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Da Woiks: Links, Library, News and Other Stuff More Useful Than You Are => Le Laowai Liberation League Labor & Lifestyle Lending Library (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: icebear on June 19, 2007, 04:35:09 AM

Title: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: icebear on June 19, 2007, 04:35:09 AM
I'm on the eve of my one year anniversary in China. I'm currently planning another year here, likely teaching and pursuing Chinese in the off time, although perhaps studying full time if that is financially viable. My question: for a student serious about becoming 'fluent' in Chinese, what combination of methods work best? As I see it there are the following...

Full time university - paying anywhere from 2000-13000 RMB a semester depending on your location within China (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen vs. 2nd tier cities).

Tutoring, Training Centers, 'Buxibans' - paying anywhere from 20-100 RMB per hour and up, with whatever curriculum they come up with... likely with scoring decently on the HSK as the long term goal.

Language Exchange Parters - free

Of these, I dabbled in tutoring for about a month with great results (but he got a new job) and language exchanges I have a long running love/hate relationship with (without much to show for it besides reading pinyin and boring my partners to death, who similarly bore me when they read in English). If I lived in a more convenient part of Shenzhen I'd be all over a tutor, but out in the sticks here it gets fairly expensive to pay a tutor's taxi ride out and back for a hour or two of class. I just was solicited by a Skype-based tutoring service in Beijing that charges around 40-50 per hour... I was really impressed with their initial 15 minute demo and will report back on how the free trial lesson goes in a few days. Apparently they email materials and then go over it plus use online tests.

So, what are everyone's experiences? As I mentioned, I'd really like something to show from my couple years in China beyond just a fun time (which it certainly has been to date). The most obvious thing to pursue is Chinese, and now that I've gotten serious on my own in the last few months (up to about 500 characters) I feel like taking it the next level, I'm just not sure what the wisest path to pursue is.

Also, is anyone familiar with the HSK? I recall LE mentioning this some time ago... For me having tests or goals is really important to focus my studies - i.e. I languished for my first 6 months here with very little to show for it. In the last 3 months I've been meeting with a class at my school just once a week, but the expectation of a test each week on one chapter (30-50 hanzi) really keeps you motivated. Taking the HSK next spring or summer seems like a good milestone to me, but I know very little about it...

Looking forward to your opinions.

Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on June 19, 2007, 10:40:50 AM
Another good one for the Liberry. Nicely done. Thanks, Icebear!  agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 20, 2007, 01:54:48 AM
The HSK is easy to enrol for - find your nearest university that teaches foreign students and they can probably do it for you - although you need to do it a couple months ahead of the exam.  There are also plenty of HSK practice books out there, with CDs to listen to that will help you get used to the way they do the exam.  It is all via listening, reading and answering questions language lab style and then some writing.

I usually have 2 x 2 hour classes per week with a Chinese teacher, but since May week I have been away or too busy to do this.  If you have the time, find someone to give you your own private 'boot camp'.  That really pushed my language acquisition. 5-6 hours per day for 3 weeks talking, reading, listening, new vocab.  Then homework at night.  I did this during the holidays and really enjoyed it.

Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on June 21, 2007, 12:04:47 AM
You could also try Noles Chinese boot camp if there is still spaces aviable.  That's probably pretty intensive.  If you have a two bedroom apartment you can also see if a Chinese person wanted to live with you for a while. 

If you have a one bedroom apartment too.  afafafafaf
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Vegemite on June 22, 2007, 04:59:57 AM
Just a note re the homestay option, there's an Australian scientist currently residing up here. She came in March and has been boarding with a Chinese family and her Chinese has taken off. Surrounded by it all day at work, plus having to live with a Chinese family, she had no choice but to learn it quickly. So, yep, I'd put my ten cents worth in and say try for a homestay if you can only afford a short time commitment.

As for HSK, regardless of how you learn Chinese, I'd say do this exam. It is recognised in many countries so will give you a bit of paper to prove your level - good for future job-hunting.

Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Vegemite on June 24, 2007, 03:29:31 AM
One option a few of my family members have done to learn a foreign language is to get locked up for a year or two in a foreign country. You can get fairly fluent quite quickly, however you might find it difficult to get access to pen and paper to practise your Hanzi. It also limits your career options upon release...
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on June 24, 2007, 07:37:12 AM
And even worse.....you only learn the "street" lingo, not the proper way to speak on regular (polite) occasions!  I had fun (re)teaching English to a Guatemalan lady who was in that situation.  She knew all the bad words, but needed the nice ones.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on July 01, 2007, 07:14:25 AM
Just living in China and purchasing the right books and, this above all, doing some rather boring repititous studying is all you need to do. The best books I have found are called "Integrated Chinese". They come with both a textbook and character work book. Unfortunately I did not come across these before I had left China but I really wish I had had them during my stay in Nanchang. The Oxford English-Chinese/Chinese-English dictionary is a must too, as it is comprehensive and has pinyin. Have to buy them online though, bit pricey but definitely worth it.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 22, 2008, 01:10:20 AM
Again since May I haven't had any lessons - this seems to happen every year.  But my 'bootcamp' instructor is back in town, and as soon as I am finished marking we will do that again until I go on holidays.

But what I am doing in the meantime is writing up a diary in Chinese each night.  Just a few sentences, but it is helping my writing and my vocab.  My new e-dictionary has a sentence translation function, so I can write the sentence in English and then it comes out Chinese so I can check my grammar and learn other vocab for what I wanted to say.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on June 22, 2008, 02:21:01 AM
Eric

You were talking about some tapes you bought that were very good.  It was in another thread but could you give me the name of it so I can look it up.  akakakakak akakakakak

Thanks
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on June 22, 2008, 03:53:40 AM
Eric, if you talking about the small, slightly-bigger-than-pocket-sized Oxford dictionaries, those are cheap and easy to find in China! bfbfbfbfbf

But if you can find a good Chinese textbook while in Old Country, buying it is highly recommended. Some of the ones here are better than others (and many are really frightful), but haven't found one yet that I'm extremely enthusiastic about.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 22, 2008, 04:05:27 AM
I'm using 'Chines Made easier' Books 1-5 (now half way through 4) and Book 4 of "New Practical Chinese reader Textbook".  I like the latter as it has a DVD that is well presented - scenes, animations etc. 
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: MK on June 23, 2008, 04:01:15 PM
Quote from: ericthered
Just living in China and purchasing the right books and, this above all, doing some rather boring repetitious studying is all you need to do.

Agree with this.  That's why I think a year or so of full time study to allow you to form a sound grammar/vocab' base and good study habits is the best option if you have the time/money. Sure a home stay would work as well, if you can take it.

I have been in China for going on five years and have been treading water at a low-intermediate level for what feels like forever.

This is despite the fact that I use Chinesepod daily (even paid for a subscription) and chat constantly in (fairly basic) Chinese on MSN with ma pengyous when I should be working (I use Adsotrans (http://www.adsotrans.com) when the conversation gets tricky).

I know what I really need to be doing to push me up to the next level is sitting down with those flashcards I made and never use, or spending some time actually writing characters out by hand now and again (when I have forced myself to do this, it has worked), but, human nature being what it is, I usually end up at the pub instead (where, to my credit, I do try to use Chinese with the waitresses...).
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 24, 2008, 01:48:17 AM
[ I usually end up at the pub instead (where, to my credit, I do try to use Chinese with the waitresses...).

Whose Chinese, especially if you live outside one of the BIG cities, is non-standard anyway.  ahahahahah
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on June 25, 2008, 12:31:24 AM
At school and uni I learned your standard Beijing dialect. While I was complimented on knowing 'proper' Chinese I felt that it marked me as being even more of an outsider.

I was boarding at a school nearish to Hangzhou but they taught me to drop the 'er' as used in 'wanr' (to play).

Whether you use the formal Chinese or regional flavourings is an important decision. By trying to learn the local differences I made my classmates realise I was trying to fit in and this changed the way many related to me.

Although, being a blondie I sure as hell still stood out.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 25, 2008, 12:37:37 AM
The er thing is really mixed.  Here we say yidiandian instead of yidian(r).  But wan(r) is used all of the time.

And then of course in the markets, restaurants etc they chat in local dialect anyway.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on June 25, 2008, 12:45:33 AM
I seem to have picked up that you speak your local dialect or at least sound vaguely local (correct me if I'm wrong) LE, so do you think this makes a difference to the way people relate to you?

Where I was the 'er' was considered rather formal and marked me as having learned elsewhere.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 25, 2008, 12:58:57 AM
When I came here I spoke with the 'er' - and was laughed at for sounding Beijing-ren.  My first Chinese teacher was studying his PhD in Oz and teaching Chinese and he was from north of Beijing.

