• Home
  • Search
    •  
  • Login
    • Username: Password:

      Did you miss your activation email?

Author Topic: Learning Chinese  (Read 142559 times)

AMonk

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 7410
Learning Chinese
« on: April 29, 2007, 09:33:25 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?

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.......
Moderation....in most things...

Lotus Eater

  • Limboid
  • Posts: 7689
  • buk-buk..b'kaaaawww!
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2007, 11:10:59 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!

icebear

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • ????
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2007, 12:02:45 PM »
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.

contemporarydog

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 2297
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2007, 12:29:26 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...

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...
It is too early to say.

AMonk

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 7410
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2007, 12:36:32 PM »
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.
Moderation....in most things...

cheekygal

  • Limboid
  • Posts: 3511
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2007, 02:32:57 AM »
 ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah

ND, amonk is a lady  afafafafaf

Raoul F. Duke

  • Lovable Rogue
  • Despot in Absentia
  • *****
  • Posts: 9572
  • "Be specific if you order the mushrooms!"
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2007, 06:03:55 AM »
And this is an on-topic area.  afafafafaf
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

teleplayer

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 434
  • Ni you hen duo xiao qian. Gei wo yidian(r)!
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2007, 10:55:33 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
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/
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

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/ This is like a game.

This is a nice freebie site: 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/

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

You can also download an electronic flashcard program for the Old "Practical Chinese Reader."
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.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 11:11:59 PM by teleplayer »

teleplayer

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 434
  • Ni you hen duo xiao qian. Gei wo yidian(r)!
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2007, 11:29:48 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
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 11:56:44 PM by teleplayer »

contemporarydog

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 2297
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2007, 01:00:51 AM »
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)
It is too early to say.

Mimi

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 518
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2007, 06:36:53 AM »
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.

AMonk

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 7410
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2007, 09:20:18 AM »
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
Moderation....in most things...

Raoul F. Duke

  • Lovable Rogue
  • Despot in Absentia
  • *****
  • Posts: 9572
  • "Be specific if you order the mushrooms!"
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2007, 09:36:11 AM »
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.
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

contemporarydog

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 2297
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2007, 01:41:43 PM »
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...
It is too early to say.

Lotus Eater

  • Limboid
  • Posts: 7689
  • buk-buk..b'kaaaawww!
Re: Learning Chinese
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2007, 03:25:43 AM »
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.