For our final meeting, we decided to talk about numbers, months and seasons and go back a little to teach each other more about the vocabulary than the culture of the respective language.
For numbers, we were really surprised how comparably easy it is since both ways are rather similar to also Engish or Finnish and I guess all of us were pretty good at even saying numbers in the thousands since you just “have to put the numbers from 1 to 10 together” in a certain way. However, there were a couple of interesting differences such as that you are supposed to pronounce the 0 in a number like 102 or that there is a formal and informal version of the number 2. Moreover, I thought it was interesting that Chinese people tend to put a comma after four digits rather than three digits as I am used to – however, in Germany we change dots and commata which is probably just as confusing.
I had to laugh a lot when talking about the Chinese months since they are called 1-month for january, 2-month for february, and so on with “yuè” being the Chinese word for month that just gets added after saying the respective number.
When talking about the seasons, I learned the hard way how important the correct pronounciation is in Chinese since the word for “spring” can also mean “stupid” when pronounced slightly incorrectly.
Overall, I think it was a pleasure to meet my team mates and I learned a lot about the Chinese language and culture of which I apparently knew less about than expected and I hope that I could teach them a little about the German culture and langauge as well. I can really recommend Each-One-Teach-One – also for the aspect of getting to know new, nice people from all over the world!
In this session we were talking about the look of a typical Chinese or German Household and the living conditions.
Since I am in Finland, I unfortunately could not show the way my parents’ house looks, however, I taught them that especially in villages it is not uncommon that three or sometimes even four generations live in one house. Therefore, our houses have a lot of floors. Additionally, I taught them about German house-related vocabulary such as chair, table, bathroom, living room or kitchen. For the latter, it was very interesting that in Chinese households parties take place in the dining room near the kitchen as my group mate told me. I guess this also stands true to some German households, however, in my family, when there are parties, we go to the living room and expand a table there so everyone can take a seat so the kitchen is out-of-sight because of the mess during and after cooking and the dishes afterwards.
Considering the lack of space in China as it is reported by the media (especially in cities), I was surprised that my group mate’s family even has a small garden/porch and a balcony which is common for me coming from a tiny village. Otherwise, I was surprised that the living style is rather similar.
Overall a very interesting session!
In today’s session, me and my team mates were talking about our respective educational system. I taught them about the process of going from kindergarten to university in Germany. They seemed especially surprised when I told them that there are three different types of schools one can go to after elemantary school that are all on different levels regarding their “difficulty”. E.g., you can finnish Main school (Hauptschule) in 4-5 years and start working but then you have the lowest degree possible and therefore only few options in jobs. However, when you attend high school (Gymansium) and make your Abitur, one can go to university but you will need 8-9 years to get to your final exam (Abitur). A High school’s schedule is also way more demanding and academic than a Main school’s schedule. Also, there are many special forms of schools and degrees in between these two “extrema” and they differ from state to state what surpised them as much as it surprises me even though I am German and went through that very system. However, the German schedules include a lot more breaks and puts probably less pressure on students than the Chinese system.
In Chinese High schools there are piles of bookes every students has to go through according to some pictures. Moreover, there are banners in class saying things along the lines of “when you study harder you will get a place at a good university [like Beijing]” to encourage the students to study more – I have never seen such banners or messages in German schools. A typical day in Chinese schools also includes dedicated nap-times, wearing uniforms and participating in some sports programme either just running or taking part in huge group dancing or gymnastics events with instructors. I knew about the high standards, the Chinese education system imposes on the students, however, I never really got why it is that demanding until today’s presentation: There is simply too much competition among students. With over 100 million students it makes sense that there need to be some (strict) measures to see who is worth going to a good university and who is not. Additionally, there are influences from the communist government being very demanding.
Overall, one of the most educating session I had with my Chinese peers and I am looking forward to the next one.
In our 7th meeting, we were sharing thoughts on typical Chinese or German leisure activities (if there was no pandemic).
Surprisingly, China’s and Germany’s youth are rather similar when it comes to leisure. In both cultures, we like to engage in activities that include meeting our friends, spending time with them or going to parties. Especially eating together or going to bars seem to be the most common Chinese leisure activities for young people. I was also surprised when they told me that having bubble tea is considered a leisure activity since it seems very specific. However, there are two major differences in typical leisure activities in Germany and in China:
- KTV/Karaoke has in Chinese culture a way higher status and is of way higher importance than in Germany. According to my team mates they go to Karaoke Bars regularly and consider it as a leisure activity some people even engage in in the afternoon sometimes as opposed to just in the evening as I would have expected it.
- Me and my friends try to spend as much time outside as possible. Whether it is going to a lake in summer, doing sports outside or especially going on hikes. For the latter, my team mates told me that it is almost no option for them when living in a major city in China because it simply does not have enough nature to offer in order to make it properly enjoyable.
All in all, however, the activities Chinese and German youth likes to engage in is rather similar as I would not have expected it. However, considering my past meetings with my team mates it seems like they have generally less leisure than we have in Germany due to their demanding educational system. This topic will be covered in our next meeting and I am really looking forward to it.
In today’s meeting, we were talking about the composition of families and the value our cultures ascribe to status.
I taught my Chinese teammates about the German words for mother, father, child, sister, etc. and showed them a statistic of the amount of children families have in Germany (statistic_id3051_familien-mit-kindern-in-deutschland-nach-kinderanzahl-2019). I thought it was very surprising that both in German as well as in Chinese we call our parents mama and papa. Since in Germany, we do not really have rituals or traditions that show that elderly people have the highest status, I sadly could not contribute to that topic as much as intended. We respect older people for sure but there is no such thing as a proper tradition showing their allegedly higher status.
I think it is particularly interesting that there are different words in Chinese for both younger and older sisters/brother as well as for the grandparents of your mom’s or dad’s family.
Moreover, all three of us thought it was interesting that when mourning, people in China wear white clothes whereas people in Germany (and the western world) wear black clothes. I also did not know that Chinese people wear red at their wedding (only bride and groom tho) because it is a color representing joy and happiness. They also taught me that there is still a lot of value and importance ascribed to marriage in China. Meaning that parents might get angry at their sons when they do not get married because then, their bloodline would not continue. On the opposite, I feel like marriage in Germany has lost in its meaning and the expectations that Germans have to get married have gotten less – it is still wanted but I think it is of less importance than it was in former times.
This was another very interesting zoom meeting with my Chinese teammates and I am looking forward to the next session.
In today’s meeting we were talking about our typical day at university and at home. When we wake up, when we go to university, what studying requires, when we come home and what we do in the evening.
I especially found it interesting that after actual classes, Chinese students are required to stay at university to do assignments or homework until ~10pm because in Germany we as students are not obliged to do anything in that regard. We can come to classes and leave them whenever we want to and we do not get homework generally. We do have assignments when they are mandatory for our grade and exams at the end of the semester but no such thing as homework – it is our own responsibility to learn the topics in order to catch up in the class. If we cannot, it is our problem.
Moreover, in Germany we do not stay as long at university as Chinese students who have classes from 7am/8am to ~6pm plus the time they must spend at university afterwards. Therefore, it is common among Chinese students to take naps at lunch break. Usually, we stay at university from 8am to mostly mid to late afternoon. Sometimes we need to stay until ~9pm as well. It also surprised me that one of my teammates lives in a dorm room together with 7! people. Living together in Germany is common among students as well but not as such a big group. Compared to my small university in Fulda (see picture) that consists of about 10,000 students, the Chinese university is huge having about 40,000 students.
Additionally I learned that in High School, Chinese students must follow a dress-code and wear a school uniform and that girls are required to wear short hair because otherwise they would focus more on their hair than on the lecture which I thought is a very creative yet weird reason, especially considering that such obligations are illegal in Germany (actually, they would violate the German Constitution).
Overall a very informative meeting.
In our third meeting, we took a deeper dive into conversational German/Chinese. The content of our last two meetings was more about getting to know the culture. Now, I got to know the Chinese way of speaking by first learning the proper pronunciation of certain letters (phonetic symbols instead of Chinese characters). Afterwards, they taught me common phrases like “hello” or “how are you?”. I thought it was particularly interesting that you can also say “have you eaten?” for “how are you” in China and that the shape of Chinese characters originates from drawing the actual thing it means. The character for “fire” was in former times a drawing of an actual flame and over time it has changed a little to the Chinese characters we know today – you can even see in how far the characters have changed and you can depict a flame in today’s character as well (火). Afterwards, they taught me about Chinese beauty standards that basically consists of clear skin, big eyes, being thin and an innocent smile. Then, I taught them about German common phrases and especially the difficulty about the pronunciation of the different ch -, sch- or st- sounds. One tip I included was that in Germany we pronounce each letter unlike in e.g. English. I also included a short smalltalk section in which my two group members could introduce themselves. Referring to the “German” beauty standards, I think there is no actual German beauty standard. Instead, I taught them about the “Western” beauty standards (being tall, muscular, having a tan …) and the most common plastic surgeries in Germany. Since we realized that both languages rely heavily on pronunciation, we decided that we will send each other memos about the pronunciation of the words we learned today to enhance our learning outcomes.
