You Yisi!

By Weiyi Li

When I met with my tutee for the first time, I was really excited that I could teach Chinese in the United States! However, I found it not as easy as I think it would be. The goal of this tutee is to speak Chinese naturally as native speakers, which is a huge challenge for me. An interesting question he asked in the first meeting is that: why “it’s interesting” is translated into Chinese “有意思”? For him, “意思” in Chinese should refers to “meaning”. I cannot think of an appropriate answer even if my undergraduate major was translation and interpreting. Language is sometimes untranslatable! Therefore, I asked him to get rid of the thinking that every word can be translated into another one exactly. If he wants to use Chinese in a natural way, it might be better for him not to translate every word literally whenever he tries to speak. In this case, teaching Chinese in real contexts might be more practical than to do word-by-word translation.


About TC@Penn

University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education
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