I ended language school last Friday, and the freedom of the last few days has been quite enjoyable. So before I head off to Australia for a family vacation, let me give some parting thoughts on Chinese School （中文暑校）.
- Language School is VERY effective. You learn a lot in your nine weeks and it really is a fantastic way to study a language. While it may be more fun and a lot more cost effective to buy that plane ticket and learn in situ, going to Vermont has its advantages of allowing you to take language risks that you would never attempt abroad.
- Language School is hard. I certainly was not the best behaved language pledge student (I got warned by the Director of the school) but even still I really believe in the language pledge or at least the idea of using a language outside the classroom. I still liken the language pledge to the communist ideals in China where everyone waves their language pledge flags and in hiding uses English on a regular basis.
- You develop a different personality in a different language. This really was something that blew my mind in the last few days of school when students started speaking English: their “English” personalities didn’t match their “Chinese” personalities. As mentioned at the beginning of the program, someone once said, “learning a new language is like getting an extra life.” I really believe this now and its fascinating to observe the differences between language lives.
- Along the lines of language personalities, relationships also can be seen in the context of language. Again noted at the end of the nine weeks, speaking English to a person you met in the context of Chinese is awkward at best. I feel its best that I continue my friendships made at Chinese school using Chinese and not English. It’s already happening: I get Facebook messages from Chinese School friends in Chinese.