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  • js6426

    Week 11 - 我怎么学习

    By js6426

    One of the reasons I now enjoy writing this blog so much, is the feedback and help that I get when I do.  I think that at the end of my first year I might try and make a list of the resources I have used, as it will include many things that get suggested over the weeks.  This week gwr71 was incredibly helpful in suggesting a cultural visual dictionary, one for measure words, and a grammar book, all of which I now have an am beginning to tuck into.    Last week I was also asked about my schedule, including how much time I spend on homework, and so I will give that here.  Each week we have 20 hours of class, with each class lasting 2 hours.  That is broken down into 4 comprehensive classes, which, as the name suggests, brings all the elements we learn from the other classes together.  We have 2 listening classes, 1 reading/writing class, and 3 speaking classes.  Listening classes can be a bit repetitious, but I think that's just the nature of it, and there's really no way to avoid it.  I also really need it as listening is what I find hardest.  Regarding homework, some days we get it, some days we don't, it's fairly unpredictable for the most part.  What is predictable is our reading/writing homework each week.  In class we cover 2 chapters in the book, and for homework we take the list of new words from each chapter and write them out a couple of times, then make a word of our own choosing, then make a sentence which includes that word.  I really enjoy doing this because it's where I get to experiment a lot and the corrections help a ton.  We also have to do the exercises for each chapter, and then at the end of each chapter there is a text, and we need to write and answer 3 of our own questions relating to the text.  This homework is supposed to be done over the course of the week, but being as it's on a day when I have 4 hours to kill on campus, I just hammer it out then.  As I do other reading and writing throughout the week, I don't think it negatively impacts my studies in any way.  We rarely get any homework for listening, and for speaking and comprehensive it really varies.  Some days we might need to write a dialogue relating to the topic we are studying, or talk about a specific subject.  Most days we have dictation in class, and so we need to learn the appropriate characters.  We have now moved on to phrases (started with single characters, then words, now phrases, and I assume longer sentences will be next).  My assumption is that the idea behind this is so we don't forget characters we have learned previously, and it seems to be doing the job!  Being as we are still looking at very common characters, there may only be one or two that I really need to memorize, and so this doesn't normally take very long.  This frees me up to do more of my own studying.  Random new words that come up in class, and vocabulary that I just want to learn myself, I study throughout the week.  I will attach a picture of what it looks like but I just do it in the way that I have found works best for me (and before it gets pointed out, I know how messy my handwriting is, both in Chinese and English!) - I write down 5-7 characters/words that I want to learn, and then write each of them down 5 times.  A bit later I come back and write them down again, this time in a different colour.  The following day I come back a third time, and again with a different colour I write them down a final time.  How many words I do just depends on the week.  Once I have a full page of words, I put them into Anki.    For listening I just try and get myself as immersed as possible, and spend time with Chinese people.  I really like tattoos, and so I have made good friends with 2 tattoo artists who have a shop just down the street from where we live.  They don't speak English which is perfect, and they are really fun to hang out with, and have even offered to teach me some stuff!  It's perfect because they speak just like anybody else, which of course is often a far cry from what we learn in the books!  I also find myself reading and writing more with Wechat (although it is of course pinyin input).  I frequently message my current teachers, and my previous ones, with different questions about new vocab and grammar, and I will actually often ask the same question to different teachers, or just make up a question so that I can practice reading when they respond.  Thankfully none of them have let on that they are fed up of me yet hah!   A highlight this week was attending a sort of 'Chinese competition' at the international student center at uni.  Fortunately I wasn't involved, as this is only for the short term classes that I was a part of before I started the degree.  This was a more advanced level than the one I had to compete in, as I was watching my friend who has now moved up to a higher level class.  The reason I was happy not to be involved was that not only did they have to act out a skit of some sort in Chinese, but they had to sing a song, and my voice is unbelievably bad!  It was great to watch, and actually quite funny.  I think it also alerted me to the fact that the previous classes seem to have been much more rigid in the structure they follow.  I feel like in the degree program there is much more freedom and the pace is basically whatever the students make it, rather than very rigidly sticking to the book and having to pack a large amount of content into a short space of time.  I chuckled when I heard the phrases '三天打鱼,两天晒网不行‘ 和 ’在家靠父母,出去靠朋友‘,which I myself learned in the short term class only a few months back!   The final thing for this week (I feel like there is a ton I want to write, but I want to save stuff for future posts also!), was my reading/writing midterm.  I think it went fairly well.  I kicked myself afterwards at having written 容 incorrectly!  I wrote two characters next to each other to try and compare them and remember which was right, one of them had a tiny extra heng just above the kou, and unfortunately I went with that one and erased the other one!  Other than that, unless I have grossly overestimated my ability, I don't think it was too bad.   Ok, one final, final thing!  As I add pictures each week and describe what I am doing to learn, please feel free to critique, make suggestions, tell me why there is a better way of doing things etc.  I want to learn and I want to do it efficiently, and so far the help that people have given has been really, really useful.  Thank you!   Edit - Please excuse the lack of pictures this week.  I tried 4 times to upload a couple of photos but for some reason it failed every time, even after copying the blog post and reloading the page.  I will try again next week. 
  • anonymoose


