Thursday, May 15, 2014

When Chinese is easier than French

I have to admit that I don't pay much attention to Aelig's progress at school.

Actually I don't know how to. At the beginning of school terms, I wanted to know what she was going to learn this school year. All I got was a list on a paper saying that she would learn how to express herself in speaking and writing, nothing in detail. There is no text book nor syllabus. We just need to provide several empty exercise books and the teacher will glue printed paper with her work on it. We only got to know what she actually did at school the last day before a school break when all the exercise books are passed back.
Hubby would take time to browse through these exercises, praise her when she did well, practice with her on her weak areas.

One day while browsing through all the exercise books, my MIL teased us that we didn't even sign a feedback book where the teacher graded her on different aspect of her works. Only then we discovered that there was a mid term evolution and we had to sign on a page. Her teacher put a number of smiley to represent how satisfy she was in each area: counting from 1 - 20, writing her own name, finishing a puzzle by herself, able to answer a question after a story telling... Overall she was doing ok but very weak in public speaking, and not able to tell what day it was, not able to distinguish morning and evening.

Well, she knows how to say what day it is in Mandarin, but not in French. This is simply because in Mandarin it is so much easier, it literally means day one (Monday), day two (Tuesday), day three (Wednesday) she knows after day three (Wednesday) it will be day four (Thursday). Whereas in French, everyday is a new word, she knows a few but still doesn't get the sequence right.

Days during a week in English / Mandarin / French:
Monday = 星期一 = Lundi
Tuesday = 星期二 = Mardi
Wednesday = 星期三 = Mercredi
Thursday = 星期西 = Jeudi
Friday = 星期五 = Vendredi
Saturday = 星期六 = Samedi
Sunday = 星期日/天 = Dimanche

I think she still hasn't figured out how to memorize these in French. She chose the easier way by telling me that Wednesday = trois (three in French), it seems that she wanted to apply the same system from Mandarin to French. She was also telling me one day that she and her wolf friends are using a different system: it would be day 1, day 2, day 3 until day 9, then it would restart again at day 1. That's how it works in her wonderland with all her imaginary friends. I told her that it was not how it works for human and it was certainly not her to decide.

Anyway, I think she likes to question the existing system and try to apply the easier way out, which is probably a good thing. But still, she would need to know that every language has created it's own system / logic which she has to accept.


  1. Anonymous4:49 AM

    一二三 is also easier... to bad the rest isn't as logic! ;-)

  2. Hi Bee Ean,

    Yah... have been helping my boy with French homework and Google Translate can't even figured out some of the French constructs. It feels like some of the words are very context dependent and an additional of a le, la etc prefixes give them rather different meanings?


  3. Hi Casper,

    Yes some of the words are very context dependent in French. I still make a lot of mistakes on whether a noun is a feminine or masculine as the gender determine how sometimes you write the verb, the adjective and even the structure of the phase.