Bayan was born in Iran and moved to Australia at the age of two, now living in Adelaide. He speaks English, Persian, Mandarin Chinese, a little German and currently learning French. At the moment Bayan is studying psychology, sociology and French in university.

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:27] – Why did Bayan learn Chinese?
    • [1:29] – Bayan moved to Shanghai during his gap year after graduating from high school
    • [1:44] – Bayan wanted to pick up Chinese to make the most out of the time he would be living in China
    • [2:05] – Bayan stayed with a family friend and her husband in Shanghai
    • [2:22] – Bayan first realised the necessity of learning Chinese by interacting with the 阿(ā)姨(yí) (maid) who didn’t speak English
    • [2:55] – Basic Chinese communication skills improved Bayan’s quality of life, so his interest in learning more grew from there
  • [3:05] – How Bayan got started learning Chinese
    • [3:18] – Bayan didn’t speak any Chinese upon arrival in China
    • [3:32] – Immersion alone isn’t enough, need some systematic study as well
    • [3:39] – Learning online through Rocket Chinese, Chinesepod, YouTube videos, etc.
    • [3:52] – Bayan practised and applied what he was learning with daily conversations
  • [4:08] – Bayan got a student visa and began an intensive Chinese course at University
  • [4:20] – Victor explains that 阿姨 means aunty, but in this case, a maid working in someone’s home
  • [4:52] – What’s Bayan’s biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
    • [5:13] – Bayan understood China’s economic and cultural growth and development would make Chinese language skills extremely valuable
    • [5:23] – Chinese-Australian relations are improving rapidly, creating opportunity
  • [5:48] – Victor talks about how rapidly China is growing and changing
  • [6:18] – Bayan’s location in Shanghai was farmland just 10 years ago
  • [6:35] – Contrasting China’s development with Australia’s lack of significant change
  • [7:05] – What has been Bayan’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [7:14] – Chinese is tonal language, which is a new concept to Western language speakers
      • [7:44] – Tones are used to differentiate words instead of injecting emotion while speaking in the way Western language speakers use tones
      • [8:17] – Bayan overcame the struggles with tones through practice and consistent repetition
      • [8:30] – Bayan found another significant challenge in learning Chinese characters
        • [8:46] – Through hard work and without shortcuts, Bayan memorised the pinyin for each character
  • [9:10] – How did Bayan learn Chinese?
    • [9:19] – Every time Bayan encountered a new word, he wrote the character, the pinyin, the English translation, and the Persian translation side by side.
      • [9:40] – Over time, Bayan learned characters well enough to no longer need the pinyin
    • [10:55]Immersion and confidence while practising helped Bayan the most
      • [11:03]  – Bayan wasn’t shy about practising Chinese with locals, even when he knew he would make mistakes and even look foolish at times
        • [11:30] – Chinese people are very helpful and forgiving of mistakes with foreigners who are trying to learn the language
      • [11:43] – It helped a lot to be immersed by living in China which provides the opportunity to practice in natural scenarios every day
  • [12:18] – Embarrassing moment: Bayan was shopping for carrots. He didn’t know how to say carrot or vegetable, so he tried to explain what he wanted by saying “orange banana”. After 15 or 20 minutes, a man came along who translated what Bayan wanted to say to the shopkeeper and customers, who then laughed at Bayan. He learned that fruits and vegetables are usually not sold in the same shop.
  • [14:50] – Most rewarding moment: After about 10 months living in China, Bayan woke up one morning and realised that he had dreamed in Mandarin. This was a milestone showing how his brain had adjusted and to thinking like a Chinese person
  • [16:27] – How is Bayan putting his Chinese to use now
    • [16:37] – Bayan watches Chinese TV shows in Australia
    • [16:57] – Bayan has made friends with Chinese exchange students at his university
      • [17:07] – Chinese exchange students react very positively when they learn Bayan can speak Chinese
    • [17:17] – Bayan joined the Chinese speakers club at his university
  • [17:37] – Bayan only lived in China for a year and a half
    • [17:47] – He started learning Mandarin just over 2 years ago, which is an impressively short time to reach fluency
  • [18:23] – Bayan sometimes forgets how difficult learning Chinese was now that some time has passed being back in Australia
  • [18:39] – Language learning is a strong suite for Bayan
    • [18:55] – Bayan’s enjoyment of learning languages and cultures provides motivation and helps with retaining the knowledge
  • [19:40] – Having knowledge of multiple languages helped Bayan to learn Chinese faster
    • [19:52] – There were some instances where Chinese would have a similarity with one of the languages Bayan knows but, and comparing those linguistic intricacies helped Bayan to understand the culture more deeply
  • [20:48] – A difference between the Chinese culture and Bayan’s own culture
    • [20:54] – The concept of face (honour & dignity), especially with family, is a very prevalent cultural construct in China, which was new to Bayan
      • [21:15] – Bayan shares an example of a woman who was too ashamed to show her face when begging, which contrasts Western cultures
  • [22:39] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [22:45] – Learning Chinese opened Bayan’s mind to other cultures
      • [22:50] – He finds his new understanding of Chinese culture to be invaluable in connecting with Chinese people in Australia
      • [23:39] – Now that he can understand what is being said when he hears Chinese people speaking, he finds it to be very beautiful instead of just background noise
  • [24:34] – Bayan’s favourite city in China: Shanghai
    • [24:38] – Bayan appreciates the cultural and linguistic diversity of the city
      • [25:40] – Mandarin unites people from different regions who speak different dialects and enables them to communicate naturally