    By anonymoose

    What does this company appear to trade in?
  • grawrt

    week two

    By grawrt

    All foreign students in the class are technically not even part of the system yet. What does this mean? I'm guessing it means we could literally not attend classes and no one would notice because we're not even technically registered in the course.   It's a bit strange. But I suppose I can understand. There are some classes that we 3 foreign students are not required to take. Such as the 政治 politics course, and the 中国语言文化 class. I also feel like I shouldn't even be in the 口译 class because it’s basically an English class, but I'm still attending these and just act as the teacher’s assistant when needed.   The Chinese democrat I mentioned last week has been telling everyone how stupid I am and picking apart my pronunciation. I don't care at all. It just makes it easier for me to ignore him because I didn't like him very much the first time I met him or any other occasion that follows. It bothered my friend a lot because she's in a group with him and she was like "OH next time I'm going to pick apart his English and make him feel stupid". I'm like It’s okayy I don't like him either. At least now I know the feelings mutual so I don't have to bother talking with him. haha.   I finally attended my other consecutive interpreting class last week (English-Chinese). It's quite different from the Chinese-English one because the professor doesn't want us to take notes at all. She wants us to focus on 1) presentation skills and 2) memorization. Some of the exercises in class consisted of having one student go up to the front and make a speech their own and present to the class. Afterwards, everyone had to record their own recitation of it. For now the professor said we should translate into our most comfortable language so naturally the Chinese used Chinese and I used English. But it's not as easy as you'd imagine. I found it quite hard to relay my translation of the speech while 30 other students were at the same time. I think this is good practice for more 'real life' interpreting. I also really liked the teacher who also seems quite 'western'. One of her requirements for the students is 'speak English', unless you're the 3 foreign students, in which case we all must speak Chinese. I think this is a little bit unfair on part of the other foreign students because their mother tongue isn’t even English.     My other consecutive interpreting class (Chinese-English) has so far taught us short-hand. I find these a bit harder to remember, because I think short hand is a personal thing and some of the symbols don't feel personal to me at all. I included a picture under the description to give a small example of shorthand. I love the teacher though, he's very talkative and very cool kind of guy. Putting it to use is just as hard but the professor goes over it during class when we have translation exercises.   The homework this week was quite normal until my professor sent us a translation hw Friday night, due Tuesday night. Which is kind of stressful because she had a total of 3 days to assign us homework and waited until the weekend to give it to us. I caught a cold for the weekend so you can imagine I did not spend a single second on Saturday studying (mostly sleeping and mulling about miserably), Sunday was beautiful and I'm a bad student so I just went out for the pizza festival. I can see now how Chinese students have no life outside of school. D:   When I went into the office today I found out that we only need to take our foreign language class (I chose Spanish) for one semester. I find it a bit strange. It seems almost useless to bother taking it for one semester but that’s the schools requirements. Learning another language is hard enough as it is but learning it in Chinese is soo weird. My professor was going over this grammar point and I honestly understood nothing of it, I just looked at what she was writing and the pairings and figured out the grammar structure somehow by my own genius, but I can’t for the life explain the reason to you.    Other than that the homework for most classes is pretty much the same. It’s something like 1) watch the news 2) prepare to present 3) prepare to translate. In about 3 or 4 of my classes it’s like this. I just have one teacher that prefers us to prepare different (not news) material to translate. I watch the news anyway but it's a bit more difficult to anticipate what your classmate will find as "the most important news of the week" is. Last week I prepared to talk about Irma only to find that was not the "most important" of the week.   Our first translation homework (a lengthy article on the housing bubble crisis) was put on the board for everyone to follow and discuss one student’s translation. It was one of the foreign students translation who was put up and I'm glad it was because she had told me before that instead of just having one person correct her translation, a total of 4 people decided to 'fix' it and they absolutely destroyed it and said everything she wrote was basically shit. When the professor went over the translation I was happy to find that the professor actually critiqued alot of the Chinese students 'fixes' and at the end advised everyone to not go into corrections as a mission to completely destroy the original, instead to just focus on one or two mistakes because a lot of the time the corrections were actually not correct at all. My friend has found a different partner to work on corrections so hopefully next time will be better.   Things I find confusing so far is that I have so many wechat groups that keep getting created that no one talks in. I'm not really sure what group I’m in most of the time and the banzhang is always pissed to have to answer. I just found out from one of my classmates that I was supposedly in their group and I felt so bad because a week or so ago he added me into a group but i wasn't sure what that group was for and the banzhang just put me into an entirely different group. I also feel bad because (and not to sound mean) but I really find it difficult to remember who my classmates are. Nobody uses their picture on wechat and they don't even use their names so I don't really know anyone even though many people have added me. I'm making an effort now to put a face to the name.   I made some friends with some girls who roll in about the same time as me to class all the time, we laughed about how we always seems to be late when we're actually early (1-5 minutes before class). And slowly but surely my classmates have been talking with me.   Oh if you thought foreign students were the minority in this class, you could also say guys are. I think there are only 3-4 male students in the interpreting class of mine, and the translation section might have about the same amount.  They're a bit odd but I liked the guy who studied simultaneous translation into japanese and english. He's a bit strange but very sweet.   Last thing: Complaint of the day: My teacher had a last minute thing so she wants us all to do a makeup class and miss another professors class to go to a lecture. I'm going to the lecture but not class. I wish I could say "I hope the professor doesn't notice" but being the only three foreigners in class means the professor is always going to notice when any one of us is missing. I signed up for an event at the embassy two weeks ago and I don't raell ywanna miss it but I'm torn. To follow my western virtues or go Chinese. Any thoughts? haha.    
  • abcdefg

