March 4, 2013 | Mandarin
A Pimsleur Nightmare!
In which everyone but me remembered everything they learned.
Last night I had a Pimsleur nightmare. It began benignly enough, with the discovery that my New York City cab driver and then also his fellow cab driver friend, who materialized in my dream without logical explanation, were totally familiar with Pimsleur.
Somehow we all ended up standing by their cabs on a street corner discussing Pimsleur.
What Remains of Nemo in New York City
Then I went to a language class at a local recreational center, rather run down. A bunch of people, kind of granola, were all doing a Pimsleur lesson together in a big room with a concrete floor. You could hear the Pimsleur prompts boom out, and they would all respond, and they were in unison all getting the right answers without apparent effort.
Some of them were kind of walking about distractedly, not seeming to pay attention, and yet would still get the answers.
I think the language was Hebrew, and I was kind of dismayed to see how easy it was for everyone.
Then there was a break, and some of us ended up talking about other languages, and they were amazed and rather scornful that when I began studying a new language, I would forget things I had learned from Pimsleur lessons for previous languages.
One of the amazed people, a smug middle-aged woman in a ratty oversized sweater, started rattling off pieces of Pimsleur dialogues in French as well as other languages, demonstrating how it all stayed perfectly clear in her head. After that demoralizing demonstration, then the class continued with the collective Pimsleur lesson.
After a few minutes, I was shocked to realize that they had switched languages and were now doing Chinese, something they had studied quite a while before, and that they were all still getting that right, too.
The dream came at a funny time, because Pimsleur is actually going not so badly for me right now. I am frustrated by two main things: (1) my confusion over the different measure words for schools versus restaurants versus notebooks versus money versus people and so on and (2) my confusion over the different past tenses.
With past tense, I think I am doing reasonably well with the difference between the particles guò and le, but I often choose wrong between le and shì-de. I find myself wondering whether Pimsleur made the distinction clear enough in its initial explanations, and I suspect they did. I probably just don’t remember.
Oh, one final thing I am having trouble with: I can recognize the first and third tones fairly well (high level and falling rising, respectively), but the second (rising) and fourth (falling) are causing me problems. Pimsleur tells me something is a falling tone, and I’m like, really?
I guess this is why I did not end up in the music business.
Here’s a tone quiz you can try. My grade was very bad the first time.