Aile, a Russian, has been studying at Central South University for two years. She says, "before I came to China, I heard that Chinese was very difficult." She decided to choose Chinese as her major when she was enrolled in college, "I want to prove that I can learn Chinese well."
To distinguish tones is hard for her study, especially with the accented Mandarin of Changsha people, so Aile had a lot of misunderstandings. "I once went to buy some fruits, I didn't look at the price. The salesperson said that it was 10 yuan with accented sound 'si' (similar with 'four') instead of 'shi' ('ten' in standard Mandarin). I didn't know if he pronounced a standard pronunciation or I got it wrong. I thought that it was 4 yuan and gave him a 5-yuan-bill. He insisted on not receiving it by repeatedly telling me 'si' yuan; I insisted on giving him the money. He was kept saying 'N0, N0, N0' and anxiously posed 'ten', finally, I understood."
Aile's way of learning Chinese is to listen more, talk more, write more, and read more. She often goes shopping, watching movies and communicating with local people. Slowly and Gradually, she understands Chinese, and her Chinese is very "authentic" now, with advanced vocabulary, four-character idioms, and she understands the different pragmatic meanings of the same text in different contexts.