    Top 12 dim sum

    By abcdefg

    Here's another dim sum menu, sort of. This one is especially useful because it features only 12 items from a busy upstairs restaurant that offers probably a hundred items. (I ate upstairs.) These take away selections are available for purchase on the street level. My guess is they are some of the house's best sellers. This place was across the street from my Hong Kong (Wan Chai) hotel 華美粵海酒店。         If you figure out and learn these 12 items, you might not be a dim sum virtuoso, but you won't go hungry and will be able to gain a toehold in the dim sum world.    
  • js6426

    Week 7 - 听写又来了!

    By js6426

    Well I guess I mistook which week we are in, because apparently this is week 7!  I didn't update the blog last week as we had the week off, which was actually really nice and relaxing.    Anyway, things are continuing to go well as we start back up after our week off.  Still a fair amount of students not coming to class.  Week 9/10 is our mid terms, and it is doubtful whether or not some of the students will be able to sit the exams, as they may not have been to enough classes.  If they aren't allowed to sit their mid terms, they automatically get disqualified from taking the final exams too, so I wouldn't want to be in their shoes!   Yesterday our comprehensive teacher told us that we have a big dictation deal on Friday, covering all the hanzi we have learned so far.  Then today he dropped a 22 word dictation test on us out of the blue, said there will be another one tomorrow, but the one on Friday will be much bigger.  It was nice to be able to see where I am at with no prior preparation or knowledge of what words were going to come up.  Along with 2 other students, I got 100%, so needless to say I was pretty happy with that.  We also had homework for that class which was to talk about our room and what it contains, but for me I had to do my whole house as I live off campus.  This was also really good because it meant looking up new words and their measure words, as well as putting into practice the location words we've learned.  Some of my new words were cactus, scales, drawer, punching bag, and a fair few measure words for those and other items.    We also had homework for our speaking class.  We just finished up a chapter on time, and so we had to describe a typical day.  I tried to make it interesting and add more than just 'I get up at x o'clock.  I have breakfast at x o'clock.  Class is from x-x o'clock.'  I'm sure there were mistakes in there, but I want to get things wrong in order to learn more.    I definitely feel like I am improving across the board, but still find listening to be the hardest by far.  I am usually there early so I chat with the teachers, but compared to regular people I meet in daily life, they are so easy to understand!  I also find that I can usually do fairly well in the comprehension type listening exercises, but when it comes to the ones where we are given a sentence in pinyin and there are 3 words or so for which we have to mark the tones, I struggle a bit.  I guess it's just practice, practice, practice!

