Opening new paths with Mandarin class

Mandarin teacher Xia Pomposi hopes her students will continue to study Mandarin in college because of the usefulness of the language relating to economics and understanding Asian culture.


**Practice makes perfect…** *While senior Jack Schembri (right) practices his character, Mandarin Teacher Xia Pomposi helps him write them correctly. Students are expected to know how to properly write all characters they learn.* *Arrowhead photo by C. Hickey.*

Taking Mandarin because it is spoken at home or because it is a fun class, students are taking advantage of the newly offered Mandarin Chinese class.
Some seniors took the class for enjoyment. “I took it for fun,” senior Ruchi Hegde said.
Others have family who speak Mandarin. “I want to be a part of the conversations with my relatives in China,” senior Jeffrey Lee said.
In class students refer to Pomposi as Pomposi lǎoshī, which means teacher Pomposi.
Certain students have the added benefit of their parent or parents speaking Mandarin. “I have a person who knows Chinese that I can study with,” Lee said.
According to Lee, his mother is stricter than the teacher. “When I’m talking she will correct me on the slightest mistake,” Lee said. “It’s like having a second teacher at home.”
One big part of the class is memorizing the many characters.
“You have to keep remembering,” Lee said, “Once you get in the habit of the grind, it’s not too bad.”
When Pomposi learned Mandarin when she was younger, she wrote characters many times to memorize them, and would get in trouble if she could not remember. According to Pomposi, teaching here is more gentle compared to in China.
In the class, students are expected to know all the characters learned. “You need to memorize them all, know how to write it, [and] know how to read it,” Lee said. “There’s no alphabet to help.”
The characters in Mandarin all have specific ways they need to be written. “The strokes and the way you write it is actually a part of the character,” Lee said.
Pomposi has said many times in class that Mandarin is harder at the beginning than other languages, but easier in the long run.
According to Hegde, she started to learn quickly. “Once I got the basics down it was pretty easy for me,” Hegde said.
Knowing Mandarin and overall Chinese culture can “help you understand a lot [of] asian culture so it’s not only a language, also its culture things,” Pomposi said.
According to Pomposi, Mandarin is a very important language to learn. “She was very encouraging of me to continue it into college,” Hegde said.
The class focuses on more than only the language. Pomposi also teaches Chinese culture. “She teaches you the culture along with the language,” Hegde said. “It’s an interesting class to gain some perspective.”
There are 56 ethnic groups in China. “Right now we are learning the mainstream culture,” Pomposi said.