I am looking forward to our next meeting.
The idea to educate each other about festivals and traditions came from the fact that the Chinese New Year’s Festival and the German Karneval had just passed. Therefore, we created small presentations about both national and religious festivals we grew up with in our home country. My Chinese group members taught me about of course the Chinese New Year’s festival, the dragon boat festival, the Chinese traditional version of Valentine’s day and the mid-autumn/moon festival and each one’s story. We could even find some similarities between the “western” New Year’s eve and the Chinese New Year’s festival. There, both use fireworks and colorful objects to scare away monsters, ghosts, etc. I also feel like I’ve been a little better regarding the pronunciation of the festivals’ names. In exchange, I taught my Chinese group members about the German Oktoberfest, Karneval, the way we celebrate christmas and the “Tag der deutschen Einheit” (Day of German Unity) to ensure a good and interesting mix of religious festivals and festivals you mostly engage in for the sake of celebrating itself. We unexpectatly found out that people in China / Germany celebrate the 1 May as the labor day as well. We three of us thought that it would be a national holiday rather than something that other nations celebrate too. While teaching the names of cities where particular festivals are celebrated (München or Köln) I taught them the pronunciation of the letters ä, ö, ü and ß. I think we achieved the overall goal of teaching each other the culture rather than the plane language itself. However, for the next time we decided to teach each other common phrases like “hello, how are you?”, “thank you” or “Can you help me?” to actually get to know the language a little better. Moreover, we decided to talk about different beauty standards in Germany and China since one of my Chinese group members thought that western beauty standards that are portrayed on e.g. Instagram differ heavily from the ones she is exposed to in China. I am really looking forward to our next meeting about common phrases and beauty standards.
In our first proper teaching/learning session me and my two Chinese group members taught each other about german/chinese food, traditional dishes and table manners. They started by showing me how to cook “Luoshifen”- a traditional chinese dish consisting of rice noodles and bamboo. It was especially interesting to see that these noodles need to be cooked twice and that all further ingredients come perfectly portioned in small bags. Something really unusual for the German kitchen as I experienced it. They continued to teach me about traditional Chinese dishes and their proper Chinese pronunciation. Therefore, they taught me 4 different kinds of phonetic symbols ( /, \, -, v) that help pronuncing certain words (but it was still very difficult). The dishes included e.g. Kung Pao Chicken, Zhajianmian or”Hot Pot” which is close to the in Germany well known “Raclette”. Afterwards, they taught me Chinese table manners. I knew that especially older people have a high status in China and certain strict rules need to be followed to be respectful. However, I did not know how strict they are and that they even manifest themselves in the positioning at the table, the order in which someone raises a toast or the placement of one’s glass at the other person’s glass when bumping them together. Also, apparently, one is not allowed to point at others with chopsticks or to put them into a bowl of rice.
Then, I taught them about the German food culture, especailly about the huge variety of breads, sausages and beers. Moreover, I thought it was interesting to teach them about the fish dishes that are very popular in the north of Germany because I think that not that many people know about that. In the course of teaching them the “food culture” I taught them the pronunciation of certain dishes like Brezel, Brot or Brötchen. I used “Brötchen” to explain the concept of a “Diminutiv” (a smaller/ cuter version of something) and the sounds of ä, ö and ü. Finally, I taught them how to make “Frikadellen” via live-cooking on zoom.
Overall, our first meeting was very nice and informative. Moreover, we managed to teach each other everything we planned to teach. Only the pronunciation of Chinese words by me could’ve been better, but I guess it will come with time.
Since the previous meeting was a representation of Bulgarian food we decided this time it was time to try some Chinese food. The girls had prepared amazing, delightful, mouthwatering hot pot with different types of meat and veggies. Chinese cuisine is very spicy so I told them beforehand to be careful with how much spices to put in it since I don’t like spicy food. We kept this meeting chill and discussed the differences and similarities between the cuisines in the two countries.