A woman in Handan, Hebei province has been getting lots of press recently for her ability to write with both hands at the same time in English and Chinese. Ambidextrous squared, then. (Can we call her a tesseract?)
Twenty-three-year-old Chen Siyuan first discovered her skill in high school. Overwhelmed with homework, she wanted to devise a system to get it done faster. Most kids her age would have resorted to, you know, not doing the work, or cheating, but not Chen. As she explains in the above video (translation via the show, China View):
When I was in high school, we had much homework. In order to save time, I came up with idea of writing with two hands at the same time. I never imagined it would work so well. But even the teacher didn’t notice the difference. From that time on I knew I had a skill.
And then in college, she thought she’d try writing in English with both hands. Lo and behold, it worked — and provided quite the rush of nostalgia, too:
Sometimes I was bored in class, so I tried to write Chinese characters and English words simultaneously to kill time. And it brought me back to the days I did it in high school. It’s so magical, yet very natural.
Chen, a translator, can also can write vertically with one hand and horizontally with the other. She says she has excellent memory, but it’s not just about that. As she tells BBC (video below):
If you’re writing just one Chinese character, perhaps it depends on your memory. But if you’re writing a full article or different articles, for instance simultaneously writing English and Chinese, I think it’s a matter of two-way thinking, not just simply memorization.
Impressive, Young Tesseract.
Seems like it’s faster to just write with one hand, given the speed with which she writes in the video.
Naturally, the way to alleviate Chinese students’ problem with too much homework is to train them in this skill starting from elementary school.
I am an American, and lived in China as an expatriate for more than a year. I find the articles on BJC interesting, informative and entertaining…our own American and international readers to whom we refer from time to time also find your articles of interest. I tip my hat to this lady writing Chinese and English concurrently, at any speed…I know how difficult it has been for me to learn Chinese, and how difficult it has been for my Chinese wife to learn English, although our nine year old does very well. Keep up the good work, Anthony and BJC.