Learning Zhōng wén (Chinese Language)

For our birthdays, Kimberly and I decided to get each other lessons to learn Mandarin. This was on my Christmas List for 2010 but I didn’t get it. :( We had first looked into Rosetta Stone but read some reviews that said that it took a Latin-language approach to learning an Asian language which didn’t work too well. We read about another alternative called Fluenz, but after looking at a sample lesson on youtube were turned off that the person teaching Mandarin is a white American. By chance, we happened upon another video on youtube of a young lady named Yang Yang Cheng who teaches Mandarin lessons in Los Angeles and has her own website with video lessons, audio lessons, etc available in addition to private or group lessons.

We loved her videos and her enthusiasm and felt that she was a much better teacher. So, we bought her Pinyin DVD and her first level of audio lessons and workbook and are now learning all about Mandarin. We also rented a movie, “To Live” that she recommended (an excellent movie, but it was a somewhat sad drama but covered a nice history of China in the 20th century). We also bought an English-Mandarin dictionary and a couple of books on the culture of China also recommended by Yang Yang. All in all, we spent WAY less than we would have on Rosetta Stone or Fluenz yet feel like we are getting a more quality result.

To date, we are learning about the four tones and some of the vowel sounds of Mandarin so that we can have a good foundation in properly pronouncing words. We aren’t learning very fast but are enjoying it. We already know how to say “I Love You” and are eager to say this to Lín Zĭ Xuán when we travel to see him for the first time.

We also are quite aware that Lín Zĭ Xuán might speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin since he is from the southern part of China, but whatever. I love learning languages and am eager to learn as much as I can before our trip.

Finally, we found another cool website that is able to take traditional Chinese characters, translate this into pinyin for us and provide the proper tones, and also provides and audio pronunciation. We used this to learn how to properly pronounce our son’s name: Lín Xuán. Also, we’d like everyone to be aware that Lín is his last name, not his first name. His first name is actually 2 words: Zĭ Xuán. He doesn’t have a middle name.

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Adoption Timeline
  • Summer 2010 - started talking about adoption
  • Aug 19, 2010 - participated in webinar
  • Sep 22, 2010 - mailed in adoption application
  • Sep 28, 2010 - adoption application accepted
  • Oct 8, 2010 - fingerprints for home study
  • Oct 14, 2010 - fire inspection done
  • Oct 25, 2010 - Patrick & Kimberly complete physicals for the adoption
  • Nov 4, 2010 - finished Heart of the Matters Parent Education
  • Nov 9, 2010 - Ariel's physical is completed
  • Nov 15, 2010 - 1st Home Study Visit
  • Dec 10, 2010 - Kimberly's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 16, 2010 - Patrick & Ariel's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 19, 2010 - Received rough draft of Home Study to review
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Received Final Home Study
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Sent I800A form into USCIS
  • Jan 18, 2011 - We see our son's face for the 1st time!
  • Jan 21, 2011 - Submit Letter of Intent to China
  • Jan 27, 2011 - Receive Pre-Approval from China
  • March 7, 2011 - I800a approval
  • March 24, 2011 - Dossier to China
  • April 2, 2011 - Log In Date
  • May 16, 2011 - LOA
  • June 2, 2011 - I800 Approval
  • June 10, 2011 - Cable sent by National Visa Center
  • June 13, 2011 - NVC Letter & final paper work sent to Agency!!!!
  • June 23, 2011 - Article 5 papers dropped off
  • July 8, 2011 - Article 5 pick up
  • July 19, 2011 - Travel Approval!!!!!!
  • August 15, 2011 - Forever Family Day!!!!!!
  • August 25, 2011 - Arrive home; Xander becomes a US citizen :)