If you can say a few words in local dialect they LOVE you!  But having done the majority of my learning here, I am now not 100% sure what is local dialect, what is local putonghua and what is 'real' putonghua!

My friends tell me I have a better accent than Kevin Rudd, even if I'm not as fluent! ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah

Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Schnerby on June 25, 2008, 08:13:54 AM
I had a conversation in Chinese with Kevin Rudd when I had no idea who he was!

When I was at school he spoke to students who were learning Chinese, Indonesian and Korean in Melbourne at a big conference. He did address us partially in Chinese. We were late into the room so I didn't hear the intro of who he was (oh some opposition politician) A friend of mine dragged me to talk to him afterwards, saying, 'hey you look like my friend's Dad' (and yeah he does look a bit like Dad).

For the record he does use the 'er'. I only remember because we spoke about sport.

So, if you want to learn Modern Cursive Beijing Standard then Kevin Rudd may be a good source.   ahahahahah ahahahahah
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on June 25, 2008, 02:18:58 PM
Eric

You were talking about some tapes you bought that were very good.  It was in another thread but could you give me the name of it so I can look it up.  akakakakak akakakakak

Thanks

Sorry, I did not actually see this until now. I think the ones you mean are the "Integrated Chinese" cd's. They are very good, but really only of any use if you get the books too.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on June 25, 2008, 02:38:47 PM

So, if you want to learn Modern Cursive Beijing Standard then Kevin Rudd may be a good source.   

Only if you live in Beijing - otherwise you'll get laughed at, corrected, especially on the s/sh, c/ch, z/zh, 'er', tones and other bits and pieces.

I had to laugh when I visited a university about an hour's trainride from Beijing.  There were signs up all over the uni directing teachers to teach in putonghua, directing students to use it speaking to each other.  (And the signs were written in English as well as Chinese - lingua franca!)
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on July 17, 2008, 12:40:44 PM
Right then. I'm keeping myself busy at work writing characters like my life depended on it but have realized one thing: Though I am swiftly picking up all the almost forgotten Chinese, greetings, questions, stock phrases and learning 10 new characters every day, there is still an issue with the food. Does anyone know of a good book/exercise or something of that ilk that guides you through the most common and general characters one would encounter on a menu?
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 07, 2008, 09:47:35 AM
I found this book. The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters, by James D. Macrawley. Anyone ever heard of it?
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Acjade on August 07, 2008, 09:53:57 AM
Nope. But I love his name.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 07, 2008, 10:01:30 AM
Actually, I got it wrong. It's McCawley. But it is a cool name. Which I have now thiefed for a meany character in the long-awaited and much delayed Christmas calendar.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: AMonk on August 07, 2008, 10:04:03 AM
I found this book. The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters, by James D. Macrawley. Anyone ever heard of it?

Amazon.com (US) gives it 4-star rating.  Looks interesting.  I've ordered it.  Thanks, Eric.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 07, 2008, 11:06:29 AM
My pleasure agagagagag I got it used on Amazon (UK) for 2 GBP. We'll have to compare notes at some point.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Rajin on August 19, 2008, 12:37:15 PM
You could just go to a chinese restaurant and steal a menu! :D
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 19, 2008, 01:12:09 PM
Ok, rajin, let's indulge in a little experiment, eh?

Hakkebøf med bløde løg
Kylling med spinat, agurkesalat og rødvinssauce
Stegt banan med vanille is og hakkede nødder
Brændende Kærlighed
Jansson's Fristelser
Biksemad

If I were to steal a Chinese menu, how would I learn the names of the dishes or understand them? The above are all fairly common dishes to be found in local restaurants here. If you can, within the next three months, translate them for me, I will buy you the most expensive bottle of whisky Metro has agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: MK on August 19, 2008, 01:41:43 PM
Tranlsate them into English? With the power of Google anything is possible.  You might be buying that whisky yet.

"Butter-fried bacon and onion on top of mashed potatoes" sounds yummy, albeit potentially heart attack enducing.

Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 19, 2008, 02:09:24 PM
Sure...but then tell me what the dish "burning love" consists of.
Or "Hotchpotch", "Poor Knights", "Frog snappers", "Jansson's Temptations". The same thing goes for English cuisine. If you picked up an English menu and came across dishes like "Bangers and mash", "Toad-in-a-hole" or "Spotted Dick", would you, having never heard of these names before, readily understand what they mean?
That's why buying a detailed guide meant to decipher the different strange names of Chinese dishes is a good idea.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Rajin on August 19, 2008, 02:16:38 PM
You could ask someone Chinese to translate it for you, of course.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: ericthered on August 19, 2008, 02:20:47 PM
Or I could not behave like I just stepped out of the British Empire anno 1850 and actually try to learn the language, customs and cuisine of the country I have decided to live in.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on August 19, 2008, 05:08:17 PM
Hi!

This section is called "The Library".
Its purpose is to let people come in and find useful info fairly quickly, without having to wade through the mountains of blather seen in the other areas.

Please post info here. Nothing else.

Please.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Rajin on August 21, 2008, 01:41:52 AM
Well, feel free to delete this post then, but I can't believe ericthered can give such a rude response to someone genuinely giving advice.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: teleplayer on August 29, 2008, 09:13:27 PM
Or I could not behave like I just stepped out of the British Empire anno 1850 and actually try to learn the language, customs and cuisine of the country I have decided to live in.

ETR,

 If you can believe this Ozlander?, Denis Zavialov, who's "taken the United Nations Competitive Examinations for Translators/Prècis Writers, Editors, Verbatim Reporters" and posted a translated menu in 2005  http://www.onefootprint.com/projects/ChineseMenu.shtml (http://www.onefootprint.com/projects/ChineseMenu.shtml)
Go direct: http://www.onefootprint.com/news/downloads/Ch-en-menu20056pages.doc.doc (http://www.onefootprint.com/news/downloads/Ch-en-menu20056pages.doc.doc)

The tone marks on the pinyin in right hand column are in the top of the cell so you'll have to adjust it a bit to see them for pronounciation help. Edit: They seem to be embedded pics so not easy to paste elswhere to expand, but a start. If you can find the 2003 version cached it's easier. If not, I'll email it to you. I saved the PDF.

There's also this menu http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/menu/dish.htm (http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/menu/dish.htm). No piyin but you could put the characters into the C/E dictionary at Mandarin Tools http://www.mandarintools.com/ (http://www.mandarintools.com/) and get a pronounciation and see Pinyin.

Also no Pinyin here where NYTimes Culture writer J.8 Lee in June 6, '08 article "Chinese Food Translations: Sweet, Sour and Downright Odd" posted link to pages of suggested translations for the Olumpics http://www.for68.com/new/2008/6/li8655365544181680024816-0.htm (http://www.for68.com/new/2008/6/li8655365544181680024816-0.htm). 

Oh, and for humor, the Blog "Two Chubby Chinese Ladies: All food, all the time..."
http://tccladies.blogspot.com/2007/01/chinese-menu-translations.html (http://tccladies.blogspot.com/2007/01/chinese-menu-translations.html) posted link to this totally inaccurate bit of translation humor:
http://www.rahoi.com/2006/03/may-i-take-your-order/ (http://www.rahoi.com/2006/03/may-i-take-your-order/) Or to paraphrase a comment from a list of Chinglish  in on another verion of the saloon, "Why we're here doing what we do."

Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Bentham on November 16, 2008, 02:08:21 AM
Hi,

As a recent arrival to China I found the originalpost in this thread very useful, as I am very interested in learning Chinese.

I would just like more information regarding the language teaching offered by universities in China. I have done some googling on this but have only found some very expensive programmes that quote prices in US dollars.

Can someone please recommend some sites where I can get information about the Chinese language courses offered by universities in terms of cost and dates?
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on November 16, 2008, 02:16:08 AM
Bentham, are you planning on teaching at uni here?  You can sometimes negotiate Chinese lessons as part of your contract.  Otherwise, whichever city you are going to be in, directly contact the Foreign Affairs offices of universities close to you and ask them.  Many of the quote you will have seen will include accommodation, which you won't need if you are working.  I think you should be able to arranges classes - 3-4 hours, 5 days per week - for around $1000 or less.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Bentham on November 17, 2008, 02:21:49 AM
Lotus Eater -

I currently teach at a university here in China, but I think that the university doesn't offer Chinese classes. Asking around for universities that would teach me in my local city is a good idea.

I was planning on combining travel with study, that is, settling down in a city I'd like to visit for a couple of weeks to both see the city and have language lessons. The quotes I have seen have been well over $1000 - however, these sites seem to be targeted at foreigners coming from their own country for the express purpose of study.

