Raoul's China Saloon (V5.0) Beta

The Bar Room => The Bar (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: AMonk on April 29, 2007, 11:33:25 PM

Title: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on April 29, 2007, 11:33:25 PM
OK.  So....What is the best method for learning "the basics" of the Chinese language?  Books? Tapes/CDs? (and which ones would you recommend?) or a Native Speaking tutor?  Mandarin or Cantonese?

Remember, Please, that I'm not yet in the Middle Kingdom.  I just want a small head-start.

Thanks, Everyone.



Drinks on my shout......while you all brainstorm.......
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on April 30, 2007, 01:10:59 AM
Definitely Mandarin - it's the official language and you are more likely to find jobs in non-Cantonese speaking areas. Local evening classes - working with others is always more interesting that trying to do it alone - and you can't hear if you have the tones right on your own.  I will swear that I am using 2nd tome (rising), but my teacher says I am merely using 1st tone louder. Teachers will also tell you more colloquial uses for words and which ones are too formal for ordinary use - books tend to use more formal language to teach.

And DO start on the characters - even if it looks daunting - they really help!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: icebear on April 30, 2007, 02:02:45 AM
I'll second that learning characters as you go along is really  helpful. I largely ignored them for the first 7 months (where I semi-ignored learning oral as well  bibibibibi) and I have to say it was a foolish move. If you learn from the get go the similar sounds will be much easier to remember as different concepts.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on April 30, 2007, 02:29:26 AM
Get hold of Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.  (Don't worry about the huge price tag, there are ways of, um, 'obtaining' these things).  I only discovered these after being here about 2 years, but they really helped me improve.

Also, get thee to www.chinesepod.com - free lessons!  Talk about a gifthorse...

Now, when you come to China, choose an area with standard putonghua, or as near as possible, if you are serious about learning.  I found it really hard in wuhan because the dialect was too strong, and it wasn't always clear when I was saying the words badly, and when they couldn't understand me because their putonghua was so terrible.

Next, don't get married too quickly.  This isn't a joke.  A friend of mine learned pretty good chinese quite quickly, and he said that he learned just by going to the bars where the chinese went, and hanging out, chatting to the owners etc.  Plus chinese wives like to stay at home as much as possible to save money, plus they do tend to like to over-help us, always translating etc when sometimes we just want to try to learn ourselves...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on April 30, 2007, 02:36:32 AM
OOooopppS!!  I am already married - 16 years - to the same man (I refer to him as Hubby)


But I do take your point/pointers.  Sounds reasonable to me.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: cheekygal on April 30, 2007, 04:32:57 PM
 ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah

ND, amonk is a lady  afafafafaf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on April 30, 2007, 08:03:55 PM
And this is an on-topic area.  afafafafaf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: teleplayer on May 01, 2007, 12:55:33 PM
Get hold of Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.  (Don't worry about the huge price tag, there are ways of, um, 'obtaining' these things).  I only discovered these after being here about 2 years, but they really helped me improve.

Also, get thee to www.chinesepod.com - free lessons!  Talk about a gifthorse...




What CD said about ChinesePod.

I'll second the Pimsleur and Rsosetta Stone. Pimsleur is slow delivery but you will help you get your tones correct...especially if you do each series multiple times as I have. It's nice when a native speaker compliments your pronounciation. But don't forget to learn Pinyin and Hanzi.
 Google for "cheap Pimsleur." Company in TX sells the Simon and Schuster product for half price, same package, and you can send back a series for rebate to help purchase next level if you want.
If you'll take time to Google for it you'll find that there are folks who've done transcriptions of the Pimsleur series, or listed the vocabulary (only about 800 words total)

Here are some of my newbie goodies:

This is the free download from Taiwan: "Speak Mandarin in 500 Words:"
http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/interact/ebook/digitalPublish/MPDF-s%5CE-H-Y.pdf (http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/interact/ebook/digitalPublish/MPDF-s%5CE-H-Y.pdf)
Be careful, it says mandarin but many of characters one may expect to be simplified will be traditional.

Too, from one of my first postings on the old Saloon, the "Integrated Chinese" method used by most US Universites has a plethora of downloads in variouis formats that parallel the series.

It's home-based at U. Hawaii: http://eastasia.hawaii.edu/yao/icusers/ (http://eastasia.hawaii.edu/yao/icusers/)
My favorite for traditional or simplified character writing and it shows correct stroke order is at Uni Southern California:
http://www.usc.edu/dept/ealc/chinese/newweb/character_page.html (http://www.usc.edu/dept/ealc/chinese/newweb/character_page.html)

Back up a click to "newweb" to see other listings.

Practice listening to tones with or without pinyin and/or hanzi at:
http://www.pinyinpractice.com/wangzhi/ (http://www.pinyinpractice.com/wangzhi/) This is like a game.

This is a nice freebie site: http://www.csulb.edu/~txie/ccol/content.htm (http://www.csulb.edu/~txie/ccol/content.htm)

Don't forget the "Online Chinese Tools" to help you with translations and more
http://www.mandarintools.com/ (http://www.mandarintools.com/)

It's "Cold War" language and only in Pinyin but most of the old U.S. State Department Chinese couse can be download by joining this free site:
http://fsi-language-courses.com/default.aspx (http://fsi-language-courses.com/default.aspx)

You can also download an electronic flashcard program for the Old "Practical Chinese Reader."
http://www.andante.org/chinese.html (http://www.andante.org/chinese.html) The "New Practical Chinese Reader" takes the same characters with a more modern vocabulary but they are now middle-aged. You can find the old version (both are from Beijing Press) in many university libraries.

Okay, your turn. Send me some Mandarin learning goodies.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: teleplayer on May 01, 2007, 01:29:48 PM
This is an attempt at a bucket brigade post from Old Saloon. This is third attempt some of the URLs, even re-written go corrupt.

Re: Studying Chinese in China
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on May 01, 2007, 03:00:51 PM
Can I add that I can't stress enough the importance of purchasing a decent Chinese dictionary before you depart the west.  It's almost impossible to find one here that caters to an English speaker learning Chinese.  I recommend the big thick red Collins one.  I have it and it isn't too big (i.e. it's about the size of the Lonely Planet China) and it has almost any word you could think of (except stuff like, say, archaeopteryx)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Mimi on May 01, 2007, 08:36:53 PM
I'm also trying to learn some Chinese before leaving, and finding it very frustrating.  I picked up French and Spanish quite easily in school, but this is too different.  I can't seem to tell the second and third tones apart.  When I realized this, I thought back to all the times I couldn't quite hear the lyrics in songs, and all the times I couldn't decipher the accent of someone who doesn't speak English as their first language (I live in an area with a lot of hispanic immigrants)... and I am really, really worried.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on May 01, 2007, 11:20:18 PM
Thanks for all your input.  I find it easier to "pick brains" and take recommendations from "those who have gone before", than to struggle through the morass of junk out there on the Web.

At the moment, I rely primarily on hardcopy media.  I have copies of Langescheidt's pocket dictionary, an Oxford Starter, Schaum's Chinese Grammar, What Character is That?, and the inevitable "Learn in Your Car: Chinese" CDs.  These are all kinda heavy going on my own (even the CDs).  We are too small to offer classes through the local College, and most of the "native" speakers here are contract workers in the Hospitality trade...from Hong Kong or Singapore. 

My timetable is sort of full just now, but I anticipate a "lightening up" over the Summer, so will be spending more study time with my laptop and my "lessons" then.

Once again, Thank you ALL for your input.  Invaluable!!

 agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 01, 2007, 11:36:11 PM
I can't seem to tell the second and third tones apart.

This is due to a beast called a "tone sandhi". When two or more 3rd-tone characters appear consecutively, all but the last one are spoken more or less like a 2nd tone. It does make listening even harder than it already is (and it's pretty damn hard!)...but it also makes pronunciation MUCH easier and comes very naturally with a little practice.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on May 02, 2007, 03:41:43 AM
I have the oxford starter, but trust me, get the Collins one.  When you get out here, there will be words that the starter one doesn't have.  My mum brought it over for me last summer and it has proven invaluable...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on May 04, 2007, 05:25:43 PM
And wherever you go the tones will be different anyway as most areas will speak a strong mix of local dialect and putonghua. I have Sichuan friends who are constantly correcting my 'sh' and 'zh' into 's' and 'z', plus telling me that certain words in 'standard' putonghua are pronounced with totally different tones in Sichuan-hua, and then Shaanxi-hua has everything shouted in 4th tone.

I have 2 electronic dictionaries - one that I can write the characters into and speaks English, Putonghua and Guangdonghua so it is great for travelling, one that gives the pinyin output with tones, which makes it easy for studying.  Then I have about 10 different dictionaries.  One is a straight alphabet dictionary - tones and characters are ignored and it works like an English dictionary.  Another is a reverse dictionary - look up the last character and find the front characters which is also handy if you remember the last sound someone said but not the first (Chinese people talk really, really fast!!)

Plus the standard English-Chinese Chinese-English (2 Oxfords, including the starter dictionary mentioned), and the Longmans Chinese-English, which I now use more and more. And various others that I found on my journeys - I am a dictionary-phile. 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Vegemite on May 09, 2007, 04:09:10 AM
When buying dictionaries I recommend that you get one that has both Hanzi and Pinyin for each entry, many of the dictionaries I was looking at didn't have this. Also, find one that has a couple of different radical indexes for the Hanzi. My favourite dictionary has both the modern radical stroke order index and a stroke number index. Means if I can't find the radical of a character, I just count the strokes and find it that way.

And this is one of my favourite sites:
http://www.yellowbridge.com/language/
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on January 30, 2008, 05:41:27 PM
This question is for people that studied a second language before starting to learn Chinese.  I know French, maybe not a lot but enough to get by.  Others learned German or Spanish or English.

When you are trying to think of a Chinese word, do you automatically think of the word in your second language first?  I often think of French words.  Another teacher I work with studied German.  She started speaking German the other day thinking she was speaking Chinese.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Con ate dog on January 30, 2008, 06:01:50 PM
All the frickin' time!   pppppppppp My brain divides language into "English" and "other".  C'est plus horrible quand je ne connais pas le mot en Chinois. bibibibibi
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on January 30, 2008, 10:41:06 PM
I recommend acquiring the "Integrated Chinese" books, both text book and workbook. The cd's are sold seperately but are well worth investing in. The books come in traditional, simplified and Traditional-simplified character versions. I found the latter to be best.
The Oxford English-Chinese/Chinese-English dictionary which comes with a Dictionary cd you install on your computer is quite good.
For grammar, I bought "Basic Chinese Grammar" and "Intermediate Chinese Grammar". They are immensely good.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 31, 2008, 12:39:57 AM
Quote from: ericthred
For grammar, I bought "Basic Chinese Grammar" and "Intermediate Chinese Grammar". They are immensely good.

Are those the Po-Ching / Rimmington books (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intermediate-Chinese-Workbook-Routledge-Grammars/dp/0415160391/ref=pd_bbs_sr_7?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1201689224&sr=8-7) by any chance?  If so, how do you use them?  Although I agree they are excellent, I find them just too dense to work through unit by unit, and haven't found a satisfactory way to incorporate them into my day to day study yet, unlike various other various other resources (Dictionary, ChinesePod, etc) which all have their 'place' in my study regime.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on January 31, 2008, 01:37:55 AM
I just go through one unit, reading it a couple of times, then I transcribe the rules. I then transcribe the words on homemade flashcards. I then organize the rules into Main Rule and below that exceptions. Then I practise the words. I read my newly organized rules over and over again until they stick and then I do the exercises. Once you have done about 8 units like that I just find learning the language gets easier.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on January 31, 2008, 09:16:11 AM
Deleted - just seen this is an old thread and I had already made the post once :D
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on January 31, 2008, 10:48:08 AM
I just go through one unit, reading it a couple of times, then I transcribe the rules. I then transcribe the words on homemade flashcards. I then organize the rules into Main Rule and below that exceptions. Then I practise the words. I read my newly organized rules over and over again until they stick and then I do the exercises. Once you have done about 8 units like that I just find learning the language gets easier.

Wow, that's like studying eh?

I just talk to bad girls, then text messages. It's working out well so far. I have no clue as to the rules but my grammar improves as my listening/reading comprehension improves.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on January 31, 2008, 10:51:36 AM
Stil, that's exactly what I would do were I in China which, if Odin is nice, I will be this time next year. All the bad girls here speak Danish and they're not impressed by my ability to mumble incoherent sentences in their own language, opposed ot the admiration shown by ladies in Nanchang when I, with a big goofy grin, proudly proclaimed "my shoes are black" in Chinese.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 31, 2008, 09:04:59 PM
Quote
I just go through one unit, reading it a couple of times, then I transcribe the rules. I then transcribe the words on homemade flashcards. I then organize the rules into Main Rule and below that exceptions. Then I practise the words. I read my newly organized rules over and over again until they stick and then I do the exercises. Once you have done about 8 units like that I just find learning the language gets easier.

Heh, I like the use of the word 'just' at the start...bloody hell.  OK, I'll give these books another shot using a similar method...they were actually quite expensive and don't deserve to gather dust on my ever growing pile of barely used Chinese textbooks.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Con ate dog on January 31, 2008, 09:31:57 PM
I just talk to bad girls, then text messages. It's working out well so far. I have no clue as to the rules but my grammar improves as my listening/reading comprehension improves.

 llllllllll  So obvious now that I think of it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on February 01, 2008, 01:15:21 PM
er.... i talk to good girls too but that feels more like studying.  uuuuuuuuuu
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on February 03, 2008, 12:49:29 AM
Stil, isn't one of the points of learning Chinese to talk to good girls and thus using your verbal skills to convince said girls to be bad?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on February 04, 2008, 09:21:29 PM
Well, it's all in the definition of good girl, bsd girl. For me good girl means any of the girls i'm not interested in.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on August 01, 2008, 04:35:14 PM
Peng's Chinese Treasure Chinese Radicals Vol 1 & 11

The easy explanations, and drawings in these little volumes are really helpful for understanding the construction of the characters, showing the logic behind their development ( e.g. 好 = 女+子 Good = woman + child. 休 = 人 + 木 Rest = man + tree).

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Rajin on August 02, 2008, 06:22:38 AM
When you are trying to think of a Chinese word, do you automatically think of the word in your second language first?  I often think of French words.

I have several languages that I've studied for similar lengths of time, spanish, japanese and chinese. Usually it depends on which language I've used the most recently. If I've been speaking Japanese, I'll think of that when I try to speak Spanish or Chinese. If Chinese, then that while trying to speak Japanese or Spanish. My brain can only handle one at a time, I guess.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on August 02, 2008, 08:51:26 AM
I am so happy when I recall a conversation and cannot remember which language it was in!!

This makes me believe that I am getting more comfortable in speaking Chinese.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 19, 2009, 03:36:34 PM
I recently got hold of the Michel Thomas method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Thomas_Method) CDs for Mandarin.  It’s very basic - ‘foundation’ level is aimed at complete beginners, and ‘advanced’ is only a step above that, though the course does move fairly fast. 

However it has some interesting approaches to language learning – for example they do a pretty good line in mnemonics. I picked up a few tips about linking the tones to hand signals and colours that I found really useful.  Also, some are brilliantly cheesy:  “how heavy do you think I was when I put on all that weight?  I think juede lot.” (for ‘juede’ (觉得) ‘to think’, and that’s not one of the weirder ones either).  The presenter is also a fan of putting on daft accents, which can border on stereotypes at times.

Another thing is that this was recorded fairly recently, and some of the basic vocab’ is quite different form say, Pimsleur. (e.g. ‘can guan’ instead of ‘fan dian’ for restaurant?)

All in all, I’d say try before you buy, but I think it’s a pretty good resource for beginners, and if you are interested in language learning methods and learning styles you might find it interesting too.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on January 19, 2009, 11:18:56 PM
EM - Amazon has it.

I am still at the incompetence stage where I switch in and out of words in both Chinese and English.  There are some things that automatically come out as Chinese - even when I think I'm speaking English, and others that are English when I supposed to be in Chinese.

I work best when I have classes - motivates me to do the homework, and my teacher pushes me to keep explaining in Chinese until I can get it.

Just like English, Chinese has lots of words that mean similar things.  Fandian/canguan, cafe/restaurant etc.  So different books will teach different expressions.  And of course as soon as you learn one, someone uses the other. bibibibibi bibibibibi
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on February 18, 2009, 04:15:22 AM
How about a new series of graded readers available (http://www.studychineseculture.com/search.asp?keyword=Chinese+Breeze&thetype=bookname&submit1=SEARCH) for Chinese learners?

Level 1 begins with stories which use only the 300 most common characters (based on corpus studies, I think...).  Level 2 uses only the 500 most common characters, and so on, though only levels 1 and 2 are currently available.

The other graded readers I have seen for Chinese have started at a much higher level (3000 words +). These books also come with an MP3 recorded by native speakers at slow and fast speeds.

There's no better way of learning than the rough and tumble of getting out there and using the language, but sometimes I'd just rather sit at home with a book than inflict my Chinese on the unsuspecting public...Anyway, I have some of these books, and the satisfaction of being able to read an entire story in Chinese (albeit a rather simple one at level 1) is a great motivator.

These books are meant for second language learners, not for kids learning Chinese as a first language, so it is actually possible to read and enjoy the stories as an adult.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on February 18, 2009, 05:02:03 AM
Cool.  I will see about getting one to try. I will get my Chinese teacher to order them.  bfbfbfbfbf

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Nolefan on February 18, 2009, 06:20:19 AM

those are indeed quite nice. I highly recommend them and even use them in the writing component of Level C during bootcamp. Fair warning though, some of the titles are quite weird/boring.

错错错 (cuo cuo cuo) is quite ok for beginners, so is 我可以请你跳舞 (wo keyi qing ni tiaowu)

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on February 18, 2009, 08:07:52 AM
My experience with learning Chinese is that you progress to a certain level, then plateau, figuring your are pretty good, then you realise you are crap again, work ahrder, learn more, setle down ....

Sort of like swimming in the ocean - first of all the waves are rough (near the shore), then they smooth out a bit and you figure, this is good, then you move out further and, bloody hell, then waves coming at you are HUGE, you get through that lot, it smooths out again until the next rough patch.  And so on!

Jia you!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on February 18, 2009, 11:46:28 AM
hey, nobody mention livemocha.com. It's a great website (free) that mixes Rosetta Stone type lessons with facebook type social system. You "friend" people that are native to the language you are learning and vice-versa. Then when you do a written and oral assignment your "friends" comment on it and tell you what you did wrong. It's really good, and they also have a chat function which can be pretty fun.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Mark Conquers China on March 01, 2009, 07:13:56 AM
I can recommend three things that helped me:

1. Pleco: I used it on a cheap Palm Pilot. It is a good Chinese-English, English-Chinese dictionary that you can take anywhere. You can also draw characters on the screen and if you use the right amount of strokes it will likely tell you the meaning.

2. Wenlin: this is another dictionary that you download on your computer. It is really simple. You can cut and paste chinese or english into it. Then when you drag your mouse over the word/character it will tell you the translation.

3. Imandarinpod.com on iTunes. It is free. There are a lot of lessons. You can load it on you iPod and listen whenever you have a few free minutes. It is a bit advanced in that they use no english whatsoever.

Good Luck
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 01, 2009, 04:51:10 PM
What's up with this Chinese language boot camp thing? Sounds interesting. Could you please elaborate?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on March 01, 2009, 05:09:52 PM
One of our esteemed leaders runs a holiday camp to teach Chinese.  A great way to learn together, have fun and ....  agagagagag. 

Another way to learn Chinese is to find yourself a teacher - and there will be plenty of willing teachers out there.  DON'T fall into the language exchange trap though. You'll end up speaking way more English than Chinese.  Find a teacher, get a set of books and have proper lessons, do the homework.  It will be pretty minimal cost.  After the first couple of books are worked through, try to find a teacher who DOESN'T speak English - that way you will HAVE to listen more carefully, work harder to understand etc.  Same as we make our students do.  ahahahahah

And walk around outside and start talking to people - point at things and ask what they are.

BE warned here - you will be learning local dialect and pronunciation doing this.  The majority of people outside business/education circles speak local dialect or use local pronunciation - NOT standard putonghua.   (As my students say: There is Putonghua, Shaanxi Putonghua and Shaanxi-hua - just for around here. Multiply this by almost every county and province!!) But - speaking local dialect will also give you better deals when bargaining for stuff.  ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 02, 2009, 01:10:33 AM
Great advice. Thanks.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 02, 2009, 02:10:19 AM

How much Chinese did you guys learn when you first got there? Or, I guess, have you found your tutors really helpful? I am hoping to learn enough to get back in an average conversation in 6 months. Do-able?

(If this is off topic somebody slap me and make me start another post.)  bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on March 02, 2009, 03:25:28 AM

How much Chinese did you guys learn when you first got there? Or, I guess, have you found your tutors really helpful? I am hoping to learn enough to get back in an average conversation in 6 months. Do-able?

(If this is off topic somebody slap me and make me start another post.)  bjbjbjbjbj

 cbcbcbcbcb


(but I do think that was on topic)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 02, 2009, 04:30:49 AM

How much Chinese did you guys learn when you first got there? Or, I guess, have you found your tutors really helpful? I am hoping to learn enough to get back in an average conversation in 6 months. Do-able?

(If this is off topic somebody slap me and make me start another post.)  bjbjbjbjbj

It's do-able but learning from books and podcast even tutors is a lot different than actually having conversations. Listening comprehension can take awhile at first depending where you are. You might be used to hearing standard Mandarin, but most people don't speak standard. A bit like an English learner walking into a Glasgow pub and trying to have a conversation.

Then there is learning the culture. What is funny? What is inappropriate to say? What is true? What is flattery. What does a friend mean?

You know the saying in the West - No means no! Well, not so much in China.

Everyone will ask you the same questions.

Where are you from?
Why are you in China?
How much money do you make per month?
Do you like Chinese food?
Are you married?
Do you like Chinese girls/men?

At first hearing the same questions over and over is quite useful because of the practice, later it can be annoying.

I find that many foreigners here rely on help from students and Chinese friends to do too much and it hurts them in learning. If you are with a Chinese friend to buy something then shop owners will talk to them and it will be too fast or in a local language. You won't learn. Try and do many things yourself. Shop owners will try and speak to you because they want your money.

Learn the numbers (along with the hand gestures for them) then go shopping. Learn how to say 'this' and 'that'. If you have something specific to buy, look it up in the dictionary at home, then use it in the field.

When you say something, pay attention to what the person says to you. They will often repeat what you say but corrected.

Don't get too frustrated if (when) people don't understand you. Tones are really easy to screw up and though shui3 (water) and shui4 (sleep) look the same to us in our minds, picturing it in pinyin, to Chinese 水 and 睡 don't look at all the same at all.

Pay attention to your students mistakes in English, especially grammar mistakes. They will make Chinese mistakes. You can use this to know how to say things in Chinese.

Listen for the rhythm or pattern to the speaking. Even when you can't understand anything, there is a rhythm that once you pick up will get you listening at speed..

Forget about words and listen to sentences. Catch the whole meaning first, details later.

Take the earphones off and listen to people. What do they say when they want to get off a bus? How do they bargain?

Learn to play cards and majiang. it allows you to spend a lot of time with people that speak none or very little English but you will have something to do with them.

For most, if you can have an average conversation (whatever that is) after only 6 months. You are doing very well.


Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 02, 2009, 09:33:54 AM
Stil, great advice!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 02, 2009, 12:21:40 PM
yes...very excellent. Thanks!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Con ate dog on March 02, 2009, 11:07:16 PM
I have advice.  I've been in this country for almost 5 years, yet my Chinese is shockingly modest.  How can you do better than me (while copying the few things I did right)?

1. Learn pinyin.  This is the modern method of spelling out Chinese characters with the English alphabet.  Wikipedia's entry is decent; someone else might know a better site.  The selling point of pinyin is that it's easy to master, and once you do, you can read it and know PRECISELY how a word is pronounced- pinyin, unlike English, spells things out phonetically, every time.

2. Learn, practice and practice some more the five tones ( the fifth is actually a non-tone, but generally spoken a little louder than other syllables).

3. Chinese characters represent syllables.

4. Stil was right on the money: the first words you should learn are "ni hao (knee-how)" and "tai gui le (tie gway-la"; after that, learn the numbers.

5. He was also right about shopping.  This, talking to cab drivers, and asking for directions are the 3 most common and critical conversations you will have in the Big Silly, so you will use and remember this vocabulary the most readily.

6. I dicked around with half-hearted Chinese lessons at my workplace; folks were generally too busy to find the time.  I tried language swaps; my Chinese buddies generally lapsed into English after 10 minutes or so.  I hired tutors; they weren't actual teachers, so I didn't learn much, and forgot most of what they did teach me.  Meanwhile I saw folks move here without so much as a word of Puntonghua, then sign up for a proper, expensive Chinese course, and surpass me within half a year.  If you can commit to this, it will pay off bigtime.

7. While you do all this, bear in mind that the variations between accents and dialects in Chinese are often gigantic, to the point that Chinese TV shows come with Chinese subtitles; compared to, say, Beijing vs. Guangdong, the Queen of England and a gang member from Florida sound like family members. 
My point, and I have one: as you go, learn the difference in accents between standardized Chinese (Beijing accent) and the local patois.  The differences in pronunciation will be very confusing until you get a handle on how and when the 2 say things differently.

8. Also target restaurant dialogues: asking for a seat, how many people in your party, the names of various entrees, requesting items like ashtrays, spoons, and extra plates.  Again, you'll use this often, so the vocabulary will lock.

9. Don't be lazy.

10.  Don't get discouraged.  You will improve steadily with effort, but to your own ear, as Lotus pointed out, it will feel like you plateau here and there.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: George on March 02, 2009, 11:31:53 PM
Right, Connie. Learn what you will use, and use what you learn. This is the problem our students mainly have..they don't use what they learn!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 03, 2009, 01:48:02 PM
I've been working through James Heisig's new book Remembering Simplified Hazi (http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Simplified-Hanzi-Meaning-Characters/dp/0824833236/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236037480&sr=8-1) and have found his method to work really well. I've learned ~250 hanzi in the past two weeks and recognize them at least 95% of the time. We'll see how well I hold on to them long term, but I've been very surprised at how productive my new part-time hobby has been.

He's put a 60 page .pdf of the first six lessons (http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RH/RH%20Simplified-sample.pdf) online for you to check out.

Here's the catch: you don't learn pronunciation. You learn meaning and stroke order, but that's it. Pronunciation is something you can add yourself after working through the book. In the above .pdf he explains his reasoning behind doing things this way. I think that maybe for people who have learned Chinese by listening/speaking, this might make the most sense. Start figuring out which characters are words you already know, then starting learning pronunciation for the rest.

