David Palsgrove

Interviewed by Tina Chan
Monday, February 28, 2011

In this issue we will be spotlighting David Palsgrove. David has been a longtime student of Cantonese and has recently been leading Saturday Cantonese Student Study Groups for ALESN. In addition to his passion and dedication to the Cantonese language, David is also know for his unique and delightful sense of humor

Tell me about yourself in general.

I was born to a poor rural family in Southern China. At the age of 19 I was kidnapped and brought to the United States. This event was so traumatic that I lost all memory of my past life and my ability to speak Cantonese. It is my love of Cantonese food that leads me to believe that this is my story.

How long have you been studying the Chinese language?

I’ve been studying for about 4 years. Originally on my own and with my girlfriend Ana’s help.

What initially prompted you to learn the Chinese language?

Ana threatens to speak to our hypothetical future children in only Cantonese. I don’t want my future hypothetical children to be able to talk behind my back. Also I get a kick out of being a sik1 gong2 gwong2 dong1 waa2 ge3 lou5 faan1and the surprised looks I get from Zung1 gwok3 jan4.

Tell us about your Cantonese study groups. (eg. What motivated you to start them? When did you start and how often are they held?)

It is difficult to learn a language when you only have one class a week. I held my first study group to cram for one of Ana’s killer midterms. The study group was only 3 people, and lasted about 3 hours. Afterwards I felt a better comprehension of the language than I had ever before. I now hold a study group every week on Saturdays at 3:30. I make my study groups very interactive and fun. We play games and listen to dialoguess. Every week is different but really focuses on the material from Ana’s class. The study group is open to anyone from Ana’s class and from Kam’s intermediate Cantonese class.

What have been some the successes and challenges in learning the Chinese language?

I find Cantonese to be very challenging. After 4 years I know less of the language than a 3 year old. I have however progressed a lot in the past year thanks to Ana’s class and my classmates in my study group.

What classes have had the most successful impact on your Chinese skills?

Tony’s 101 class is the best introduction for anyone wanting to learn. But now I’m learning a lot from Kam’s intermediate class and Ana’s Syntax class is the most challenging.

With the knowledge obtained from ALESN classes and from your own studies of Cantonese, how successful have you been able to interact with natives and other Cantonese speakers? Give an example or two.

I cannot answer that question without first consulting my lawyer.

What ideas do you have for studying techniques and methods to help keep students motivated in classes?

Students need to practice and study multiple times a week. Everyone should be forming there own study groups with their classmates. There are also private tutors available if anyone wants to use them, inside and outside of the program.

What other suggestions do you have to improve our program?

I’m a little apprehensive that our program may lose our focus. We’ve expanded into other subjects and have been attracting more and more people with our workshops. I hope we bring everyone into the study of Asian language rather than chasing after everyone else’s interests. I haven’t seen this happen yet, but it could happen.