Do you think I would have luck arranging affordable lessons simply by contacting the FAO offices of places I would like to visit and study? 
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Lotus Eater on November 17, 2008, 02:40:54 AM
I think that would be the best way, although the places I know usually run full semester programs.  There must be one in the city you are working in.  But I know Xi'an Foreign studies University has shorter programs, so you could try there. 
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: non-dave on November 17, 2008, 02:42:14 AM
Hey Bentham, I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for but our very own Nolefan runs a great Chinese Language Bootcamp which is well worth your consideration. Check it out here - http://www.sinocamps.com/

I did this course a couple of years ago and got a huge amount from it. The course itself was interesting, educational and more than a little entertaining. The most valuable thing for me was being able to continue to develop my language skills after the course finished using the things I had learned there.

There are quite a few members here who have done the course, so getting some other feedback should be pretty easy.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: adamsmith on November 17, 2008, 09:07:01 AM
I have seen noles talk about the bootcamps on a certain other site, but had always ignored it because of the nature of the place. Now, thanks ND for the link. I took a look at it and it sure sounds like the ideal way to spend part of the vacation, while getting some definate benefits. I will have to look into my schedule a bit more and possibly check it out this winter. HMMMM, hot springs in winter, learn chinese, and very reasonable costs in my opinion. Too bad the 'alcoholics drinks' are not included, but does that mean for us 'social drinkers' we can drink for free.  agagagagag agagagagag :alcoholic:
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on November 17, 2008, 09:21:55 AM
I'm doing it this year.  agagagagag agagagagag

We can buy beer so we won't be dry  agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: adamsmith on November 17, 2008, 11:22:17 AM
unfortunately, i still don't know my finish time yet so I might be cutting it close. I should find out next week and then I will hope he still has some slots left if I can go. I definately need the help with learning this stuff.  agagagagag bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: chinalin on November 17, 2008, 04:48:20 PM
Does anyone else here know anything about the bootcamps?  I have had a look at the link, and it sure looks interesting.  I have sent off an email to them, to try and get more info. But, some firsthand knowledge would be appreciated.  Am I right that one of our members is involved (runs it?)  I have been (half-heartedly!) trying to learn to speak Mandarin, and am having precious little success.  Maybe my advanced years are a hindrance to me here.  But I would really like to give it a go, and the price looks pretty reasonable to me.

So if anyone has any personal experience, I would appreciate hearing about it, either here or to my email lonewolfe@iinet.net.au

Thanks heaps,  Lin.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: George on November 17, 2008, 08:19:15 PM
Yep. Been there, done that, but no Tee-shirt. I went to the same Camp as Non-Dave, Ruth and Crippler, more because I wanted a holiday than to learn Chinese. Apart from a minor problem, like the accommodation having no heat, and having to sleep fully dressed, under 6 quilts, to keep from freezing, I had a good time. Noles solved the freezing problem by finding a new venue. I actually did learn enough Chinese to give me the confidence to start using it. Our teachers were cute, and helpful, even if they did get embarrassed often by some of the more off-topic questions from ND and Crippler. Definitely recommend! agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on November 18, 2008, 11:45:41 PM
I went to the first one. It was excellent. I had a great time (aside from listening to Noles playing the guitar) and most importantly it helped me understand how i could teach myself. I didn't learn much in two weeks but I learned how to learn.

Give a man a fish - teach a man to fish stuff.

Just as important in my view is that I made some very good friends. The people that go there are usually quite serious about being in China.

I highly recommend it.  bfbfbfbfbf

Hide the guitars.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: The Hiphoppopotomous on September 29, 2010, 12:23:49 PM
Tell you what guys, this whole learning process is killing me. I know it's harder to learn a language as you age, but I just cant seem to grasp it. My tutor is good, and her english is good enough for her to be efficient, but nothing sticks, and it has taken 5 sessions just to learn 25 basic words/ phrases.

I cant afford to actually enrol on a course or anything, and am happy with tutoring, but like it says in the first post, the temptation to just quit trying because it's so damned hard, is always there. I feel drained and dejected after every lesson, although I think it is because we do it in the evening after I've been teaching or doing other things all day, and am exhausted.

In your experiences, does time of day have an real impact on learning? or am I just making more excuses as to my lack of progress.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Day Dreamer on September 29, 2010, 01:24:12 PM
Tell you what guys, this whole learning process is killing me. I know it's harder to learn a language as you age, but I just cant seem to grasp it. My tutor is good, and her english is good enough for her to be efficient, but nothing sticks, and it has taken 5 sessions just to learn 25 basic words/ phrases.