Anyway, it's good stuff. Check it out.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Martin on March 03, 2009, 10:01:56 PM
You probably know about www.dict.cn, which was my favorite online Chinese dictionary for quite a while. I came across another one recently, which has the great feature of actually drawing the characters with your mouse. Here's the address:
http://www.nciku.com
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on March 03, 2009, 10:14:03 PM
Apart from talking and studying, one of the best  tools for learning Chinese is a really good e-dictionary.  I have a beauty, a Besta.  It does all sorts of stuff, including pronunciation, character drawing practice, sentence translation, recordings, etc etc etc.  You can upload mp3s and videos to it as well.

And it's great to take travelling.  When I get totally stuck, I can find teh English word and it comes up in pinyin and characters so that I can say what I need to say.  And in reverse, if a Chinese speaker is not able to communicate with me, s/he writes the character in and out pops the word, pinyin with English translation.

Plus it has 10 languages, so just about anywhere I go, I can translate words that I need.

I use it doing my Chinese homework, because I can look up the character, see it's meaning, hear it pronounced, practice writing it on the screen, see it used in other sentences or phrases and see the most common collocations.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 04, 2009, 01:22:07 AM
Lotus Eater - Is that a hand held electronic dictionary? Did you buy it in China? How much was it? Can you post a picture of it?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on March 04, 2009, 03:13:31 AM
Yes - just like the ones you see the students with.
http://www.heychinese.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18_24&products_id=242 (http://www.heychinese.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18_24&products_id=242)

http://www.besta.com.cn/product/showproduct.asp?productid=82&xilie=9#pic01 (http://www.besta.com.cn/product/showproduct.asp?productid=82&xilie=9#pic01)

I bought mine at the Beijing Foreign Language Bookstore in Wangfujing St.  You should be able to get one through eBay or Taobao.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 04, 2009, 04:24:41 AM
It lists the product at $450.00 US dollars. What does it cost in China?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on March 04, 2009, 04:32:04 AM
Partly depends on your bargaining skills.  I bought mine when it was first out and it was 3000Y.  But I've seen it in shops now around the 2100Y and I am sure if you had a student help you with Taobao you would be able to get it for less.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on March 06, 2009, 12:00:38 AM
I've been working through James Heisig's new book Remembering Simplified Hazi (http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Simplified-Hanzi-Meaning-Characters/dp/0824833236/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236037480&sr=8-1) and have found his method to work really well. I've learned ~250 hanzi in the past two weeks and recognize them at least 95% of the time. We'll see how well I hold on to them long term, but I've been very surprised at how productive my new part-time hobby has been.

He's put a 60 page .pdf of the first six lessons (http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RH/RH%20Simplified-sample.pdf) online for you to check out.

Here's the catch: you don't learn pronunciation. You learn meaning and stroke order, but that's it. Pronunciation is something you can add yourself after working through the book. In the above .pdf he explains his reasoning behind doing things this way. I think that maybe for people who have learned Chinese by listening/speaking, this might make the most sense. Start figuring out which characters are words you already know, then starting learning pronunciation for the rest.

Anyway, it's good stuff. Check it out.

I like it.  akakakakak Can you buy the book in China?? mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on March 07, 2009, 12:37:25 AM
For learning on the ground - learn sentences you will use.
Restaurant stuff is good, as is bargaining. Because you use it so often you won't forget it. I also like to ask locals "what's this" and wait for the answer.

The locals in the market use a fairly standard dialect (to my ear anyway) - but I can't get a word the guy who delivers my water says. It sounds like 'hmph mmm hmmm hmmm hmph' to me! Apparently this is the local peasant dialect and even some locals have trouble with it.  bjbjbjbjbj

Soon I will begin my formal lessons.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 08, 2009, 02:21:49 PM
I like it.  akakakakak Can you buy the book in China?? mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm
Sorry, I don't know - I got it here in the States.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on March 08, 2009, 02:33:53 PM
Thanks, I will get my kids to buy and ship it to me.  akakakakak akakakakak
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 27, 2009, 04:05:12 AM
Haven't seen this mentioned before - The United Nations Chinese Language Programme (http://unclp.org/) has, to put it bluntly, a butt-load of free resources all gathered together in the one spot.

Check the links to different skill areas at the bottom - it represents quite an astonishing collection of FREE on-line resources, obviously compiled by someone who knows what they're doing.

http://unclp.org/



*oops, spelling
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on March 27, 2009, 04:21:24 AM
I also highly recommend that, if you are at a uni that offers  Chinese classes for FT's, you should go. I have been going to class for two months and my Chinese, both spoken and written, has improved immensely.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: paddyfields on March 27, 2009, 06:01:09 AM
A site I have just found recently is Yellowbridge.com Chinese-English Word Dictionary. It has four Tabs, Word Detail , Character Detail, Character Etymology , and Stroke Order . I have found it useful for learning the stroke order for writing characters.

http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/wordsearch.php?searchMode=C&word=那
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on April 09, 2009, 07:51:33 PM
I've read a couple of articles mentioning China's possible return to traditional characters. Have any of you in-country heard rumors about this?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on April 09, 2009, 08:42:47 PM
I've read a couple of articles mentioning China's possible return to traditional characters. Have any of you in-country heard rumors about this?

It seems there was a proposal put up before the National People's Congress, but I don't expect it'll go anywhere. Judging from the remarks on Chinese websites, most Chinese people -- poets and scholars aside -- seem pretty opposed to the idea, mostly because it doesn't seem practical.

Here's an article from Danwei: http://www.danwei.org/scholarship_and_education/simplified_traditional_charact.php (http://www.danwei.org/scholarship_and_education/simplified_traditional_charact.php)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: paddyfields on April 10, 2009, 03:51:32 AM
I've read a couple of articles mentioning China's possible return to traditional characters. Have any of you in-country heard rumors about this?
Simplified Chinese words to be standardized
(Xinhua)
Updated: 2009-04-09 19:44

Quote
   BEIJING -- For the first time in nearly 20 years, China will issue a modified list of simplified Chinese characters in an effort to further standardize a language used by billions around the world.

Wang Ning, vice director with the Institute of Linguistics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said Wednesday at a CASS conference on Chinese culture that editing of the new list had already been completed and changes would be published "very soon".

She did not give an exact date or tell Xinhua how the list would be made available.

"Over-simplification of some characters actually made them even harder to understand in some cases, which is the problem we are trying to address here," Wang said.

She added, the new list would involve a rather small number of changes to characters currently in use. The goal is to make them easier to learn..............

Full Article
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-04/09/content_7663502.htm
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on April 10, 2009, 05:48:07 PM
helpful responses, cheers
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: LaowaiSaosao on April 10, 2009, 06:59:29 PM
El Macho, I was talking with my Chinese teacher about this today. He said it has been announced on the news that from next year the government will require primary school students to be taught to recognise "fantizi" (traditional characters).

The reason given was that the government is concerned that China's history is being forgotten - with "fantizi" there is an indication of the origin of a character that is sometimes lost when it is changed into "jiantizi" (simplified characters).

Also it is to ensure mainland Chinese can still operate in areas where "fantizi" predominate eg HK and Taiwan. Seems people who learn "fantizi" can read "jiantizi" fairly easily but people from the mainland who only learn "jiantizi" struggle to read "fantizi".

But he said this was only in addition to learning "jiantizi", there were no plans to go back to "fantizi".

If you are interested in the origins and evolution of characters there is a really nice set of books that explains it in a very straightforward (and memorable) manner: Fun with Chinese Characters by Tan Huey Peng (there are three volumes).
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: thedogateit on April 15, 2009, 02:44:46 PM
I just bought Rosetta Stone to learn some Mandarin before I go to China. Rosetta Stone is making me choose either traditional or simplified characters for the lessons. This thread has me leaning towards traditional. If I do choose traditional characters, will it be relatively easy to learn the simplified characters?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on April 15, 2009, 02:54:11 PM
The majority of signs, books, sub-titles on Chinese TV etc are in simplified characters.  HK/Taiwan karaoke songs are in traditional characters, so many young people recognise them as well.

I think this decision should be based on where you are going to choose to live.  You'll have enough hassles when you realise your beautifully pronounced putonhghua is unrecognisable by the local stall owners, shop assistants, waitresses, taxi drivers etc because they left school after grade 9 and have reverted to the local dialect, without trying to complicate it by learning characters that for the most part aren't used anyhwere on the mainland.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: thedogateit on April 15, 2009, 03:20:01 PM
I'm going to be teaching in Jilin Province. From what I understand they speak standard Mandarin, putonhghua, in those parts. All the regional dialects, completely different languages, is going to make traveling interesting.  I know I want to visit Hong Kong and Macau during my time in China and don't want to be screwed because I can't read the signs in those parts. It's very confusing. mmmmmmmmmm

Rosetta Stone: Do you want to learn simplified or traditional characters?  Me: You have two different ways to write the language?  Rosetta Stone: Yes.  Me: Why?  Rosetta Stone: To make it hard on asasasasas foreigners like you.  Me: llllllllll
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on April 15, 2009, 03:21:58 PM
I taught in Changchun, Jilin Province, and believe me, there is lots of creative use of the language there. (Just try saying "amen" for tamen or zeile for "hen" or "a-bung-ku-qi" for "bukuqi".) All the writing is in simplified, rather than traditional, characters.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 15, 2009, 03:47:44 PM
Here's an interesting looking piece of language learning software that I have been recommended but haven't had time to try out yet:

http://www.byki.com/

you can never have too many resources...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on April 15, 2009, 08:43:06 PM
My personal opinion (because the traditional/simplified debate can get quite heated) is that if you're planning on learning Mandarin for use living in the Mainland, then stick with simplified. If you're planning on seriously studying Chinese in a scholarly way -- like going for an eventual PhD in Chinese history or somesuch -- then you'll eventually have to learn both. The chances of mainland China completely switching to traditional characters anytime soon are, I'd say, zilch. Its an interesting idea to bat around in theory, but I really really doubt its actually going to happen. You won't be at a disadvantage knowing only simplified if you visit Hong Kong either, as most of the signs there are also in English, but it will be confusing as a beginner to be living in a simplified environment learning traditional. You very rarely see traditional characters in use on the mainland, karaoke subtitles are about the extent of it. 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Con ate dog on April 16, 2009, 09:57:21 PM
What Lotus and Local said.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: A-Train on April 18, 2009, 03:35:10 AM
Well, crappers!  I've just been informed that my night school Mandarin class was cancelled before it began for lack of students.  I don't have delusions of becoming fluent quickly, but I would like to have some background before I go to China.  Am I hearing that Rosetta Stone is a good alternative?  I see the free web sites noted in this thread but do they give you audio?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on April 18, 2009, 04:50:57 AM
Yes, Chinese Pod does. bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on April 18, 2009, 07:00:06 AM
A-Train, Rosetta Stone is excellent. Not only do you get audio but you will also learn characters. IMO, learning the characters is of paramount importance.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Rajin on April 19, 2009, 05:44:58 PM
I found that the most useful words are conjunctions (hard to believe, I know) but learning simple words like "and" "but" and "or" opens up 100's of new possibilities if you're a beginner.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on April 20, 2009, 01:23:17 AM
I found this when my kid dragged me to Game Stop http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/fmcHj4uW0AxvBCD4lXjuYRGAYhQBYMpW (http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/fmcHj4uW0AxvBCD4lXjuYRGAYhQBYMpW)
It is as DS game that teaches Chinese. I think it is for beginners though.
I seriously thought of buying it, but I don't think I could get the DS from my kid long enough to learn anything. 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 27, 2009, 08:30:12 AM
Here's a nice free resource for those learning to read.  I didn't find the layout to be as user-friendly as it could have been, but there is a tonne of content:

http://chinesereadingworld.org/

You need Macromedia Flash Player and Apple Quick Time installed if you want to use all the features.  You might also have to allow pop-ups for this page.

Then, you have to register or log in (http://collections.uiowa.edu/chinese/LoginPage.html) (it's free).

Once you've done that, choose from Beginning, Intermediate or Advanced Level at the top of the page, and get to work.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on April 27, 2009, 11:43:21 PM
A-Train, Rosetta Stone is excellent. Not only do you get audio but you will also learn characters. IMO, learning the characters is of paramount importance.

I LOVED rosetta.

Really got me into speaking the language, and it's available for free on torrents.

(Not that I'm endorsing piracy)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 28, 2009, 12:08:12 AM
I like Rosetta Stone too, it looks good and it's easy to use and gives you a good sense of progress.

I do feel, though, that it is rather too easy to speed through, getting the gist and getting the right answers (usually 100% correct) without actually internalising much of the language.

If you are really going to learn from it, I think you have to do extra stuff, e.g. I review the pronunciation many more times than Rosetta Stone actually asks me to do, and I add any new vocab' to my flashcards on Plecodict.

I suppose this is true of any language learning resource - you get out what you put it in.

One other criticism I have of it is the cultural aspect - I find it is very 'American' for want of a better word.  Many of the behaviours, pastimes, household objects, foods etc shown are actually not that common in China - I think they could have done a bit more to adapt their method to reflect realities of everyday life in China.  Maybe it's not aimed at people already in country...and again, a good learner will adapt what they learn from RS for use in real life situations.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on April 28, 2009, 05:43:28 AM
I agree with that about Rosetta. Also, a lot of the stuff on it: "The boy is under the airplane", "The boy is next to the airplane" and so on, will leave a lot of adults thinking "What the F*** have I just bought?".  So I'd recommend a mixture of that, Pimsleur and Chinese Pod to anyone starting out - RS gives the real 'meat and potatoes' and a good structural understanding of the language, whilst Pims/CP give lots of more conversational vocab :)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on April 30, 2009, 09:05:39 AM
I agree with contemporarydog. I was not a fan of the rosetta stone stuff. It was like if I didn't see the exact picture I learned the word on, I couldn't recall the word on my own.

I'm a pimsleur fan especially if you find yourself doing a lot of driving. Also, you can usually get it for free at your library!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on April 30, 2009, 02:32:24 PM
Ah, I love Rosetta Stone, but it's not something for people looking for some easy phrases to use in a restaurant, it's much more of a proper building block in the language and its structures.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on April 30, 2009, 03:21:45 PM
Maybe it has been posted already, but where can I go to learn how to recognize characters? I mean really basic. I know the characters for "man" and "forest" and that's about it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on April 30, 2009, 09:50:15 PM
Maybe it has been posted already, but where can I go to learn how to recognize characters? I mean really basic. I know the characters for "man" and "forest" and that's about it.

I would recommend using a dictionary to look up crucial words such as male and female for restroom purposes ahahahahah. Words like meat, fish and eggs are important to me since I am vegetarian but vegan when I eat at a restaurant.

I had a book at home which taught me to recognise radicals to decipher characters but I can't remember what it is called.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ting on April 30, 2009, 10:30:02 PM
My advice if you are not in china is to hire a chinese tutor 2 or 3 times a week.  go to a bookstore together and find some kind of simple text. begin with sounds, simple characters, learn a few phrases, keep a sense of balance.  i began by trying to read characters: thousands swam in my head without a  home for months.  i could not say the sounds and after 24 hours could not write the things either.  start with sounds, that is the way it works.  language is sounds and the written only attempts to put the sounds on paper.  for me, once you move from the 'visual' language, characters, etc. you have made  good step.  it is easy to focus on writing because it is interesting and non-threatening as no one else is communicating with you.  some folks are indeed better able to absorb the sounds; envy maybe.  the young, the female, the learner with 2 or more other languages already known-all these realities puts each of us in an unique situation. for me, listening and parsing the rapid sounds is most difficult.  i want a drink of water from the pipe and need only a drip, drip but i get a 'fire-hose' reply.  frustrating.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 30, 2009, 10:57:19 PM
Quote from: mlaeux
where can I go to learn how to recognize characters? I mean really basic

Here's a simple Flashcard programme that might help get you started:

http://www.tux.org/pub/people/eric-youngdale/chinese/

It's the "flash.exe" file.  It's not a virus, I swear.

Yellow Bridge also has online flashcards:

http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/fc-options.php?deck=hy-b

If you want to get into writing, stroke order etc, you might want to think about getting a book. I started with this one (http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Chinese-Characters-Zhou-Jian/dp/7800524604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241081552&sr=8-1), but there are loads available.

the thing about characters, I think, is that the returns can be a little slow - you have a to learn a few hundred before you really feel that you start to recognise and understand stuff on signs, menus etc, or at least I did.  But if you stick at it you'll be sending text messages in 中文 before you know it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: contemporarydog on April 30, 2009, 11:09:28 PM
I would advise people to learn a bit before they come over.  I know there are a few foreigners who 'just pick it up' but the best Mandarin speaker I met actually did a Chinese Degree about 20 years ago.

It's such an utterly different language from what we are used to, it's not like a latin language where there are clear reference points, I'd learn some in the west first from a tutor who spoke standard Mandarin (for this is another problem when you go to China, 10 different people will pronunce a word in 10 different ways...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on April 30, 2009, 11:10:30 PM
There are a huge number of books on the market, ranging from "Your First 100 Characters' to specialist books on radicals, others looking at the specifics of the history and the meaning behind the radicals and finals etc.

One of the best ways to learn Chinese is to have a tutor.  Listening to CDs etc is helpful, but when you speak for yourself, what you say is not always what you think you say!! ahahahahah ahahahahah  Just listen to Chinese students walking around reading out loud, figuring they are pronouncing words correctly.

Here or back home, there will be Chinese tutors and classes for you to attend. Having a teacher also makes you work harder, homework adds to the incentive/motivation and learning.  Your writing, reading and pronunciation can be corrected quickly by someone who IS listening/seeing what you do not.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on January 29, 2010, 06:45:34 PM
My Chinese tutor is back in town, so my bootcamp has started again.   akakakakak

This time we are working from two books - finishing the one we started when he was here last - 9 chapters to go. The second one is a series of Chinese business language books, with CD.  He is making me listen to, but not read, each lesson, until I can hear every word clearly.  Then the words I don't know, he makes me look up.  This is a challenging way to learn, but it really trains your ears.  The CDs don't use 'classic' putonghua either, but a variety of dialects, so is much more realistic. 

It's a lot of homework!   ananananan
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Yokie Kuma on January 29, 2010, 07:37:52 PM
I have found that the easiest way, by far, to learn Chinese is ....
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Yokie Kuma on January 29, 2010, 07:38:15 PM


to not to .....
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: magnakaser on January 30, 2010, 02:35:35 AM
Quote from: mlaeux
where can I go to learn how to recognize characters? I mean really basic

Here's a simple Flashcard programme that might help get you started:

http://www.tux.org/pub/people/eric-youngdale/chinese/

It's the "flash.exe" file.  It's not a virus, I swear.

Yellow Bridge also has online flashcards:

http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/fc-options.php?deck=hy-b

If you want to get into writing, stroke order etc, you might want to think about getting a book. I started with this one (http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Chinese-Characters-Zhou-Jian/dp/7800524604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241081552&sr=8-1), but there are loads available.

the thing about characters, I think, is that the returns can be a little slow - you have a to learn a few hundred before you really feel that you start to recognise and understand stuff on signs, menus etc, or at least I did.  But if you stick at it you'll be sending text messages in 中文 before you know it.

Anki is another good flashcard program for about anything.  My roommate used it for Japanese (I think it's original purpose) but I used it for Chinese characters as an undergrad, and high frequency GRE words (Wanna scare some Chinese college kids?  Show them these.) when I was prepping for that thing...  It has a few dozen Chinese flashcard sets going from basic to "5000 most common" to HSK prep, so it's pretty good for anyone.

I was going to take lessons at Zhejiang University... but two friends and a co-worker told me it wasn't worth the price of admission.  Now I'm trying to find someone about my level (Lower-ish intermediate?  Maybe mid-intermediate?) around Hangzhou so I can get a tutor on the cheap, and everyone here seems to be either fluent or has no idea what is going on.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on January 30, 2010, 06:31:26 PM
A colleague of mine recommended www.skritter.com, and I can only highly recommend it to everyone else. It's easy, well-structured and you'll find your written Chinese improves with leaps and bounds...加油!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on January 31, 2010, 02:50:05 AM
Oh, so that's what Skritter is!  ahahahahah
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: VIVI on February 01, 2010, 02:50:24 AM
                              agagagagag 

 I‘d like to be a tutor for free if someone in shenzhen wanna learn Chinese 。

       

  bjbjbjbjbj   P.S :  I got  一甲  in ’mandarin test‘    uuuuuuuuuu 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on February 26, 2010, 03:54:55 PM
To anyone who uses Rosetta Stone:

I'm just wondering how you learn the characters as you are going. It doesn't seem enough (for me) to just look at a character to be able to remember it. I mean, a few are easy, but the bulk of them, not so much. So to learn characters through Rosetta, do you write down each new character as soon as you see one?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on February 26, 2010, 05:51:45 PM
I've found the ONLY way to learn characters is to write them down - and repeat, and repeat and repeat!!  So many characters have such minor differences that to just look at them is not enough.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on February 26, 2010, 09:32:34 PM
Yeah, using Rosetta Stone alone is not gonna teach you the characters. You'll need some other kind of additional action plan.
 
I have a flashcard program on my phone which really helps, but there is no substitute for actually writing the little buggers down stroke by stroke.

As Lotus Eater has indicated the best way seems to be endless repetition, but combined with using them 'in real life' whenever possible (QQ, MSN, Text Messages...).
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on February 27, 2010, 02:05:51 AM
ditto MK and LE:

the only way to learn characters is to write them. It's the only way you can get your head around all the tricky little radicles that make the subtle difference between two words.

One you start writing however, it becomes gradially easier as you find that you're just repeating the same strokes/radicals in different combinations.

It takes time. You can't just absorb them, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on February 27, 2010, 03:29:56 PM
Thanks. Yeah, I'm thinking about signing up for Skritter because it seems like a top-notch program. But I remember somebody saying in this thread that they were learning characters through Rosetta Stone, so I was just wondering how that works. The "reading" section in Rosetta involves memorizing characters and being able to pick them out, but there is no way to actually practice writing. So I want to know if people just keep a separate book as they go along and make entries in it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on February 27, 2010, 03:47:17 PM
Learning Chinese is just like learning anything else.  You do have to make notes as you go, you have to revise regularly.  Remember back in the days of learning how to spell and how to multiply and divide?  So yes, write down each new character as it comes, and rewrite them every 24 hours until there are firmly stuck in your head. 

Greatest memory loss for learning is within the 1st 24 hours.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on February 27, 2010, 03:54:49 PM
Thanks Lotus!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on February 27, 2010, 06:10:45 PM
I've been using a new (FREE) website called lingt. http://lingt.com (http://lingt.com)
Where Skritter focuses on writing, this focuses on speaking and getting the tones right. First you see the word written in characters and pinyin and you pick the english meaning from a choice of 5. Then you see the english and pick the pinyin/character from a list. Then, they show you the english and you need to write the pinyin. I find this most helpful as you have to write the pinyin with the correct tones so it has really drilled tones into my head.

I't s a new program but I like it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: old34 on February 27, 2010, 07:36:08 PM
I've been using a new (FREE) website called lingt. http://lingt.com (http://lingt.com)


I like! Thanks!    bfbfbfbfbf bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on February 28, 2010, 04:45:04 AM
Lingt looks pretty good for a free program. I'll have to try it out.

Does anyone use ZON?  http://enterzon.com/

Zon is a multiplayer online role playing game designed for learning Chinese. The tasks are language tasks, etc. You can interact in Chinese with other players.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on February 28, 2010, 07:54:51 AM
I fool around with Zon sometimes. It was kind of glitchy the last time I was there, but it has been a while...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on February 28, 2010, 02:21:25 PM
Here's another question about characters.

Apparently stroke order is pretty important. Do you pay attention to this when you're practicing? Is stroke order important or not so much?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on February 28, 2010, 02:47:53 PM
Here's another question about characters.

Apparently stroke order is pretty important. Do you pay attention to this when you're practicing? Is stroke order important or not so much?

it seems to me the stroke order is helpful once you get the hang of it... it's there for practical reasons more than anything, in the same way that joined writing had certain rules when we learned it as children, but then we adapt it to our own styles as we grow up

that said, I deviate from order from time to time, but it's good to learn em at first

learning how to write the various radicals is all important, with them you can make any character, no matter the order
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: magnakaser on February 28, 2010, 02:49:41 PM
It's supposed to be important, and supposed to help you learn faster, but most westerners I know make up their own stroke order once they get going.  My Uni Mandarin teacher tried to beat stroke order into us, but if we could write the thing and it looked OK she'd cut some slack.

Personally, my problem is I write many strokes the "wrong way"  Many right-left strokes I do left-right (The first stroke in 我 wo3, is one of my biggest culprits with this.) , which makes Chinese people watching me cringe... but I can probably write a couple thousand characters at this point so I'm not too shabby either.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on February 28, 2010, 03:00:46 PM
The stroke order is supposed to make writing the next stroke flow more easily.  Therefore in the above the right to left for the first stroke is supposed to lead easily into the left to right that comes next.  All based on using a brush elegantly, with the least number of drips on the paper! ahahahahah
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 01, 2010, 09:06:27 AM
Thanks, Lotus.

Just wondering, how many people have HSK, or how close are you to it?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 01, 2010, 11:37:10 AM
Thanks, Lotus.

Just wondering, how many people have HSK, or how close are you to it?

I'm going to take the new HSK level 3 this May (intermediate CEFR B1), it took the sample test last week and found it quite easy, especially the listening.

I'm going to take this here in Ireland then try for level four next year in China (upper-int - CEFR B2)

You can find sample tests with listening tracks here:

http://www.confuciusinstitute.qut.edu.au/study/proficiency.jsp

give em a shot and find your level, 1+2 use pinyin, for 3 you need to be able to read quite a bit of hanzi and write a little, and level 4 requires quite a bit more character proficiency

5+6 look very difficult, even for those of us with very good speaking skills, since you'll need to be able to recognise 2000-4000/5000 characters.

For those of us who are beginning, 1+2 are good entry levels - good motivation in my opinion.

