Mandarin through immersion: bringing a language to life
“You know the parts of the body in Chinese really well,” my Chinese qi gong doctor says, as she discusses where qi - or energy - is blocked in my body.
Anyone who’s ever been to China will know that the Chinese are still somewhat incredulous when a foreigner, or laowai as they like to refer to us, can speak their language. The slightest effort, like giving an address in Chinese to a taxi driver, reaps an avalanche of compliments about the level of your Chinese.
But this time, I know I have the body parts mastered! I learned them by repetition - not the sort of agonising rote learning I went through at school learning Latin, French, Spanish and German in the early eighties – no, this vocab was acquired through physical pain. I was not in language class when I learned how to name all the parts of my body, but in yoga class - with a Chinese yogi. That’s when they became forever engrained.