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  1. js6426
    Latest Entry:

    I have decided to update my blog every 2 weeks instead of weekly, as otherwise I don't really have a ton to put in here from week to week.  These last 2 weeks have been fun, and I feel like I am back into the swing of things now.  It was a shock starting back up and not being able to remember how to write out simple characters I have written many, many times before!  We are doing more 'activities' in class now.  By this I mean that for our dictation our teachers will have us up to the front in groups so that one group is writing on the board, and one group on paper as before.  In our comprehensive class we have also started doing 复述,where we have to retell one of the two texts from class from the front of the room.  These just spice things up a little bit and keep it from getting boring.  It's also a nice added challenge to have to try and put my Chinese to work while standing in front of the class.  I've always hated public speaking so this is a great push for me.


    The main grammar point we hit this week was 了.  It was good to get some more clarification here, as we had already covered the idea of 了 showing a completed action or a change of state.  I had been wondering why sometimes 了 would appear directly after the verb, whereas other times it would be right at the end of the sentence, and now I know why!  If the object after the verb contains any extra information, a continuing sentence, or measure words, then 了 is generally going to go straight after the verb, but if the object appears alone, 了 will generally go at the end of the sentence:


    1. 我买了两个苹果。

    2. 我买苹果了。


    We also looked at the placement of 了 in sentences with more than one verb.  All in all this doesn't seem to difficult, but it's nice to understand WHY something is the way it is!

  2. anonymoose
    Latest Entry:

    By anonymoose,

    In which province was this photo likely taken? (Think carefully - not as obvious as you might think)


  3. DrWatson
    Latest Entry:

    Two-unit characters are characters that can be divided into two units based on the shape of a character. This can be a division based on left-to-right, top-to-bottom, or outer-to-inner. If you are familiar with radicals then the concept is not so alien. For left-to-right often a spacing, or lack of connecting from the left side of the character to the right side of the character, is where the the character is divided up into two units. For top-to-bottom it can be more tricky, but again if you think back to character radicals it is not a leap. For outer to inner, there is an outer shell unit that encompasses the inner unit.


    Once the character is divided up into two units, the following rules apply for determining the Cangjie input code:

    1) The first unit may only have up to two Cangjie symbols input. If there are more than two symbols in the unit, then only the first and last Cangjie symbols are input on the keyboard.

    2) The second unit may have up to three Cangjie symbols input. Again, if there are more than three, some skipping is involved. In this case, the first, second and last Cangjie symbols are input on the keyboard. 


    This may seem a bit abstruse, so let's look at some examples. Unfortunately I am on my android device right now and I don't yet have a very good Cangjie input method tool, so I'm still looking for a better way to bring up just the Cangjie symbol to show how things are built up. As such, to make sense of the following I suppose you need some familiarity with Cangjie symbols. I will try to update this post later if I can figure it out.


    1) 風 / 风    


    A quick visual examination yields a clear outer-to-inner relationship in both the traditional form and simplified form of the character. The outer unit is 几, which can be made up using Cangjie codes that look like 厂乙 (note these are radicals on don't reflect the exact Cangjie symbols, but I wanted to provide something to help see how the unit is broken down to Cangejie symbols. To build the unit, the input code is HN for the outer unit. The inner unit looks like 虫 with a "hat" on top. This unit requires four symbols, so we have to skip the third, with the Cangjie code being HLI. The resulting Cangjie code for the entire character is HNHLI.


    For the simplified character it is similar. The first unit is HN still, but the innter unit is simplified. It turns out that this unit actually represents a Cangjie symbol, so the Cangjie code for this unit is just K. Putting it all together, the resulting code for the entire character is HNK.


    2) 鍾 / 锺


    Upon visual inspect, this character is a left-to-right two-unit character. The first unit is 金 or钅, and the second unit is 重. Well, 金 is actually a Cangjie symbol, so for both the traditional and simplified forms, the input code for the first unit is C, and that completes the unit. The second unit, however, has four Cangjie symbols in it, so we have to skip the third since we are only allowed up to three symbols. The unit is made of a "hat" stroke on the top, 十 just below it, then skipping 田 because it is the third symbol, and finally 土. This turns out to HJG, and thus the entire code for this character is CHJG.


    3) 規 / 规


    Again, this is a left-to-right two-unit character. Based on the Cangjie symbols, the left side is built with the codes QO. For the right side, the code comes out to BUU for the tradtional. For the simplified, it is BHU. Again, I wish I could input just these Cangjie symbols for reference, but this one is proving challenging for my Android input method. The final code is QOBUU for the tradtional version,a nd QOBHU for the simplified version.


    Well, that is it for today, looking back at this post I am not even sure if it is useful. But oh well, this is kind of my journal too. When I am back on a real computer I will see what I can do.