PS this is the new HSK, which is being rolled out in most Confucius Inst. outside of China, but apparently some schools in China might still be using the old one for the time being.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 02, 2010, 09:41:25 AM
Fozz - Thanks for the link!  bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 02, 2010, 10:37:12 AM
Thanks a lot Fozzwaldus. I'm somewhere between level 1 and 2, based on the sample tests on the page you linked. It's nice to be able to put a number to your ability and have something to aim for. Good luck with level 3. It will be a while before I'm there.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 02, 2010, 01:21:50 PM
You can find sample tests with listening tracks here:

http://www.confuciusinstitute.qut.edu.au/study/proficiency.jsp

give em a shot and find your level, 1+2 use pinyin, for 3 you need to be able to read quite a bit of hanzi and write a little, and level 4 requires quite a bit more character proficiency
Thanks for this, I didn't realize any used pinyin. I've just sent an email to the local Confucius Institute to register for the May HSK!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 02, 2010, 04:31:15 PM
You can find sample tests with listening tracks here:

http://www.confuciusinstitute.qut.edu.au/study/proficiency.jsp

give em a shot and find your level, 1+2 use pinyin, for 3 you need to be able to read quite a bit of hanzi and write a little, and level 4 requires quite a bit more character proficiency
Thanks for this, I didn't realize any used pinyin. I've just sent an email to the local Confucius Institute to register for the May HSK!

this is the format of the new HSK, the opening levels are using pinyin, I guess as a way to encourage people who might have been put off by all the characters

they also now include an speaking section, which most of us will probably appreciate...

good luck with the exam in May Macho!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 03, 2010, 05:44:58 AM
I'm feeling a little discouraged by characters all of a sudden. It seems like a monumental challenge.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 03, 2010, 06:09:13 AM
I'm feeling a little discouraged by characters all of a sudden. It seems like a monumental challenge.



I put off learning them for years and I really regret it.

This year I've knuckled down with a good textbook and I'm slowly but surely making headway, but it really is a case of working on it every night for 30 mins.

I've also found that I can read much more than I thought - I'm thinking this is the immersion/osmosis effect from four years in China.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on March 03, 2010, 03:42:56 PM
Jimi - it's fits and starts, like most learning.  It has plateaux, hills and the occasional exhilarating rush down the valley, because suddenly something makes sense.  You will be reading something, and then you realise you are actually reading it in Chinese!!  Stuff has sunk in and you hadn't realised it 'til then.  Hang in there!!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on March 03, 2010, 03:50:37 PM
I've been using a new (FREE) website called lingt. http://lingt.com (http://lingt.com)
Where Skritter focuses on writing, this focuses on speaking and getting the tones right. First you see the word written in characters and pinyin and you pick the english meaning from a choice of 5. Then you see the english and pick the pinyin/character from a list. Then, they show you the english and you need to write the pinyin. I find this most helpful as you have to write the pinyin with the correct tones so it has really drilled tones into my head.

I't s a new program but I like it.

Do they actually have any speaking in the program?  I recognize tones when I hear them but frequently miss the tones when speaking.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 03, 2010, 04:33:24 PM
There is an automated voice that says the words as they appear on the screen.

They also say they have an "in-browser" voice recognition part but I haven't used that yet because I don't have the best microphone so I'm not sure how it works. It's free to sign up so you can test it out and see if you like it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on March 03, 2010, 06:50:08 PM
I did sign up and that is why I asked.  They say the words but it is very rapid and not repeated.  All the words so far are ones I already know.  Other than typing too slow or typing the wrong tone.  bibibibibi
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 05, 2010, 03:27:33 PM
Quote
Jimi - it's fits and starts, like most learning.  It has plateaux, hills and the occasional exhilarating rush down the valley, because suddenly something makes sense.  You will be reading something, and then you realise you are actually reading it in Chinese!!  Stuff has sunk in and you hadn't realised it 'til then.  Hang in there!!

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Lotus. I just signed up for Skritter. Seems like a good place to start.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on March 06, 2010, 03:23:18 AM
很好Jimi02 agagagagag agagagagag加油!加油!加油! agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ITBOY001 on March 10, 2010, 04:52:49 AM
In fact, learning Chinese is very simple, make full use of the resources around you, around you certainly have a friend of China, in fact, they also want to learn English and help each other, you will progress.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 10, 2010, 12:28:28 PM
I was replying on another thread and I thought I should add this in here too, just in case anybody hasn't got them already:

I recommend a popup Chinese plugin which lets you scan your cursor over words for translation - good for playing around with!

http://popupchinese.com/tools/free_chinese_popup_dictionary_plugin

and also, if you haven't got it already, google pinyin is an excellent Chinese input tool

http://www.google.com/ime/pinyin/
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 12, 2010, 04:47:37 PM
I just got emailed this link but haven't had time to check it you yet:

http://www.mandarinclassesblog.com/

Downloadable MP4 movies (for I-Pod, PSP etc) with Characters, Pinyin and English subtitles.


***OK, I have looked at a couple of lessons now and the clips all seem to involve gangsters and dodgy massage parlors, perhaps not everyone's cup of tea!***


On the other hand,  this is the Saloon after all....
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on March 17, 2010, 12:28:41 AM
I was replying on another thread and I thought I should add this in here too, just in case anybody hasn't got them already:

I recommend a popup Chinese plugin which lets you scan your cursor over words for translation - good for playing around with!

http://popupchinese.com/tools/free_chinese_popup_dictionary_plugin


Popup Chinese has some cool podcasts to learn grammar and sentence structures. I listen to one every day on the train and pick up snippets from it. Today I learned to express myself better when arguing.  ahahahahah
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 17, 2010, 12:45:20 AM
Pop-up Chinese has a very different feel from Chinese Pod (though I seem to recall some of Pop-up team were C-Pod break-aways).

They have people talking at a more natural speed and accents (i.e. the Beijing accent) can be quite strong - really stretches my listening skills after getting used to C-Pods slower more neutral stuff.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on March 17, 2010, 10:35:24 PM
Yes, I noticed the yi dian-rrrrrrrrrr style accent on the Popup Chinese folks.

I'm just experimenting until I find something I like. The Popup stuff I have is at the right level and seems to be free.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 21, 2010, 12:51:54 PM
Can anyone tackle a grammar question for me?

In what situations does one use the "shi... de" construction when speaking about an action completed, rather than "le" or guo"?

Example:

"Wo shi zuotian dao de." - "I arrived yesterday." Why this rather than "Wo zuotian dao le"? What is the difference and when exactly do you use "shi... de"?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on March 21, 2010, 01:47:07 PM
My grammar book says that the shi...de construction is used for statements that are absolutely true and cannot be modified by degree - hen etc.


Na zhang zhouzi shi yuan de.  That table is round.

Zhe shi zhen de. This is true.

"...non-gradable adjectives, when functioning as adjectival predicates, commonly require the use of the copula shi in conjunction with the particle de".

So it seems to me that you would use that construction if you were arguing with someone over whether the train arrived yesterday or not!

Hope that helps.

Others here have much better Chinese than I do, so could probably give you better ideas as well.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 23, 2010, 07:35:46 AM
Thanks very much for that, Lotus. My Pimsleur tape says that "shi... de" is used when describing how something happened in the past. I don't find this very clear though...

"Zhe shi zhen de. This is true." Yes... or even just "shi de". "True".

What about something like "Ni shi shenme shihou lai de"--"When did you arrive?" I guess this is asking something about something that doesn't vary in degree (as your text says).
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 23, 2010, 01:44:45 PM
Yeah, emphasis, I think of it as you trap the thing you want to emphasise between the shi...de.

So, I think, if you say "Ni shi shenme shihou dao de?" You are specifically emphasising that you want to know the time, i.e. "When did you arrive?", as opposed to say, "Ni shi zuotian lai de ma?", "Did you arrive yesterday?"
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 24, 2010, 06:31:13 AM
That's a helpful way of looking at it, thanks MK.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Jimi02 on March 24, 2010, 05:44:14 PM
More on "shi... de"...

In the phrase, Ta shi shenme shihou dao de?, "'Shi' is a marker that identifies the phrase that follows it as the centre of interest."

This is from the FSI Mandarin language Module 2, Unit 4, Tape 4-C (about halfway through the recording): http://www.fsi-language-courses.org/Courses/Chinese/Standard%20Chinese/Module%2002%20BIO/FSI%20-%20Standard%20Chinese%20-%20Module%2002%20BIO%20-%20Unit%2004%20-%20Tape%204C-1.mp3

All these are available online for free, btw.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 30, 2010, 08:16:00 AM
I just found this today. It's an English - Mandarin dictionary.
http://www.nciku.com/ (http://www.nciku.com/)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 30, 2010, 09:25:41 AM
I just found this today. It's an English - Mandarin dictionary.
http://www.nciku.com/ (http://www.nciku.com/)

nciku is the best, and they have apps for Iphone too!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 30, 2010, 09:28:15 AM
Agreed that nciku is quite good. I also think the YellowBridge.com (http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/chinese-dictionary.php) dictionary is excellent, as it includes etymology and radical information.

My favorite remains the Wen Lin software, really worth checking out.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 30, 2010, 01:50:47 PM
I also like www.jukuu.com because it gives loads of example sentences from various sources - I then copy-paste these into Wenlin until I feel have a good idea of how a word is used.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 30, 2010, 07:59:53 PM
I am also a nciku fan! I especially like the ability to draw the character in the box as I don't have a ipod or anything with a touch screen app. I figured out a lot of chinese menus with that little thing! (And I like how it figures out what character you are trying to do even if you can't write at all!)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 26, 2010, 07:04:11 PM
Ugh, sometimes I feel like just giving up!

I was just having lunch with some Chinese colleagues, listening and trying to participate, thinking I was doing OK, when one of them basically turns to me and says in English that I talk Chinese like a child, have shit pronunciation and then starts to explain to me that "Chinese has 4 tones and this is too difficult for foreigners...Man, I have been studying every day for years...  amamamamam

I am sure he didn't mean to come across so blunt, but this is is the flip side of the "your Chinese is so wonderful" coin - once you learn a bit you find out how difficult it really is.  And it helps to have a thick skin!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on April 26, 2010, 09:31:42 PM
MK

My Chinese teacher tells me that all the ruddy time.  bibibibibi  He says "Chinese is a tonal language and you need to use the 4 tones".  When I say my pronunciation is bad he tells me I am quite capable of saying the words correctly.  I just don't always do it.

The other day I said something correct and he said "You finally got something right"   llllllllll

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on April 26, 2010, 10:18:11 PM
Chinese has 4 tones and this is too difficult for foreigners

when I hear stuff like this I feel like telling them how patient we as English speakers are in trying to understand their English, and that they have the advantage of studying English from a young age, which is why it isn't "too hard" for them, and is exactly the reason why their parent's generation can't speak

but I don't
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 27, 2010, 12:11:51 AM
Quote
when I hear stuff like this I feel like telling them how patient we as English speakers are in trying to understand their English

Yeah, I almost said something like this...but didn't!

I think basically most Chinese people (although we should not generalise!) are simply not used to dealing with learners of Chinese other than children, and this combined with a few cultural differences when it comes to teaching and learning can lead to lots of over-praising but also some very blunt comments.

It's hard not to take it to heart though!

加油 etc
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on April 27, 2010, 02:46:48 AM
Be polite. Agree with them and mention that tones are more difficult for people with big penises and that's why western languages don't use them. Then you can share a laugh at Guangdong hua and it's 9+ tones.

Later the girls will ring you up.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on April 28, 2010, 12:40:37 AM
I split off results of the last post to a new thread, getting this one relatively back on-topic, at the request of one of the perpetrators participants. Let's forget about Stil's penis (if you can uuuuuuuuuu ) and focus on learning Chinese. bjbjbjbjbj

By the way, you're free to use that last sentence, substituting 'English' for 'Chinese', when you're beginning your classes. ahahahahah
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Day Dreamer on April 28, 2010, 04:54:00 PM
Later the girls will ring you up.

And their fathers will string you up
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on April 29, 2010, 09:55:39 PM
I think basically most Chinese people (although we should not generalise!) are simply not used to dealing with learners of Chinese other than children, and this combined with a few cultural differences when it comes to teaching and learning can lead to lots of over-praising but also some very blunt comments.
You're right, though that doesn't make it any less infuriating. When I get those sorts of responses it pisses me off to no end, but what I usually say is something about "One of the ways we get better at a language is by using it". Which is a tool-y thing to say, but much better than either (a) sitting there and taking it or (b) telling them to go to hell.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on May 02, 2010, 03:38:43 AM
I ran across this when I was looking at the Rosetta Stone program on ebay.
http://www.fluenz.com/languages/mandarin/learn-mandarin/index.html (http://www.fluenz.com/languages/mandarin/learn-mandarin/index.html)
It is called Fluenz. Has anybody heard of it before? Anyway, it is a bit pricey, but it seems to appeal to my learning tastes over the Rosetta Stone method. Check out the demo for yourself. http://www.fluenz.com/mandarinsamplesession/ (http://www.fluenz.com/mandarinsamplesession/)



 bebebebebe
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on May 08, 2010, 03:57:10 PM
Here's something I've been working on which might interest you if you are intent on getting a bit more advanced.

I am a big believer in different learning styles and strategies, and I myself love reading, but one of my major frustrations with Chinese study is the boring crap (artificially constructed sentences, no real context) you have to wade through in textbooks etc to learn to read.

I've mentioned graded readers before (http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?showtopic=17182), but the Chinese Breeze series is all still fairy low level at the moment, and to be honest, although they do the job, the stories are not that great.

Anyway, the Oxford Bookworms series of graded readers (http://www.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&newwindow=1&tbs=isch%3A1&sa=1&q=%E7%89%9B%E6%B4%A5%E4%B9%A6%E8%99%AB&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=), intended for learners of English,  is available in China cheaply, but most importantly in an English-on-one-page-Chinese-on-the-other set-up.

The readers come in various levels which are indicated by the coloured band and number at the top of each cover page. Although it's the English that is graded for language, this also means that the Chinese translation is relatively simple and repetitive, especially at lower levels.

I've been working on my characters quite a bit, and I can more or less read a level one story, with a bit of help from my trusty Pleco-Dict, which is extremely motivating, not to mention great language exposure.

Most of the stories are very well known in English speaking cultures, so that gives you an edge in understanding what's going on to begin with.  Also, having the English version to compare with is obviously useful, e.g. it also allows you to compare and contrast immediately how various aspects of language work in Chinese (I think the translations are fairly solid).  You also begin to notice other interesting stuff like how the Chinese version really does consistently reverse the order of information given in the English paragraphs.

Finally, Chinese students lead an admirable tradition of completely ignoring copyright issues and sharing study resources on-line, and these books are no exception.  That means if you are a little tech-savvy it's fairly easy to obtain text files of these books, which you can then run through Wenlin, Pleco or whatever and give yourself a bit of a boost when you hit a tough section (don't let this become a crutch though!).

Hope that's useful to someone.  I actually got a few of these books on the advice of a more fluent friend a while back, but I let them sit around for ages, just assumed they would be too hard.  I was pleasantly surprised what I was able to achieve with a bit of effort and a helping hand from technology (I love you Pleco!).

Not for beginners, maybe, but if anyone feels like giving it a go, I have a bunch of these books in a zip file too.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on May 08, 2010, 11:24:49 PM
MK - you beauty.

Only yesterday I was looking into Chinese Breeze stuff, and I couldn't find much over the 300 character mark.

Cheers!  agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on May 08, 2010, 11:29:27 PM
PS I'd love a zip file, I'll PM you my email address
also, what are the advantages of Pleco over say Nciku?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on May 09, 2010, 03:48:28 PM
Chekin' ma PMs.

Pleco is basically just the ultimate Chinese learning toy, in your hand whenever you need it...requires a smart phone or iphone, but download the demo version and give it a blast if you can.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on May 17, 2010, 08:36:51 PM
Another one for the more advanced learner:

China Daily Bi-lingual News (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/language_tips/news/news_bilingual.html)

Same news story in English and Chinese.  Pretty user friendly format with English and Chinese displayed side by side too - my more advanced friend prints them out and folds the page down the middle.

Most of it's way too difficult for me to comfortably read, but it's real language intended for adults (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/language_tips/news/2010-05/14/content_9849105.htm), so it's actually interesting to try once in a while.

I mean, who doesn't want to read about Playboy going 3D (http://Playboy to feature 3-D centerfold) or Russian government officials being abducted by aliens (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/language_tips/news/2010-05/07/content_9823614.htm), in any language?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Invictus on May 19, 2010, 10:38:01 AM
OK.  So....What is the best method for learning "the basics" of the Chinese language?  Books? Tapes/CDs? (and which ones would you recommend?) or a Native Speaking tutor?  Mandarin or Cantonese?

You will need:

1. A Chinese-speaking tutor. One with experience who knows how to teach. Being a native speaker will not be enough, since you need someone to explain grammar points and pronunciation to you at this point. It must be a real teacher who knows what he's doing. Usually you can tell just by one's attitude if that person is a serious, disciplined teacher who will ensure you learn what you must. Competent people just have an intent about them that you notice immediately. And for God's sake, make sure this person will teach you how to read and write using actual Chinese characters. Pinyin is absolutely crucial but not a replacement for the friggin' entirety of the Chinese writing system. If he says "we can just use pinyin" and then gives you some lame story about how "all young people now understand pinyin," laugh in his face and leave. (They do all understand pinyin. They will also understand that you didn't really learn Chinese.)

2. The New Practical Chinese Reader (http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Chinese-Reader-Textbook-Vol/dp/7561910401/) textbook (the new one with the red cover, not the old and outdated one with the blue cover) with workbook and audio CDs published by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. Resources for learning Chinese are still in the embryonic stages and these textbooks are the cutting edge right now. Not very bad, either, since they do introduce you to important vocabulary, grammar, and daily activities that are fresh and relevant.

3. A convenient and easy-to-use digital dictionary—a paper dictionary will be limited and too time consuming for someone who is not already at an advanced level. I recommend a piece of software called simply Learn Chinese 2008 (http://www.lchinese.com). It is a dictionary that also allows you to hear characters spoken, shows you animations of how the characters are written, and lets you make lists of your increasingly growing vocabulary. The last one is invaluable because once you reach two hundred characters or so you'll find they all start to get muddy in your head. You'll experience a discouraging feeling of retrogressing somehow. This is normal. Systematic reviewing is an absolute must.

4. Lastly, I recommend you get a character reference book. The one I have stuck with is Reading & Writing Chinese: Simplified Character Edition (http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Writing-Chinese-Simplified-Character/dp/0804835098/) (orange cover; the red is the traditional) by William McNaughton. This book is not a dictionary but a reference. Its strength is that it begins with a simple radical and then proceeds to build on that radical one stroke at a time so that you can easily group all the similar looking characters in your mind in a related pattern. It's a thing of beauty.

All together, excluding the cost of private lessons, this stuff (textbooks, reference book, software) will cost less than $100. You'll be working with these for at least a year. Your biggest challenge might be finding a good instructor of Mandarin Chinese but ask around. Try your local university, any Chinese-speaking friends you might have, Craigslist. Branch out from there. When you find one you think is promising, go have one trial lesson with him. Is he in control of the situation? Is he taking your strengths and weaknesses into account and steering you confidently in the right direction? Shouldn't be hard to assess if you found a worthwhile teacher.

As far as I know, this is the absolute best way to get started seriously learning Chinese. Everything else—the Pimsleurs, the Rosetta Stones—are toys for people who want to learn to mispronounce "ni hao" and count to ten. (Actually, Pimsleur's system is admirable but it will teach you absolute zilch about reading or writing, therefore it is a crutch at best.)

Learning to speak, read, and write Chinese has been one of the most rewarding activities I've ever engaged in and I hope it'll be the same for you, assuming you're serious.

Good luck.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on May 19, 2010, 01:52:47 PM
 bjbjbjbjbj Thank you agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on June 12, 2010, 05:06:17 AM
Learn Chinese like an American diplomat. :wtf: No really!
http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Chinese (http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Chinese)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on June 12, 2010, 05:43:40 AM
Learn Chinese like an American diplomat. :wtf: No really!
http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Chinese (http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Chinese)

awesome! where do you find these weird and wonderful links?  mmmmmmmmmm
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Damballah on June 12, 2010, 07:12:25 AM
Invictus you made some great points, but forgot the main one:  hard work!!  Learning Chinese needs to be done systematically and regularly.  It is not a 'once a week' thing.  Daily and for a reasonable length of time, especially for reading and writing.  

The use of charcters gives us no clues, the way we have when learning other Latin based languages.  This one is pure hard slog!!

Interesting link re the American diplomat one. Oz diplomats must spend 12 months studying Chinese full-time in Australia, then they come to China for 12 months where they basically 'shadow' a colleague to learn 'situational' Chinese. After these 2 years then they are able to attend meetings etc on their own.  Prior to acceptance in the Foreign Affairs Department, all applicants must take a 'language learning' capability test, based on hearing and pronouncing different sounds.  Chinese is considered the hardest to pass, and only those who pass will be given the opportunity to be posted here.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Invictus on June 13, 2010, 03:30:06 AM
Invictus you made some great points, but forgot the main one:  hard work!!  Learning Chinese needs to be done systematically and regularly.  It is not a 'once a week' thing.  Daily and for a reasonable length of time, especially for reading and writing.

Goes without saying! Though, personally, learning characters is an activity which always puts me in a state of calm, centered hyperfocus. It's like a brain booster. When I raise my head after an hour or two of studying (and writing), I can almost feel my brain structure changing. lol

Quote
The use of charcters gives us no clues, the way we have when learning other Latin based languages.  This one is pure hard slog!!

Weeell... You are right to an extent. But you may already know that characters are not learned in a vacuum, a misconception that scares off many would-be learners. They're all just different combinations of the same few elements (the radicals). The McNaughton mentioned above is really great for creating this logical framework in the learner's mind, and the breakdown of the types of Chinese characters in the beginning of the book (pictorial, phonetic, combination and something else) is the best explanation I've seen (free of linguistics jargon). I've gone through that many times simply 'cause it was so interesting.

Maybe I'm just a language nerd... I s'pose if someone isn't passionate about learning a language, Chinese certainly will be hard!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on June 13, 2010, 06:14:40 AM
I wouldn't underestimate the phonetic component of Chinese characters either. It can be very helpful when you're learning to read and write to have some idea of how a character should be pronounced just by looking at it, and more characters (especially in simplified Chinese) have a phonetic component than you might realize at first.

Invictus I think Chinese is hard for a lot of people who are still quite passionate about it. Remember not everyone who moves to China is a recent college graduate with a mind primed for learning. My 63 year old dad is quite passionate about learning Chinese (afterall, he wants to communicate with his son in law, my husband, who speaks no English) but he still sucks at it. I started studying Chinese in college and moved to China right after college so I pretty much had a perfect set of circumstances for learning, and on top of that I'm naturally good at languages. I wouldn't say that my passion for Chinese made it easier for me, I was just lucky that I started learning Chinese at 19 rather than 59, and that I got to learn Chinese in a proper academic setting before coming to China. I think if I'd come to China later in life, if I hadn't studied any Chinese previously, and if the majority of my time was spent in an English language environment (afterall, as an English teacher you'll be discouraged from using Chinese at work), I'd probably find Chinese learning pretty difficult, regardless of passion.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on June 13, 2010, 03:25:16 PM
I'm not quite 59, but I agree with LD. I'm 34 and have no real "need" to learn Chinese (except for the fact that I live here!) and learning Chinese is tough. I'm 12 years out of school so traditional study skills are on the backburner at this point. 

To be honest I was a bit naive I guess in the beginning. I chose a small city to live in where nobody (except the students) speak English. There is only one restaurant with an English language menu and no bus schedules or anything like that. I figured that just to survive everyday life I would be forced to learn a lot of chinese. And yet...6 months later I knew only the very basic words (mostly food words) and was surviving quite well on hand gestures and body language.

It wasn't until I decided to go to classes that I have actually started learning a lot. On one level I feel like the classes are stupid as the dialouges revolve around Mark and Mary being foreign students and the vocabulary is all school related (which doesn't help when your trying to buy a Jin of yangmei fruit).

But I've learned soo much more just because of the basic structure of the class. I have to study, I have to attend class twice a week, I have regular repetition or words, and a "safe" place to speak where no one will laugh at me for saying the wrong things.

So yeah, I would say that classes have been the biggest help for me and would suggest the same for those who need help self motivating.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on June 14, 2010, 04:33:42 AM
Classes are good. That safe environment is very important for those of us whose skins aren't quite as thick as they need to be.

Another relatively non-stressful learning strategy you can use to integrate learning Chinese into your daily routine is to start texting in Chinese.

It's not as hard as you might think.

For this you will need sympathetic Chinese friends and ideally a halfway decent phone with some kind of Chinese dictionary application on it, unless you want to go the whole hog and look up each character in a paper dictionary.

Ask your good Chinese friends to text you in Chinese by default.  Try and read the message.  If you can't get any or all of it, try copy pasting sections, words or characters from the message into your phone's dictionary.  If you still can't get it, give in and call them or ask them to write again in English.

Time consuming, yes, but worth it.  In my experience, most of my Chinese friends LOVE texting and don't mind exchanging mindless banter with you, especially if it's occasionally in English too (good for them).

Writing your own texts will be more difficult at first, but most phone text messages are incredibly formulaic and predictable, so it wont be long before you are able to read and indeed write the most common stuff (Where are you/what are you doing/what do you wanna eat/I loooove you etc) in Chinese characters without a second thought.

You can move on from this to more complex stuff, and indeed I now feel as if I have a small army of free Chinese teachers, as when I get something wrong they often reply to me with the correct way to phrase it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: LaowaiSaosao on June 14, 2010, 04:53:12 AM
To chip in my two cents worth, as a fluent speaker/listener of Chinese for 10+ years, the method that I have found to be most productive in learning to read/write is to learn radicals. I started doing this in January this year with my private teacher during our twice-weekly 1.5 hour lessons.

He started with the simplest radical (ie lowest number of strokes) and is taking me through all 200+ of them. We do 1-3 per lesson, depending on how many characters feature the radical. First he explains the radical then we go through a list of commonly used words that use that radical. It really is the most logical approach to learning Chinese and I am making A LOT of progress.

To reduce the boredom factor, we also do some reading every week, generally from Motto, a reader's digest-style magazine that contains lots of short articles/stories/news reports. I really seem to be retaining many more characters than ever before using this method, and can often guess the meaning of characters that I don't know for sure.

With work and kids I really don't have/don't make time to seriously learn to write more characters, and there is an argument that nowadays you don't really need to write characters provided you know the pinyin and can recognise them, but I really like that I am able to read more and more, this method of study seems to be pretty rewarding.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tai_Li on June 14, 2010, 05:05:34 AM
I have to agree with those who are advocating sitting your butt down in a chair and getting some lessons. I'm not exactly in Chinatown, USA, but there are quite a few people here in Charlotte who speak Chinese (I even met one at my job at Walmart!) I have this Nintendo DS game that teaches you Chinese, and I have tons of books, and computer programs. And yet, the words that I remember the most clearly are the ones that I learned in class like two years ago. It's weird, but I still remember those sentences and structures the best. So, I plan on taking Chinese lessons once I'm over there.