Bayan’s Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [30:20] – 谋事在人,成事在天 – Man proposes, God disposes.
    • 谋(móu) – plan
    • 事(shì) – thing(s)
    • 在(zài) – up to
    • 人(rén) – man
    • 成(chéng) – achieve/complete
    • 事(shì) – thing(s)
    • 在(zài) – up to
    • 天(tiān) – literally means sky, but in this case, it refers to God
  • [30:43] – Bayan interprets this to mean that the decisions we make throughout our lives shape and influence how we are aligned with God’s plan for us.
  • [31:21] – Bayan likes how concisely this phrase represents the underlying idea, something which English doesn’t have a parallel saying for
  • [31:36] – Interesting that this saying is so popular considering China is a non-religious country
    • [32:00] – Bayan still felt that China has a very spiritual culture steeped in history and tradition, even though the general population does not practice religion currently
  • [33:09] – China was more religious before Emperor Mao
  • [33:35] – Many Chinese people are beginning to gravitate more towards spirituality and religion as it provides a deeper meaning to life

Bayan’s Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [34:00] – If you don’t live in China, it will be much more difficult to become fluent
  • [34:32] – Every learner will face obstacles during their Chinese language journey, but it’s important to persevere through these obstacles
    • [35:27] – Having a goal is very useful to persevere
    • [36:00] – If you don’t push through the difficult moments, you risk losing what you have learned and regretting the time and energy spent learning in the first place

Connect with Bayan

  • WeChat username: bayanyazdanii
  • Email address: bayanyazdani (AT) live (DOT) com (DOT) au

Resources Mentioned:

  • [3:37]Rocket Chinese – Online Chinese course
  • [3:44]Chinesepod – Podcast that teaches you Chinese dialogues
  • [26:46]Pleco – Chinese-English dictionary app
    • Includes characters and pinyin, and has an audio feature to hear the proper pronunciation of words. After downloading, you can use it offline
    • Bayan considers Pleco to be essential to Chinese learners
    • Best when it’s accompanied by formal study
  • [28:09]Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese – A book for learning Chinese characters where characters are transformed into pictograms for easy memorisation
    • [28:30] – Shows how many Chinese characters are pictures
    • [28:43] – Great for absolute beginners
    • [28:51] – Shows the character’s development over time
    • [29:16] – It’s useful to have stories and imagery to internalise the meaning of characters
      • [29:48] – Even if a character doesn’t have a unique story, you should make one for it to help you internalise it

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