While riding the bus with my tutor Eric, I had the chance to speak briefly with a collection of older Chinese. When I introduced Eric to them as my teacher (they’d complimented me on my pronunciation [!!!!] and I wanted to give credit where credit was due), one man gave me this excellent ponder-fodder. It’s the absolute truth; when language is your means of survival and you’re learning experientially, every interaction brings with it a chance to improve your skills. Like the security guard in our building told us, when you speak with people, you might not know the right word, but you can guess and make do with other words 代名词 (synonyms,or tools, as he referred to them) until you achieve the intended sentiment. Speaking with every-men gives you regular opportunities to extend your linguistic tool-belt and play guess-and-check until you figure things out for yourself.

“When you’re out in the streets, everyone is your teacher.”

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