As for the writing. I had a teacher to was really big on getting me to learn writing, but I've fallen off of that too. I read much better than I write now, but when I was writing I learned the radicals (as someone was saying before), and the sides, so I could break down a character that I had never seen before. Which was really helpful.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Invictus on June 15, 2010, 04:21:43 PM
Invictus I think Chinese is hard for a lot of people who are still quite passionate about it.

Hiya, TLD. agagagagag

I think you may have read my comment as implying that if someone finds Mandarin difficult, he must not be motivated enough. I guess that's not an implausible interpretation of what I said. However, that passion overcomes any kind of difficulty is a personal belief, not a standard to which I hold others.

I'm not sure how much my recent college experience has primed me for learning. If anything, it's dulled my desire to study, much less to live. Aahahaha! :alcoholic:
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on June 21, 2010, 12:46:24 AM
here's a good link - readings accompanied by podcasts:

http://www.slow-chinese.com/archives/

this is just the perfect level for my reading ability (I'm not using the podcast, just the text) , hope somebody else can find it useful!  agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Joshua on August 10, 2010, 05:12:20 AM
Anyone using any of the dozens of Chinese Android Apps?  There are lessons, translators, flashcards, dictionaries, etc etc.  Which ones are you using and like?  I'm beginning to learn the language and would like some useful tools for a G1 phone.  Thanks!

I did a search for Pleco but its not there.  There is a Collins dictionary but it costs $10, I'll buy it if anyone can say its good.  Guess I'll slog through the free stuff anyway...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on August 21, 2010, 08:42:27 AM
Check out the new feature coming to Pleco (http://plecomirror.com/ocrdemovid.html)…just fantastic.

I was considering purchasing the ABC dictionary for Pleco, but found it doesn't have the great etymologies like Wenlin does, so I guess I'll give it a miss. Are any of the other dictionaries worth purchasing, or are the installed one and CCDICT good enough?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on August 21, 2010, 01:57:02 PM
after using it for while i just bought all the dictionaries they had.  Living in China you are eventually gonna need them.  Do they still offer the free Adsotrans dictionary?  That's from a user created online database and it's pretty good despite inaccuracies.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Invictus on August 23, 2010, 07:33:37 PM
As far as online resources go, I found a really good one.

www.chinesepod.com

The site has an incredible number of lessons all based around function (from making a phonecall to "renting an apartment through an agent") and organized by level. This isn't just a bunch of sentences in pinyin. Every lesson has audio mp3, dialog mp3 (the lesson with all the fluff cut out), a transcript, even exercises. Just awesome. This is pretty much exactly how I learned in college, and the fact that you can search by situation is just awesome.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 23, 2010, 08:50:36 PM
As far as online resources go, I found a really good one.

www.chinesepod.com

The site has an incredible number of lessons all based around function (from making a phonecall to "renting an apartment through an agent") and organized by level. This isn't just a bunch of lame sentences in pinyin. Every lesson has a audio mp3, dialog mp3 (the lesson with all the fluff cut out), a transcript, even exercises. Just awesome. This is pretty much exactly how I learned in college, and the fact that you can search by situation is just awesome.

yeah a lot of here have been using Chinesepod for years, it really is the most fundamental resource for studying Chinese, for those of us who don't have the time/money/inclination to go full time in a university. their service and product have continually improved over the years, I use em everyday, on both my laptop and my ipodtouch
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 14, 2011, 02:23:54 PM
I liked the latest lesson on Pop-up Chinese (http://www.popupchinese.com):

The MacGyver of Chopsticks (http://popupchinese.com/lessons/elementary/the-macgyver-of-chopsticks)

Or get it here. (http://www.blubrry.com/chinese/924417/elementary-the-macgyver-of-chopsticks/)

Sometimes the 'pirates vs zombies' and other lessons they do over there are a bit too quirky for me, but this one was really funny.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on January 16, 2011, 04:20:34 AM
For those of you who do rely on ChinesePod, do you use it as your primary source of study, or in addition to other books/resources? I do like the situations that they use to teach from (the vocabulary and grammar usually are quite relevant), but there seems to be neither rhyme nor reason to how the lessons are organized.

Anyway, I'd be very interested to hear suggestions on how to best use ChinesePod.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 17, 2011, 05:45:18 AM
I agree it's all a bit haphazard if it's your main source.  There are a few coherent lesson sets that allow progression, but they are mostly at the newbie level.  The other sets are mainly just thematic - no bad thing but it's hard to measure your progress.

I dont have a book as such, I just try to read as much as possible, whether it's text messages, MSN, graded readers, menus....and since I live in China, I tend to try and remember what situations I've been in speaking Chinese, and what language has been a problem, and then download any related CPod lessons.

However, there are enough Chinese pod lessons that you can probably find something on there to fit in with whatever book you are using.

Skritter.com (another pay site, focussed on writing) has a hook up with Chinese Pod where you can download and study how to actually write the words from any CPod lesson.

Since combining the two my reading and especially writing has gone from non-existent to passable, so that's another avenue to consider.

Fozzwaldus seems to have had a lot of success through using Cpod, so I'd also be interested to hear what he has to say.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on January 18, 2011, 03:16:19 AM
hey ho,

yip, I use CPOD almost exclusively, doing lessons ranging from intermediate to advanced. For int (and increasingly upper int) I simply read the transcripts to practice recognising characters.
Advanced (and the proficiency-esque Media level) are challenging for me, I need the help of the hosts (which is entirely in Chinese; a good listening exercise in and of itself).

So, for better or worse I've learnt nearly all my Chinese from CPOD, the result of this is that my listening is excellent, my speaking is fluent if imperfect, my reading is passable, and my writing is almost nonexistant.

Last year I put in 6 months writing practice with a textbook in order to take the HSK level 3, which I aced, so that puts me at a kinda-should-be-working-for-FCE (if that makes sense) level of Chinese, so it can be done, but it nearly bored me to tears. What with pinyin-input systems, I can't be arsed learning to write anymore.

While CPOD's lessons can seem haphazard (and in the first few years the lessons were all over the place, and the levels were poorly defined), I think they are getting better at things like recycling vocab and returning to langauge patterns and themes, which is essential.

The feature that keeps me coming back is the way you click on any word in any text and then it's saved to your vocab bank, which you in turn organise into groups, and test yourself with flashcards. I've been starting my days with those flashcards for nearly two years now, and while I've forgotten a lot, quite a bit sticks too.

Anyways, sorry if that's a bit of a ramble, I'm tired after a long day of material design.  awawawawaw
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: James the Brit on January 28, 2011, 09:00:41 AM
After three weeks of an intensive semester-long course at the Universite de Montreal, I'm starting to feel like studying Chinese is like walking up an escalator going down.

Someone on here said that it feels like that, then all of a sudden you realise you know a lot of Chinese. I sure hopoe that's true.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 28, 2011, 12:30:36 PM
I think it was LE who compared it to trying to swim out into the ocean. At first the waves knock you back and it's all hard work, but then you realise you've swum out further than you think and have made progress...until an even bigger wave comes, and knocks the S*** out of you, haha.

John Pasden of Chinese Pod wrote a good blog post (http://www.sinosplice.com/learn-chinese/stages-to-learning-chinese) about this from a different angle (one among many in fact (http://www.sinosplice.com/learn-chinese)).

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Invictus on January 30, 2011, 08:30:17 AM
Hehe. I enjoyed that post. Got to stage two in college and now, after six months in China, am struggling with the frustration and constant sense of choking desperation that accompanies stage three. :) Stage four seems like a beautiful, distant dream right now... But hey, so did two once upon a time.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: jpd01 on January 30, 2011, 04:27:47 PM
I've been stuck in stage two for a long time now, I'm not to fussed about it, I'd like to progress but have very little to no motivation to do so.
The only new vocab I pick up these days is by accident and some forced drinking vocab games with my Chinese friends.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on January 30, 2011, 06:55:07 PM
I've been bouncing around the upper edges of stage 3 for a while. Methinks I'll have to invest in some private classes to bump myself up a band.  ananananan
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 31, 2011, 01:59:16 AM
I've also been mired somewhere in stage 3 for what seems like an eternity.  Although today I felt like I was right back at square one when I couldn't make my order for ’jiǎozi‘ understood.

I blame having the GF with me - everyone automatically looks to her for 'translations' of everything I say - even when I am speaking Chinese  asasasasas

(She, wonderful woman though she is, also insists on translating every single thing anyone says in Chinese into English even though she knows I have passable Chinese and am trying to improve, but that's another rant...)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on January 31, 2011, 04:28:00 AM
I've also been mired somewhere in stage 3 for what seems like an eternity.  Although today I felt like I was right back at square one when I couldn't make my order for ’jiǎozi‘ understood.

I blame having the GF with me - everyone automatically looks to her for 'translations' of everything I say - even when I am speaking Chinese  asasasasas

(She, wonderful woman though she is, also insists on translating every single thing anyone says in Chinese into English even though she knows I have passable Chinese and am trying to improve, but that's another rant...)

I hear you buddy, my wife has a habit of translating really easy stuff, and leaving me to flounder when it gets difficult.  bibibibibi

On people looking to her for translations, I've made it clear that she is not to intervene if they don't get it the first time. Thing is, I'm saying it just fine, but it's the old white face that pulls a jedi mind trick on some fuwuyuan. 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: fullricebowl on January 31, 2011, 05:04:28 PM
I couldn't agree with you all more about not being understood if you are accompanied by a Chinese person. Last night, I just asked the waitress "duo shao qian?" and she immediately looked at my Chinese friend and asked "ta shuo shen me?" Not only do I know that my words were understandable, but I was taking out my wallet to pay for the bill she had just said we needed to pay before we got our food.

The best practice I get is definitely when I'm on my own- and I think it goes both ways. When I am with my boyfriend I know I become more dependant on him handling anything related to communicating with people. To boost my own confidence, I really feel like I need to spend time out fending for myself so I feel like I am capeable of handling most situations on my own.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 31, 2011, 07:45:39 PM
Yeah it's an interesting (and sometimes infuriating) phenomenon.  The ironic thing is my other half has, by her own admission, pretty bad putonghua.  On more than one occasion she's been asked which country she comes from after speaking Chinese!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on January 31, 2011, 10:29:53 PM
Yeah it's an interesting (and sometimes infuriating) phenomenon.  The ironic thing is my other half has, by her own admission, pretty bad putonghua.  On more than one occasion she's been asked which country she comes from after speaking Chinese!

 ahahahahah ahahahahah let me guess, she's from Ningbo?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 31, 2011, 11:09:50 PM
More or less - a small town a couple of hours south.  Zhejiang seems to be pretty extreme for dialects, with even people from the next village along sometimes unable to understand each other.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: azdave on February 27, 2011, 10:54:38 AM
Any word on Sinocamps Bootcamp starting back up? The website states they were taking a break for 2010.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 10, 2011, 01:53:02 AM
So...

I finished Pimsleur 3 the other day and now I'm at a loss for lessons.  I enjoyed the listen-and-repeat format of the Pimsleur--inside the house in front of the computer, no, but outside the house and walking around with headphones, yes--and I've been looking around for similar or better...

There isn't better, is there?  What does one do after Pimsleur 3?


I tried Rocket Chinese, and if there is any language learning product anywhere that has made worse choices in teaching presentations, then I really don't want to listen to it because Rocket Chinese made me want to kick people... And I tried Chinese POD, but I could really do without cheerful hosts....

What else is there?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 10, 2011, 02:06:06 AM
Now you take the headphones off and start talking to people.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 10, 2011, 02:57:56 AM
I already have extensive practice with "bu hao yisi, wo putonghua shuo de bu hao" and "ting bu dong" and "wo bu zhidao ni shuo shenme".  I can even grunt "Uh?" with the best of them (but generally will only if they do it at me first, it's an ugly language tic and must one day be eradicated).  Should I ever run into a capable teacher, I believe I'd willingly pay actual folding money for lessons, but it's the "capable" part that's ruining it.  Meanwhile, not interested in random mislearning.  Do one day intend to speak stuff I care about.

Learning to speak that doesn't involve being cheery... if it can be done, I will find it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 10, 2011, 04:01:26 AM
Now you take the headphones off and start talking to people.

'Fraid Stil's right. Tis one thing to go through the Pimsleur, tis another to speak so people actually understand you.

I did Pimsleur #1, and really liked it, and retained quite a bit. But when I got here, and started taking classes and speaking to people I realized that much of it isn't practical. Pimsleur teaches you to speak too polite and people in the smaller restaurants don't really understand when you sit down and say the Chinese equivilant of "Excuse me my good sir, but mayhaps I have something cool and refreshing to drink?"

I doesn't mean Pimsleur learning is in vain, just the well rehearsed sentences you've repeated 100 times are in vain. You need to speak and listen to the people around you to learn how to really put your vocabulary together in a way that you'll be understood!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 10, 2011, 05:32:29 AM
Damn you, teachers.  Damn you all.


I shall learn Spanish instead.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 10, 2011, 02:37:03 PM
My  school is offering a "free" Chinese class and by "free" they mean that we have to pay a monthly "deposit" of 100 rmb, of which, you may or may not get your money back. I personally want to take the class, but I'm thinking about boycotting it based on the fact that we were initially told it was "free" and now have to pay a bogus deposit. Maybe I'm being too pig headed about this...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 10, 2011, 02:40:36 PM
What's their reasoning for the deposit?
Who is teaching the class?
How many classes/week?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 10, 2011, 02:47:21 PM
Reasoning behind the deposit - something to do with attendance
Who's teaching the class - it's still a mystery
How many classes a week - 2 classes a week, 1.5 hours per class 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 10, 2011, 03:09:20 PM
Just make sure that as long as YOU attend, you get your deposit back and that it's not tied to the other foreigners because most will come for a class or two then stop. The school has probably been through this before.

Even if you pay, 12 hours for 100 rmb is good. You can stand on principle and boycott (will not bother the school in the slightest, probably save them money) or you can learn Chinese faster which WILL save you money and time.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 10, 2011, 03:11:54 PM
Mlaeux: It has been noted several times anecdotally on these boards, and it's been my experience too - Classes offered by schools to foreign staff are almost always awful.  Who's teaching the class is most likely still a mystery because no-one wants to do it...


Calach:  If C-Pod is not to your taste, there are several other podcasts around (all downloadable - click arrow + save as):

Popup-Chinese (http://www.blubrry.com/chinese/) - Self-consciously wacky at times but I find it a nice couterpoint to ChinesePods relentless straight-laced cheerfulness.


I-Mandarin Pod (http://www.blubrry.com/learnmandarinchineseandculture/) - Not  a trace of humour or window dressing to be found.


Visual Mandarin (http://www.blubrry.com/visualmandarin/) - Ditto, and all delivered in a delightful monotone.  I'd love to meet the host one day.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 10, 2011, 03:47:22 PM
My experience is they are not always awful. Depends on the teacher and if they are actually paying them them for the classes it may be worthwhile. It can really give you a leg up on self study.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on March 10, 2011, 07:11:53 PM
Ask the school about a teacher for private lessons.  Offer that teacher the 100rmb  agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 11, 2011, 12:56:15 AM
Quote
My experience is they are not always awful. Depends on the teacher and if they are actually paying them them for the classes it may be worthwhile. It can really give you a leg up on self study.

You're right Stil, and my comments weren't very helpful reading back.

What I was trying to say was something like "the classes may turn out to be crappy,  even after all this fuss, but don't let that put you off learning Chinese".
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 11, 2011, 04:12:34 AM
on a side note, just arranged a 1-1 with a Mandarin teacher in the uni here, hoping that given she's a pro with loads of experience that this'll be the leg up that my self-study needs, cos lord knows it needs something

I'll let y'all know how I progess
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 11, 2011, 05:38:24 PM
Thanks for the advice guys.

I went ahead and forked over the dough. I decided to give it try and drop it if it is really awful.

I just have like 20 weeks left to go until my contract is up anyway...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 11, 2011, 06:36:09 PM
Imma go ahead and work with FSI and Rosetta Stone.  I don't mean to be entirely rude about the whole "just talk" option, but I do know my preferences in learning, and they ain't extroverted.

I like FSI.  It's thirty years old and the narration has a distinctly Dharma-HAL-Space Odyssey feel.  This is both hilarious and functional.


I took a listen of the other podcast stuff too.  Popup Chinese Echo sounds hot.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 11, 2011, 09:56:15 PM
Quote
Popup Chinese Echo sounds hot.

She's on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717645876)

PS NOT A STALKER!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 12, 2011, 03:41:42 AM
Those of you paying for tutoring, how much do you fork out? I'm trying to decide how hard of a bargain I should drive with some of the leads I've gotten…and it's not worth making a website to solicit answer to this question ;)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on March 12, 2011, 05:01:36 AM
I paid 40rmb/hr for a tutor.  She was completing a Master's degree in Linguistics/translation. 

My teacher became a friend and he now gives me lessons for free.  Teaches at my Uni.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 12, 2011, 06:39:54 AM
here's what I was quoted:

80   RMB per hour---beginner, just practice spoken Chinese

100 RMB per hour---intermediate & advanced,  Pinyin  Grammar

120 RMB per hour--- Pinyin,  Grammar, Chinese characters

140 RMB per hour--- Pinyin,  Grammar, Chinese characters, HSK test

this is in Ningbo, with a high cost of living and a relatively wealthy foreign population. teacher is qualified and experienced... I'll let you know how we get on
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: azdave on March 12, 2011, 08:43:07 AM
Anyone have any personal experience with Konall Culture Exchange  (Shijiazhuang) or East West Connection (Beijing), in regards to their Mandarin immersion programs?
I would like to take a month long course this spring. I’m at a beginner level now using self study:

-   Chinesepod.com
-   Skritter.com
-   Learning Chinese Characters (Tuttle)

During this short visit I hope to give myself a jump start prior to some additional self study this summer, and line up a teaching job for the fall.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on March 12, 2011, 06:21:19 PM
here's what I was quoted:

80   RMB per hour---beginner, just practice spoken Chinese

100 RMB per hour---intermediate & advanced,  Pinyin  Grammar

120 RMB per hour--- Pinyin,  Grammar, Chinese characters

140 RMB per hour--- Pinyin,  Grammar, Chinese characters, HSK test

this is in Ningbo, with a high cost of living and a relatively wealthy foreign population. teacher is qualified and experienced... I'll let you know how we get on

That sounds very expensive. Most private tutors around here can't charge more that 50rmb, otherwise they will price themselves out of the market. I go to a chinese school and they charge between 45rmb-65rmb depending on how many lessons you buy and when you want to have them. I know another school charges 70rmb p/h. I'm in Chengdu, so it's not as rich or as developed yet as the East (as I understand-having never been to the East). Anyway it sounds like the market in Ningbo is very different. Best of luck with your lessons, hope your teacher is a fun one.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 12, 2011, 07:21:10 PM
here's what I was quoted:

80   RMB per hour---beginner, just practice spoken Chinese

100 RMB per hour---intermediate & advanced,  Pinyin  Grammar

120 RMB per hour--- Pinyin,  Grammar, Chinese characters

140 RMB per hour--- Pinyin,  Grammar, Chinese characters, HSK test

this is in Ningbo, with a high cost of living and a relatively wealthy foreign population. teacher is qualified and experienced... I'll let you know how we get on

That sounds very expensive. Most private tutors around here can't charge more that 50rmb, otherwise they will price themselves out of the market. I go to a chinese school and they charge between 45rmb-65rmb depending on how many lessons you buy and when you want to have them. I know another school charges 70rmb p/h. I'm in Chengdu, so it's not as rich or as developed yet as the East (as I understand-having never been to the East). Anyway it sounds like the market in Ningbo is very different. Best of luck with your lessons, hope your teacher is a fun one.

yeah, I remember that being the case in Chengdu, 50 per hour for a qualified teacher

I'm sure I could also get it cheaper in Ningbo, but I've gone for a teacher from my foreign university where they have a fairly captive audience of laowai

I sat in on a taster class that she did at the beginning of last semester and I liked how "communicative" her style was, so I've decided to give her a shot...

I wonder how much a qualified tutor would charge in Shanghai? anybody know?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 12, 2011, 07:47:43 PM
Shanghai - We've got a Mandarin training school next door that charges 160 RMB an hour for a 1-1. 

Prices go down a bit if you are willing to pay for a whole load of hours up front.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on March 12, 2011, 11:18:23 PM
Wow. I'm surprised (but don't suppose I should be-this is a country of extremes after all) that prices vary so much between cities. I had a job offer in Shanghai for 4500 last year - this is compounding the feeling I had that I would be skint and struggling if I wanted to, you know, do stuff.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 13, 2011, 03:49:38 PM
In BJ I've been quoted ¥70/hr for a teacher with 3+ years experience teaching HSK preparation. I thought that sounded completely unreasonable, but maybe it isn't. Your Ningbo prices, Fozz, are just astounding.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 13, 2011, 04:14:32 PM
In BJ I've been quoted ¥70/hr for a teacher with 3+ years experience teaching HSK preparation. I thought that sounded completely unreasonable, but maybe it isn't. Your Ningbo prices, Fozz, are just astounding.

Ningbo: playground of the nouveau riche, and is still nothing compared to MK's Shanghai prices!

Like I said, captive market of pampered foreigners. Some people do make a trip into the city center on a Friday night for classes. Personally i can't be arsed. I'm paying 100/hour for reading and conversation.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: tomhume89 on March 15, 2011, 02:16:42 PM
Going to sign up with Chinesepod now-there's 20% off at the mo. I downloaded all their mp3s and pdfs a while back and have been going through them slowly. But on the site there's so much more that will keep me busy.

I get enough speaking practice in school (have an office where I'm pretty much the only English speaker), and it's cheaper than getting a dedicated teacher overall.

Although I think I'm just trying to justify spending $170 to myself...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 17, 2011, 05:29:02 PM
Is anyone who uses Chinese Pod getting the impression that John and his new co-host Dilu cannot stand one another? Or is it just me?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Con ate dog on March 18, 2011, 05:39:49 AM
My teacher charges 50 an hour.  My learning rate has tripled.  An actual professional teacher makes so much difference.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on March 21, 2011, 03:22:47 AM
Heads up, PopupChinese.com is offering free Basic Plus subscriptions (usually $50/year) for anyone who writes a review of the site on their blog. Details here: http://popupchinese.com/help/free

The offer is good for five more days.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: randyjac on March 21, 2011, 01:21:05 PM
Heads up, PopupChinese.com is offering free Basic Plus subscriptions (usually $50/year) for anyone who writes a review of the site on their blog. Details here: http://popupchinese.com/help/free

The offer is good for five more days.
Thanks for this post. I signed up and listened to one lesson. I liked the format of that lesson, authentic speech interspersed with explanations in Chinese and English. I plan to partake of more of the offerings there at http://popupchinese.com/ .
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 21, 2011, 04:48:29 PM
EL Macho - Thanks for the heads up. I just sent them a link to my blog and FB page. I'll let you know the outcome...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on March 21, 2011, 05:42:30 PM
Wow! That was fast! I already have access to my free premium account.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: azdave on March 21, 2011, 06:29:32 PM
El Macho,
Thanks for the info. PopupChinese.com gave me a free upgrade within an hour of posting a review on my Facebook.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: tomhume89 on March 21, 2011, 07:10:01 PM
Where do you post? Just as a note on your page or something?

I'm unsure whether to take advantage of this as Chinese Pod gives me enough to do anyway.

Is anyone who uses Chinese Pod getting the impression that John and his new co-host Dilu cannot stand one another? Or is it just me?

Now you mention it, it does seem that way! The food poisoning lesson seems quite odd at some points. How long have they been presenting together? It seemed to take John a while to get into the swing of things, I thought.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: azdave on March 21, 2011, 07:20:59 PM
Quote
Where do you post? Just as a note on your page or something?

Follow the link in El Macho's post above.

From the website:
Quote
So take five minutes to do it now and save yourself $50. Write a short review on your blog or facebook page and link to us. And we'll upgrade your account pronto.

Once again: to get your free basic plus subscription, just blog about us online and include a link to Popup Chinese. Then send us an email (service@popupchinese.com) with your username and the URL of your review and we'll upgrade your account. Couldn't be easier, and thanks for your support!
bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 22, 2011, 04:49:47 AM
Quote
Now you mention it, it does seem that way! The food poisoning lesson seems quite odd at some points. How long have they been presenting together? It seemed to take John a while to get into the swing of things, I thought.

A couple of months.  Johns long time co-host, and Chinese-Pod darling, Jenny Zhu left to have a kid recently.  Since then things haven't seemed quite right.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 23, 2011, 01:01:55 AM
there was an interesting discussion at the end of a recent upper-int class about child labour, you could tell they aren't totally comfortable with each other...

that said, I always found Jenny a bit annoying  :wtf:
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 23, 2011, 01:54:39 AM
Yeah, I wont disagree - she is worshipped on the site tho.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Ben-Dan on March 23, 2011, 04:02:01 AM
I love Jenny Zhu's voice. I could listen to it endlessly if it wasn't punctuated by John's gibberish, which I couldn't stomach. Dude stutters, among other things, and sounds like a posh prat. That was a bit harsh.  :wtf:

I haven't listened in a long time so didn't know about the change of lineup.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: tomhume89 on March 23, 2011, 01:56:41 PM
Quote
Where do you post? Just as a note on your page or something?

Follow the link in El Macho's post above.

From the website:
Quote
So take five minutes to do it now and save yourself $50. Write a short review on your blog or facebook page and link to us. And we'll upgrade your account pronto.

Once again: to get your free basic plus subscription, just blog about us online and include a link to Popup Chinese. Then send us an email (service@popupchinese.com) with your username and the URL of your review and we'll upgrade your account. Couldn't be easier, and thanks for your support!
bfbfbfbfbf


Cheers- a moot point now, but I was wondering if it should just be a note on your FB page or whatever. But, there we go. I have Chinese pod anyhoo...

I love Jenny Zhu's voice. I could listen to it endlessly if it wasn't punctuated by John's gibberish, which I couldn't stomach. Dude stutters, among other things, and sounds like a posh prat. That was a bit harsh.  :wtf:

I haven't listened in a long time so didn't know about the change of lineup.

It took me a while to get used to John, but I find him subtly funny. Jenny's voice is amazing! DiLu isn't a patch on Jenny. I despise the American woman on Qing Wen though.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 31, 2011, 01:59:44 PM
At the moment I am getting some much needed motivation and ideas from AJATT (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/all-japanese-all-the-time-ajatt-how-to-learn-japanese-on-your-own-having-fun-and-to-fluency), which started off as one man's tale of successfully learning Japanese.  He's also learning Chinese though, and the site has become a general language-learning-through-self study-guide.

