One of the biggest challenge faced by those of us keen on picking up or improving our conversational Teochew is finding that someone who not only speaks the language, but is patient enough to explain even the most basic terms in our preferred tongue. Fortunately we have amongst Gaginang many individuals who care enough about what belongs to us. One of them is Jing from Vietnam, the creator of the Learn Teochew YouTube channel.
Learn Teochew has a series of videos teaching basic conversational Teochew to both English and Vietnamese speakers. Its first lesson (in four parts) introduces the main features of the Teochew language (including its tones, pronunciation of different vowels etc).
This is followed by progress to teaching vocabulary terms for pronouns and greetings, relations, number and order, time, date etc. Advancing further, you are taught to engage in simple daily life conversations.
The lessons are wonderfully organised and structured. To make sure even those who have no prior knowledge of Teochew can follow along, the presentation of every video is not only accompanied by English/Vietnamese texts, but also the Teochew peng'im and (in more recent lessons) Chinese characters, as well as lively pictures.
On the basis of personal effort, producing each lesson of Learn Teochew takes a large amount of time and dedication. In recognition of this, The Teochew Store took time to get to know Jing and to find out his motivations:
The Teochew Store (TTS): Jing, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Jing (J): About me, I'm a Teochew-nan lived in Saigon since born. Both my parents and grandparents are Teochew-nan too
TTS: Can you briefly introduce your "Learn Teochew" channel?
J: The first thing I want to say is that I’m not a Teochew language expert. I’m just a natural Teochew speaker. So Learn Teochew is for people who want to learn basic Teochew. I’d appreciate very much any Teochew language expert contribution to my channel.
TTS: What or who inspired you to start this channel and what do you wish to achieve from it?
J: For years ago I realized that many young Teochew people in Saigon (where I live) can’t speak Teochew or just a little. Although there is a Teochew class in District 5 (Hội quán Nghĩa An in Saigon), I think most people don’t have time or it’s too far for them to go there. So I decided to make a YouTube channel to help them learn Teochew from home.
TTS: Have you visited Teochew before?
J: My grandfather was born in Gek Yor (揭阳) in Teochew and he moved to Vietnam in the 1930s. Since then we haven’t been to Teochew.
TTS: Being able to present in English/Vietnamese, Teochew and written Chinese is not easy. How much time do you spend to produce each lesson? Besides yourself, is there anyone else helping you to produce the videos?
J: Actually I didn’t make these videos alone. I prepare the lesson content (words, pronunciation, images, slides) with help from my mother. She speaks Teochew very well and helps me pronounce some difficult words because there are still a lot of words that I don’t know how to pronounce in Teochew.
I don’t know much written Chinese and my cousin helps me out in that part. He now teaches Chinese in Saigon. It takes me about one to two 2 hours to record a lesson in either English or Vietnamese, before it is edited and uploaded to YouTube. So a lesson with two videos (English and Vietnamese versions) takes me about five hours in total. Of course I do not do everything in a single day, but along the week when I have free time.
TTS: Do Teochews in Vietnam or Saigon still speak our language at home?
J: Yes they do, but mostly older people. Young Teochew people can only learn Teochew from their parents or grandparents.
TTS: What difficulties did you face in making your videos?
J: The biggest difficult I faced when making the videos is with Peng'im. There are several Peng'im systems in Teochew, but I chose the one from TeochewDialect.net website because it has detailed documentation and is easy to learn. But it is still difficult to find the correct peng'im for every word.
TTS: You have now produced 15 lessons on different basic topics, such self-introduction, numbers and travel. What more can viewers expect from the Learn Teochew channel for the rest of this year?
J: In the last year, most of my lessons were focused on vocabulary. This year I plan to make more conversational lessons alongside the vocabulary lessons.
TTS: Do you have any special word of encouragement for fellow-Teochews learning to speak our Teochew?
J: One language dies every 14 days, as reported by the National Geographics in 2012. As a Teochew-nang, you and I have the responsibility to preserve our Teochew-ue (Teochew language) for the later generations. For others, many thanks if you can spread the word and let the world know that Teochew-nang still speak Teochew-ue.