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Tabitha in Beijing's Forbidden City

Tabitha, UIC B.A. in Criminology, Law, & Justice, 2021

As a baby, according to my parents, who are both Spanish speakers, I was a slow starter and wouldn’t speak at all. I would just point and make a sound. However, as I grew, I began to learn two languages simultaneously; English at school and Spanish at home. My parents know English enough to survive outside, and when I am struggling with a word translation from English to Spanish, they help me the best they can. Ever since I can remember, I have always helped my parents when they need help in translating and vice versa. Since all the rest of my family is in Mexico, and I haven’t flown to them, I communicate via phone or video calls. Having the ability to speak Spanish is such a wonderful thing because I can talk to all of my relatives without any impediments, not to mention job opportunities.

I have been speaking those languages my whole life and had the opportunity to learn Mandarin in high school. However, my experience wasn’t pleasant because I never got past the introductory stage in high school because all the teachers would quit.

At UIC, I wanted to continue taking Mandarin versus another language because I wanted to relearn and further learn what I didn’t get a chance in, in high school. Speaking Chinese also gave me the possibility of more job opportunities, and since Japanese and Korean are all similar to one another, I decided to start with Mandarin and then climb up to Japanese and Korean. And since I had some Chinese knowledge, my advisor said it would be possible to get an “easy A” for my first semester at UIC.

Up to now, I’ve taken 3 years worth of Mandarin classes and through those 3 years, I’ve loved every moment of learning. It helps a lot when you find a group you may stick with if you plan to minor in Mandarin. It may be hard at the beginning, but if you study and practice, you’ll do fine as a language learner! Trust me, I passed through it for 3 years! And yes, I do plan to use Chinese in my career, as well as to travel and to watch movies. I’ll finally be able to order food at Chinese restaurants too!