It may be mostly just one guys opinions, but a lot of it really rings true (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/the-eternal-sorrow-of-the-intermediate-learner-%E2%80%9Care-we-there-yet%E2%80%9D-syndrome).
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: DJWolff on April 01, 2011, 03:55:33 AM
Hello, guys...

I have had a different experience in my Chinese learning. Thus far, I have managed to learn three foreign languages, all through formal training (teachers, classes, books, papers, tests, etc), but somehow I have managed to pick up basic Mandarin by ear and by memorizing characters (which my Brit co-worker simply calls "squiggles" ahahahahah).

Of course, I would never recommend this approach to anyone, let alone a beginner, since I have done it along the three years I have spent in China. I get the "你的中文说得很好", which I think is awesome and makes me feel so proud of my skills and that I am the second coming of Dashan. But I also have to admit that most of the times they say so when I utter a "Ni hao" or a "xie xie".

I completely agree with the poster who said to "take off the headphones and start talking to people". I think it's some of the best advice I have read in a long time.

Cheers, guys!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on April 01, 2011, 04:47:55 AM
Anyone know any pool table chinese? Not that I can play very well, just curious about it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on April 16, 2011, 09:54:08 PM
@MK -that's an intersting site, I'm gonna go back to it and look through it in more detail, especially since most of my experience with Chinese has been self study.

update on my expensive Chinese classes - we've been going for a month now and I've already upped my reading speed quite substantially. We're working from an intermediate level reader book (which reflects how much lower my reading skills are compared to speaking and listening) and what seemed very challenging a month ago now feels pretty comfortable. I'm getting a feel for some of the formalities of written Chinese, and have realised that there's a whole world of adverbs out there that you never get exposed to in everyday speech.

I will never, ever sit down for classes with an unqualified teacher again, the difference is enormous (she has a BA in Chinese and an MA in teaching Chinese to laowai and is currently employed by my uni doing just that) ... isn't it ridiculous that as a career language teacher it took me this long to figure that out? In fact I've noticed that the language learning strategies employed by my colleagues are nearly always shambolic, and my rag-bag methods (which are way less sophisticated than what I preach to my students) stand out in comparison.

nuts.  bibibibibi
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on April 17, 2011, 01:50:42 AM
Quote
I will never, ever sit down for classes with an unqualified teacher again, the difference is enormous

Ditto that.

I finally got over that nasty bout of bronchitis or whatever it was and went to Chinese class. I missed a lot in 3 weeks, but they ditched the Chinese-Korean only teacher for a qualified Chinese teacher that speaks a little English.

I'm still kind of clueless, but everyday I go to class I'm getting more of a clue.  ababababab

Even though he writes the characters slowly, I'm still confused about the stroke order and placement of the strokes, so I just gave up trying to write the characters and just focus on the pinyin and tone.  kkkkkkkkkk
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Kid Presentable on April 17, 2011, 03:08:26 AM
So I have a summer break coming up and I'm strongly considering taking a 20/hr a week Chinese class in Shanghai. Timewise, I can only spare about 6 weeks, and it would be about four hours a day M-F. I would be in a class of 6-10 people, and it would be conversation centered, probably with some light reading practice. This class would run 9600 kuai plus books. Do you think this would be a worthy investment in my language ability? Or would you recommend some other means of learning Chinese? Anyone have experience with classes like these? Your impressions would be appreciated.  bjbjbjbjbj

I've been doing Rosetta Stone, and going to my company's free Mandarin class one hour a week on Wednesdays. I feel these two combined are not getting me where I'd like to be, although they do help, and I'm gonna stick with 'em in the mean time. They're all I have time for right now.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on April 17, 2011, 03:37:10 AM
I'm still kind of clueless, but everyday I go to class I'm getting more of a clue.  ababababab

That's my language learning philosophy in a nutshell. I go to classes with the foreign students as well, and I like them a lot. The teachers are really good (and patient) and they know I am not a real student but they give me a lot of props for coming to class regularly. (When we were learning 'bi' the comparsion word, the teacher compared me to another-real-student and said I go to more classes than him! ha ha!)

Of course I miss more than half of their classes, because of my teaching schedule, and so inevitably I fall behind which is really frustrating. In fact I am re-taking the level 2 class because I missed so much last semester and can barely understand my former classmates because their vocab and grammar level is so high. But I figure if I learn at least 2 new things in a class then it is worth my time.

Following this motley, slow-learning approach I can now speak to real live chinese people on a regular basis and I can even understand some of my students during break time. For a stereotypical american who is terrible at learning languages, I consider it quite a victory!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: James the Brit on April 17, 2011, 10:52:40 AM
I'm still confused about the stroke order and placement of the strokes, so I just gave up trying to write the characters and just focus on the pinyin and tone.

The stroke order doesn't matter. Once the character is on the page, if it looks alright they wont know if you respected "the order". Don't give up on characters.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: flip on April 17, 2011, 12:39:00 PM
The stroke order, as far as my experience has been is a pretty logical process in writing the character, generally is a Z (start top right to top left etc... end bottom right, like in a Z) pattern into the character, it's makes the strokes go in the right directions, and makes writing faster possible.  Once you understand the general basics of the stroke orders, any new character you see, you can assume its stroke order.

Don't give up on writing!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on April 17, 2011, 02:03:18 PM
Borka, Flip & JB - Thanks for the encouragement!  bfbfbfbfbf

When I move to my new city, I'll probably hire a qualified tutor or take an evening class. I'm going to look into what is available after I get all settled in.

In the meantime, I'll soldier on with what is being offered here.  bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on April 17, 2011, 02:23:25 PM
For practice recognizing characters I use this flash card site:

http://www.chineseflashcards.net/hanzi.cfm

To see how to write a character use this dictionary.  It also allows you to hen scratch a character when you want to find out its meaning:

http://www.nciku.com/
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on April 17, 2011, 04:59:23 PM
The stroke order, as far as my experience has been is a pretty logical process in writing the character, generally is a Z (start top right to top left etc... end bottom right, like in a Z) pattern into the character, it's makes the strokes go in the right directions, and makes writing faster possible.  Once you understand the general basics of the stroke orders, any new character you see, you can assume its stroke order.

Don't give up on writing!

Yep, this. Learning proper stroke order really helps with learning how to write. I don't think you need to be anal about it and obsess over every little stroke, but understanding the basics of which strokes come first (horizontal before vertical, etc) will make writing a lot faster and automatic.

I'll also chime in for the importance of learning Chinese in a class with a proper teacher. I got my Chinese foundation in college and when I moved here I obviously had a huge head start, which allowed me to make progress very quickly. For those of you who are not in China yet I would strongly recommend checking out a community college or continuing education Chinese course back home because learning the basics from someone who is actually qualified to teach the language is really invaluable. Once you get to China there are a lot of people who claim to be Chinese teachers but who can't teach at all, espcially if you're in an expat-heavy city where the local Chinese college students have clued in to the fact that they can make a bit of cash by marketing themselves as teachers (heh, sound familiar?), but, like Fozz said, you'll just waste time if you're learning from someone who isn't a professional teacher.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 18, 2011, 02:39:05 AM
I'd also add that someone being a good Chinese teacher of English does not automatically make them a good Chinese language teacher.  In fact some of the worst advice and most disparaging comments about my own language learning have come from Chinese English teacher acquaintances, I am sad to say.

Anyway, on the other side of the coin after all the love for formal class based learning, AJATT (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/) is definitely worth a bit of your time to get some ideas and motivation for self study. 

I am currently getting into cartoons in Chinese.  Got Snoopy and Tintin on DVD (can switch between English and Chinese for audio and subs) and my GF has actually stolen my 中文 copy of Calvin & Hobbes (卡尔文与跳跳虎 - available on Taobao). 

Perhaps not the most authentic or culturally relevant resources I could have chosen, but what the heck, I am reading and listening to 100% Chinese stuff and it doesn't feel like a chore.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: flip on April 18, 2011, 08:52:07 AM
I've also heard the Chinese translated Spongebob Squarepants is great for learning because it's entertaining, the Chinese is clear, and the animations are very descriptive. 

Unfortunately I don't know where to get this, doesn't anyone know anywhere that this is "obtainable" for a small (as in 0) fee online?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 18, 2011, 03:56:39 PM
Spongebob is Hǎimián bǎobǎo (海绵宝宝).  Never actually watched it, seems pretty noisy!

You can try downloading from VeryCD which provides Emule P2P links rather than torrents or direct downloads.

http://www.verycd.com/search/folders/%E6%B5%B7%E7%BB%B5%E5%AE%9D%E5%AE%9D

Or you can find on-line streaming sites via Baidu's video search:

http://video.baidu.com/v?word=%BA%A3%C3%E0%B1%A6%B1%A6&ct=301989888&rn=20&pn=0&db=0&s=0&fbl=800

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on May 08, 2011, 08:56:26 PM
Have you guys posted this one already?

http://trainchinese.com/v1/a_user/index.php (http://trainchinese.com/v1/a_user/index.php)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on August 21, 2011, 05:05:29 AM
OK, feel like stretching your 听力 (http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E5%90%AC%E5%8A%9B/41960) with a couple of Chinese language podcasts from the BBC?  The level is high but they are short and manageable at about 3-5 minutes each.


Learning English for China (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/aab)
This first one is my favorite.  It's aimed at Chinese speaking learners of English, and it's roughly half in Chinese and half in English.  It's also cool because you will hear about culturally familiar things (for Brits at least - there have been lessons on 'Fish and Chips' and 'Barbara Cartland' for example...) but in Chinese.  Also, one of the Chinese speaking hosts sounds amazingly cute, especially when she flips back and forth between English and Chinese in the same sentence without dropping a beat.

You can even get .pdf transcripts of the shows!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukchina/simp/elt/audio/

http://bbcenglish.cqnews.net/2009version/audio_programmes/index.html


Study in the UK (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/suk)
This one is entirely in Chinese.  It's aimed at Chinese students thinking about studying in the UK.  It's particularly good if you are a teacher because you will hear students talking about their learning experiences, education systems, culture shock etc, all the things we talk about as teachers but this time all in Chinese of course.

Not a full transcript, but there are written summaries of the interviews here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukchina/simp/uk_education/students_experience/


Podcast of the day (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/podcastoftheday)
This final podcast is also totally in Chinese.  It's a news round-up, so it's high level stuff and it's fast, but because it's from the BBC they go into all the juicy stuff we're not supposed to mention over here - you know what I'm talking about...

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 21, 2011, 05:57:44 AM
@MK - love the BBC news website... very juicy stuff.

Not exactly news but I've been using Chinasmack a lot lately for my reading/daily vocab. Scanning my cursor across the English translation of the Chinese comments brings up the mandarin originals, which are full of lovely colloquial phrases.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on August 23, 2011, 11:43:43 AM
Yeah, that's how I justify my Chinasmack time too, I'm er, studying...culture and that...yeah.   bfbfbfbfbf 

Just kidding, that is a really cool feature - kind of the antithesis of the dull green tea and Great Wall textbooks we all know...although I hope those Chinese posts are a bit more coherent than the average Youtube comment.

ChinesePod currently has an interesting lesson on online translation tools (http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/10466777), although I have to say if being a translator involves mucking about on NCIKU and Google, well I could do that!

http://www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory/Languages/Chinese/ChinesePodcom-Podcast/15792
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Invictus on August 27, 2011, 10:47:59 PM
I completely agree with the poster who said to "take off the headphones and start talking to people". I think it's some of the best advice I have read in a long time.

Not sure if it's been mentioned already but a great show for practicing listening is "Genuine Inquiries Only," a popular dating program. If you can laugh at the ignorance of most of the female contestants instead of becoming irritated, it is a great way to expose yourself to some relevant, everyday Mandarin.

To watch, go to video.baidu.com and search for 《非诚勿扰》.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on August 30, 2011, 11:27:22 PM
Quote
"Genuine Inquiries Only" 《非诚勿扰》

I keep meaning to give this a try.  John at Sinosplice recommends it too (http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2010/07/15/fei-cheng-wu-rao-whats-the-appeal).  However, sitting down and watching any kind of Chinese TV on a regular basis is something that I just have not been able to make myself do yet.

Another website I just found which looks great for keeping up with news and pop-culture terms is Baidu Beat (http://beat.baidu.com/).  All it does is give you the current top-ten Baidu search terms with a brief explanation (in English).  Simple but interesting, and a good way to drop some topical Chinese into your everyday conversation.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: DC@54055 on August 31, 2011, 01:32:26 PM
Here's a little question (or two)


1.Has anyone ever taken the HSK? How was it?

I would like to know if they're are any test anyone knows of that are widely recognized test that gauge your skills in chinese  bfbfbfbfbf

2. How do I go about studying Chinese and teaching English? Are theyre alot of schools/institutions that allow teachers to teach English during the morning/night and study Chinese at night/day?

Has anyone here tried to study chinese and teach english....how did you do it, how did it go?

Thanks,
DC
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 31, 2011, 02:24:05 PM
I have been watching a ton of Chinese TV lately. Yes, half the time I do not understand anything but after a while, and some heavy-duty quality time with my dictionary, it slowly makes more sense. I have been watching "Three Kingdoms" and need to read the damn thing, seeing as the plot it horrifically convoluted.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on August 31, 2011, 03:27:25 PM
[quote author=DC@54055 link=topic=131.msg126880#msg126880 date=1314747146

I would like to know if they're are any test anyone knows of that are widely recognized test that gauge your skills in chinese  bfbfbfbfbf

2. How do I go about studying Chinese and teaching English? Are theyre alot of schools/institutions that allow teachers to teach English during the morning/night and study Chinese at night/day?

Has anyone here tried to study chinese and teach english....how did you do it, how did it go?[/quote]

Yeah, HSK is THE test that gauges your skill. At my uni you need to achieve level 4 before going to chinese classes (classes for actual chinese students, not learning chinese classes, but regular classes in China.) I think level 4 is basic fluency, though, from what I see from the int'l students on my campus, you need higher than a level 4 to understand a standard class in chinese!

And I teach english and study chinese. I thought I could just "pick up" the language living in a boonie town with no English, but after 6 months, and not knowing anything, I realized I would need to attend class.

So for the past year and a half I attend as many Chinese language classes as I can. I get the schedule every year and as a teacher, I'm allowed to go to any of the classes. I introduce myself to the teacher at the beginning of the semester and they all go easy on me. I don't have to do homework, and they ask me if I want to participate in things like giving a speech (which I always do).

The hardest part is watching your classmates improve very quickly, while you struggle. I mean, they have 6 hours of class a day, while maybe you have 6-8 hours a week. So they will rise and you will feel like an idiot. But, if you just attend through the shame, and accept the fact that you are the biggest dummy in class, then it is TOTALLY rewarding. In fact, I'm pleased to say that least semester, after a year and a half of chinese class, I was NOT the biggest dummy in my class, two of the actual foreign students were way worse than me! So that felt nice. ;)

And speaking of learning Chinese. Last night I watched my first Chinese movie all in Chinese (with just chinese subtitles) and I actually enjoyed it even though I understood maybe half! It was "Love in Disguise" by Wang Leehom.   
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on August 31, 2011, 08:26:02 PM
Any textbooks to recommend? I was using 'Chinese Made Easier' which focused on speaking but also introduced 8 new characters per lesson, to memorise or write as you see fit. Each dialogue was in pinyin and as characters were introduced in following lessons they appeared in character form. The problem is it's over 10 years old and a bit boring. Other textbooks I've looked at either focus solely on speaking, no reading or writing, or contain too many characters - meaning I would enter at a level that does not represent what I can speak, so as to catch up.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on August 31, 2011, 09:03:47 PM
I've been facing this problem, too. You might look into hiring a tutor. I've found that a good teacher can make a big difference; s/he can give additional vocabulary or grammar for you to chew on while you're having to "re-learn" characters for the stuff you already know.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on August 31, 2011, 11:14:41 PM
I have sent out a couple of emails and texts today so I'm waiting to hear from them. I prefer having a tutor, but haven't had one since I left Chengdu around June.

Incidentally,

s/he.

I find they are invariably 'shes', never stumbled upon a male teacher. Which is a shame because I would much rather have a man to model my pron on.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 01, 2011, 01:15:20 AM
Quote
I find they are invariably 'shes'...I would much rather have a man to model my pron on.
And so a lot of male laowai end up talking Chinese in a 'feminine' way!  Tip of the day - don't use 讨厌 / tǎoyàn if you are a guy, because apparently it's mega-girly (tǎoyàn is used as a shortcut to say something is pissing you off, often your boyfriend it seems).

Quote
Any textbooks to recommend?
I think a lot if us who start learning Chinese informally eventually have to face up to this gulf between our speaking and listening and our reading and writing.  It sucks.

If I could go back to the beginning of my Chinese learning...I've seen the 'Teach Yourself...' books recommended as a good place to start by two separate self-taught peeps who had really good Chinese.

It's a bit pricey on amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Yourself-Mandarin-Chinese-Complete-Package/dp/0071430334/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314788735&sr=8-1

But you may be able to get a cheaper copy on Taobao:

http://s8.taobao.com/search?q=teach+yourself+chinese&commend=all&ssid=s5-e&pid=mm_14507416_2297358_8935934

If you can afford it I would also go for subscriptions to Chinesepod and Skritter:

www.chinesepod.com

www.skritter.com

Of course, you don't have to spend money to learn a language, but these two websites really do take out a lot of the struggle of looking for resources at your own level and in your own area of need or interest.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on September 01, 2011, 06:27:13 AM
Thanks for the tips. Chinesepod seems a good bet so I reckon I'll get someone back home to buy it for me since I lost my English bank card last year.

I just remembered that I've been meaning to ask for film recommendations from people here as well- anything spring to mind?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: tomhume89 on September 07, 2011, 03:12:20 PM
Anyone else having problems logging into Chinesepod? I keep having this warning that the site isn't secure and that I shouldn't continue..
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 07, 2011, 11:30:32 PM
Quote from: Nato
film recommendations

Chinese films?  There's at least one pretty good thread already out there:

http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=4882.0

http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=4903.0

@tomhume89

It's fine for me right now, Sept 07th, but I am currently in the UK (browser = Chrome)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: tomhume89 on September 07, 2011, 11:54:25 PM
MK- cheers for the report. I emailed them and they said it should be fine within 24 hours. And it is!

Also, I was using a VPN (based in the UK) with various browsers and it still failed me. Hm...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on September 08, 2011, 10:33:50 PM
Quote from: Nato
film recommendations

Chinese films?  There's at least one pretty good thread already out there:

http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=4882.0

http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=4903.0

@tomhume89

It's fine for me right now, Sept 07th, but I am currently in the UK (browser = Chrome)

Ta. I forget to search and just post questions, thanks for picking up the slack.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on December 29, 2011, 02:33:56 AM
How (not) to learn Chinese from a bunch of Old China Hands (mp3 podcast):

http://www.blubrry.com/chinese/1243846/learning-chinese/?autoplay=1

The best bit for me is when they admit their weaknesses and difficulties with the language - very revealing and interesting, yet also motivating in that all these people who apparently speak 'fluent' Chinese have more or less the same problems as the rest of us...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on December 29, 2011, 04:59:59 AM
new resolution to push myself beyond the upper-int plateau I currently inhabit by watching an episode of Chinese TV every day

starting with 'nan ren bang' which is pretty funny, and I can understand most of it.

http://www.soku.com/detail/show/XNDg1NTY4?keyword=%E7%94%B7%E4%BA%BA%E5%B8%AE

any other TV show suggestions?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on January 01, 2012, 04:29:46 PM
I don't know about TV shows, but there is a new movie that is all the rage with my students and I recently watched it and it is quite good.

The English name is "Apple of my eye" and the Chinese name is 那些年,我們一起追的女孩. It's a great movie, about high school kids, and my students have told me their experiences of school and life are the same, so it was a good chance to get to learn more about high school culture.

As for me, I also decided to take an intensive month-long language course next summer to further my chinese. In fact, I am giving up a trip to go back to America to take the chinese class. I figure why not, right? Sure maybe I won't go back to maerica for more than 3 years, but I've lived their for 32 years already so that is enough for now. Now my time is in China, and to me, learning the language is becoming more and more important.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 01, 2012, 10:35:33 PM
As I am sure you guys know, intensive courses only help if you are getting your 30 minutes a day (or whatever) of regular Chinese learning the rest of the time! 

Just say no to the temptation of binge studying folks, it doesn't work and you'll only feel even more guilty afterwards when you slip back into your bad old study habits!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 01, 2012, 10:48:08 PM
Quote
any other TV show suggestions?

My friends suggestion was just to have the TV on Chinese TV all the time and channel surf until you found something watch-able....not such an easy task here though....

Another option is to watch the same kind of stuff you would like back home - e.g. I find it fairly easy to watch nature documentaries even if i cannot understand them, though I am probably not getting much Chinese culture from them as many seem to be foreign imports.

Also, 'nother pod-cast, specifically on using Chinese TV to learn Chinese:

http://chinapolicypod.com/index.php/2011/good-shows-on-chinese-tv-no-seriously/
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on January 09, 2012, 10:24:55 PM
so, planning to hit the Chinese systematically over the holidays.

Was the only foreigner at a wedding in Xi'an over the weekend, and though I held my own, it brought home to me how far I have to go before I can be considered proficient.

So, got a new textbook to use with my teacher:

Developing Chinese Fluency by Phillis Zhang

looks good, based around what seem to be solid language learning principles, with attractive modern packaging with a good mix of grammar, reading, discussions and activities.

I'll let you know how it goes!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on January 10, 2012, 12:41:11 AM
said book also has a complimentary website with flashcards/drills etc, and an online workbook (though I think I'll have to buy a workbook to get access to that...)

@macho - keep us informed as to how your studies are going, I might consider doing something like this myself sometime, maybe over the summer holiyers.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on January 10, 2012, 04:10:21 PM
I just realised you can get, erm, 'cheap'  versions of Rosetta Stone (http://search8.taobao.com/search?q=Rossetta+Stone&pid=mm_14507416_2297358_8935934&unid=0&mode=63) and Pimsluer (http://search.taobao.com/search?q=pimsleur&searcy_type=item&s_from=newHeader&source=item&ssid=s5-e&search=y) from Taobao...neither of these are terribly great resources on their own, IMHO,  and they are expensive, but if you can get 'em cheap I would say go for it, they are a great way to reinforce your other learning or just give you a break from textbook study to do something different.  Rosetta Stone especially is fun to blast through a few lessons now and again.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on February 01, 2012, 08:18:18 PM
aforementioned book is excellent, both for use with teacher and self-study, the textbook, workbook and online resources are very useable and actually seem to take into account SLA principles like, you know, recycling vocab and stuff... imagine, in a Chinese textbook!  aoaoaoaoao

as for watching TV shows, found another good series with an easy enough concept

双城生活 - 'twin city life' (my translation)
basically a girl from an earthy Beijing family, who live in a Hutong (yeah right) marries a guy from a snooty Shanghai family. A comedy of manners (and a whole lot of the stereotyping the Chinese seem to love so much) ensues.
Not rocket science, but accesible and fun enough.

My really great discovery, however, has been this guy 周立波 - Zhou Yi Bo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Libo

a Shanghai standup comic who talks about a lot of very topical and controversial stuff.

It's a talk show/standup/news round up sort of show that the English do very well, also not unlike the Daily Show in the US.

Just to make this clear, this is contemporary political satire on mainstream Chinese TV!!! It's my ambition to get good enough to undestand everything he say.

What I've watched is called: Mr. Zhou's Live Show 。。。 can't find the Chinese translation right now, but will post back when I get it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on February 01, 2012, 10:03:40 PM
My chinese studies this holiday - so much time, so little studying. So, time to buck up me ideas. Gonna learn some songs I think as a break/supplement from/to the textbook, 王力宏 is where I'm gonna start, unless anyone has some better ideas?

Also any recommendations for TV programs for an Intermediate level? Get too frustrated most of the time, maybe should just stick with it anyway.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on February 01, 2012, 10:42:38 PM
No no no, not Wang LiHong, he sucks. :( At least try 许巍 if you wanna go for mainstream.

Otherwise, I recommend 万晓利 or 李志. The lyrics are a lot more interesting. ;)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Nolefan on February 03, 2012, 11:33:00 PM
Folks, in a effort to keep this one thread extremely focused and useful, I split off the Wang Lihong discussion. You can talk about his beard here:

http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=7212.0

 bjbjbjbjbj bjbjbjbjbj bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on June 20, 2012, 02:11:14 AM
Just to keep things ticking over in here:

http://www.fluentflix.com/blog/topics/chinese-learner-interview-series/ 

[May require wall scaling strategies]

Wherein they interview a different Chinese learner in each instalment asking them about the secrets of their 'success'.  Basically it's all about time and effort of course, but it's pretty interesting nonetheless.

The guy working as a professional translator after a mere five years made me sick!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: DC@54055 on June 22, 2012, 04:45:48 AM
I plan on adding to the sphere of knowledge by making some quizzes ON SPORCLE about Chinese Verbs and/or HSK Vocabulary.

It will keep my knowledge fresh in my brain as well as help others.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: slayer6719 on June 22, 2012, 12:14:20 PM
[quote author=Fozzwaldus link=topic=131.msg133308#msg133308 date=132807709


My really great discovery, however, has been this guy 周立波 - Zhou Yi Bo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Libo

a Shanghai standup comic who talks about a lot of very topical and controversial stuff.

It's a talk show/standup/news round up sort of show that the English do very well, also not unlike the Daily Show in the US.

Just to make this clear, this is contemporary political satire on mainstream Chinese TV!!! It's my ambition to get good enough to undestand everything he say.

What I've watched is called: Mr. Zhou's Live Show 。。。 can't find the Chinese translation right now, but will post back when I get it.
[/quote]

Mr Zhou is one funny fella axaxaxaxax
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on June 22, 2012, 05:44:55 PM
yeah, he's the bestest
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on July 13, 2012, 09:09:28 PM
http://www.memrise.com

Pretty interesting looking free(and fun) language learning app' - includes Chinese (of course!)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on July 16, 2012, 12:02:59 AM
http://www.reddit.com/r/ChineseLanguage/

..is great for picking up extra resources, getting help/advice or just other people's perspectives.

E.g. I just found this link over there:

http://cctv.cntv.cn/lm/learningchinese/program/index.shtml

A nice set of 100 video lessons from CCTV.  Includes tapescripts.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 16, 2012, 12:06:23 AM
nice one MK - you're a great man for the random Chinese-learning links!

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: old34 on July 16, 2012, 12:26:25 AM
Yeah, nice-and with transcripts, too.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 16, 2012, 01:24:38 AM
How long does it take to become 'fluent' in Chinese?

expert views:

http://www.haohaoreport.com/l/36570
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 16, 2012, 01:51:41 AM
those 'growing up in Chinese' classes are actually pretty well done too...

