Great news! Matador just published my article titled “How I Learned to Read Chinese.”
For those of you dying to know about my path to fluency, this piece tracks how I left illiteracy in Chinese behind. Curious? Here’s a snippet:
When I came to Hangzhou, China in August 2001 as a writer – and to work on Mandarin fluency – I faced a great, embarrassing wall: I was illiterate.
Sure, I could speak and understand basic conversational Chinese, because I’d studied while teaching English in China from 1999 to 2000. Then, as a beginner, speaking and listening in a tonal language was so challenging that I didn’t want to deal with the characters.
But in Hangzhou, my ignorance was a big deal. Even though I could chat with locals, order food and ask directions, I was baffled by business cards, menus, and even store signs. I needed to read so I could build vocabulary and truly be fluent. But how?
UPDATE: Got this in an e-mail from Matador:
I wanted to let you know that your article was featured in this week’s Traverse newsletter, which means it was picked out by senior editor David Miller as one of the strongest pieces published during the week.
That made my day!