Thursday, April 30, 2009

Motivation gone missing

My mind is everywhere but where it should be

We are having mid-term exams this week at Suzhou uni. Although to me it only means 2 exams (in listening and writing) because in our other courses we have exams after every 3/5 chapters (I prefer that one! Even though it means that we are always having some sort of exam).

This semester has probably been the most boring one I’ve done this far, and the one to blame for that is no one but myself. I’ve lost most of my ‘studying Chinese motivation’ –don’t ask me why, I just have, and that makes going to class quite dull. For the last few months I feel as if I haven’t learned anything new. Of course I have, although it really feels as if my learning curve has slowed down/stopped and even gone downwards a bit. I guess it’s always like this when learning a new language though… first you feel like you are learning a lot, then you are not getting anywhere for a while until it kick-starts again. So it's all normal. Still, I would lie if I said it doesn't bothers me.

My radio is working like a champ although it feels as if it’s impossible to find a radio channel that actually plays music here in China. It’s just "blab la blab la blab la bla…." Talk, talk, talk. Constantly, non-stop. Well, actually, it’s good, because that’s what I need to practice on listening to, but in the long run it would be nice with some music breaks to make the listening experience a little bit more enjoyable. What I do now is turn the radio off every 10 minutes to give my bleeding ears a break.

Yesterday we had a test-HSK-listening exam and I was surprised of how well I did! It’s funny at these tests. You are sitting there, listening, filling in the answers, thinking to yourself that ‘bloody hell, I know nothing!’ and then when you go through the answers with the teacher you realize that you have scored something like 80% (which is more than enough for me to be happy about!). So basically you DO know most of the stuff, although you think you don’t? Ah… well, at least better than not knowing at all!

I was surprised of how rude one of the Ou-Mei (western) student in my HSK class was yesterday. After our listening test, which we all did OK at, the teacher said that she felt very happy that we all had improved our listening skills. Then the one guy goes:

-Well, the fact that we have improved our skills have got nothing to do with you!

And the teacher was just like….:

-Ehhh, no… well.. I just said I feel happy for you guys. Seeing that I am your listening teacher and care about your listening progress.

(I guess he’s one of those who might not have improved seeing he seems so sour about it).

The next HSK test is on June 21 and this time I am not going to forget about signing up. But motivation, oh, where art thou!?! I wouldn’t mind feeling a little bit more happy about learning Chinese at the moment, and not as if it was ‘something I have to get over with.’

Now, off to an essay writing exam. My favorite. Not. Whoever invented electronic dictionaries is a genius. 


Nancy said...

You sound a little like my daughter, who is almost finished with college. Tired of learning, tired of jumping through hoops, ready to do something else for a while.

nova said...

haha! did you just throw a "not" in there? that's awesome.

Tarja said...

What a beautifull picture! Blue sky, clean and fresh air. I suppose that picture isn't taken in Suzhou =)

Expat From Hell said...

Dear SHE: Keep up the good work, and the good blogs. You have a responsibility to hang in there as the ou-mei. It is always a great lesson to watch the other foreigners mess it up. I enjoyed this post; I will be back again.



The Casual Observer said...

You do have an iPod, right? :) Maybe my iPod has spoiled me, but I grow tired of music on the radio very quickly.

I loved essay exams when I was a student. I'm fairly good at BS'ing (bluffing) my way through a question when I wasn't sure of the answer, so I would do well on the exams.

******************** Shanghai MiFeng said...

Well Jonna ,
I didn't , so you can take me off that genius list , for sure .

There is alway's a Jerk in every Class , in every Group of People it seem's . Now that is normal , in my Book .

Talking about Book's , now hit them Book's and keep that learning spirit going , or all of your Follower's are going to come over there and MAKE you . Hehe

Jonna Wibelius said...

Lover of life -hehe, yeah... I am a true whiner today. Gosh. I'm too old to behave like this!

Sour -hehe :)

Tarja -hehe, you guessed right. I took that photo last summer in beautiful Tampere... :) Nothing beats a Scandinavian summer!