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on July 16, 2012, 04:22:15 AM
Quote
you're a great man for the random Chinese-learning links

Yeah, if I spent the same amount of time actually using the resources I have instead of hunting for new ones I'd be fluent by now!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: DC@54055 on August 10, 2012, 08:45:35 AM
Just watched this. http://speakfromday1.com/tedx/

A good antidote to lax motivation which I know attributes to alot of my flux in and flux out of learning Chinese. Those CCTV Links are cool.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: piglet on August 11, 2012, 09:21:35 PM
Quote
if I spent the same amount of time actually using the resources I have instead of hunting for new ones I'd be fluent by now!
Yes! my problem exactly being a www addict I just go on hunting for more and more stuff instead of sitting down on my behind and swotting!
  bibibibibi
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 04, 2012, 03:41:32 PM
Quote
being a www addict I just go on hunting for more and more stuff

...er...

FluentFlix Wants to Take You to the Movies So You Can Learn Chinese (http://www.techinasia.com/fluentflix-movies-learn-chinese/)
Quote
FluentFlix is a startup web service that aims to teach you Chinese using videos and film clips. On signing up, users can select their language level, what kinds of clips they want to see (i.e. film clips, news, commercials, music videos, etc.) and what genres they prefer (entertainment, business, science, tech, etc.).

http://www.fluentflix.com/

It certainly looks very cool!

VIDEOS HOSTED ON YOUTUBE --> NEEDS Very Passable Nicety
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 04, 2012, 03:49:39 PM
Most of the videos are bits of soap operas, adverts, lectures etc but this one sprang out at me for some reason:

http://members.fluentflix.com/video.php?id=492


\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

@Fozz, yes! don't judge it by this one 'odd' video!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 04, 2012, 04:14:02 PM
@MK -  mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm

is this site for real?? WTF?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 04, 2012, 05:43:02 PM
Yes!

The video I posted isn't very representative it just...caught my attention.   

Most of the stuff is snippets from soaps, adverts etc...controlled use of authentic material.

I think it has real potential and it's still in the testing stage.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on September 04, 2012, 09:00:46 PM

Sexy Mandarin (http://www.sexymandarin.com)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 07, 2012, 03:10:30 AM
@MK - looks intersting, here's a write up

http://www.haohaoreport.com/l/37784

I might just look into this, I definitely need more authentic materials in my life
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 07, 2012, 04:10:54 AM
@MK - looks intersting, here's a write up

http://www.haohaoreport.com/l/37784

I might just look into this, I definitely need more authentic materials in my life

used it once and REALLY liked it - seems like an absolute winner.

I used it at advanced level, and though it was too fast for me, I could pause it and grab the phrases that I need.

I think this is the i+1 (Krashen) that I need right now. If I can get to the stage where advanced is comfortable for me then I really know that I'm smokin'.

Makes me think, my Chinese pod subscription is coming up for renewal. I've been using them since like 2006, not always legally, but fully paid up since 2008-ish.

I was thinkin of just taking a good one-to-one lesson plus PLECO and now maybe this???

Any opinions? Anybody still using Chinese pod? They are good, but it's the same old voices and the same old format....
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 07, 2012, 01:24:21 PM
It's highlighted to me the importance of authentic materials - soooo fast! Even in the 'beginner' videos I have trouble following sometimes, but I listen at the upper intermediate level on Chinesepod which I think has given me an inflated view of my abilities...most people must actually be slowing down and grading language a hell of a lot in general when they talk to me in Chinese here, which I never recognized before.

But, although the interface is cool, part of me thinks that if you are at an advanced level, then you might as well be watching Chinese movies or soaps, I mean the level of control is nice but does it really add that much more to being able to replay something with subtitles on DVD or Youku etc? 

There also doesn't seem (yet) to be SRS to help you review the vocab you save, which is half the point of doing it online I think.

Also that blonde woman on the CCTV vids with her apparently orgasmic enthusiasm for absolutely fricken anything and everything is getting annoying.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on September 07, 2012, 03:08:46 PM
I haven't done any studying of any note for about two months now.  bibibibibi stupid holidays... I might give this fluentflix a try as well, seems an interesting idea.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 08, 2012, 12:31:59 AM
'But, although the interface is cool, part of me thinks that if you are at an advanced level, then you might as well be watching Chinese movies or soaps, I mean the level of control is nice but does it really add that much more to being able to replay something with subtitles on DVD or Youku etc? 
'

I think so, more manageable chunks, it's hard at the end of a day to sit down and watch an entire L2 movie (I know you don't have to do it all, but...) - also, the subtitle wouldn't have characters pinyin and English all together

'Also that blonde woman on the CCTV vids with her apparently orgasmic enthusiasm for absolutely fricken anything and everything is getting annoying.'

that must be 爱华 - name  being literally 'love China' - she's the panda-sucker-supreme, makes Da Shan look like Mitt Romney.

yesterday I watched one by that French turd Julian talking about how much he loves the CCP (well, actually, maybe he didn't say that, but the commentator interpreted it that way)... is loathing a suitable language motivation? perhaps... we shall see

anyway, MK, great find.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on September 13, 2012, 10:42:01 PM
Just had my first one on one lesson for two months and it felt good, I'm raring to get back down to studying.

Really enjoying FluentFlix, it's a fun and interesting way to learn (well as much as it can be). Went back to review my textbook today and nearly died of boredom. How long will it be before they start charging? How much will they charge?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on December 03, 2012, 05:46:03 AM
Any suggestions for textbooks? I've finished the fifth and final book in a series called Chinese made easier. Currently I think my level is int-upper int with reading lagging behind slightly. I'm eager to get stuck into some more meaty topics having discussed travel, daily necessities etc to the death now. In fact I think the 5th book has been a bit of a waste of time and a little too easy. Any suitable books you can think of? Or do you have other suggestions?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on December 03, 2012, 02:28:24 PM
I don't use textbooks - just cannot stick at them.

I use a combination of graded readers (Chinese Breeze, Graded Chinese Reader 1, 2, 3, and the dual-language Oxford Bookworm series aimed at Chinese learners of English (my theory is if the English is relatively simple the Chinese ought to be too...) and Chinesepod / Pop-up Chinese / Memrise for my self study.

By the way, I was on the train the other day and a couple of foreigners almost got off 'Xuzhou' thinking it was 'Suzhou' (they didn't or I would have said something).  I still have trouble saying X/S/SH right but at least I can hear the difference now.  Also made me remember just how confusing China / Chinese language can be for newbies.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: gonzo on December 03, 2012, 05:02:45 PM
Please update us AMonk. Five years after that post, what's your Chinese language status? I plateaud [sp??] after a few years, a bit of extra vocab and better listening skills aside. You must be affluent effluent confluent pretty good by now.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on December 04, 2012, 01:46:02 AM
Actually, not being in China ahahahahah and busy trying to earn a "living" bebebebebe means that I am no better off. llllllllll  The books, CDs I bought are still sitting on my bookshelf.  I can sling a pretty fair "Ni Hoa?"  or "Xie Xie" or "Mi Dan"...but that's about the sum total of my "lingo". :wtf:
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on December 07, 2012, 08:18:33 PM
MK where did you pick up those readers from? I'd like something I can use in class with my teacher do you think they'd be suitable for something like that? I like having something to work through and look back on when finished, it helps motivate me a bit.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on December 08, 2012, 02:37:27 AM
I'd say if you like reading anyway, you'll get something out of these.  Using them with a teacher could be interesting - I am sure there could be lots of discussion not just about vocab and grammar but also cultural points (a lot will depend on your teacher though - would they be comfortable with a 'book club' type class?).

Chinese Breeze (http://www.cheng-tsui.com/store/products/chinese_breeze) and the Graded Chinese Reader series can be had on Taobao or, if you're lucky, from larger foreign language bookstores in major cities.

http://s.taobao.com/search?q=%BA%BA%D3%EF%B7%E7&commend=all&ssid=s5-e&search_type=item&sourceId=tb.index&initiative_id=tbindexz_20121207

http://s.taobao.com/search?q=%BA%BA%D3%EF%B7%D6%BC%B6%D4%C4%B6%C1&initiative_id=staobaoz_20121207

The Oxford Bookworm series you can find at just about any bookstore, but they are aimed at Chinese learners of English, so there's no pinyin and even the 'level 1' books might have some complex language in the Chinese.  However, I like them because the stories are familiar so you've already got a head start so to speak.

http://s.taobao.com/search?q=%C5%A3%BD%F2%CA%E9%B3%E6&initiative_id=staobaoz_20121207
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 06, 2013, 01:34:11 AM
A bump/ding because this long running thread showing off our studious side had slipped down well into the forum's nether regions - we've been slacking off!

And, giving credit where credit is due, a couple of nice resources from a  similar thread (http://raoulschinasaloon.com/index.php?topic=8230.0;topicseen) in the Cabana:

From yli comes some MIT open courseware:

http://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-21f-003-learning-chinese-a-foundation-course-in-mandarin-spring-2011/index.htm

And from bobrage, options from the UK's Open University:

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/languages/chinese?seeall=1
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: A-Train on March 06, 2013, 05:08:19 AM
Actually, not being in China ahahahahah and busy trying to earn a "living" bebebebebe means that I am no better off. llllllllll  The books, CDs I bought are still sitting on my bookshelf.  I can sling a pretty fair "Ni Hoa?"  or "Xie Xie" or "Mi Dan"...but that's about the sum total of my "lingo". :wtf:

In one of Kaiser Guo's recent broadcasts he makes the point that the most successful entrepreneurs here don't spend a ton of time learning the language. They concentrate on their business and hire translators. But, I'm sure that if you're after a good China experience, that's not the row to hoe.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: anchor on March 07, 2013, 02:00:25 AM
I saw earlier that somebody had posted regarding Fluenz, but there were no replies.

Has anybody checked them out since?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: yli on March 09, 2013, 05:02:55 AM
I'm pretty sure all of you have Chinese co-workers.

In my opinion, after you've got a handful of characters in you, one of the best ways to learn grammatically correct conversational Chinese is to get QQ or something and simply ask them about their day.

You'll quickly end up learning about the typical situations your average person comes across on any given day.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 09, 2013, 05:18:52 AM
QQ/MSN, Chinese friends + Adsotrans (http://popupchinese.com/tools/adso) was how I got over my fear of characters and started reading regularly (you might have to do a bit of convincing to get some people to believe that you actually WANT them to use Chinese with you though)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 16, 2013, 03:50:51 PM
So - bumpity bump to this thread ... no offense to the 你学中文吗? thread, but there's a lot of accumulated experience in here ...

Anyway, I've pretty much decided to take the HSK4 (new) in the next couple of months, just as a way to set myself a learning goal.

I'm currently studying at a HSK5 level, but my reading is still too slow to take the test I think, so doing level 4 will be a good way to learn all those characters that I can use in spoken discourse, but have to paintstakingly decode when I'm reading.

Another thing that made my decision for me was hearing that I can now do a 网考 i.e. you can use a computer pinyin input method to input your answers, rather than doing it by hand. When I took level 3 years ago I had to spend months writing out characters and I said never again (though it was useful to get the fundamental radicals etc under control).

I've downloaded HSK 4 flashcard list for PLECO. So, here goes!

I'm taking classes once a week, but I think I'm going to have to go back to using FLuent Flix again. Is anybody still using that? It looked very promising at first but then I fell out of love with its vocab system. It did seem like a nice alternative to sitting through hour-long Chinese TV shows though.

Anyway. How is everybody doing Chinese-wise? Where are you at and where are you heading?

给大家加一大杯油!!! agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 16, 2013, 04:56:13 PM
It's now 'Fluent-U'; http://www.fluentu.com/ , haven't used it in a while.  My Chinese study just trundles along with ChinesePod and looking up everyday stuff on Pleco being my bread and butter...is there ever a 'eureka' moment when you realize, 'hey I can speak Chinese!'?  I seem to be in permanent intermediate purgatory.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Just Like Mr Benn on March 16, 2013, 05:05:41 PM
I'm still at a very early stage. Basically spent my first 3 years in China without learning anything, and it's been in fits and starts for the last year. (I'm using Pimsleur, which i'm a big fan of. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do when I finish Mandarin III in about a month's time.)

I really kick-started things during the holiday though, and yesterday for the first time ever I had a proper conversation in Chinese when I realised that I knew everything I needed to sort out when my cleaner would come round this semester. I'm sure I made lots of mistakes, but it felt really good.

The trouble is that I don't really like talking unnecessarily to people all that much. When I lived in South America, even though my Spanish was passable, most of the time I pretended that I barely spoke a word. I learned Spanish largely by reading, but that's obviously a lot more difficult with Mandarin.

I kind of have to learn Chinese in order to be able to speak to my girlfriend's son. 6 or so years of education have an instilled a fear of speaking English in him that it's going to be difficult to un-do.

Perhaps my girlfriend also thinks that eventually I'll be able to have conversations with her parents. She's right of course, but probably wrong that such a possibility is likely to have positive outcomes. Very little of what I want to say to them is particularly filial in nature.

I understand yli's point of view, which if I have taken as being that we have an obligation to learn Chinese. (I may of course be misrepresenting him). I just don't think that's necessary at all for most of us.

However, there obviously are benefits. It's fulfilling to learn a foreign language. However I obtained that particular fulfilment with Spanish. In an ideal world I'd rather be becoming fluent in that than vaguely coherent in Chinese.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 16, 2013, 05:30:47 PM

The trouble is that I don't really like talking unnecessarily to people all that much. When I lived in South America, even though my Spanish was passable, most of the time I pretended that I barely spoke a word.


That's totally me too. I mean, even in America I search all over the store looking for Q-tips rather than actually ask someone. So in China I'm the same.

That's why going to class and having friends who can't speak english is so important for me learning chinese. Because english is not an option (neither is not speaking) I feel nervous at first, but then quickly feel more comfortable. Once I feel more comfortable both speaking and listening becomes easier for me.

But when a new person talks to me my ears suddenly fill with cotton and my vocabulary decreases by half. I was a really shy kid. I'm much more outgoing these days, in English, but my shyness and social awkwardness comes out with my chinese self! It's something I'm working on, but it's hard to overcome.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 16, 2013, 05:39:01 PM

I really kick-started things during the holiday though, and yesterday for the first time ever I had a proper conversation in Chinese when I realised that I knew everything I needed to sort out when my cleaner would come round this semester. I'm sure I made lots of mistakes, but it felt really good.


Good for you! That's real progress. When you get to higher levels it's much harder to see whether you are making any head-way whatsoever.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 17, 2013, 12:33:33 AM
Affect in language learning is really interesting I think, and it does help to be a bit of an extrovert to some extent (I am not!).  You also need a thick skin, because once you get past the "Wow, you said 'ni hao' your Chinese is so wonderful!" stage, a lot of Chinese people will be pretty unforgiving of your faltering Mandarin.  I mean, English speakers are generally used to a variety of accents, and we expect foreigners to learn our language, many Chinese just don't.  I've had Chinese people tell me to give up!

There's also the reading thing...I have always learned best by reading first and then doing, but getting to the stage where you can read anything interesting in Chinese takes quite a lot of effort.  There's a certain buzz when you start to be able to decipher signs, menus, short text messages etc, but getting from there to say, reading a newspaper or a novel is a hard slog.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 18, 2013, 03:28:11 AM
I was looking at the papers for HSK 5 and, to be honest, I could probably get through with a pass if I practiced for a bit...

the question is, why am I taking this test? Is it to get a piece of paper with as high a number as possible on it? Or is to fill in the gaps in my character recognition?

I will prolly do 4 in the next couple of months. Then 5 later.

Then I win Chinese. I WIN.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on March 18, 2013, 03:59:36 AM
Fozz, I would just go for the 5.

I know a guy with pretty, imo, terrible Chinese who passed the 5. He studied pretty hard for about a half a year, then passed it. His starting point was abysmal though, and I still don't think his Chinese is all that great even now.

I've considered taking the HSK but ultimately decided it would be a waste of time and money (and because  I'm lazy), although it definitely would be cool to "win Chinese." :)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 18, 2013, 04:36:43 AM
I was reading that the new HSK at its highest levels only go as far as the old HSK's intermediate levels. That old HSK was a real mean old bitch of an exam. No messing about with that one!

This means that the idea that the new HSK is benchmarked to the CEF (Common European Framework) is a nonsense, because there's no way that my Chinese, especially reading and writing, is anywhere near the level of CAE (Cambridge test of Advanced English), which is what the equivalency is supposed to be.

That said. Not many people know that, so it still looks like a very high qualification. Hyuck hyuck.

TLD - I will probably learn all the level 4 vocab and then think about taking level 5. Like you say, not too hard with a a bit of test prep.  agagagagag

You should totally just go straight in for level 6 - I doubt you'd even need much prep, just register and do it. You should get something to show exactly how high you are, I can see you teaching Chinese back in the states someday!!  bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 18, 2013, 06:07:59 AM
I am pretty sure I couldn't pass any test of Chinese.

My old lady and her family and my close friends speak no English.  I'm one of those foreigners that has been around for awhile and doesn't know the other foreigners in town well. I'm tired of losing a friend after one year. I don't go to bars much, not because I don't drink but because I don't really understand paying 25rmb for a little bottle of beer when I can hang with my friends for 6rmb for a bottled pint and can actually hear what they are saying. The girls are just as hot. I'm old though so perhaps I just don't get it.

I'm not sure how your level of competence should be graded. I know that some of the students that get the best scores in English tests are pretty much incomprehensible and others that do poorly are easier to understand.

I can read a newspaper and I pretty much have no choice but to watch Chinese TV garbage because "She who must be obeyed" says so. I haven't tried to read a novel in Chinese. I'm not sure if I can. I don't care. I read English novels.

I have a grip on some Chinese culture but make mistakes all the time.

I have no goals in Chinese. I just want to have a laugh.

I suppose I should be better considering the amount of time I've lived in China. I speak Chinese with a Canadian/Changsha accent. There are too many words I don't know. I learn them when they come up but I still lean towards 'Big tree" rather than Sequoia.

I don't think about it most of the time. I just live.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 18, 2013, 07:49:33 PM
Pretty interesting article about the best way to start to learn to read in Chinese, although I am not so sure the approach is as 'new' as the article suggests.  They seem to be proposing a learning order based on a combination of most frequent radicals but also general character frequency (based on corpora I guess):

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130315-a-better-way-to-learn-chinese

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1303.1599v1.pdf

The researchers assigned cost values to each new learning task, and found the “cheapest” way to learn all the characters in the network is to start with the “trunk” characters that have the highest number of branches, and work up through the layers. But that could leave you knowing a lot of words you rarely need to use. If, on the other hand, you simply learn characters in order of use frequency (as some learning methods do), you fail to take advantage of the network connections that can aid recognition.

The ideal approach, which Wu’s team adopts, is a compromise between the two: it’s rather like planning a shopping trip by seeking the shortest path between shops while also contriving to pick up the heaviest items last. Adjusting the relationship network by giving a certain weighting or priority to each character depending on its use frequency, means the learning path spreads gradually through the network while picking up most of the common characters first.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 19, 2013, 10:18:56 PM
I was looking at the papers for HSK 5 and, to be honest, I could probably get through with a pass if I practiced for a bit...


HSK 5 buddy! *high five* But I need a lot of practice. That's why I've set my goal for July 21st. Even just making the flashcards for the 1300 vocab words is taking forever!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on March 20, 2013, 12:27:38 AM
I was looking at the papers for HSK 5 and, to be honest, I could probably get through with a pass if I practiced for a bit...


HSK 5 buddy! *high five* But I need a lot of practice. That's why I've set my goal for July 21st. Even just making the flashcards for the 1300 vocab words is taking forever!

Vocab list for all 6 can be found here in excel format so they can be easily exported

http://www.plecoforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=2326

Do you have Pleco ... and IF NOT WHY NOT???? You can however use the lists above regardless.

Worth getting a smartphone for. Seriously.

*High five* indeed! Gonna work through a paper this week with my Chinese teacher and see how I get on. Good luck!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on March 20, 2013, 04:48:06 PM
I was looking at the papers for HSK 5 and, to be honest, I could probably get through with a pass if I practiced for a bit...


HSK 5 buddy! *high five* But I need a lot of practice. That's why I've set my goal for July 21st. Even just making the flashcards for the 1300 vocab words is taking forever!

Vocab list for all 6 can be found here in excel format so they can be easily exported

http://www.plecoforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=2326

Do you have Pleco ... and IF NOT WHY NOT???? You can however use the lists above regardless.

Worth getting a smartphone for. Seriously.

*High five* indeed! Gonna work through a paper this week with my Chinese teacher and see how I get on. Good luck!

I have Pleco, but just the free dictionary. And to be honest I don't even use it that much. (I use the Dianhua dictionary as my main dictionary on my phone) and I don't know why. I mean, all I hear about it how awesome pleco is. Just never got on board.

But for flash cards I'm more of a tactile learner. Just the act of actually making them helps me remember them better. And holding something helps me learn better. I know, I'm old.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 20, 2013, 06:57:40 PM
Pleco never makes sense to me. It's dictionary structure and how it decides which dictionary to use is just weird. I DON'T KNOW WHY THERE'S GERMAN DICTIONARY IN THERE AT ALL!

And now that Hanping has produced Hanping Camera (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.embermitre.hanping.app.reader.pro), there may never be any reason to know.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on March 20, 2013, 09:24:09 PM
I like Pleco a lot.

A very good Flashcard system is Anki (http://ankisrs.net). It's available for all platforms and synchs between your computer and smart phone. There's a web interface too if you are away from your main computer. Anki (http://ankisrs.net) is not just for Chinese. It's a general use flashcard system.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: eggcluck on March 21, 2013, 02:31:53 PM
I have found using anki that one needs to be carefull about adding too much as it is logarythmic (spelling?) I was wet through RTK at 100 a day it was ok...10 days later  aoaoaoaoao.

It also reached a point where it ate up the bulk of my study time such that it is. I now limit my time exposure to Anki rather than do the set number of reviews. I have found that frees up some time to do some other kinds of studying that has resulted in faster improvements.

The problem with anki is that it it is very good for passive vocabulary etc but not so good for the active stuff. I use sentences with audio yet when I found them in the wild there is still some comprehension issues. Isolated setences do not prepare you for blocks of text with long sentences, though it does help for sure.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on March 21, 2013, 06:10:48 PM
I had a similar problem with Memrise - it's good for the first few hundred words, but when you get into the thousands, the backlog becomes enormous if you even skip a day.  I prefer just regular reading in context, even if it's less efficient n the short term.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 02, 2013, 10:16:47 PM
Finding Suitable Reading Material for Your Level (http://blog2.skritter.com/2013/03/finding-suitable-reading-material-for.html)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on April 03, 2013, 08:21:35 PM
I've been using www.fastchinese.org a lot lately, you know, instead of marking or preparing lessons.  You can sign in and it will remember your progress.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: fullricebowl on May 09, 2013, 09:05:52 PM
Last time I was a magazine stand buying some water, my husband suggested I pick up a copy of 读者 (Readers in English- with a little green bee on the top of the cover). He read it as a middle school student and I'd seen plenty of older people reading it too.

It's a series of small articles (some only a small paragraph) and jokes or other observations written in simple, colloquial Chinese. I really struggle to read "newspaper Chinese" but these are comparatively easy. If you've looked at the Chinese Breeze series, this might be a good next step. Often I can guess the meaning of the words I don't know, or if not mark it and use nciku to search for them later.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on May 09, 2013, 09:47:06 PM
Last time I was a magazine stand buying some water, my husband suggested I pick up a copy of 读者 (Readers in English- with a little green bee on the top of the cover). He read it as a middle school student and I'd seen plenty of older people reading it too.

It's a series of small articles (some only a small paragraph) and jokes or other observations written in simple, colloquial Chinese. I really struggle to read "newspaper Chinese" but these are comparatively easy. If you've looked at the Chinese Breeze series, this might be a good next step. Often I can guess the meaning of the words I don't know, or if not mark it and use nciku to search for them later.

My husband is a devoted 读者 reader. It is sort of like Reader's Digest in English. Another one that is similar is 青年文摘. The articles in both are written for normal laobaixing and aren't highbrow at all, and lots of them are actually taken from the internet. Definitely good magazines to practice on if you're at a decent high intermediate level.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: piglet on May 15, 2013, 12:14:13 AM
Re Hanping Camera I got this message
This app is incompatible with your Pelephone Samsung GT-I9300.
wtf?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 08, 2013, 11:07:09 PM
Yo Borkya,

did you ever take the HSK 5?

I'm down to do it in August, so if you did, let me know how you got on!

For me the listening isn't too challenging, and the reading I can usually get just by good exam technique. The fact that the writing can be done on a computer makes that pretty easy too.. so, here's hoping!

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: daikaiju on July 19, 2013, 08:14:47 AM
Can anyone recommend a good self study textbook or android apps for learning beginner level Chinese?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on July 21, 2013, 05:56:08 PM
Yo Borkya,

did you ever take the HSK 5?

I'm down to do it in August, so if you did, let me know how you got on!

For me the listening isn't too challenging, and the reading I can usually get just by good exam technique. The fact that the writing can be done on a computer makes that pretty easy too.. so, here's hoping!

I was originally going to do it on July 21st, but figured Aug would be safer, so looks like we'll be taking it the same day!

I'm doing fine, on listening, reading and writing EXCEPT the 8 stupid "put the characters in the proper order" section in writing. I don't know why but I'm averaging only 3 out of 8 correct despite weeks of practice and twice weekly tutoring sessions.

It's killing me and seems like it will determine if I pass or not. In all the other sections I'm getting enough right that I'll pass, but not so many right that I can carry a bad section. My teacher grades my essay writing and he says I'll also pass that with a good, but not incredibly high, score. So it all comes down to the stupid character section!!  llllllllll Any tips for me?

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 21, 2013, 09:22:01 PM
yo borkya,

i'd say if that's your only problem then you will still pass overall.

Each section is worth 100~total 300 and you only need 180 (or is it 160?) to pass so that section isnt too important. The writing is my weak point too but i can get near perfect on the listening so i think it'll average out.

加油!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on July 22, 2013, 08:49:17 PM
Near perfect listening?! Daaaaaaamnnnnnn.

Yeah, I'm going for 181 total score, the extra point is for pride, and I might, just might, squeak it out. But I want a 60 in each section, not killer in one section and loser in the other.

I've found a few practice computer tests online so I did those. Actually I find it quite easy,  except in the instance I don't know the pinyin for a word.

If nothing else "studying" gives me an excuse to sit on coffee shops all day. 

