We live in Northern California and have the opportunity to travel to San Francisco periodically - generally accompanying the kids' father on business trips but occasionally for pleasure. When we do, the kids always insist we visit Chinatown.
Shawn, our Mandarin instructor, is eager to encourage the kids in their conversation skills and works diligently to develop activities or assignments to help them overcome their natural inhibitions to strike up conversations with strangers. Overcoming the fear of making mistakes is the biggest obstacle language learners encounter.
The only way to really master a language (or anything, for that matter) is to face your fear and try. Mistakes are part of learning. You cannot become fluent without making mistakes.
Most people will admire your effort and will enjoy helping you by correcting you. If someone is irritated by your frequent errors, you don't have to speak to that person.
Some of the activities they have tried in the past include impromptu conversations and scavenger hunts. Most recently, they have begun to memorize scripts they have written themselves as an aide from which they can draw from when conversing with others.
Shopping in Chinatown
On a recent visit to San Francisco, Shawn asked that they engage in a minimum of two conversations to accompany lesson #19 in Discovering Chinese Pro. They were given the option of working individually or to collaborate with one another.
Go to a store in Chinatown that you might like and shop there. Make sure that the owner speaks Mandarin Chinese. Make a purchase there.
Go to another store in Chinatown. Make sure that the owner speaks Mandarin Chinese and show your interest in shopping there, but decline the purchase in the end.
The goal is that you will be able to carry out a conversation in Chinese. In these conversations, you may use the following ideas for the conversation:
You may use the following examples as a guideline; your actual conversation should be different, however.
In undertaking this assignment, we discovered that not all store owners would permit me to film the conversation. I was able to capture a few moments though: