Chinese Lessons More Popular Than Expected

Chinese Lessons More Popular Than Expected

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioLanguage lessons have been popular for many years, but one language is getting more popular than some people expected. Spaces for Chinese lessons at one school are going fast.

Everyone coming to the Utah Chinese School seems to have a different reason to come.

Richard Wight said, "Oh, it's wonderful. I've been waiting for this for 10 or 20 years."

Wight first learned Mandarin for his LDS Church mission, and he wants to retain as much of it as he can.

"Even those who are well grounded in the language need to keep up with it," he said.

Then there's Nataunya Kay, who's signing up her daughter McKenzie.

"We have some friends who are Chinese, and she knows a few words, and every time she speaks Chinese, they're like, ‘Oh, that's so good [with] no accent!'" Nataunya said.

However, "Every time I speak, they go, ‘Uh, good,'" she added.

Whatever the reason, more people are coming to the classes every Saturday than even the principal expected.

Jennifer Mangelson said, "I expected maybe about 20 to 30 [students] at the most, but it ends up at about 90 students. I was overwhelmed."

Hui Jen Yeh has been going by the American name Jennifer Mangelson ever since she got married. She started this school in her home in Farmington.

"First of all, it was only 20 to 30 students in my house," she said.

"Is Mandarin a pretty language?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," she said.

"How do you say, ‘Your face is very ugly and you smell bad?'" I asked next.

"Uh, ni han cho, ni han cho," is the answer.

"Wow, it is a pretty language," I told her.

"Oh, thank you," she replied.

I told her, "I wasn't talking about you, by the way."

"Oh, that's OK," she said.

Is it just me, or do those two phrases sound exactly the same?

"When you asked me, ‘You're ugly' and ‘You're stinky' it's the same thing. It's ‘Ni han cho' and "Ni han cho.' It's the same pronunciation but a different tone," Mangelson explained.

"You're not teaching people to say, ‘You're stinky and ugly,' are you?" I asked.

"No, no," she insisted.

Well, other languages also have similar sounding words you could get tripped up over. Once, I tried to say the Spanish phrase "Estoy tan enojado," which means, "I'm very mad." However, instead I said, "Estoy tan mojado," which means, "I'm very wet."

Classes are from 10 a.m. to noon every Saturday at the Gateway Community Church in Draper. If you want to sign up for the classes, call 601-8059.

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