  4. grawrt
    Latest Entry:


    Monday: Thesis Writing 1:55-4:30

    Tuesday: Consecutive Interpreting E-C 8-9:35

    Wednesday: International Politics and Economy 8-9:35 | Tourism Translation 9:50-11:25 | Public Speaking 1:20-2:55

    Thursday: Consecutive Interpreting C-E 9:35-11:25

    Friday: Sight Translation 9:35-11:25


    Okay so my first week is nearly over. We had registration on Sunday (Which I missed because we were told on Saturday that we had to register by Sunday, and I was leaving for Beijing at the time…) anyway, it didn’t matter. No classes Monday because our thesis writing course begins in week 2 and foreign students don’t take the politics class so I registered on Monday (just a stamp in the 学生证), and Tuesday we were given our grades.


    My grades (before they disappeared from the system):

    Consecutive Translation Chinese-English: 80

    Consecutive Translation English-Chinese: 83

    Theory & Skills of Interpretation: 85

    Written Translation English-Chinese: 80

    Written Translation Chinese-English: 84

    Sight Translation: ?

    Spanish: 70

    Comparative Linguistics & Translatology: 93

    An Introduction to Translatology: 93.40

    Translation Theory: 97


    The grades are obviously higher than they should be. I don’t believe this is an accurate reflection at all.  My Theory & Skill of interpretation test was based entirely on the final which was open book essentially with the exception of the essay/short writing portion. The teacher basically told us that the 3 foreign students graded higher than he had expected and he was shocked that so many students couldn’t answer the questions correctly when it was literally in the review sheet. Also their essay portion was way off and didn’t have a thoughtful analysis unlike us 3 foreign students. But the teacher said he couldn’t give us 3 foreign students too high of a grade so he lowered it or else it would “look bad”. So based on this, I‘m guessing this is what the teachers thought process was when grading us, not going too high and not going too low. Just average. With the exception of the 93’s which my friend believes is a real grade. Those were based entirely on the papers we wrote. I don’t think my paper was that good, but I think the 93 was based on the fact that our entire class evidently copied their papers while we 3 foreign students wrote our own. That’s the only thing I can think of.


    The Translation Theory course also had a paper for a final grade, which the teacher gave us a longer deadline to complete (basically the winter break). A lot of our classmates have been encountering issues with this, because many of them didn’t include a study which we were supposed to do. No surprises there. They all wrote there’s 2 weeks before the term began and many didn’t listen to the professor who required a case study of some sort to be done. They all thought they could just get the passing 60 grade without it. Didn’t quite work out that way.

    Anyway. Still waiting for the last 3 grades.


    Soo class. This term we have a lot less classes than the term before, one of them taught by our department head has been cancelled because she's too busy this term to teach.



    Consecutive interpreting E-C, we had this professor last term. She was really great. Nothing new to add, her requirements are pretty much the same.



    International Politics & Economy: New class and professor. I don’t really like that the professor came up with a “genius” idea, which basically involves us having night time classes at a different time and day every week with different professors. He started the class with a discussion on “what‘s wrong with America”. Lol. I thought it would be a lot funnier but it was quite boring. His 3 qualms with America were 1) GUAM 2) TAIWAN (apparently America gave Taiwan to Japan….) Not sure where in history he read this but im no expert. 3) Presidential term limits (I’m guessing he states this because now that Xi wants to be a forever president he needs to praise the ingenious of it)

    Despite being a class on international politics and economy he mostly spoke about China. Showing how territories should have belonged to China based on before the continents split up, etc. etc.

    Travel Tourism was taught by another old professor, the same guy we had for Theory & Skill of interpretation. Actually I really like this class compared to his last years class which seemed quite useless. Our assignments include C-E and E-C translation passages on a place or point of interest. Plus we need to have a partner, I got into a group that rotates partners each week so that should be good.

    Public Speaking: This class turned out a lot more interesting than I expected. The professor is quite young, used to live in NYC and is extremely prepared for class. He handed out a speech from Michelle Obama, and then we watched a segment of the speech, He called on students to translate short segments then analyzed words of importance, and wrote them downand kind of discussed with us what kind of words would be more appropriate. For instance, in the speech Mrs. Obama says “parliaments around the world” and he asked the class “parliaments how would we translate that” we had some literal translations for the British parliament, then he elaborated that not all countries used this system and etcetc. There was also a point where she mentioned her husband. Many people translated as 先生, but he asked ‘who is her husband? He’s the president right? We should use 总统先生’. The method of the class was really useful. I don’t really have a feel for formalities when it comes to Chinese, so I was writing down formal terms and other things.  



