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Practice Speaking Chinese at the Chocolate Store



(zai4) (qiao3 ke4 li4) (dian4) (li3) (lian4 xi2) (shuo1) (zhong1 wen2)

(at) (chocolate) (store) (in) (practice) (to speak) (Chinese language)

Practice Speaking Chinese at the Chocolate Store



It can be scary, but it is a good habit to get into.



(ru2 guo3) (ni3) (yao4) (xue2 hui4) (shuo1) (zhong1 wen2) , (ni3) (jiu4) (dei3) (gen1) (xu3 duo1) (ren2) (lian4 xi2) (shuo1)

(if) (you) (to want) (to succeed in learning) (to speak) (Chinese language), (you) (exactly) (must) (with) (numerous) (people/person) (to practice0 (to speak)

If you want to learn to speak Chinese, you must practice with a variety of people.


You might be surprised where you hear Chinese being spoken.



(wo3) (lü3 xing2)❷ (dao4) (zong1 lü3 quan2) (de. shi2 hou4), (wo3) (qu4 le.) (yi4 jia1) (qiao3 ke4 li4) (dian4)

(I) (travel) (to arrive) (Palm Springs) (when), (I) (went to) (one + measure word for store = a) (chocolate) (store)

When I traveled to Palm Springs, I went to a chocolate store.


There were four people in there speaking Chinese!



(wo3) (shi4 shi4 kan4) [(qiao1 qiao1)(de.)] (zou3) (bi3 jiao4) (jin4) (ta1 men.), (ting1 yi2 ting1),

(pan4 duan4) (ta1 men.) (shuo1) (pu3 tong1 hua4) (huo4) (guang3 dong1 hua4).

(I) (to try) [(quiet)(ly)] (to walk) (comparatively) (close) (them), (listen a little listen),

(to determine) (they) (to speak) (Mandarin) (or) (Cantonese).

I tried to quietly get closer to them to figure out if they were speaking Mandarin or Cantonese.


I could understand just enough to know, but I was still feeling awkward.

不過,我想到如果我不跟他們說, 我老公和老師會問我,「為甚麼妳沒試著跟他們聊聊天!?」


(bu2 guo4), (wo3) (xiang3 dao4) (ru2 guo3) (wo3) (bu4) (gen1) (ta1 men.)  (shuo1), (wo3) (lao3 gong1) (han4) (lao3 shi1) (hui4) (wen4) wo3), “(wei4 shen2 me.) (ni3) (mei2) (shi4) (zhe.) (gen1) (ta1 men.) (liao2 liao2 tian1)

(However), (I) (thought of) (if) (I) (not) (with) (them) (to speak), (my) (husband) (and) (teacher) (will) (to ask) (me), “(why) (you) (not) (to try) (adverbial particle much like adding “-ing” to a verb) (gen1) (ta1 men.) (chat)

However, I remembered that if I did not speak with them that my husband and teacher would ask me, “Why didn’t you try talking to them?”


I knew I would end up telling them sooner or later.



(bing4 qie3) (wo3 de.) (po2 po.)❸ (jiu4) (zai4) (na4 li.)

(besides) (my) (mother-in-law) (exactly) (at) (there)

Besides, my mother-in-law was right there.


I took a deep breath and practiced a couple quick phrases in my head.



(ran2 hou4) (wo3) (jiu4) (kai1 shi3) (gen1) (ta1 men.) (liao2 qi3 lai2), “(dui4 bu. qi3)…”

(Then) (I) (just then) (to begin) (with) (them) (chat + beginning and continuing of action), “(pardon me, excuse me)…”

Then, I just started to chat with them, “Excuse me…”


They were astonished!



(ta1 men.) (ye3) (hen3) (gao1 xing4)! (ma3 shang4) (gen1) (wo3) (shuo1) (zhong1 wen2)

(they) (also) (very) (happy)! (on horseback = quickly, at once) (with) (me) (to speak) (Chinese language)

Also, they were very happy! Right away they spoke to me in Chinese!


It was good practice, and encouraging.



(ta1 men.) [(ting1 dong4)(le.)] (wo3) (shuo1 de.), (ta1 men.) (ye3) (dou1) (shuo1), “(ni3) (shuo1) (zhong1 wen2) (shuo1 de.) (hen3) (hao3)

(they) [(hear to understand) (indicates completion)] (my) (to speak + adjective marker = what I spoke), (they) (also) (all) (to say, to speak), “(you) (to speak) (Chinese language) (to speak + adverbial explicative = as you speak it) (very) (good)

They understood what I said, and they also all said, “You speak Chinese very well!”


Not that I spoke it perfectly.



(ta1 men.) [(re4 xin1)(de.)](gai3)(yi1 dian3) (wo3) (shuo1 cuo4)(de.)

(they) [(warm heart)(edly)] (to correct) (a little) (my) (speak mistake) (adjective marker)

They graciously corrected my mistakes in speaking.


There were two other bonuses.



(wo3 de.) (po2 po.) (hen3) (zan4 shang3) (zhe4 xi2) (tan2 hua4), (ye3) (yu2 le4)(le) (liang3 ge.) (dian4 li3) (de.)(huo3 ji.)

(my) (mother-in-law) (very) (impressed, admire) (this + measure word for “conversation”) (conversation), (also) (divert, amuse, entertain) (indicates completion) (two) (store inside) (adjective marker) (shop assistant)

My mother-in-law was very impressed with the conversation, plus the two store clerks were diverted.


The other obvious lesson from all of this is:



(wo3) (ying1 gai3) (mai3) (geng4 duo1) (qiao3 ke4 li4) ,(suo3 yi3) (wo3) (ke3 yi3) (lian4 xi2) (shuo1) (zhong1 wen2)

(I) (should) (to buy) (still more) (chocolate) (so) (I) (can) (practice) (to speak) (Chinese language)

I should buy much more chocolate so I can practice speaking Chinese!


An audio of the story lesson, with my tutor reading the Chinese helps me practice both listening and getting tones correctly when speaking:


Notes on things I reviewed or particularly learned while writing this:

❶ The more literal translation of these two characters “learn (you) will),” reminds me of Yoda in Star Wars. I am a product of my times… Here is the break down again: 學會 (xue2 hui4) (to learn + will)

❷ Quick tip on typing an umlaut on my mac: hold down the “option” key, then press the “u” key. Let go of them, then press the letter’s key that you want under the umlaut. To get the umlaut characters when using the mac keyboard options in the pinyin mode, use the “v”.

❸ Some character’s tones are defined as neutral, such as the adjective marker 的 (de.), others become neutral when they are the second character in a word, especially if it is a repeated character.

❹ The two characters 起來 (qi3 lai2) are frequently added to a verb in casual conversation. The implication is that the interaction is friendly and casual.

❺ This is simply one of the most fun words I have learned in Chinese. The two characters literally mean “horse” and “get on.” Recall that the position word comes after the noun in Chinese. So, to get on the horse came to mean “get something done quickly”, or “get right on it!”馬上.

❻ Another common way to say “store clerk” is 店員 (dian4 yuan2).