Good luck to you too!  agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 22, 2013, 10:59:30 PM
Near perfect listening?! Daaaaaaamnnnnnn.

Well, I might be over-exagerating this a little, but it's definitely my safety net!

I'm going to be doing those online practice tests with my tutor in the coming weeks, so, I hope it's as easy as you say!

BTW registration opens today for Aug 11 (in Ningbo at least) so, just a heads-up.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on July 23, 2013, 04:02:27 AM
Quote
Near perfect listening?! Daaaaaaamnnnnnn.

From his wife nagging him most likely.

"Lao gong, ni weishenme bu..."
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 23, 2013, 08:03:32 AM
Quote
Near perfect listening?! Daaaaaaamnnnnnn.

From his wife nagging him most likely.

"Lao gong, ni weishenme bu..."

Near-perfect selective listening ...

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 24, 2013, 03:30:48 AM
Hey Borkya,

does your teacher have any idea how the longer written composition is graded? My teacher can't give me much insight into this.

Is it a case of just not making mistakes or do you have to exhibit a range of grammar/vocab/rhetorical features...

It's hard to do that in only 80 characters! My teacher set me an assignment and I'd barely got through expressing my first point and I was all used up! In fact I was almost a 100 characters over the limit!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on July 24, 2013, 05:18:18 PM
Ha ha, I have a problem keeping it short too. I'm a super fast writer and my timing is typically 5 minutes for 140 characters! It's hard for me to be brief.

My teacher did tell me some stuff about the grading process. He said the most important thing was the sentence was correct. More sophisticated grammar patterns are better, but if you make just one tiny mistake the whole sentence is marked wrong. so he said a proper sentence, either simple or complex, is the best strategy.

I also asked him about not knowing the meaning of one of the necessary words because that's a worry of mine. He said use the unknown word in the shortest sentence possible, because again, if you use it wrong the whole sentence is marked wrong.

I also asked about content, if they like/don't like something. Like personal essays or stories or whatever. He said any subject is fine but you don't get brownie points for creativity. I find myself writing a personal essay style for the 5 words one, and a "once upon a time" story for the picture one. What do you write?   

So my plan is to write short, easy sentences. And based on what I've been giving him he says I'll be able to pass that part no problem. Finally all that texting in Chinese I do is paying off! 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on July 25, 2013, 12:42:45 AM
That is VERY VERY good advice on exam technique. Nice one!  bfbfbfbfbf bfbfbfbfbf

As for what I write about, I just write a little composition related to the (non-hsk) readings we do in class. I think I'll stick to something nice and simple and easy to write about.

Short sentences!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on July 25, 2013, 02:58:51 AM
If I could just improve on that f-ing "proper sentence order" thing I'd be happier.  llllllllll
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 08, 2013, 08:13:04 PM
sooooo...

HSK 5 this Sunday.

Did a mock test online 2 days ago and due to do another one tonight.

Listening - not a problem

Writing - not much of a problem

Reading ... a problem.

 - for the reading you have 45 questions in 45 minutes and my speed is just not up to that.

I can get a passing grade on the reading if I take my sweet time about it, but I just can't bomb through them at the rate that's expected.

Also, the difficulty level seems to vary a lot from paper to paper. Some are significantly harder in terms of topic, vocab and questions than others. There are some Qs that my teacher gets wrong! (she tries the mock tests while I'm doing them, just to see if she notices anything tricky).

So, need near perfect on listening and/or a lot of luck with reading to make sure I get those 180 points.

How you doin' Borkya? 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 09, 2013, 03:29:10 AM
Another mock exam down

Again near perfect on listening

Passing on writing

Reading, passing, but there was a lot a lot of guessing going on there... I have no idea how people are meant to complete those 4 long passages at the end. I did one carefully then just blind guessed the rest.

Way more difficult than the other sections.  kkkkkkkkkk
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on August 09, 2013, 03:46:59 AM
Have you done the "read the questions first, then skim the passage" thing for the longer articles?  I am wondering because that's what we always tell our students for IELTS etc, and I am wondering how effective it actually is when the shoe is on the other foot, hehe...

BTW, I am reading that level 5 requires 1711 characters/2500 words?  ....that doesn't seem like very much seeing as it is the 2nd highest level - what  makes it difficult?  (note - I have never tried any of the HSK exams!).
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 09, 2013, 04:06:25 AM
@MK - yes, I do the Qs then skim, but some of them are just tricky, and even with this tactic my speed isn't quite enough.

That said I'm passing by doing this, but it's hard work.

The new HSK is incredibly dumbed down, new HSK 5 says it's the equivalent of an IELTS 7, but it's in reality nowhere near that, more like 6 at a stretch. (probably 5.5)

The writing is pretty simplistic, and the listening, for anybody who's been here as long as I have, is easy.

Just the reading, which isn't too hard in itself, and if they gave me 15 more minutes I'd be fine. But 45 Qs in 45 mins is just beyond me right now.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on August 09, 2013, 05:35:57 PM
Yeah, me too. Reading is my strong suit but it's just too fast.

And dumbed down or not, it's really friggin tough! I mean, I've never taken any official language test before but my chinese friends who have been helping me say that it is quite confusing. Like, the words and language is at a very formal/educated level and sometimes they don't even know the right answer.

And I can't do the old "skim the passage" thing. I might be forced to because of time but its' really hard for me to pick out answers n a long passage. But to answer your question MK, that is the standard advice for HSK too.

And I've been here for 4 years and I think the listening is quiet hard! But then again I'm really stupid with language.

Only 2 more days then this f^$%$* test is over!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 09, 2013, 10:51:01 PM


And dumbed down or not, it's really friggin tough!

Sorry, I meant dumbed down compared to the old HSK, which was just ridiculous!

Where we are now, the second highest on the new HSK, would have been low-middle on the old one.

Good luck with the test on Sunday!!! (can't wait for it to be over so that I can go back to just chatting with my teaching about stoopid online stuff  ananananan)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on August 10, 2013, 02:27:03 AM

Good luck with the test on Sunday!!! (can't wait for it to be over so that I can go back to just chatting with my teaching about stoopid online stuff  ananananan)

Ha ha, me too. I just want it to be over so I dont always have to think "I should be studying!"
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 11, 2013, 10:34:19 PM
Disater. Pretty sure I failed (and this isn't that annoying thing that people do before they come out with an A+ - really fucked up this one)

Listening ok as usual, though perhaps a little harder.

Reading awful, just awful, blind guessing the majority of the answers.

Writing bad. The essay where you have to use 5 phrases I could only use 1. So, that puts a spanner in the works.

If I do end up passing it will be down to blind luck one-in-four chance on the reading.

Man... that really was a shitty experience.  ananananan

Hope it went better for you Borkya!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on August 12, 2013, 12:04:40 AM
When I got home I came to check Raoul's right away to see how it went for you.

I thought listening was a little easier than normal. They talked a little slower. Though the questions with multiple answers I basically just guessed.

Reading was tougher. I found the characters to be quite pixelated and harder to read than in the practice computer tests. Though I had enough time to get through all the essays and questions I'm not sure I understood them. (I started with the long essays so that if time ran out I could bang out the short ones)

The essay writing was ok. Did we have the same one? The pic was a lady packing a suitcase? That was no problem. For the 5 words one, I kinda "gamed the system." There was one word I knew the meaning, but not the pinyin, and another word I just didn't know. (The rest of the words I knew.) Luckily, I recognized the first character in each word, and so I went through the keyboard for the second character. You know, cause the pinyin thing will pop up all the words that start with each letter. So I got the proper pinyin for the first character, then I just went through the keyboard to complete the word. Unfortunately, I know I used the word I didn't know totally wrong. I said "我很收获" because like my teacher told me, I used it in a short sentence. I later looked it up and it meant harvest, whoops, ha ha!

As for the "put the characters in order" thing I have no idea. That's always been my hardest section and I really just cannot even begin to guess.

Overall? I'm not sure. I think I must be right on the passing mark. Right above or right below. If I get a 179 I'm gonna shoot myself, but it's totally a possibility. 

I was the only person taking the test in my testing center in Hangzhou. Crazy huh? It actually made me feel better, like, less serious or something. I think the tester, a young girl, was just QQ'ing the whole time, ha ha.

And it's friggin over!!! If nothing else that should cheer you up. I'm going out tonight drinking in celebration! I'll raise a glass to Fozzwaldus. We did it!  agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 12, 2013, 02:10:01 AM
Borkya, where was this training center? How did you sign up for the test? I am pondering taking it after spring festival.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 12, 2013, 02:26:02 AM
Yeah I'm at home drowning my sorrows.

The test was the same.

Have fun! I was hoping for a similar post-test buzz myself... but alas...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: old34 on August 12, 2013, 02:54:40 AM
An object lesson to all of us as to how our own students feel in the run-up to, and performance of, the various levels of English tests they take.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on August 12, 2013, 04:31:03 AM
@old34 -

absolutely, I was just talking to some fellow teacher friends about the same thing. It's a good thing for language teachers to take language tests from time to time.

However, the stakes couldn't have been any lower for me, I was just doing it for shits and giggles (and because I have a colleague whose Chinese is creeping up to my level, and he's a competitive little fecker!), but think about all the hopes and dreams of entire families that hinge on something like IELTS or TOEFL.

Must be awful.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on August 12, 2013, 05:14:15 AM
I have had students absolutely crushed by poor TOEFL/SAT scores. Like, won't come to class for weeks serious depression type stuff. It is really hard to have so much riding on an exam and those scores will make or break dreams to be sure.

I am sure there are some people for whom the HSK is serious business, but for the most part the stakes for us are nowhere near as high.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on August 12, 2013, 04:23:12 PM
After the TEM 4 (which my school puts a lot of focus on) my students go through major PSTD. Cute girls have told me they want to punch people, others have said they feel like crying at random times, and others just get listless. I think its because this focus, this drive they have for months is suddenly gone and they dont know what to do with themselves.

And I also took the test for shits and giggles, basically as an excuse to force myself to learn some of the grammar patterns and whatnot. So no matter what the result, I'm still happy. But after spending so much time and money I really wanna pass dammit!

And ETR, there are two testing centers in HZ. I did the one in the west lake cultural center shopping area (you know, the really tall building in HZ near wulin square). I don't know where the other one is but you can find it all at the official HSK website. http://www.chinesetest.cn/gonewcontent.do?id=5095854 (http://www.chinesetest.cn/gonewcontent.do?id=5095854)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: fullricebowl on August 12, 2013, 05:57:17 PM
Does anyone know anything about the Business Chinese Test? http://english.hanban.org/node_8000.htm It seems much cheaper and simplier than the HSK and it's like the old HSK in that there's only one test and afterwards you're given a score corresponding to a certain Chinese level, not picking a level to test at and either passing or failing like HSK.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on September 11, 2013, 03:08:13 PM
Fozzwaldus!! Results came out today! How did you do?

I got a 169.  ananananan ananananan ananananan (needed a 180 to pass).

I got the same score on listening and writing (59) which was a surprise because my listening was poor during practice.

My worst section was reading ( 51!) which is a total surprise because it was my best section during practice tests! Though I did say it was harder during the test than I expected.

Anyway, I'm bummed. Missed it by just 11 measly points. Though I am proud that I was close, and that I actually had a chance.

I'm not sure what I'll do now. I just took it for shits and giggles, no purpose, but now I feel like my pride is on the line. I'm thinking maybe I'll just say fuck it and take HSK 6 in like a year or so. Or I'll jus say fuck it and never take another test again! I don't know......

Anyway, how did you do?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Day Dreamer on September 11, 2013, 07:49:46 PM
Small consolation, but congrats on your achievement Borkya, just a small step for you to the pass level
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 11, 2013, 09:47:59 PM
Fozzwaldus!! Results came out today! How did you do?

I got a 169.  ananananan ananananan ananananan (needed a 180 to pass).

I got the same score on listening and writing (59) which was a surprise because my listening was poor during practice.

My worst section was reading ( 51!) which is a total surprise because it was my best section during practice tests! Though I did say it was harder during the test than I expected.

Anyway, I'm bummed. Missed it by just 11 measly points. Though I am proud that I was close, and that I actually had a chance.

I'm not sure what I'll do now. I just took it for shits and giggles, no purpose, but now I feel like my pride is on the line. I'm thinking maybe I'll just say fuck it and take HSK 6 in like a year or so. Or I'll jus say fuck it and never take another test again! I don't know......

Anyway, how did you do?

Ah Borkya, that's a pity. So close and all that.

Shit. I better check my scores now.  :wtf:


***

Update: man, it's taking a long time to log into the piece-of-shit HSK site. Must be at least 12 students trying to check their scores today.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 11, 2013, 10:20:56 PM
Holy Crap. I passed!

Listening :86.0
   
Reading: 62.0
   
Writing:67.0

Overall: 215

 mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm

That's bizarre because I blind guessed AT LEAST 30% of the reading.

And I couldn't even understand 3/5 of the prompts for one of the writing exercises!

That is a Mickey Mouse exam and no mistake. That said, I'm still kind of pleased, at least that I NEVER HAVE TO EVEN THINK ABOUT TAKING AN HSK AGAIN!!!!!  bababababa bababababa

And commiserations Borkya, I know you prepared hard for this.

Bizarre.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on September 11, 2013, 11:24:04 PM
Damn you! I KNEW you were gonna pass because you were certain you failed. That's how it always goes. Sigh.....

Anyway, good job and fuck you on listening. (only cause I'm jealous.) That's a pretty boss score! According to my scores the average score for Augusts test was a 189. I'm not sure if that is just HZ or int'l results but it means you did above average so u should be super proud.

I do hate you just a little though.... agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 11, 2013, 11:31:30 PM
Haha, fair enough.  bjbjbjbjbj bjbjbjbjbj

I wasn't faking it though, I really thought I'd messed it up. 
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 13, 2013, 02:38:07 AM
What seriously, like not even one congrats!??

Does everybody think I'm a dick or something?  mmmmmmmmmm

Playa-hata's  kkkkkkkkkk !!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on September 13, 2013, 03:32:42 AM
Jesus Fozz, what the hell is wrong with you, passing the HSK like that, ya big jerk!

(just kidding, just kidding ... well done, good show, etc etc!)
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 13, 2013, 04:13:49 AM
Jesus Fozz, what the hell is wrong with you, passing the HSK like that, ya big jerk!

(just kidding, just kidding ... well done, good show, etc etc!)

 ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah

thank you!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Monkey King on September 13, 2013, 04:35:44 AM
Congrats man, a nice addition to your CV. Very well done.  And commiserations to Borkya, unfortunately exams are very blunt instruments.

If either of you could expand further on any of your HSK experiences that would be cool. 

I was also interested in Fozz's comment about competition with other foreigners. My Chinese is (low) intermediate after a long time in country, and I just use it when I use it.  However, I've noticed a few other foreigners getting very one-up-ish on me when it comes to speaking Chinese...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on September 13, 2013, 05:01:52 AM

I was also interested in Fozz's comment about competition with other foreigners. My Chinese is (low) intermediate after a long time in country, and I just use it when I use it.  However, I've noticed a few other foreigners getting very one-up-ish on me when it comes to speaking Chinese...

Well, foreigners are often one-uppish on each other over many things, right? How long you've been in China, strangest things eaten, most cities gone to (Kinda why I don't have a huge group of foreign friends.)  Luckily I'm in the boonies so there are only a small handful of us (less than 10 this year) and we don't have "my chinese is better than yours battles. But in bigger cities like hangzhou I kinda find that. Especially when it comes to knowing like, slang and bad words.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on September 13, 2013, 02:44:08 PM
Congratulations Fozzy!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on September 13, 2013, 02:46:06 PM
exams are very blunt instruments.

That perfectly describes my Chinese.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on September 14, 2013, 06:04:40 PM
Well, foreigners are often one-uppish on each other over many things, right? How long you've been in China, strangest things eaten, most cities gone to (Kinda why I don't have a huge group of foreign friends.)  Luckily I'm in the boonies so there are only a small handful of us (less than 10 this year) and we don't have "my chinese is better than yours battles. But in bigger cities like hangzhou I kinda find that. Especially when it comes to knowing like, slang and bad words.

Your experience completely reflects my own, wow.  ananananan

As for my Chinese, I am tearing through the Pimsleur series and have managed to find two people to work with me as language partners. Luckily one of them is a laowei who wants to move back home and teach Mandarin for a living, using me as a guinea pig.
Entering the squiggle labyrinth in 3, 2, 1....
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 14, 2013, 07:40:33 PM
My experience with Laowai rivalry over Chinese tends to happen in the first couple of years of people's stay here, when the Laowai has reached a kind of pre-intermediate level and can get by in quite a few situations, and have had a couple of years of not-entirely-sincere 'wow your Chinese is so good'. A lot of their China-ego is tied up in their Chinese ability and the idea that they 'get' China on a deeper level that the laowai around them.

The fact that these people tend to not progress much further means that they don't get to the sobering high-level-Mandarin realisation of knowing exactly how little you know, and that despite your years of study etc there are still so many things that you will probably never be able to do with your Chinese. This is combined with the fact that once your Chinese is good enough to engage with locals on a meaningful level and not just as a beer-and-BBQ-guzzling novelty you quickly sense that they are not all that impressed, just being polite.

For me learning Chinese to an upper-intermediate level has made me more humble about the achievement, to be honest. I look at the kids in my school doing degrees through English and thriving, and I think now THAT'S impressive.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on September 14, 2013, 07:50:26 PM

The fact that these people tend to not progress much further means that they don't get to the sobering high-level-Mandarin realisation of knowing exactly how little you know, and that despite your years of study etc there are still so many things that you will probably never be able to do with your Chinese. This is combined with the fact that once your Chinese is good enough to engage with locals on a meaningful level and not just as a beer-and-BBQ-guzzling novelty you quickly sense that they are not all that impressed, just being polite.


Ha ha, I totally agree. I actually hate when people tell me my chinese is "so good" because it means it actually sucks. Because I know my chinese is passable, but not 'so good', and if they comment on it, that means it's so very obvious how bad I am. (or they're just being nice) I prefer when people just talk to me, and expect an answer and don't say anything about my chinese. They just treat me like a person. Once that starts happening more I'll feel like I made it. But right now I'm stuck in the "there is still so much I don't know" level.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Fozzwaldus on September 14, 2013, 08:00:08 PM
I have a stock reply to anybody who tells me my Chinese is 'so good'.

'I've been here for nearly 8 years, it should be better.'

Tends to get a nice response.  bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on November 23, 2013, 12:58:42 AM
Bumping this up for Day Dreamer. Enjoy!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Day Dreamer on November 23, 2013, 01:00:27 AM
Bumping this up for Day Dreamer. Enjoy!

 bfbfbfbfbf

and

 bibibibibi on my part
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on December 12, 2013, 07:23:21 AM
Fozz,
Congrats on passing the HSK.  bjbjbjbjbj
That rocks! Is Mrs. Fozz and the in-laws proud of you?
They should be.


Borka,
Sorry 'bout that. My hat goes off to you.
TBPH, I don't know if I could find the motivation to take it.
 :wtf:




Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 08, 2014, 08:02:29 PM
I've got a quick question. What is the best way to express "for" in Chinese?

This gift is for my wife.
The vegetables are for my health.
For me? Thank you!

Do we just use the 给我/你/他/etc. expression if a person is involved? How about concepts, just as "health"?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on January 08, 2014, 08:59:09 PM
I don't study Chinese or have passed (or taken) any exams so take my answers for what they cost you.

I don't know what the best way is but for a person I would just use possessive article.

The gift is my wife's. 这份礼物是我的老婆的 zhèfèn lǐwù shì wǒde lǎopóde

Mine? Thank you. 我的吧?谢谢啊 wǒde bā? xièxiè ā

 The health one

I would say 蔬菜是对我的健康 shūcài shì duì wǒde jiànkāng where 对 is acting as 'for'

There are words for concepts

健康 is health
生活 is life
etc
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on January 09, 2014, 12:12:15 AM
Stil is almost correct with the wife one, but technically what you're saying there is "this is my wife's present." Which isn't exactly the same thing.

In that sentence I would use "送给" or 买给  as in 这份礼物是我送给我老婆的。"This is the gift that I am giving to my wife." If I'm buying something in a shop and not using complete sentences, I usually just say "是买给我爸爸的" or somesuch.

This is for my heath, well, you can express that in lots of different ways.

You can indeed use 对, but usually we use it with the word 身体,and say it is good for your health "对我身体好,”like,  or you can say use the expression 养身子, boost your health or improve your health, so you can say something is 比较养身子, or it is pretty good for you. 健康 I wouldn't use in this way, unless I was saying something like, 为了做一个更健康的人,我每天跑步 (In order to be a healthier person, I run every day)。I feel like we use 健康 as an adjective much more than a noun -- which is probably why our kids say stuff like "McDonalds is bad for your healthy."
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 10, 2014, 12:48:43 AM
Great! That's a solid bunch to digest, thank you both.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 11, 2014, 10:41:34 PM
Here is a sweet resource I found for controlled listening practice:

http://www.slow-chinese.com/podcast/1-duan-wu-jie/

The vocabulary is currently beyond my level, but I'm sure somebody here can make great use of it.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on January 12, 2014, 12:16:22 AM
Having given up on Chinese for a long time, I have decided to get back in the saddle. Living Language has made a very good Chinese course, which I have been doing for the last week. I find it is more logically and reasonably structured than the zillion other text-books I have acquired over the years.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 12, 2014, 03:31:23 AM
I might give those a whirl - got some Amazon credit that is burning a hole in my pocket.

I have two Chinese textbooks on hand, and thanks to Skritter I'm learning characters quickly, but when it comes to getting leveled audio I'm kind of llllllllll. Luckily I have a very patient language partner!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 20, 2014, 05:59:53 AM
This site is great for practicing writing:

http://lang-8.com/

There's no filter on the input you receive, but you'll get a truck-load of common expressions - good for folks like me that tend to speak "textbook" Chinese.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on February 02, 2014, 12:45:11 AM
Just took a HSK 3 practice test today.  aoaoaoaoao

Level 2 is easy enough, but I feel a large jump in difficulty to 3.

I'm hoping to pass level 4 before the autumn semester.

Anybody else studying/ llllllllll these days?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on February 03, 2014, 08:40:23 PM
http://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Grammar_points_by_level


This is a fabulous resource. Many grammatical and sentence patterns are listed, and darn near all of them have corresponding articles with lists. It also happens to be free!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on February 20, 2014, 02:10:37 PM
This is the most useful Anki list I have found so far:
https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/959998085

It's not perfect, but I'm hoping that 30 minutes of focused listening practice will help smooth out the time I spend with my language partners. I can string together ideas using simple grammar [hooray for conjunctions, modals, and stalling phrases!], but it takes me waaay to long to understand any thing said back to me. Hopefully this shores it up.



Also, has anybody figured out how to make heads or tails of this?
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1303.1599v1.pdf

Or is it just academic wank?


[Also, extensive reading: has anybody tried it? I'm new to the concept, but it seems Chinese Breeze has a good series available. Any opinions on this?]
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on February 20, 2014, 05:33:56 PM
I loved the Chinese breeze series! They're great and totally give you a psychological boost when your beginning to learn. Like in a "I can read a book!" kinda way.

I wish they had more advanced levels in China breeze. I've gotten the "Graded Chinese Reader" series which is good, but can be tough at times.

And I'm just doing my normal studying. Like, going to class and such but no extra goal of HSK. I'm so done with that for awhile. Give me a year and I might try for 6, just to sooth my injured pride, but who knows.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on February 20, 2014, 07:48:38 PM
Thanks for the recommendation. I went and bought 30$ worth of them off Amazon and will start cracking on them this afternoon.

From what I can see the HSK is either resume fodder or a ticket to enrollment at a Chinese University. I've met some non-Chinese here that speak fluent Chinese and have expressed no personal interest at all. I'm hoping...hoping to pass HSK 4 before the end of this semester, but 3 is a more conservative estimate, but this is mostly due to me enjoying quantifiable goals.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on February 21, 2014, 01:21:13 AM
These are sweet - I spent a few hours reading through them this afternoon. The stories are not just childish blather; in one story a guy marries a local girl but divorces her for a Beijing girl even though his family disapproves.

It also turns out I did indeed cover extensive reading in my ESL training It's among the many topics that I mentally bookmarked but never gave a second thought. If this works for me I may add it to my lesson planning in the fall.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on March 21, 2014, 10:12:46 PM
I'll be taking the actual HSK in about 5-6 weeks.

I've managed to pull my level up into a comfortable 3 based on the various practice tests I've taken. I find the writing portion of the test to be by far the easiest. Do they mark points off if your handwriting isn't perfect? How does that work?

Still, the goal is level 4 before September...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on April 02, 2014, 10:35:33 PM
Any recommendations for Chinese video apps to download? The more streamlined the better.

I don't have a TV at home, and although everyone seems to think that's great because Chinese TV is so shit, I'm inclined to disagree. I used to like watching TV as a window into what's going on in Chinese popular culture and obviously as great Chinese practice.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: old34 on April 03, 2014, 01:23:30 AM
I have Youku's app and PPTV's app on my iPad and they stream extremely well. They have apps for Android devices, too, I'm sure. PPTV has a full-blown app for Mac (OSX) as well (i.e. not browser-based), although it seems the choices are more limited than the mobile device app. But I can stream what's available on the app to my Macbook Air and iMac. No idea if they have such a thing (app) for a Windows device.

Turn off your VPN when using any of them, because they're using "geo-tagging" and you'll get a "sorry not available in your area" message if you're IP appears to be coming from outside China.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 03, 2014, 04:18:20 PM
Related to the above, I found a decent program on Youku:

屌丝男士

The dialogue uses everyday vocabulary and there's a lot of context. I'm getting a good deal of mileage out of it as a beginner.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on April 06, 2014, 02:39:28 PM
The future of Chinese language learning is now (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=11580)

The problem was that all of my language teachers insisted that I memorize hundreds of characters right from the very start.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 08, 2014, 01:39:13 AM
I found a solid comic book series called 柯南. Each one retails for about 9 RMB, and there are a lot of colloquial and shortened phrases to be found.

It's written for a 10-15 year old audience I'd say, so it's a step up from 喜洋洋, but won't bury you like a 武侠.

Sure you learn some dumb vocabulary sometimes like 凶手 but that's half the fun IMO.

好好学习!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on April 08, 2014, 02:23:18 AM
I found a solid comic book series called 柯南. Each one retails for about 9 RMB, and there are a lot of colloquial and shortened phrases to be found.

It's written for a 10-15 year old audience I'd say, so it's a step up from 喜洋洋, but won't bury you like a 武侠.

Sure you learn some dumb vocabulary sometimes like 凶手 but that's half the fun IMO.

