By ◆ Juppie on Friday, February 26, 2010 @ 8:49 PM

There are two Chinas, actually, the People's Republic of China (the big country) and the Republic of China (the island of Taiwan), but both countries are Mandarin-speaking and Mandarin-writing.

This poses a problem for me, especially considering the vast population of the big China. Mandarin is becoming more of an important language to know in the world, and I'm already affected, despite that fact that my "world" is still not very big.

On Friday afternoon, while I was at home, the phone started ringing. I decided to pick it up, figuring it might be one of my parents. It was a lady speaking in Mandarin. I was quiet a while, trying to translate it in my head. The lady finally said something in English, something about a clinic, and that made sense to me. Then she spoke in Mandarin asking if ___ (my mom's name) was home, to which I responded she wasn't. The lady seemed slightly worried, saying that my mom had an appointment tomorrow and she wanted to know if it could be rescheduled or something like that. I tried to reply that I would tell my mom, but I couldn't come up with the right words...So after a little pause, I hung up.

This made me realize what a pickle I'm in. I can understand Mandarin to some degree (I know more of the Shanghai dialect than Mandarin because my parents speak that at home), but I am illiterate (the only ones I can easily recognize are 人, 一, 二, 三, 四, 月, 火, 上, 下, 小, 大, 云, and 中). Also, I can only say a few phrases. One of the phrases I know sounds like "Wan Dan La!" (Don't really know how to translate it.) My parents say it is something more commonly said in Taiwan, almost like slang, I guess, and they think I must have picked it up from one of my friends from Taiwan. But that's weird, because usually I speak English with my friends.

Anyways, I will be in a real fix if Mandarin becomes the language of the world. I mean, it's already the #1 spoken language of the world, and the second place language, Spanish, is far behind. I'm kind of worried. I don't think I could easily learn to read Chinese at this age. I did start learning once during a summer, years back, but I've already forgotten. It was more like I was memorizing the lines so I knew what to say; not sure if I actually knew what I was reading. Anyways, it gets harder and harder the older you get to learn a language. So if you want to learn, start early. (I'm jealous of my cousins in France. They have already started learning English and they're not even in middle school yet)

Recently, my middle school had an Electives Night. I didn't attend, though I wanted to (just to get cookies from the cooking classroom! They have great cookies). My mom said, "Why do you want to go? You're going to a different school next year, so it doesn't matter." And so I stayed home.

But some students did go, to help my French teacher out, since she has to "sell" her classes and all. Parents and students tend to wonder, "Should I take French or Spanish?" (I say French, but I'm biased.) Since Spanish is considered to be more useful (because more people speak Spanish, and California is close to Mexico), more students take Spanish. And there is somewhat of a misconception that Spanish is easier than French. (I have no idea about that, but I'm guessing they're about the same once you get used to them. You just have to get more of an accent for speaking French) There is one good argument for French, though, and that's the fact that there is no Spanish Week at my school, only French Week. Haha!

I really wish the schools still offered German. And I'd like to learn Italian (but then again, I hear if you know French or Spanish - or both - it shouldn't be too hard to understand Italian. French, Spanish, and Italian all use the word "Ciao!" for "goodbye"). It'd be nice if my school had Japanese. Then I could learn Japanese 1 in 8th grade and take Japanese 2 in high school. It seems weird that Japanese 2 is an option for freshmen. Only people who learned Japanese outside of school or who already knew Japanese would be able to take it, right? I feel like it's a setback for me and other students since we can't take Japanese in middle school (not even Mandarin, the class got cut, sadly). I'd like to be able to get all 5 levels of a language done.

Then again, it's not horrible if you don't take AP classes, is it? I've heard that AP classes are college level classes. I suppose if you take AP classes and then make yourself busy in college, you can graduate earlier or something. But I don't see why you have to be in such a rush in life. Why not take it at your own pace? (Assuming your pace isn't as slow as mine, since I want to retire and all) I guess this competitive world and market makes people feel they must try their hardest, be the fastest and the best, so they can come out on top.

But if you've got friends like these, who needs anemone? (Get it? It's a joke from Finding Nemo.) I know that doesn't make sense, but I just wanted to say that for once.

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