    Consecutive interpreting C-E, now being taught by my old professor who taught Sight Translation. I actually feel like this class suits her more. She played us a clip by Jack Ma and basically told us that she wants to focus on interpreting less formal occasions so we can get a feel for things like Q & A sessions and these kind of spontaneous speeches. This professor isn’t bad but I’m afraid what the future holds because last term she had a lot of mood swings and went from very nasty to very nice. My friend thinks I let my guard down by feeling that she‘s not so bad for this class. But I believe in the best of people. haha



    Sight Translation

    This class is now being taught by a different professor. He’s an old guy who’s pretty horrible with technology and took a while to work out the system and then gave up halfway and just had us talk loudly. I think he’s a good professor, he has a lot of credentials and our old sight translation professor walked in to introduce him to us and was like ITS SUCH AN HONOR. I thought the class was fun and fairly enjoyable, he would go off topic quite a bit or switch around so it was hard to keep track at times, then there was the fact that he kept calling on me every other second. So like the first time he was rambling about how our schools been winning competitions and prestige and whatever and then he goes to me “WHERE WAS I? QUICK TRANSLATE” and I’m like ……. “what?” and he was like “GREAT ANSWER” and I’m like okay he’s mocking me now…. And he was like “go on” and I repeated what he said and he’s like “YES YES. HER ANSWER WAS RIGHT” and at that point I’m not really sure if he’s trolling me or being legit…

    So I tried to stay focused to avoid getting caught off guard again, but then my friend ended up asking me a question and I think he keeps a close eye on me for whatever reason because anytime I was even remotely distracted he’d call on me, so my friend interrupted like “IM SO SORRY PROFESSOR, I was just asking her a question so she was distracted” and he was like “NO! KEEP DISTRACTING HER! Gotta bring her down to our level” and I’m thinking to myself my god this guy thinks that I have the upper hand in the class because I’m a native English speaker??? UHH WHAT I’m like my CHINESE SUCKS we’re like maybe on equal terms at this point.

    So yeah… the class was basically just going back and forth with me getting called on literally the entire class. So I need to be prepared for this for his class I guess.


    Umm that’s about it. I should really have studied this winter break I feel like I’m slacking… but I think I really needed the break so it’s okay. Considering I have so much more free time I’d like to find a tutor this term or a language partner or I don’t know. Anything. Even taking a Chinese course or so to practice is something I really need to do.

  5. mlescano
    Latest Entry:

    This morning I finished day 90. I used two types of content: 


    1) Clearly spoken stuff:

    Slow Chinese, HSK5 recordings, and a magazine podcast for natives. Sometimes I prepared subtitles beforehand using WorkAudioBook, and during the transcribing session I thus was able to do corrections immediately after each line. This lead to time "wasted" doing the corrections, but also stopped me from repeating the same mistake again. Other times, I did not prepare subtitles, and just used WorkAudioBook for automatic segmentation, and did the corrections after finishing each session. This, of course, can cause an accumulation of errors in repeated words, but also means I could write more in a session, as I was not distracted with corrections. So... The left column in the data is not very consistent in how it was done, and even less with the material used. In day 52 I forgot to start the pomodoro clock, so I got an outlier score. I'm leaving it out of the monthly averages.


    2) A TV drama called Great Marriage.

    I downloaded both mp4 video and srt subtitles from YouTube and used them with the fantastic Lingual Media Player, which can automatically stop after each subtitle line and makes it easy to toggle subtitles. In 90 days I only reached episode 8 of a 40+ episode drama, and that's watching long parts without transcribing! So, with this abundance of ready-made material, the right column is consistent both in source and in execution.


    During the first 75 days, I did 2 pomodiri (50 minutes) per day for each column. But two weeks ago I signed up for December's HSK5, so, to make time for vocab study and practice tests, during the last 15 days I only did 1 pomodoro (25 min) per day for each column. So, in order to "normalize" the scores with the previous days, I added a *2 in the formula.


    You can also notice that around day 32 I also started to seriously attack my Pleco SRS backlog. The number here is how many pending cards I have each morning. 


    My observations:


    Clearly spoken stuff

    You'll notice that during the last month my average score actually dropped for "clear stuff". Maybe in part because I switched exclusively to a magazine podcast for natives in day 60. I must add that, although this podcast is for natives, the magazine is a Chinese translation of the English original, and the podcast is actually just read from the magazine, so it's not at all like 原来是这样 or any similar 100% native, conversational podcasts.


    TV drama

    In the graph, you'll also notice that, after a fantastic increase in comprehension from the fist month to the second month, the're no such big increase for the third month. Maybe I'm hitting "diminishing returns" with this particular drama. Still, I've learned a lot!



