I just read your book and really enjoyed it. I just returned from a three-week adventure in China. I experienced almost everything you wrote about. I loved China but at times really missed my western life (toilet). I studied Mandarin for a year prior to my trip, and can't imagine how horrible it would have been if I didn't speak the little I did to get by!Thanks for the good read! I heard your NPR interview the day before your book came out and promptly ordered it. Thanks!!!
Dear Dr. Fallows –Well, not exactly a review, but I figured an author would be likely to read an email tagged as one.I’m chugging through your book. I’ve chugged through Shanghai, Beijing, Hefei, Qingdao and various watertowns and gardentowns each August for the past six years.I also chugged through 7 years of Latin and 5 years of French study -- and can’t start a fight in either language. So I have learned “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome” in several languages as I have had the opportunity to travel – France, Italy, Greece, England, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Detroit…. Once the locals stop laughing, they quickly switch into English to preserve the integrity of their language.I’m currently taking Mandarin at the school at which I teach. Marvelous teacher, great approach. Things stick, and thank heaven for my trips to China. Even the folks at the Chinese restaurant and my Chinese friends in the college are receptive, although after they get over the shock that a westerner is trying to learn Mandarin, they laugh and probably shake their heads. I even have a class of folks from Qindao who are preparing to teach math in US schools (God help ‘em) and who are working to help me along. Gives ‘em perspective on the learners THEY’LL face in Baltimore county. What a proposition. Anyway, they laugh a lot, too.It’s a mixed bag – the Beijingers (including my professor) speak one dialect, the Shanghainese speak – Shanghainese (where I taught Shanghainese teachers of English who teach in Shanghai, so the Mandarin study didn’t help much) --, the folks from Qindao speak Qindaonese (but think it’s the true Mandarin), and my friends in the college are from all over China, so probably speak English so that they can understand each other. Grin.But I persist. No one claims to understand what I say in any language, anyway. At least the Chinese are polite – my teacher has named me Huo Qi Zhe, which she interprets to mean something like “philosopher who inspires,” metaphorical, like much of Mandarin (I think) and which, hopefully, doesn’t mean “he who licks hubcaps….”Your book disturbs me. That’s the review. Why? First, after an hour or so, I am halfway through, and that means that the end is near. It’s always that way with books I love. I fell in love with yours right away – I bought it because of and despite the “review” I read in the Post, which doesn’t NEARLY do it justice. Even slowing down doesn’t help. All pages are dog-eared and I’ll more than likely read it twice. Maybe more. Second, I just got it the other day. Why’s that disturbing? Because I didn’t have it six years ago, that’s why. Frankly, in a world with its head on straight, it’ll be a classic. Already is in mine. I may even incorporate it into my classes – how to teach and how to teach the learners in your class who are struggling and those who are flying. It’s a wonderful read, and well done.I spent a summer at G’town, at the school of linguistics – years ago, but I think that Roger Shuy, Ralph Fasold and Deborah Tannen must be thrilled, if they’ve seen your book. If they’re not, poo on ‘em.So, anyway, you done good, Dr. Muchos xiexies.My friends will hear about this. So will my enemies (since I don’t know which are which).It’d be nice to see/hear you speak. I’ll double-check your sites to see if you’re on the docket anywhere nearby at a time when I don’t have to cut class (mine) to see it. Heck, maybe I’ll make it a field trip. They’ll like it better, anyway, and perhaps I’ll combine it with a bookstore walkabout exercise I have them do. Might even sell some books, too, which would be a good thing.About the review – need to include what I don’t like, eh? OK the end is near, that’s what’s wrong.I owe you one, Laoshi.Jackjcole@towson.edu
Yvette, Congratulations for hitting the ground running. It's quite a commitment to study Mandarin a year, for a 3 week trip!Professor Jack, Noone has ever called me Laoshi before. Such a dignified term; I can see why teachers are proud to have that title. Taitai is what I usually heard. At first, taitai used to sound kind of derogatory to me -- like "Hey you, housewife!" And maybe I'm imagining it, but later it felt more like "Madam" or at least "Mrs." And still better than the counterpart, laogong, which often got a little chuckle, the way a reference to "my old man" would.