That Ah Ha! moment.
The greatest moment of my journey into learning Chinese came, not when I was on the Duolingo site, but when I was watching Daredevil on Netflix with my husband. Season 1 Episode 5 , 'World on Fire'.
The bad guy was meeting with a group of people and there was this older Chinese lady there. She laughed and said something to the main bad guy and I. UNDERSTOOD. WHAT. SHE. SAID!!! even before the cute side kick said, "She's happy to see you."
It was a priceless moment for me! Spontaneous translation! It's moments like these that make all my hard work here, at Duolingo, worthwhile. And let's me know that I CAN do this.
Feel free to share your own Ah Ha! moments here. I know WE ALL CAN DO IT!! ^_^
My ahha, this week when an older Chinese woman was telling me off for having told her not to cut in front of the line. I ONLY spoke English to her and she ONLY spoke Chinese to me until she realized I understood her and then she began speaking in English...it was priceless.
I studied Chinese for only three days, and I watched a humorous concert on Russian television, where a Russian boy said in Chinese, "I am very busy," and I suddenly understood this. And we watched with the family and I translated it before the translation sounded on the TV. They looked at me like a fool, but when the translation was confirmed, they felt like fools. ))))))) I walked proud all evening, and then I was deeply interested in learning the language. Such moments are very motivating. Recently I talked to a Chinese in a store, asked what his name was, what city he was from, and what kind of product he recommended that I buy. I understood half of the answers, but still I was very pleased. The Chinese also liked our communication.
Hahah, to me, Chinese sounded totally unintelligible, like "shI SHi shi sHI Shi...". I still remember trying some BASIC Chinese course FOR KIDS, and being totally confused by the fact that everything sounded the same for me! :o Same with the writing system: all those little "houses" and "trees"... and other wacky shapes that looked like a pile of sticks :q
Then I started watching Laoshu50500 on YouTube, and I statred noticing repeating patterns in his Mandarin dialogues: "Hey, this sounds familiar! I've heard these sounds before!" After a couple of repetitions, I could already recognize several words: "Chinese", "I", "you", "teacher", "learning", "thank you", "good bye"... :J
Then I started watching my favourite cartoons with Mandarin subtitles & dubbing, since I already knew what the dialogues are in English, so I could compare them with Chinese. And again: I recognized the same words! (and learned a couple more along the way)
Then I tried the same with Chinese characters. I found a picture with a table of hanzi characters that Chinese kids learn in 1st and 2nd grade, and again, I started noticing patterns, so I started colouring them with matching colours when I spotted the same shape again. This way I discovered that those complex Chinese characters are made of simpler building blocks – some of them related to their meanings, others related to their sounds.
A couple of days ago, I started learning Chinese on DuoLingo, and I was surprised how fast I can learn this stuff, even if at first I didn't know what some sentences mean, because after a couple of example uses, I was able to figure that out myself.
But when it comes to the "a-ha!" moment, it came to me when I was watching a video of a dude introducing himself in Mandarin and talking a bit about him, and I understood all of it! :D "I know the Shi sHI sHi!" – I thought to myself :D
I was even more excited when I was watching a video of some polyglot teenager who spoke in several languages, including Mandarin, and he said "我老师是美国人", and I was like: "WAT? :| Dude, it should be "我的老师" :> Yes! I spotted a mistake in someone else's utterance, just by hearing. At that moment I realized that I already know Mandarin better than him, which is amazing as for just a couple of days of learning :)