All of sudden, I hear lots of clapping. My roommate jumps to his feet. Hands pat my back encouraging me out of my seat. We’d just completed rounds of riddle-answering and a rousing game of tied-to-your roommate jiaozi dumpling eating contests. What activity had my roommate volunteered me for?
As it turns out it was a the Chinese version of Taboo, a fun game…if you’re playing it in English. The game entails a pair: one person who reads a series of cards and tries to describe the word on the card as to get the partner to guess the word.
I immediately voiced my concern that I likely wouldn’t know enough to recognize the phrase or two-character word on all the cards. I, of course, couldn’t preview the cards to verify if I could recognize them because that would be cheating. I was assured that I’d get two “passes” or times where if I didn’t know the word, I could pass.
The game starts, the first card, I don’t know. Okay, pass. Number two, pass. Number three, thank god, I know this one: it’s computer (my roommate, a gamer, should be able to get this one). Number four pass. Five, pass. Six, soda. Seven, pass. And so on and so forth.
It’s embarrassing. I couldn’t even recognize half the characters shown to me, much less describe them for my roommate. I was hung out to dry in front of a crowd of my peers.
I started my one-on-one class this week (more on that in a later post) and that class is plagued by lack of specific-knowledge vocabulary. Or really any kind of vocabulary. Basically class involves me asking my teacher the meaning of what she just said, her responding with more language I don’t understand, and then me asking for her to explain those words too. I’ve figured out that examples or stories are the best illustrators of what certain terms or words mean.
My teacher’s exact words: “They told me that you guys knew 2000+ characters. I guess that doesn’t include a lot.” Again, embarrassing.