Yesterday I taught a pure-joy introductory workshop at YMCA Chinatown (New York City) run by ALESN, an Asian language non-profit group.
A little background: ALESN runs a number free Asian language classes hosted in YMCA classroom, from Chinese mandarin, Cantonese, to Japanese. All staff and instructors are volunteers who love to share their language and passion with friends and students.
I signed up for mandarin and Japanese, both beginner level, which are great fun. Their classes are more like a group of friends sitting together for a discussion than an university academic class.
The staff and instructors are amazing, and so are the students.
Everyone speaks at least 2 languages. A couple even speak 3 or more fluently.
Vietnamese wasn’t on the list, so I volunteered to teach one.
We started with one workshop to see how many would be interested in the class.
It was great fun, and I had about 20 students.
What’s really great is how supportive everyone is. I fumbled quite a bit at the beginning, but everyone was really encouraging.
The next thing is how good my students were. They learned so fast. I was really amazed. Many speak another tonal languages like Mandarin or Cantonese or both so Vietnamese tones were no big deal for them, except one (dấu ngã). That was the only one we had to practice again and again.
I was waving my arms up and down widely to illustrate how the tones rose and fell while saying each tone in slow motion. It was funny like a music conductor singing on stage.
Well, if you could be there, be there. The class is free and registration is still open at ALESN.
And I promise it to be great fun.
At the minimum, you’ll learn all kinds of (in)appropriate stuff that NYU won’t teach.