she fills her spare time with.

“When a Chinese person finds out that you’re learning Chinese their eyes literally light up and you have so much to talk about.”
 Bridie Allen

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:45] – Bridie is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese in Melbourne, Australia
  • [1:51] – Bridie’s biggest passion is connecting Chinese and Australian youth through language and cultural exchanges
  • [2:30] – Bridie started learning Chinese when she was 5 while in primary school
  • [3:08] – Why did Bridie learn Chinese?
    • [3:21] – Bridie has been interested in China ever since she was very young
  • [4:11] – Bridie’s childhood Chinese classes were pretty basic. They learned family trees, basic counting, and even a little writing
  • [4:45] – Bridie’s teacher was a native Chinese person, but her first real exposure was when she visited China at age 15
  • [5:15] – Bridie went to China for 6 months after graduating from high school, but she was still very shy about speaking Chinese at that time
  • [6:26] – Chinese courses were compulsory until year 8 at Bridie’s school, but she chose to continue them through high school
  • [7:13] – After graduating high school, Bridie took a gap year and taught English for 6 months in China
    • [7:32] – Those 6 months gave Bridie more motivation to continue studying Chinese, so she took classes at the Confucius Institute before starting university
    • [8:03] – There was a massive learning curve for listening comprehension at this time, but being surrounded by Chinese daily helped Bridie a lot
    • [8:56] – Bridie’s speaking is what improved the most in this time, as she was able to mimic native speakers and improve her pronunciation a lot
    • [9:36] – The only thing that didn’t improve for Bridie while in China was her writing skills, as she never had to write for any reason and could always use pinyin on her phone
  • [9:59] – What has been Bridie’s biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
    • [10:03] – The friendships with Chinese speakers and the enjoyment of speaking with them in their native language keeps Bridie motivated
    • [11:43] – Bridie has realised recently how fortunate she is to have started learning Chinese while she was young, as starting as a beginner while at the university level can be very challenging and discouraging for people
  • [12:33] – How did Bridie learn Chinese?
    • [12:42] – The first thing to acknowledge when learning Chinese is that a good amount of study and repetition is going to be necessary
    • [12:55] – There are ways to make it interesting. For example, when learning a new character, Bridie will search it online and read about its history and meaning and that helps it to be more memorable
    • [13:59] – Bridie watches some Chinese TV to help with listening and speaking
    • [14:35] – Being young, one of the best things for Bridie about learning Chinese was going home from school and talking to her family about what she’d learned that day
    • [15:23] – Bridie didn’t practice speaking too much until she got to the high school level
  • [15:56] – What has been Bridie’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [16:00] – Bridie’s biggest struggle was always having the confidence to speak and be accepting of the fact that she was going to make mistakes
      • [16:30] – Bridie overcame this last year while studying in intensive classes a Nanjing University. It helped to be surrounded by other non-native speakers who were all pursuing the goal of becoming fluent in Chinese
  • [17:29] – If Bridie were to start learning Chinese again from scratch, how would she do it?
    • [17:35] – Bridie would have liked to spend more time learning Chinese in China to get the full immersion
    • [17:46] – Smaller class sizes also make a big difference
    • [18:11] – Just visit China, even if it’s not for language study. The language is so connected to the history and culture so that really helps put things together
  • [19:30] – Embarrassing moment: Posting about a ‘traditional’ Chinese dish that none of her Chinese friends knew about
    • [19:39] – Bridie ate a cool food dish at a festival and posted about it on WeChat thinking that it was a common tradition, but found out that the dish only existed in the one location she had tried it and that’s why nobody knew what she was talking about
  • [20:17] – Most rewarding moment: Competing in the Chinese Bridge
    • [20:24] – Practicing really hard for the Chinese Bridge competition and then placing at the top of the Oceania region in the international competition
  • [21:45] – How does Bridie use her Chinese now?
    • [21:47] – Bridie is about to graduate with her degree in Chinese, and she hopes to be able to use it for her career whether working in China or Australia
  • [22:12] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [22:17] – Bridie can’t imagine her life without learning Chinese, and it has opened the door to so many opportunities for education and work
    • [23:00] – It’s changed Bridie’s life to have that connection with another culture and with so many Chinese people that she can talk openly within their native tongue
  • [23:39] – A difference between the Chinese culture and Bridie’s own culture
    • [23:45] – Foreigners who travel to China are so welcomed by the locals and show a level of hospitality that’s beyond what you might experience in most other places
  • [24:48] – Bridie’s favourite cities in China: Nanjing
    • [24:40] – Nanjing is where Bridie’s Chinese improved the most and become a second home to her
    • [25:06] – Nanjing has strong history and a lot of great scenery

Bridie Allen’s Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [27:10] – 么么哒 – slang that Chinese use similarly to the English use of xoxo
    • 么么(me me) – kissing sound
    • 哒(dā) – (phonetic)

Bridie Allen’s Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [28:16] – Be confident, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and go to China with an open mind

Connect with Bridie Allen

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