Imelda is from Queensland Australia. Now living in Melbourne. She speaks English natively and she is also fluent in Chinese and Italian. Imelda has learned Chinese for more than 8 years. Now she is working in international education.
Interesting fact: She loves travelling and she enjoys learning phrases in the local language.
“After you reach a certain level, learning new words becomes easier as you recognize combinations of individual characters you already know.”
Time Stamped Show Notes
- [2:02] – Imelda started studying Chinese when she was in primary school and continued up through university
- [2:13] – Imelda has been able to use Chinese everywhere in the world, including while she lived in Italy
- [2:40] – When she started learning Chinese, Imelda only had 1 30-minute lesson per week, but it was enough to get her interested in learning more
- [3:21] – Imelda’s high school Chinese teacher was a native Australian who had lived in China and who had a lot of interesting stories
- [4:01] – When she started university, Imelda won a scholarship to go study Chinese in Beijing
- [4:40] – Imelda was already able to speak Chinese well by then because she had a lot of practice speaking with her Taiwanese roommate back in Australia
- [5:32] – Imelda traveled to China for 3 weeks in between high school and university and found that her spoken Chinese improved a lot in that short time
- [6:31] – Imelda took a Chinese class for a couple weeks where the teacher and other students didn’t speak English, so she was forced to use Chinese
- [6:55] – What has been Imelda’s biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
- [7:02] – The desire to one day travel to China and to speak an interesting and useful language that was less common to study than the romance languages
- [7:48] – Imelda also speaks fluent Italian because she lived and worked there for 2 years
- [8:11] – How did Imelda learn Chinese?
- [8:18] – There was a lot of hard work at the beginning. For one class, Imelda and the other students had to learn 60 – 70 new characters per week that they would be quizzed on
- [8:44] – Only the students who were really motivated passed
- [8:54] – After you reach a certain level it becomes easier because new vocabulary are often just combinations of characters that you already know
- [9:11] – Imelda gives a cool example to explain this point
- [9:26] – Once Imelda reached a decent level where she could start communicating with people she was motivated even more to continue
- [10:04] – Imelda’s high school Chinese teacher would take the students to a Chinese restaurant every semester and have them order in Chinese
- [10:53] – Imelda talks about a fun Chinese game that she played in that high school class
- [14:06] – The more you use different radicals the easier it becomes to recognise them in new characters
- [14:24] – Victor gives an interesting example of the historical significance of a couple different radicals
- [15:29] – To improve speaking, Imelda was never afraid of making mistakes. She would always try talking to people, and Chinese people were helpful whenever she did make mistakes
- [16:19] – Imelda found that learning characters along with their sounds worked best for her, rather than doing just speaking or just writing
- [17:04] – What has been Imelda’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
- [17:52] – How did Imelda deal with accents and dialects?
- [17:56] – Imelda lived in Taiwan for a year, but she found that being exposed to different accents and dialects helped her understand the language better
- [19:19] – If Imelda were to start learning Chinese again from scratch, how would she do it?
- [19:26] – She would study every day so that she doesn’t lose any progress
- [19:47] – Imelda talks about one beneficial technique she had for improving listening comprehension
- [20:22] – Once you reach a basic conversational level, travel to China
- [21:16] – If you’re in a place with lots of Chinese students you can try to meet people who will do a language exchange
- [22:18] – Embarrassing moment: Being let down by her chopstick skills
- [24:09] – Most rewarding moment: Getting a free meal for speaking Chinese
- [25:15] – How does Imelda use her Chinese now?
- [25:17] – Imelda works in international education, so she often looks after Chinese students in Australia and works with agents in China
- [26:14] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
- [26:22] – Learning a second language helps improve your understanding of your own language, so Imelda feels more intelligent and open-minded for having learning Chinese
- [27:47] – A difference between Chinese culture and Imelda’s own culture
- [27:55] – When you go to a Chinese friend’s house you’ll take off your shoes and be given some slippers, and they’ll often offer you a cup of hot tea. In general Chinese people are very hospitable
Imelda Lapthorne’s Favourite Chinese Quote
- [33:47] – 吃一堑长一智 – learning from making mistakes
- 吃(chī) – eat; endure
- 一(yí) – one
- 堑(qiàn) – moat; pit
- 长(zhǎng) – grow
- 一(yí) – one
- 智(zhì) – wisdom; knowledge
Imelda Lapthorne’s Advice for Chinese Learners
- [35:48] – Keep at it, don’t give up; Make some Chinese friends and plan a trip to China