I cant afford to actually enrol on a course or anything, and am happy with tutoring, but like it says in the first post, the temptation to just quit trying because it's so damned hard, is always there. I feel drained and dejected after every lesson, although I think it is because we do it in the evening after I've been teaching or doing other things all day, and am exhausted.

In your experiences, does time of day have an real impact on learning? or am I just making more excuses as to my lack of progress.


Can you say that in Chinese?  ahahahahah

I couldn't have said it any better, I'm too old, too tiredand too stupid to learn. I'm a great teacher but a lousy student
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Stil on September 29, 2010, 03:29:46 PM
Don't give up.

It's not a gradual process but comes in fits and starts. You'll plod along seemingly learning nothing then out of the blue something will click and you'll understand a fair bit and you'll reach another plateau.

You've been here a minute and a half.

Give yourself a chance.

And yeah, most people learn better in the mornings.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Nolefan on September 29, 2010, 04:03:02 PM

what Stil said ( I'm sick to my stomach agreeing with him)

I've spent 5 years running a bootcamp to teach foreigners how to learn Chinese and I know it ain't easy.. but it ain't that hard either! If learning the language for the sake of learning the language is not enough of a motivation or it's proving too slow, you gotta start looking at alternative approaches.
If you're musically inclined, find songs you like and learn them.. song along for a while and then worry about translating them!
If you love cooking, learn the names of the vegetables and other relevant items first...
Basically find something that peaks you interest and follow it...

What this does is it enables you to build a base of vocabulary, no matter how specific it is, that you can then try and put i not structures and what not.. it gets easier  agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on September 29, 2010, 10:58:56 PM
I hear ya James! It is tough, especially in the beginning. I took Chinese classes at home during the weekend and I was pretty sure the teacher (a chinese guy who was going to school nearby) was going to tear his hair out the first few weeks. It took us (3 intelligent adults) over three weeks to learn the pinyin alphabet! We just could not get it.

Now being here I find Chinese tough too. I don't get a tutor, but I'm allowed to go to class with the other foreign students (my classmates are asians and there are 7 of us in total). I get REALLY frustrated most of the time because they are full time students with classes everyday and have to speak the language to communicate with anyone and I am part time (I go twice a week) and my job is speaking english. So they are much better than me and struggling through class also makes me tired, angry and the phrase "why even bother you stupid idiot," runs through my head constantly.

At some point you'll have a good day and on that day you will be dancing around on cloud 9 and you'll feel totally energized. Other days you'll suck, be frustrated and feel exhausted after class. I think it is normal.

So the only advice I can give is your not alone! But push through and keep going with the lessons as it will really help with living here.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on September 29, 2010, 11:48:58 PM
I am 66 and I am learning Chinese.

I forget a lot when I go home for the summer but it comes back.

I find I have to repeat, repeat repeat the word and or phrases for them to stick.  I then try to use them as much as possible.  The poor taxi drivers in my city are my practice partners.  Many actually enjoy a foreigner trying to speak to them.

It took a couple of years before the stuff started to stick. It is gradual but once you start retaining stuff it does start getting faster.  I use my learning Chinese as a 'weapon' in class with my students.  I say 'I am old and I am learning Chinese.  You are young so you CAN learn English.  It just takes WORK'!!!!! bfbfbfbfbf

I found reading out loud (not silently) the vocabulary words just before I went to bed helpful.  Your brain will process stuff while you sleep.

Hang in there and keep trying.   agagagagag agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: MK on September 30, 2010, 12:10:24 AM
I wouldn't usually advocate it....but since your poor, grab some of the Chinese-pod newbie lessons and slap 'em on the old MP3 for those long bus journeys into town:

http://www.torrentz.com/search?q=chinesepod

If you can, find lessons that overlap with what you are doing in class to some extent, and then shock your tutor by busting out some amazingly native hanyu!
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: The Hiphoppopotomous on September 30, 2010, 04:46:35 AM
Thanks guys I dont feel so bad now. I want to learn, because A, I think it is respectful to learn a language if i'm living in that country for an extended amount of time, B, because it's cool and I actually like the language (unlike french which I pretty much shunned in school) and c, because I get overcome with jealousy sitting at a tble of people and only understanding the odd word. I do now picku p on words and phrases, but very rarely and it's usually in the middle of some lightspeed sentence.