Expat from hell- thanks! I'll hang in there for the 'oumeis' although I cannot promise I'll be able to set an good example with my exam results...

Casual observer -I also loved essay writings when I was younger! I always wrote the most.. (got this problem with writing short stories/essays/blog posts.. eh.. yeah u get the point!). In Chinese it is a bit different though coz it's much slower and not as smooth for me, but sloooooowly, sloooowly I'm getting there. Today's essay exam actually went really well. We got some pictures to look at and had to make up a story.. while most people sat there scratching their heads I wrote and wrote... never short of imagination and that I'm happy about!

When u didn't know the answer to a question, did u then use to write a lot of stuff related to the question w-out really answering it, and still get points??! That was my standard method too! hihi!

Shanghai Mifeng -OK OK... well now a long wknd ahead of me! Maybe that will kick some inspiration into this lazy head of mine...

呆呆狼 said...

"posted by Jonna Wibelius at 7:35 AM on Apr 30, 2009"

You are a really early bird ^_^

Anonymous said...





Jonna, I have been following your blog these days. Your blog is fantastic! I am dying to read through all your posts in one breath.

I can see from your posts that you have talents for language. I believe you can master Chinese one day. I read one of your chinese posts (maybe the only one), it is amazing. I can not believe it is a laowai that wrote the post if I do not know you are really a laowai.

I had similar problem like yours in my learning English:It is hard to get to a higher level once I have achieved certain level although I was keeping learning. By my experience , I would like to say (although my English is still not good today)one of effective ways to overcome this bottleneck is to use English as much as possible in daily life or working.

Good Luck!

José Carlos Costa Reis e Silva said...

my wife allerted me for your blog. Congratularions! Beautiful!

But As a former student of mandarin and cantonese (9 tones! much harder than mandarin), and as a teacher I tell you: if you lost motivation, work without motivation. Learning languages is something mechanic, bum,bum,bum, ta,ta,ta... as many times you repeat the more you know ... Good Luck... quai lou (cantonese)...

Pete In Syracuse said...


OK soldier, put that nose to the grind stone. Now GO GO GO GO GO !

...Just do the next step !

...You Know !!!


Brad Farless said...

Maybe it's because the mystery is gone. You've explored the language quite a bit and you've explored China quite a bit. Anything an become boring if you see or do it every day!

NavlGazr said...

Hey Jonna,

My wife and I are learning 中文 too and can a really relate. Love reading your blog. We are moving to Mainland from HK this July (will be nearby), both like to run and really are excited to move. Keep pushing onward. My 老师 always tells me about plateaus like yours (I have hit one recently too!) and she tells me that you will hit another big burst soon. Keep pressing onward - get that second (or third) wind.

The Casual Observer said...

Yep - fill the essay with intelligent discussion, even if it doesn't answer the question :)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Norman -sure am! 7.35am isn't early though... by then I've already been up for 2 hours or so! :)

lideting482 -谢谢你啊! 你喜欢我的 blog 的话让我感到很开心。 你的英文写得很好,希望有一天我会跟你写英文写中文一样好。

Jose -u r right. No point complaining about it. If I wanna learn I should just learn... regardless of being motivated or not. Cantonese and 9 tones... pheeew. I guess I'm quite lucky just having to learn 5... :)

Pete -hahahha! Alright sir! I'm on it!

Brad -Yeah, motivation comes and goes and u r right.. of course it is not as exciting to live here as it was 1 year ago. Although I'm far from bored with China. Still so much left to explore. Dunno if I will ever be able to finish.

NavlGazr -thanks for your comment!! I've heard that running in HK is quite tough (with the bad air and stuff). Hopefully it will be nicer on the mainland, unless u r moving to Shanghai that is... Where are u going to live? Good luck with the move, the running and the Chinese!!

Observer -hehe. Glad to have 'met' a fellow 'rambler'... I'm actually surprised that more people don't do it...

Brad Farless said...

Jonna, same for me. Day to day life in Singapore isn't as exciting as it was a year ago, but there's still so much I haven't seen. Guess I need to plan out my finances so I can take more trips!