    As mentioned, I'm attacking HSK5 on December, just as a personal challenge, not for scholarships or anything. My cousins, who are Chinese teachers at the local Confucius institute, passed this exam two years ago and then went on to get their Master's degrees in China, but my current level is nowhere near what theirs was two years ago! My current level fits perfectly the B1 description given by the Europeans. Still, after measuring myself with a couple of old HSK5 papers, I discovered I can pass, even if they completely discard my two essays. So in part I'm taking the test to prove a friend of mine that HSK is actually just B1... So I signed up for a test preparation class at the local Confucius. Nobody else signed up for level 5, so I accepted being put with level 4 test takers. My teacher can't speak Spanish, which helps.



    So yes, this helps. The data shows it. I believe this has mostly given me confidence with my handwriting, as, before this, I only wrote individual words. This will certainly come in handy during the HSK5 writing part, because the only option available in my country is the paper test. During my attempts with past papers, I found this part to be the most relaxing. I can finish it in half the time. Of course, with awful grammar! (My teacher will help me with my writing). I haven't really done any traditional study of grammar after an introductory course back in 2012. It's been mostly input, input, and more input, particularly after I finally took Chinese seriously in 2015 and started with Heisig's Remembering Simplified Hanzi. Of course, I've checked difficult to understand points with Pleco and the Chinese Grammar Wiki along the way.


    So, what will my listening practice be now? I'll be attacking every single HSK5 past paper I can find, so that will be it, for the most part. I'll also keep watching the drama with LaMP, but without transcribing it. I might transcribe dubbed videos of talks, however, just to keep writing.


    Thank you for reading! Suggestions are welcome. I'm attaching the raw data, the monthly averages and a sample of my "day 90" handwriting. Now my focus will switch to reading speed, as it's currently my weakest point. I'll soon write another post about it.





  6. Chinese listening challenge

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    Latest Entry:

    A little embarrassed to notice I haven't updated on my progress since the first post - perhaps should have been predictable given how far down my list of priorities it this blog sits, but all the same...


    On the other hand, the challenge is still going strong - 74/112 days completed now, none missed so far! My method for keeping track of this, and motivating myself, is the old but classic crosses-on-a-calendar method. I've tried some phone-based "don't break the chain" apps in the past, but none of them have quite the same impact as keeping physical track of my progress. It's gotten to the point that, when planning excursions or family days, my first thought is often "how can I plan my hours around that to guarantee I don't miss a day?" 




    That's not to say it's become easy. I've almost never felt like the 2 hours were effortless. It's just without this motivation I'd probably do less and less every day until I stop altogether. Anyway, if you're struggling with motivation to keep a daily habit (as I often have), I can definitely recommend buying a cheap calendar and just marking it off every day. Super effective.


    So what have I learned over the 46 hours of Chinese since I last updated this blog?


    Firstly, just as intermediate learners often observe, the rate of progress feels slower every week. I'm still on the boundary between intermediate/upper intermediate on ChinesePod, and when I listen to hard dialogues I downloaded three weeks ago, I don't feel like they've become any easier to decipher in the intervening time. New stories and dialogues introduce just as many new words now as they did two months ago, and I'm getting a visceral sense of just how vast a task learning a language is. The number of near homonyms makes this no easier, and I'm constantly confusing the meanings of words that to a Chinese speaker sound nothing alike.


    On that topic, tones in particular continue to frustrate me. I'm not exactly tone-deaf - a few weeks ago I tried Olle Linge's tone training - 100% on the initial level placement - and John Pasden's tone pair drills - no problem there either. But I still often make comprehension mistakes in full sentences due to tones, and still can't reliably predict the tones of an unfamiliar word when spoken as part of a larger utterance. Even when hearing a tone isn't necessary to understand a sentence (at my level context is still mostly enough) it feels like full comprehension is slower than it should be, I'm using grammar/context as a crutch, and the other shoe is going to drop when I try to advance to native materials. It seems like there's a big gap in the market for intermediate tone training - forcing students to listen for tones until this habit is fully internalised. Does such a product already exist? I'm also quite curious what others think about this problem, and whether it's really an issue - particularly from those who have learned Chinese to a very high level of proficiency.


    On the other hand, I do feel like I'm currently developing in three related areas. 


