My Tamil as a mirror to my Mandarin Chinese

Singlanguages/ March 6, 2022/ Chinese, Grammar, Tamil, Vocabulary

My Tamil is at the point where I can ‘understand’ (some) spoken Tamil on TV if I can read English subtitles. In contrast, my Mandarin Chinese is at the point where I can understand news if I can read both in Chinese subtitles and listen to the Chinese.

I’ve been feeling frustrated by the fact that while I can describe my day in a way that is adequate, meaning something like “I did this, and then did that, and I felt sad/angry, then I thought this or that”, I wanted to improve my Tamil further.

To do this, I decided to refer to “A Reference Grammar of Spoken Tamil” that was written in 1999. However, after a couple of days studying some of the grammar points, I realised that I was not going to remember any of this unless I saw it in use. I decided to talk to my Italki teacher today about this issue, and I suggested going through O-level papers and maybe some news to reinforce these grammar points.

I’m looking forward to how I will progress like this. My reading speed is faster now because I have practiced reading for a while now.

I realised that this might pave a way forward for my Mandarin Chinese, which is my Heritage Language. I can understand sentences, but more complex grammar escapes me. Reading and exploring complex grammar is necessary, but not sufficient: I need to imbibe more complex input along the way.

Perhaps the problem that I face in both languages is that my vocabulary is relatively lack-luster. Flashcards by themselves are a bit boring, though I’m not giving up on them; I need to find a way to make them palatable for language learning. Learning by sentences perhaps? Hmmm, a question to ponder about.

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