This morning I had the brtight idea of getting my students to write down the English, Pinyin, and Chinese of as many fruits,veg and meat that they could think of while I went for apiss, and then practised it on the poor guy in the restaurant (the words, not the piss)

Ah well, at least I cant blame age anymore :)
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on September 30, 2010, 05:38:46 AM
Look at the street markets.  You can buy posters of fruits and vegetables with the picture, name in Pinyin and Chinese Character.  I have several posters on my kitchen wall.  I look at them every day.  It helps   bfbfbfbfbf agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on September 30, 2010, 12:57:42 PM
I have the little kid posters that are suppose to be for little kids to learn pinyin and the characters. You know, the ones with big blocky pictures of a mouth and the word Kou (with the tone) and then the character.

Laugh all you want but it has totally worked! We were ordering something in a restaurant and had no idea what a dish was. My hubby recognized the character from the poster (it was wood) and then we realized the other one must be 'ear' for wood ear mushrooms. We felt like powerful gods translating the menus from the silly little posters that adorn the walls of preschool.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: dragonsaver on September 30, 2010, 03:21:15 PM
Yes, those are the ones I was talking about.   bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: kitano on September 30, 2010, 03:49:44 PM
just to make you feel better james, i've been here for a year and a half and my chinese is atrocious. i can pick out some things just by hearing it every day but learning it is just horrible for me

i remember i had the same thing when i learned italian but if you keep plugging away one day it does click and then you love it

i just have the fear of going into it seriously cos i'm not talented at languages at all and i am avoiding that feeling of working hard for ages which you are going through...
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on October 01, 2010, 08:48:45 AM
Tell you what guys, this whole learning process is killing me. I know it's harder to learn a language as you age, but I just cant seem to grasp it. My tutor is good, and her english is good enough for her to be efficient, but nothing sticks, and it has taken 5 sessions just to learn 25 basic words/ phrases.
You've only had five lessons. That's not many at all. After several months you'll be better equipped to judge the progress you've made.

Be sure to study, study, study outside of your tutorials and try to stretch what you've learned you talk about new things.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on October 15, 2010, 05:20:31 AM
I have enrolled at a school, I am taking 6hrs of classes per week (will see how that goes). Sitting here studying in preparation for my 4th (?) lesson at 3pm. I managed to get the pronunciation out of the way really quickly thankfully, before my first lesson I had a basic grasp of the sounds so that definitely helped. I'm enjoying it and also my it entertains my students when I suddenly say a chinese word in class.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on October 15, 2010, 06:43:36 PM
ha, feeling the fatigue today it seems, slow going.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: El Macho on October 15, 2010, 11:14:22 PM
How many days per week do you go?

I'm also starting classes, 4.5 hrs/week spread over three days.

Good luck with your studies, work hard!
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: NATO on November 22, 2010, 11:44:38 AM
How many days per week do you go?

I'm also starting classes, 4.5 hrs/week spread over three days.

Good luck with your studies, work hard!
Hey sorry for the massively delayed reply, I haven't checked down here for weeks. I am doing 3 days per week, 2hrs per day. Monday afternoon, Tues aft and friday afternoon. Not working as hard as I should be.
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: old34 on November 22, 2010, 01:45:40 PM
Hey sorry for the massively delayed reply, I haven't checked down here for weeks. I am doing 3 days per week, 2hrs per day. Monday afternoon, Tues aft and friday afternoon. Not working as hard as I should be.

Find a cuter teacher. Especially for those Friday afternoon classes....on into Happy Hour. bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Avenues for learning Chinese
Post by: Borkya on November 22, 2010, 02:06:43 PM
I'm going to class 8 hours a week, 4 hours monday, 4 hours wednesday. And while my classmates are all WAYYY better than me (after all, they are dedicated students) I have really noticed a difference in my level over the past few weeks. I might still talk like a 3 year old (with no tenses or grammar) but I can actually understand, like, 80% of what my teacher says! When i started it was about 20%.

Actually, for awhile there I was getting really discouraged, just feeling tired and left out (all my classmates are from asian countries and don't speak much english so it's chinese or nothin. Once a classmate and I walked back home together and we didn't talk the whole way because i couldn't understand anything while I knew he was semi-fluent. It felt so pathetic.)

I'm not saying it is easy, but just keep going to the classes no matter what. I figure even if I learn just one new word it is worth it.