Back in September I started thinking that I really needed to start studying colloquial Amdo Tibetan. I learned a little during the summer, but I thought it would be good to improve as much as I could before Dondrup came back to Chengdu.
As luck would have it, a week after I started Sunday morning lessons with my friend, Tamdrin, Dondrup came to Chengdu. My Sunday morning lessons aren’t always every week, sometimes because of our schedules we can’t meet. But we were working with a colloquial Amdo book that has only Tibetan and Chinese written in it, so I need to look everything up individually.
Tamdrin is a great teacher as she helps fix my pronunciation and explains the sentences and tells me the meaning of a word if I don’t know. Normally we would start by having me read the entire dialogue. Then we will take turns reading the different parts. At the end I would ask about the words I don’t know. The following week we would do a review, before we moved on to study something new.
The biggest help has been living together. In the beginning we were mostly using Tibetan with some English here and there so my listening started to go up quickly. Because my grammar can be bad and I lack vocabulary, sometimes I know it is impossible to understand what I am trying to say. Dondrup for the most part has become used to the way I speak and corrects me when he hears me say something wrong, or will tell me a new word. Sometimes I forget that word several times, because I am someone who needs to see it written to remember it.
Now I can answer and ask simple things, talk a little about my day or feelings. I can understand a lot more of what he says compared to others as I am conditioned to his speech pattern and intonation. As a beginner, it happens that I am used to one person speaking so I doubt myself with new speakers when it comes to my understanding. But slowly I am improving, I know by the end of this year I will be surprised by how far I have come.