Last week I stopped by to visit an exciting new course this year, Mandarin I. Students were reviewing the lesson in inviting people out to dinner on Thursday. "How about if I treat you to dinner on Thursday?" and "Yes, that would be fine." Patrick Nichols, Kenny Navedo, Charley Neisner, Lizzy Takyi and Grant Holliday sounded almost like native speakers. Yijie Chen, the teacher, was prompting students to remember phrases and demonstrating correct pronunciation. Students practiced individually and as a whole group, their tones improving perceptibly.
Most impressive of all to someone who labored years to write characters, Ms. Chen was writing long sentences out on the board in Chinese characters and students were following right along, copying out all the characters with fluency and confidence. Of course, the Mandarin students are practicing with our native speakers from China. It is very clear that the goals of oral fluency and of having fun in the language are being achieved daily, and I am proud of the students who took the leap into this new language. I am quite sure that when we next go to Beijing, Dublin students will have many Thursday supper dates and maybe some on other days of the week too!