One of the classes I enjoy the least is our listening class (听力). If you recall, my class is an absolute beginner class. After enjoying more than a year in China, my experience makes the initial classes terribly boring for me. Indeed I was warned by my Nanchang teachers that the first couple months would probably be very dull review while my classmates learnt about the 4 tones™ and other key principles of Mandarin Chinese. Logically I recognize that attending these classes is still beneficial for me, but the economist in me says the net-benefits of doing anything else (even studying at home) are much higher—especially now that our unheated classroom feels like an icebox despite how many layers of clothing one might wear.
Weeks ago the class agreed that the cassette tape used in class was impossible to hear. Garbled by the cheap cassette player, we were all confounded when extremely simple exercises were rendered unintelligible. The school agreed they would buy a CD for RMB$140 and then copy it for each of the students; thus, it would cost RMB$20 each and please don’t bother to ask about copyrights. I’ve had my copy of this disk for a couple weeks, but I’ve never used it. Imagine my surprise when I pop it into my computer and find out where my money went. Someone had recorded the cassette version into a series of MP3′s and put it onto a data-CD. Each track starts with the unmistakable sound of the gears pulling blank tape over the magnetic reader before the now-doubly-degraded audio begins.
At least we can understand the recording and use it to study at home; although, I still don’t understand why our teacher isn’t capable of reading the exercises from her book in our class, because she still uses the cassette and we still can’t understand so well. Another good reason to stay home.