My name is Cher, and me & Chinese, well…we have a difficult relationship.
Sometimes we get along just fine, like when I successfully order a rice roll at the local Taiwanese deli and don’t have to repeat myself, but most of the time it pushes me onto a thin bridge to remind me that there’s still work to be done.
If you’re learning Chinese, you know it’s hard work.
You know you need resolve, tenacity, and enthusiasm to show up for this thing and see results.
That being said, even when you do all that you can, it still feels like you’re barely moving the needle.
I created The Iceberg Project because I understand first-hand the hard work you’re putting in & I want to help make the whole process feel less like a time-suck and more like a TV show you just can’t stop watching.
When you decide to do something as time-consuming and as challenging as learning a foreign language like Chinese, it’s easier if you have somebody cheering you on, holding you accountable, and making you laugh.
I started seriously learning Chinese in 2014, you could say I’ve been learning it all my life — in the moments that my mother would bring home pineapple cakes from the closest Chinese store she could find, in the conversations I overheard with her friends and our relatives, and in the stories she told me about her mother.
(That’s my mom during high school in Taiwan. She grew up in two worlds, like me, being half Taiwanese and half African-American.)
(This is my mom & me in front of my grandmother’s house in Hualien, Taiwan.)
All of that aside, I never learned Chinese, and while I spent some of my adolescence wishing that I were a heritage speaker, learning Chinese now is a gift box brimming with perspective, of which I am grateful.
But now I feel the need to go have a relationship with the places my family is from, Taichung and Hualien, so deeply that I had no choice but to start to take my Chinese studies seriously.
So I am here, in the trenches with other people passionate about Taiwan, to learn this fascinating, sometimes frustrating language.
Because of my background, I like to share language + culture from Taiwan, which is a little island in southeast Asia, also known as the Republic of China or the ROC.
If you want to move to Taiwan because you want to reconnect with your roots or are compelled to learn about the culture for reasons you don’t quite understand yet, I’m thrilled that you’re here.
While being a language prodigy would be an interesting story…
I am not one by any stretch of the imagination.
I started learning Chinese when I was six…and kept trying to learn it until I was 18. (Along with Japanese, Latin, and Spanish)
And then that cycle was interrupted.
I started learning Italian in 2012, and I was awful at it.
But I moved to Italy for six months, and I fell in love with a human (of Italian origin) who reminded me that what I really came to Italy for wasn’t romance, but the language.
I kept learning Italian (and I started a website for others to learn it, too), and now I feel like it’s a language that I own.
In the midst of starting The Iceberg Project, I realized that I did not just want to learn Italian, but I also wanted to learn Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Japanese and a slew of other languages.
This, as you can imagine, was troubling (because, hello, it can be sort of a time suck).
But I said yes anyway to this crazy dream, and that’s what brings me here.
Okay, now back to you…
You’re learning Mandarin (from Taiwan), and you need some resources, because let’s be real, Chinese can be a difficult language.
That’s what I’m here for.
Each week you’ll find a new article on everything from my personal journey + mishaps with the language, how to learn a language more effectively, and Chinese grammar and phrases.
What’s more, if you enter your name + email address here, I’ll send you weekly notes of encouragement, language tips, and funny stories to help you keep your head + your heart in the game.
Everything I create on the site is edited by YuYuan, a native speaker from Taiwan, who is patient enough to fix all of my mistakes and passionate enough about teaching Mandarin to be here with all of us.
If you do want to hang out here, all I ask is that you’re serious + passionate about acquiring the language.
(Obsession is a plus and desperation to learn the language is even better.)
Dabbling might be alright in other places, but not here.
Here, we encourage each other to raise our standards.