Fall 2009

Chinese Instruction at PSL

In June 2009 PSL introduced Chinese language lessons to employees working on the Daya Bay project.  The class meets weekly to learn basic words and phrases in order to improve communication while working in China, since the Chinese collaborators at Daya Bay are not so proficient in English.

Xiadong Jin, the instructor, was born in Chongqing, China and moved to the U.S. in 1990.  In China, Xiadong had an Electrical Engineering major.  She brings five years of experience teaching Chinese to elementary students in Delaware and New Jersey.

The curriculum includes practical exercises such as ordering from a restaurant or giving instructions to workers.  The class has learned useful phrases for working at Daya Bay such as “please put this here”, “this is a delicate item” or “we should do a test before we decide”.  While learning about food, Xiaodong treated the class to her traditional Chinese cooking.

“I think the toughest part about learning to speak Mandarin is mastering the four tones or inflections that determine the meaning of each syllable,” says Chinese language student Jonathan Heise.  “For example, the sound ‘da’ when spoken with a steady high pitch means ‘answer’, with a rising inflection it means ‘reach’, with a falling tone it means ‘big’, and with a falling then rising tone it means ‘to beat’.”

Pictured above: Left, Andy Arbuckle; front center, Instructor Xiaodong Jin; back center, Jonathan Heise; front right, Lee Greenler.


 

Thank you to Karen Aune for the contribution of this article.

 

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