Andres is from Merida, Mexico. His native language is Spanish. Apart from that he also speaks English and Chinese. Andres is currently living in Hudson, Ohio in the United States. He is now 18 years old, studying in high school.

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [0:46] – Andres was born and grew up in Mexico,
  • [0:56] – Andres’ native language is Spanish
  • [1:12] – He is currently a senior in high school, studying in Hudson, Ohio (USA)
  • [1:27] – Why did Andres learn Chinese?
    • [1:30] – Andres’ father enrolled Andres and his brother in Chinese classes when Andres was 9
      • [1:43] – Andres’ father does business with many people in China and thought it would be a valuable skill
      • [1:55] – Andres enjoyed the classes and decided to stick with it
  • [2:17] – Andres has been studying Chinese for about 6 of the past 9 years
  • [2:34] – What’s Andres’ biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
    • [2:38] – Being able to communicate with such a large population (1/7th of the world population)
  • [3:03] – Chinese is a difficult language to learn for a native Spanish speaker because the grammar and writing style are so different
    • [3:19] – Andres has a natural talent for learning languages
  • [3:51] – Andres’ love for the language, culture, and friendly people of China motivate him to keep up his studies and practice
    • [4:01] – Helps to meet and flirt with Chinese girls
  • [4:20] – How did Andres learn Chinese?
    • [4:28] – Reading a lot to expand and retain vocabulary
      • [4:45] – Reads the news, and 知(zhī)乎(hū), a Chinese website similar to Reddit
    • [5:01] – Drill vocabulary a few times per week
    • [5:09] – Talking with Chinese friends (native speakers) and asking questions about the language
    • [6:04] – Reading in Chinese requires a robust vocabulary
      • [6:40] – Focus on vocab memorisation in the beginning
      • [6:53] – Andres learned new words and characters through repetition of writing and by using them in sentences
  • [7:44] – How did Andres deal with Chinese tones?
    • [7:59] – Andres did find tones difficult in the beginning
    • [9:00] – Don’t skip the tones while you are building your vocabulary in the beginning
    • [9:38] – If you don’t know the correct tone, you don’t know the word
      • [9:56] – Don’t let difficulties with tones discourage you from continuing to learn
  • [10:21] – Andres maintains his Chinese level mostly out of the classroom through reading and communicating with friends
  • [10:45] – He drills vocabulary a couple times a week for 1.5 – 2 hours at a time
  • [11:03] – Andres genuinely enjoys using Chinese in his daily life
  • [12:17] – What had been Andres’ biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [12:30] – Focusing on the present moment and what you are learning right now
    • [12:49] – Andres often doesn’t understand modern slang, and finds it frustrating trying to interact in a casual setting online
      • [13:49] – He embraces the challenge and is motivated to keep learning
  • [14:28] – Embarrassing moment: 
    • [14:32] – While studying in Beijing 2 years ago, Andres went into a store to buy napkins (卫wèi生shēng纸zhǐ). He made a mistake in pronunciation and accidentally asked to buy tampons(卫wèi生shēng巾jīn) instead.
    • [15:37] – The shop owner laughed, but understood what he meant
    • [15:53] – Even some native Chinese make this mistake
  • [16:04] – Most rewarding moment: 
    • [16:28] – Andres took a weekend trip to Xi’an to see the Terracotta soldiers
    • [16:45] – He had a long taxi ride to his hotel, and decided to create a fake identity for himself to see if the taxi driver would believe him. He said that he was ½ Mexican and ½ Chinese, and had moved to China a couple of years prior
    • [17:41] – The taxi driver believed Andres, as this explained why his Chinese level was so good
    • [17:47] – This was a rewarding and significant moment in Andres’ Chinese language learning journey
  • [18:11] – Currently Andres is studying for the 6th level of the Chinese Language Proficiency Exam (HSK)
  • [18:27] – He hopes to make use of his Chinese by working for a Chinese company
  • [18:59] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [19:05] – Andres’ enjoyment for learning Chinese was his first great passion in life, and gave him a purpose
    • [20:03] – Andres’ brother didn’t share his passion for language learning, and doesn’t regret the decision to stop even though Andres has had such a positive experience with it
  • [21:55] – A difference between the Chinese culture and Andres’ own culture
    • [22:02] – China values the collective (the good of the community) over the individual
      • [22:37] – Chinese people are more focused on doing good for others instead of themselves, which is less self-centered than typical Western cultures
  • [23:34] – Andres’ favourite city in China: Xi’an
    • [23:42] – He likes the Terracotta soldiers, old city walls, food, and architecture

Andres’ Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [27:22] – 有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎 – To have friends that come from far away, isn’t that a joy?
    • 有(yǒu) – To have
    • 朋(péng) – Friend(s)
    • 自(zì) – Self / Oneself
    • 远(yuǎn)方(fāng) – Far away
    • 来(lái) – To come
    • 不(bù)亦(yì)乐(lè)乎(hū) – Isn’t that a joy? (Quote from Confucius)
    • [27:45] – This quote resonates with Andres after living and studying abroad. He enjoys the experience of reconnecting with friends that he hasn’t seen in a long time
  • [28:19] – 活到老,学到老 – One is never too old to learn (idiom)
    • 活(huó) – To live, exist
    • 到(dào) – Arrive, go to
    • 老(lǎo) – Old
    • 学(xué) – To learn
    • 到(dào) – Arrive, go to
    • 老(lǎo) – Old
    • [28:25] – This quote can be more directly translated to mean: Live until you are old and study until you are old
    • [28:34] – As long as Andres is alive, he will keep learning

Andres’ Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [28:55] – Just keep studying a little every day, and don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge you will need to learn to master the Chinese language
    • [29:04] – You’ll find that you can start applying what you’ve learned sooner than you might expect

Connect with Andres

  • Email address: bumchala (DOT) chavo (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Resources Mentioned:

  • [24:13]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
  • [24:20] – 有道 Youdao – App that most Chinese people use for Chinese-English translations
  • [24:27]知乎 Zhihu – A Chinese forum website which is similar to Reddit
  • [24:35]The Chairman’s Bao (iPhone App) – Chinese news website which writes articles in Chinese aimed at foreign language learners
    • [24:59] – Different articles for learners at different levels of language learning, from beginner to advanced
    • [24:14] – Andres’ has talked with the website founder and really supports the cause of making the Chinese language easier to learn for foreigners
  • [26:00]The story of the Sahara (Chinese Edition) 撒哈拉的故事 – A good first Chinese novel for learners because it uses simple language

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