好好学习!

I'm gonna be that asshole, because someone did it to me when I was still a beginner (with the characters 式 and 试) and I never did mix them up again.

 喜羊羊, not 喜洋洋   agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 08, 2014, 03:59:57 AM
Make sense to me - that's what I get for letting the computer do the work for me. Although a vast ocean of foreign silver coins would also make me happy.


Thanks for the constructive crit. bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 09, 2014, 04:03:53 AM
http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Chinese (http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Chinese)

The Foreign Service Institute developed a Mandarin program some years back which are now in the public domain. Audio quality is crappy, and they only use Pinyin, but there is a wealth of material for beginners here. They have Cantonese too, for those so inclined.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on April 11, 2014, 04:48:35 AM
I am taking the plunge. Registered for the HSK 3 in June. Now must hit books hard...and then when that fails to do anything, probably read them...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on April 12, 2014, 12:27:45 AM
... Now must hit books hard...and then when that fails to do anything, probably read them...

Just like your students?

 agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 12, 2014, 05:00:39 AM
Sleeping on a book is not an instance of osmosis, Lord knows we've all tried.

On a topical note, I figured out a quick pronunciation hack. Because of the 3rd tone change rules, 右边 and 左边 are both pronounced more or less as 4-1. Good for late night taxi rides.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 14, 2014, 06:46:22 PM
A list of the top 100 Mandarin language movies:

http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/feature/1031/The-100-best-Mainland-Chinese-films.html

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 18, 2014, 04:08:42 AM
Memrise - I downloaded it for my phone, doesn't work.

Anybody else? I'm wondering if this is a China problem or cellphone problem.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: LoveSasa on April 18, 2014, 04:54:57 AM
Depends on what you mean by "doesn't work". I have memrise on my phone too, and it takes FOREVER to load... Though once it's loaded, it works ok. Until I need to load the next 10 characters. It seems like it's just an un-necessarily clunky interface, which doesn't work too well combined with the molasses-slow internet here.

Or are you having a different problem?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 18, 2014, 05:22:48 AM
Mine won't load altogether, so it's probably a hardware issue. Thanks for the feedback.

Any tips on some other portable flashcardish program one can use on a Chinese cellphone? I used Skritter until I got about 3-500 characters under my belt, so now I just look up the ones I don't know.

I wonder if Anki has an Android version...
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: opiate on April 18, 2014, 02:43:19 PM
I wonder if Anki has an Android version...

It does...and it works fine. Was just updated early this month in fact.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: LoveSasa on April 18, 2014, 03:20:07 PM
Yeah due to Memrise loading issues I've really wanted to use Anki on my phone, too... But the iPhone version is US$25?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on April 24, 2014, 12:12:46 AM
http://gloss.dliflc.edu/


Holy cow.

This site blows everything I have previously found out of the water. Free lessons at all levels of competence, varied activities, instant feedback, good hints, and more.

I'm impressed. I was contemplating buying more crappy textbooks - no more books until I mine this site out.


Edit: Just spend over an hour running their diagnostic test. They gave me a point by point breakdown of all my strengths and weaknesses and gave me a list of recommended material. Wonderful - a good use of tax dollars IMO.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on May 07, 2014, 03:01:15 AM
Responsive online HSK practice:

http://www.mandarincapital.net/hsk/level3

So far only level 3 is ready, but there's a good amount of material. What I like about it is that it's easily loaded, and gives instant feedback, so if you have 15-20 free minutes you can run through a few sections.

Much more convenient than doing the practice test yourself, then self grading, then flipping back and forth to figure out what you do and don't know. However, there is no timer.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on May 26, 2014, 06:53:00 AM
I heard about a Chinese documentary series called 舌尖上的中国. They have the full run of at least two seasons on youku.

Also, the more I consider my studies, the more I'm convinced using Skritter during my first few months here was clutch. I've since moved over to using Pleco [got a new phone that can connect to Google play afafafafaf]. Now I can do flashcards during downtime instead of just jamming away on 天天酷跑.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on May 26, 2014, 01:29:20 PM
I heard about a Chinese documentary series called 舌尖上的中国. They have the full run of at least two seasons on youku.

This is an amazing food documentary. I would even argue one of the top documentaries made, period. The photography and the topics they talk about are ahhhhh-mazing.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on June 15, 2014, 06:37:09 PM
Has anyone ever tried Assimil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assimil)'s Chinese With Ease (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=chinese%20with%20ease)?

It's for beginners, and sounds not unlike a laxative, but that aside, I keep seeing Assimil in particular mentioned on sites for people who learn language by themselves.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on June 22, 2014, 05:59:47 AM
In the spirit of celebrating minor victories, I finally [finally!] had the opportunity to unleash one of the few 成语 available at my disposal, "说曹操,曹操就到."

I learned roughly ten that correlate with things I tend to say in English. I've also taken to memorizing other short phrases I come across. I find they increase my appearance of fluency, which in turn provokes the natives to speak to me in terms other than the stock questions. Of course I only understand isolated words, which makes for awkward interactions, but at least it can help me break through some learning barriers.

To CP: I haven't heard of that before. Gonna bing it ASAP.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on July 20, 2014, 06:20:00 AM
I'm having the hardest time wrapping my head around the usage of verb + 起来. I've consulted with Pasden's grammar wiki, and asked three other teachers at my school, but the best I can come up with is that in many cases it seems to indicate a type of progressive verb form [apart from the ever useful 看起来].

他想起来: He remembered (during such and such context) 想不起来: can't remember
叫起来: shouted/called [shouts/calls] out

If this analysis is correct, why use this instead of the 着 progressive form? In my readings this form crops up again and again but I can't suss out the shade of meaning implied.

Am I missing a piece, or do I just need to stew in it longer to get the idiomatic uses?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: n17jp on July 23, 2014, 04:51:35 AM
As I think people use 着 when something keep going in a while, like you are singing or dancing.  But some of the actions only happen in a flash, in that case you usually don't use 着.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on July 24, 2014, 04:10:56 AM
Yeah, think of 着 as like, "state of being." Like, waiting: 等着 is wait and state of being, therefore waiting. 起来 is more action oriented. Like 站起来 is to stand up.
So one is a bit more passive and one is more active, like you are doing an action that will end once you finish doing it. Don't know if that is clear, but somehow it works in my brain.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Nolefan on July 24, 2014, 04:52:39 AM
after months/years of slacking and not really doing much for my Chinese, I've decided to give myself a kick in the rear-end and register for the HSK 4.  aoaoaoaoao
Not sure how this is gonna go since i haven't really been studying anything since i stopped organising the bootcamp but it's gonna be interesting to say the least.

I picked up a bunch of books off amazon.cn who incidentally have a pretty nice selection and decently priced.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on July 24, 2014, 05:18:18 AM
Thanks for the tips all. I'm going to mentally partition it as 着 being more similar to present perfect continuous and 起来 as present continuous. Now to throw these patterns into the daily grind to see what sticks and what just makes me stick out.

Cheers Nolefan, 加油!
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on July 25, 2014, 09:17:07 PM
after months/years of slacking and not really doing much for my Chinese, I've decided to give myself a kick in the rear-end and register for the HSK 4.  aoaoaoaoao

Way to GO! Noles agagagagag bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on August 07, 2014, 11:58:33 PM
Phew!

Just finished a three hour long slog of getting new vocab into Anki. I did two practice tests this week, combed through them for new vocab and grammar topics, and made context heavy and light cards for them all.

So, many, conjunctions. So many of them share a character, but have different shades of meaning. Yet they are crucial for sussing out relationships in the "organize the three" sentences portion of the test. So far [four practice tests in] there doesn't seem to be more than one or two that rely solely on understanding the meaning of the sentences, instead many rely on knowing how to fit the grammar together.

Also, I'm falling prey to the same disease that afflicts many young locals - I know the word, recognize the character, but am weak at writing them sight unseen. I need to spend a good deal of time just choosing a character or picture and writing sentences by hand.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: n17jp on August 14, 2014, 04:08:15 AM
it's easy to practice choosing characters with the Shougou Pinyin
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on August 14, 2014, 06:53:32 AM
Phew!

Just finished a three hour long slog of getting new vocab into Anki. I did two practice tests this week, combed through them for new vocab and grammar topics, and made context heavy and light cards for them all.

So, many, conjunctions. So many of them share a character, but have different shades of meaning. Yet they are crucial for sussing out relationships in the "organize the three" sentences portion of the test. So far [four practice tests in] there doesn't seem to be more than one or two that rely solely on understanding the meaning of the sentences, instead many rely on knowing how to fit the grammar together.

Also, I'm falling prey to the same disease that afflicts many young locals - I know the word, recognize the character, but am weak at writing them sight unseen. I need to spend a good deal of time just choosing a character or picture and writing sentences by hand.

When I was learning Chinese in college, which was a good 12-15 years ago now, we had to write everything by hand and our teachers were total taskmasters about it. I also found that there were foreigners who got totally totally hung up and obsessed with the writing characters aspect of Chinese, to the neglect of everything else.

However, in daily life, this is a skill I rarely use and my handwriting has, as a result, totally fallen by the wayside. I think the most I ever use handwriting for is shopping lists, and even then, I can easily compose a note on my smartphone.

I guess the moral of the story is, writing characters is cool, but ultimately it is extremely time consuming to learn how to write by hand, and it is a skill that (as you've noticed by observing local friends) atrophies very easily and quickly if you don't use it. I wouldn't discourage anyone from learning to write by hand, but I wouldn't make handwriting a priority in my studies either.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on September 06, 2014, 07:42:42 PM
Well, I've been grinding out vocab words using a few different methods:

1) Find a word in context, write it down in a notebook, review.

Which grew into

2) Find a new word, toss it into Anki.

and then

3) Before you toss it into Anki, throw it up on Lang-8 and then make a few different types of cards with it. [the best option, seriously time consuming however].

But I've figured out what I think is a better way, at least for me right now. Load up a Baidu and enter in one of these two strings in addition to whatever vocab you are looking to learn:
怎么用XXXXX造句 zhidao
怎么造句 zhidao XXXXXX

Replace the XXXXs with whatever your target vocab is. Often there'll be a stickied post containing two or three wonderful sentences. Copy pasta. No waiting, and the post has already been glanced over by a number of natives and voted up.

I think this is better than Lang-8 insofar as that is a point based program so people get points by making corrections, not agreeing with suitable ones, thus creating a lot of pointless noise.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: n17jp on September 09, 2014, 03:35:11 AM
why not use the baidu dictionary?   or lingoes
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on September 27, 2014, 07:10:11 PM
nciku.com also has many good example sentences, although more than a few are beyond my level.

Related to the other discussion "upstairs": Just how bad is "我靠"? I hear it a dozen times a day, also from small children. I've been lead to believe this is similar to some heavy duty cursing in English, but it's ubiquity seems to imply otherwise.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Granny Mae on September 28, 2014, 01:40:56 PM
Thanks for that info El Macho. bfbfbfbfbf  The Wikipedia article was very informative .
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: The Local Dialect on September 28, 2014, 02:23:46 PM
I think 我靠 (and maybe 我去 - unless you add 你妈的…)isn't as big of a deal as 我肏. The book Niu Bi is a fun read on Chinese cursing, and there's also a wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_Chinese_profanity).

Yeah, wo kao is a pretty mild profanity, probably more like "damn" or "damnit."

After living in Beijing, I found that people up there are much more likely to throw the "cao" around in casual conversation. Particularly young people. I don't know if it is an urban youth culture type thing (and hence, get offa my lawn), or a general regional thing.

Regionally, down here you also hear people use the (I think) Sichuanese variation, "wa sai" pretty often, and I've heard it occasionally on tv etc., indicating a creeping into general Chinese popular culture.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: eggcluck on September 28, 2014, 04:10:54 PM
I tried to use that niu bi book to mess around with colleagues they had no idea what I was trying to say. So I showed them the book..they still did not get it.

They claimed most of those naughty things seemed to be just made up by the author, they have never seen or heard them. Nor would they get the meaning if they did hear it. 

I tried to use the phrases etc to mess around with a few more different people...they also did not understand anything.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on September 29, 2014, 02:19:23 AM
I actually had an exchange not too long ago with one of my language partners where he told me my Chinese was rather niubi 比较牛逼. I thought he was calling me a newbie.  pppppppppp
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on November 17, 2014, 05:03:41 AM
I'm going for the HSK 4 this December 6th. A few months late, but these last few months have been a roller coaster of activity. If timed practice tests are to be believed I have a good shot at this. However, I don't really know what they are looking for in the writing portion of the test. So, we will see. If anybody can elucidate this section I'd be much obliged.

But test taking isn't my only concern. I've been working on upping my fluency as well. I found this article here that was great:
http://www.hackingchinese.com/playing-word-games-to-practise-fluency/

I played this game today with my LPs. We set a timer for 60 seconds, and however many seconds left are tallied as points. I got smoked by a 7 year old, but hey, she's been learning Chinese for 7 years.  ahahahahah Sometimes Chinese vocab just makes sense. I guess they call giraffes "long neck deer."

I've fallen so far behind on my Anki decks that I probably just need to make new ones. I was rocking memrise for a while, but I found that I learn things more quickly than their algorithm permits so found it to be a rather long slog. So, Anki. Just gotta be diligent so the SRS can do it's magic.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: opiate on November 17, 2014, 05:57:15 AM
I think 我靠 (and maybe 我去 - unless you add 你妈的…)isn't as big of a deal as 我肏. The book Niu Bi is a fun read on Chinese cursing, and there's also a wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_Chinese_profanity).

Yeah, wo kao is a pretty mild profanity, probably more like "damn" or "damnit."

After living in Beijing, I found that people up there are much more likely to throw the "cao" around in casual conversation. Particularly young people. I don't know if it is an urban youth culture type thing (and hence, get offa my lawn), or a general regional thing.

Regionally, down here you also hear people use the (I think) Sichuanese variation, "wa sai" pretty often, and I've heard it occasionally on tv etc., indicating a creeping into general Chinese popular culture.
wasai just means...wow. No cursing involved. Slightly more harmless than wokao/woqu
I've gotten into the bad habit of cursing in Chinese...I blame my wife. I don't bother with those mild exclamations though, I go right for the 肏 bomb. I mention that only as a warning. Bad habits with language (and anything else) can be difficult to modify once they set in. Learning curses only to recognize when they're being tossed at you is one thing but it's only a small step away from having them slide into normal vocab. like it's cool. It isn't.

One phrase I wish could be accurately translated into Chinese though is...."Are you fucking retarded!?". 神经病 just does not have the same meaning. Disappointing.

EDIT: And...."Get your head out of your ass"
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on November 17, 2014, 05:53:12 PM
Popup Chinese has a funny lesson with "Are you retarded?" in it. (http://popupchinese.com/lessons/elementary/you-had-one-job)

I really like Popup Chinese, but haven't paid the cash for a subscription b/c I'm worried they are slowly moving away from the language podcasts…most of the recent material is Sinica, which is love but doesn't require a subscription.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on November 20, 2014, 04:38:43 AM
I found a good show for listening practice called 你有1封信. I guess the format is to air people's misery via sappy music, but the atmosphere makes everybody speak slowly.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on December 29, 2014, 05:04:42 PM
I was talking to my friends the other day when I learned a new bit of vocab - 权利. For the life of me I can't think of a good succinct translation for this in English.

Thrifty doesn't capture the meaning, "throwing money around" is close, purchasing power isn't quite right. Me thinks a good Venn diagram is in order.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 06, 2015, 10:21:36 PM
Finally got the score report from the HSK 4 test today [exactly 30 days afterwards] - 242 composite. I managed to get mid 70s on the reading and writing, but got 90 on the listening. Going into this test I was really concerned with my listening ability so I bought a few textbooks and ground out a few hours a day listening and doing exercises. I also did a lot more casual listening, for example, taking the HSK tracks and slowing down and repeating them via Audacity and playing them while driving/walking. I also made some use of the slowchinese podcasts.

The extra listening paid off, although I'm surprised and concerned about my reading skill which I had previously considered to be my strong point. I guess I'm just fooling myself at least a quarter of the time when I read things... Luckily that is shored up by my next point.

So what now? I want to bring my fluency up to or above my writing level, so I plan to spend more time with people than books. However I'd also like to try and take the HSK 6 next year this time, so I'm grinding 20 HSK 5 words and 10 HSK 6 words via Anki everyday. After two months I'll have passing familiarity with all the level 5 words, and will be able to put them on maintenance while I attack the level 6 list.

Speaking of Anki, I decided two months ago to totally wipe the system and start afresh. It was nerve wracking to destroy so much work, but after a while you get to know how to use the program best for yourself. Now I have well defined decks and overall better flashcards. If anybody else has been using Anki for a while but it's starting to feel stale I recommend taking the plunge. You'll be glad you did.

It's weird, but I've been feeling rather confident in the past few months with my Chinese. Or perhaps it is better stated as "confident at all." It took about a year of false starts, many afternoons spent doing Skritter, countless awkward exchanges, and two months spent bent over books, but it's finally finally starting to come together into something tangible. I expected a steep learning curve, and it surely didn't disappoint.

Still have more dragons to kill, but I went out and bought a few nice beers to celebrate this small victory today. Gonna make a huge pot of pork masala for dinner and enjoy the moment, for tomorrow we study.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Nolefan on January 07, 2015, 04:01:29 PM
i got my HSK4 a few months ago, mostly for shits and giggles. That said, i didn't have time to properly prepare for it and passed it with the bare minimum of scores: 181 composite.
I was reliefed to get the pass but i also felt like the test itself was not a real measure of fluency or anything. I mean you do need to know Chinese once you get to that level but it was not as hard as i expected.

Ms. Noles is still trying to convince me to study up for the 5 or the new Spoken Chinese Proficiency test where she's convinced i can get the advanced level right away. I'm just not sure if it's helping me any.

Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on January 09, 2015, 12:12:48 AM
Much agreed - the tests are little better than quantifiable goals, apart from getting a job [5 to 6] or acceptance to a university [4 through 6].

However, I believe that knowing words is the real limitation in any language, thus being spurred on to amass a few thousand via the external motivation that is the HSK is worth it. If anything choosing a test and working towards it helps solidify study habits.

But I do believe the tests themselves are flawed - they are far far too easy. The Hanban or whomever greatly overestimates the utility of their levels. I'd say my current Chinese level is at or around A2, which means I can more or less navigate a wide variety of situations, which is true. According to them I'd be able to hold court on a wide variety of social and political topics, even giving presentations in Chinese on things related to my training. Fat chance.

Part of me wonders if this is not just a double tactic - make foreigners more confident about their nominal Chinese whilst taking their money. However, it's the only game in town unless I want to learn traditional characters and take the Taiwan test.

TLDR: Good for a CV line, and a fire under your ass. Not too much otherwise.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on April 05, 2015, 09:19:57 AM
I recently stumbled upon a website that looks promising https://www.yoyochinese.com/home (https://www.yoyochinese.com/home). It's mostly geared to beginners. It kind of reminds me of a cross between http://chinesewithmike.com/ (http://chinesewithmike.com/) and http://www.fluenz.com/languages/learn-mandarin-chinese/ (http://www.fluenz.com/languages/learn-mandarin-chinese/). I'm thinking about signing up for premium lessons at some point in the future. Watching English subbed idol dramas can only take me so far.  llllllllll
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: mlaeux on November 03, 2015, 03:29:11 PM
I ran across this a little gem over a week ago.

https://youtu.be/LFcPtvo94gU (https://youtu.be/LFcPtvo94gU)

It's called the Medlock Method. Sometimes I listen to it while commuting to & from the office, but you will need Your Tub to access it. Also I think the content would be retained longer if I sat down and just focused on the lesson. Which doesn't look like that is going to happen anytime soon.  :wtf:
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Henali on November 12, 2015, 04:57:25 AM
Thanks for sharing those sites, Mlaeux. They seem really useful. I'm new to this forum (heading to Chengdu in January) and was wondering how popular language-exchange is in China. I found studying one-on-one with a native speaking partner super useful in the past . Also, it's free and I'm cheap.
Anyone know of any sites where language-exchanges are set-up? I'm used to finding things like this on Meetup.com but looks like it's not used that much in Chengdu.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Tree on November 12, 2015, 03:58:55 PM
Hang around Starbucks with a textbook.  ababababab

Alternatively, try out the HelloTalk app.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Henali on November 17, 2015, 07:51:40 AM
Haha, thanks Tree, good advice. I'll check out the app for sure.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on July 11, 2016, 02:01:04 PM
I'm late to the party, but here I am anyway! I'm heading into a semester's worth of language study with supposedly between 30 and 40 fellow zero beginners and a prof just back from Guangzhou. The prof proposes the cohort be split into three classes, probably based on whatever level of language the students already have. I personally have some Chinese, but no coherent foundation. I can ask questions but not often answer them. If I'm prepared with the more or less right technical word, I can usually buy stuff, but ultimately my Chinese is probably caveman standard - lots of pointing and grunting. So, 31 pages and nearly 10 years later, what's the skinny on learning Chinese? What for instance are these flashcards I used to keep hearing about? Are they still the shizzle? What's best these days?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on March 03, 2022, 08:24:07 PM
Nearly 3 years using DuoLingo.com has helped, but I'm still not catching enough of what people say and even when I do, by the time I've sorted out a reply in my mind, the conversation has moved on.

I've (very!) recently added another tool to hammer a bit more Mandarin through my excessively thick skull.

I needed something incredibly simple and repetitive.  I can't recall where or how, but somehow I ended up seeing an episode of Peppa Pig.  Woohoo!  Language fit for a 4 year old and extremely repetitive!  My wife found me a boxed set of DVDs with English and Chinese. (sadly no Pinyin option for subs, but I know a lot more Chinese characters now thanks to Duo).

So, I watched an episode in English and then played it back in Chinese.  I caught about half of it.  Watched another episode and got the same results, plus learned a new word in the process (even better, I didn't forget it 20 minutes later.

I guess I'll keep doing an episode or two per day, then at some point, go back to the beginning and try to look up the parts I can't quite catch.  Google translate is pretty good at picking up Chinese text, so I can just pause with the Chinese on screen and scan it into translate if I get really stuck on some point.  If I can get up to 80% of what's said in a block of episodes, then I'll move onto the next set.
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 04, 2022, 01:20:38 PM
These days I think discourse plays a very large role in language learning. How people organize their speech and what type of information they emphasize has an impact on how accessible "the language" is, I think. That's to say, practical experience of language use makes vocab and grammar work for a learner, but alien discourse types disconnect the learner from practical experience. I think this is one of the major issues facing English in China, and I think it probably has to also affect Mandarin for foreigners.

Or, to sum up, what I would really, really like in attempting to learn Chinese is an introduction to Chinese discourse types. Rather than learn from the bottom up - vocab, grammar, mysterious communicative exercise - I'd like to learn from the top down - how are people organizing their speech and what do they focus on.

It's dumb, but for English we have Bloom's Taxonomy, and for Mandarin we have.,,?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on March 04, 2022, 05:33:19 PM
Discourse style learning might be interesting, but unless someone's got DVDs for this, my Chinese isn't good enough to closely follow most live conversations.

My personal theory is vocabulary is the most important thing.  If you don't know words, perfect grammar, perfect pronunciation, and perfect (fill in the blank for assorted nuances) don't help.  "I want water." grammatically is the same in Chinese, but I believe speakers of either language could get the hint that an aqueous refreshment is desired even if someone said "Want water I.", Water I want.", "I water want.", "Want I water."  The listener might even overlook the possible horror movie implications of "Water want I." ahahahahah

Naturally, putting the words in an acceptable order helps, especially for more complex sentences.  This will also help native speakers have a better chance of figuring out what word is being said if one word is seriously mispronounced.

I've got a limited basic vocabulary and can make sounds that are at least approximating what I'm trying to say.  DuoLingo is very nice about explaining some of the structural differences, like time, then place, then action.

When I'm done with Peppa Pig, I'm plotting to move on to something natively Chinese - Bad Bad Wolf and Pleasant Goat.  Hopefully I can get that with Chinese and English subtitles.  Because it's originally Chinese, there won't be anything that had to be awkwardly adapted from English.




Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 05, 2022, 03:40:14 PM
Discourse practice is waaaaaay too hard if it means learning a discourse style before you speak. It's not even language teaching at that point. More like philosophy, history, sociology.

Actual discourse practice involves communicative exercises designed to provoke a certain type of discourse in the participants. Teachers add in some expectations on language use (eg "Goddammit Timmy, don't just make declarations, you gotta ask a question some times toooooo, you little shit!").

Then some process occurs (patent pending) where students link aspects of their own production to a discourse schema. ("Oh yeah," says Timmy, "I was doing Political Propagandising there!") In due course, the discourse type becomes available to them as an organizational tool.

Just like Bloom's taxonomy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_taxonomy). It tells us that in English first we recount what we know, then we apply it to a situation, then we yadda yadda... Works a treat for any essay you want to write or any academic discussion you want to have. Works even for contemporary debate.


Mandarin is going to suck if everything has to be Yin/Yang. Step 1: make up artificial poles. Step 2: accuse the other person of following the wrong pole. Step 3: find the middle way.  aaaaaaaaaa
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Nolefan on March 08, 2022, 06:53:30 AM
Why wouldn't Bloom's Taxonomy be valid for mandarin as well?  mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm

These days I think discourse plays a very large role in language learning. How people organize their speech and what type of information they emphasize has an impact on how accessible "the language" is, I think. That's to say, practical experience of language use makes vocab and grammar work for a learner, but alien discourse types disconnect the learner from practical experience. I think this is one of the major issues facing English in China, and I think it probably has to also affect Mandarin for foreigners.

Or, to sum up, what I would really, really like in attempting to learn Chinese is an introduction to Chinese discourse types. Rather than learn from the bottom up - vocab, grammar, mysterious communicative exercise - I'd like to learn from the top down - how are people organizing their speech and what do they focus on.

It's dumb, but for English we have Bloom's Taxonomy, and for Mandarin we have.,,?
Title: Re: Learning Chinese
Post by: Calach Pfeffer on March 08, 2022, 01:35:00 PM
Why wouldn't Bloom's Taxonomy be valid for mandarin as well?  mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm

If it (the cognitive domain one) were a taxonomy, and did classify types of cognition, then it would have to have some validity for mandarin or be itself invalid. It's not actually a taxonomy though. It's a developmental hierarchy of objectives. It doesn't say what cognition is, it describes what educated cognition should be capable of. As such, it's a culture-bound construct, and more akin to an identity than a scientific tool. It describes what Western-educated people, if pressed, might try to claim as their intellectual heritage.

It'll be valid of Mandarin to the extent that Chinese culture has or does subscribe to that same type of heritage.