Student Spotlight – Molly Topham

Written by Michaela Brighella. Posted in Featured News, Newsletter

What do you enjoy most about Chinese?

I really enjoy learning the language, but I really love experiencing and learning more about their culture.

When did you first start enjoying and feeling connected to learning Chinese?

I started in Year 7 when I first came to St Mary’s College. I didn’t enjoy it much then, but after doing the Chinese Speaking Competition and winning in Year 8, I felt like learning the language would be an amazing and fun challenge. I was also encouraged by others and saw it as a beneficial subject to take.

What’s your favourite part about learning Chinese?

I enjoy the way the language is taught, as it is very different from the way we learn other subjects, like maths for example. I enjoy learning and writing characters, as each one is like a little art piece, intricately drawn in order for it to be read. It is also quite funny when you miss out a line or dot because then the character means something completely different than what you intended it to mean.

How has learning Chinese been different this year?

We are learning more about information and communication, in general, this year, rather than learning about basic communication. We learn a lot about their culture through learning the language too. This year, we have learnt more about identifying characters in writing, how to write characters and understanding longer and more everyday conversations.

Learning at home due to COVID-19 the content wasn’t any different, but it was interesting as I found myself more confident to practise the language around the home.

What’s the thing you’ve learnt in Chinese that has always stayed with you? What’s been a key part of your learning Chinese?

Well, something I will always remember fondly is the food we cooked with Li Li Laoshi in Year 9. We cooked spring rolls, dumplings, beefcakes and mooncakes. There was only four of us, and we each got to learn how to make them so we could try it at home. It was a lot of fun and we would always look forward to it!

A key part of my learning in Chinese is learning about the culture, seeing how vastly different their culture is in comparison to Australia. and the history of their culture and how it has changed over time, including all the beautiful cultural celebrations that we have learnt about like the celebration of Chinese New Year and the importance of the Chinese Zodiac.

What is your favourite Chinese item e.g. food, drink, a place, historical location?

Dumplings and tea! We recently went on an excursion to our former teacher’s tea rooms, it was amazing! We learnt a lot about the history of tea, tea etiquette and different types of tea. We tried quite a few and really enjoyed it!

In Year 9, we had our first cooking lesson where we made dumplings! It was really fun, and I remember they tasted so good! I had never had dumplings before and I now officially love them!

Do you want to study Chinese further and explore this as a career path? If yes, what will be your main focus?

I would like to study it in Year 11, and hopefully keep it as a skill for my future. It is extremely beneficial as Chinese has a strong presence globally and in Australia. It would be beneficial towards the career path I wish to go down which is politics and law. The background knowledge and understanding of the language will be beneficial and stay with me throughout my life.

What would be your dream Chinese experience or job?

My dream Chinese experience would be visiting China, experiencing the little towns, visiting the Fuzhou province, walking along the Great Wall, immersing myself in their culture and trying some of their food!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome while studying Chinese?

Speaking and fully understanding what has been said and also interpreting it into my everyday life. Listening is the biggest challenge as we all tend to speak fast in the language we are fluent in, which means it is hard to understand listening tasks and videos we watch. But I have found that if a few keywords are understood, you can still have a conversation.

What advice would you give to other aspiring language students?

If you are interested or curious about any area of a country’s language or its culture, I encourage you to try and learn it! It is a great tool for communication with other countries and you will learn and meet amazing and interesting people along the way. Various opportunities for future careers, holidays, competitions, prizes and more become available to you once you begin to learn! If you are keen or even slightly curious, it is a tremendous opportunity and heaps of fun!

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