    • "Chinese subconscious" - occasionally in the past two weeks I have found myself following some non-trivial material without actively concentrating on the language at all, just thinking about the subject material. This is one of the things I had been hoping to achieve through mass listening, and it's good to feel it might eventually pan out. I have very limited stamina to fully concentrate on spoken language (I can't maintain 100% concentration for more than a few minutes!) so this is very necessary in the long run. This point might seem trivial to many here, but it's a big breakthrough for me!
    • Speed of listening. The 4th level of the Chinese Breeze books has helped with this, as the narrators have stepped up the speed a bit for this level, forcing me to internalise more of the very high frequency words and grammatical structures. (I'll give a more complete review of the Chinese Breeze books later if I can find the time)
    • Ability to learn. The more words I learn, the easier it seems to be to remember new words, and the better I can distinguish between similar words. And because I can listen faster, I can hear more words and grammar structures in 2 hours. It feels like entering a virtuous cycle. Of course because I've properly hit intermediate level now, it still feels like my rate of progress has slowed in spite of all of this.


    Finally, I've entirely dropped SRSing of new words in isolation. I've just found it a drain on my mental energy with seemingly little-to-no gain. The SpoonFed Chinese Anki deck is doing a great job of introducing me to new words in context, and providing regular reminders. I re-listen to ChinesePod episodes at regular intervals when they have lots of new vocabulary (is there SRS software that can schedule this for me more conveniently than Anki?) The graded readers use the same words so often that there's no need to SRS them. And best of all, all of these activities are simply more fun than grinding Anki decks of words (well SpoonFed isn't much fun, but is definitely more effective). The only thing I'm losing here is the ability to recognise characters of words I'm learning, but given that all of my learning material currently comes with pinyin, this is something I can tolerate (and will probably fix through extensive reading after the challenge is over)

  7. pon00050
    Latest Entry:

    Here is the line that made me write this blog post.


    I am familiar with the 着 for a continuous state.

    However, 着 in this line doesn't seem to indicate continuous state.

    What is 着 doing in this line?

    It does look like people say 找着了吗 based on the quick search online. LINK




  8. Shelley
    Latest Entry:

    Welcome to lesson 6, the last lesson in this level. We find Pipe and Lily talking on campus.. is Pipe going to get lucky?


    Pipe asks Lily how she did on the last test 考试. She says not bad, I got 拿到an A, How about you? Pipe replies C I got a C. I need 得 to work harder like you do. You always get good grades 成绩. Lily reassures him and tells him he is actually 其实 very smart 聪明 and all he needs to do is practice more and he will do very well on tests. Thanks says Pipe adding does Lily have any plans 计划 for the weekend. Lily tells Pipe that she always goes swimming on Saturday mornings but after that she is free 没事. Lets meet up Lily suggests. Pipe thinks to himself -  Perfect, I have finally 终于 got Lily to go on a date!! He says they can meet Saturday afternoon and he will call her later.


    At the restaurant:

    Lily remarks that this a really good restaurant but she is not sure if it is a good 适合 place to study. Pipe says he thought it would be ok if they ate dinner and chatted 聊 a bit first to get to know each other better and then we can go for a walk 散步. Lily is confused - eh ok? Pipe starts talking excitedly about how he always wanted to visit this restaurant but felt it was more for couples 情侣 and he would feel strange being here on his own 自己...what kind of person do you like dating 约会? Lily starts to say I ....... Pipe interrupts and tells her he likes women who are caring  温柔 and smart, physical appearance 外表 isn't everything 一切 but he prefers women who are shorter 矮 than him and she needs to have similar 共同 interests - he then asks Lily what her interests are?  Lily tries to say I normally ...... Pipe carries on speaking saying he likes playing basketball and to swim a lot because it is good for his body. He tells Lily her figure 身材 is good so she is probably interested in exercise too. he then gushes - If I could find a girl like you that is that perfect 完美 it would be too good to be true. Lily's phone rings, looking at her phone she tell Pipe sorry 不好意思 it is my boyfriend, I need to go now! see you next week. Pipe hope's dashed, he sits there stunned and says huh? wait a moment...


    So poor Pipe has been dumped before even he got started!!


    One thing I noticed that may be a mistake or just a usage I am unaware of, Lily says  不好意思 which is translated as sorry but to me means not interested. I would have expected it to be 对不起 for sorry, excuse me, pardon. I think it has been translated incorrectly, or else she was trying to let Pipe down gently!!


    The vocabulary and the supplementary vocabulary is all to do with dating and romance.

    There are 4 grammar points this week:-


    1)  其实  means actually, in fact or even- to be honest. The examples show it being used t the beginning of sentences.

    2) 是不是 can be used to confirm your speculations.

    3) A比B + adj this pattern indicates a comparison between two things  (一点/ 的多) follows an adjective indicating to a smaller or higher degree.

    4) 像。。。。的 + noun specifies the details of modification to a noun:- like....., such as ......


    This was the last lesson in this level. I did well on the quiz and got 100% I also did well on the final exam and scored an overall mark of 99%.


    I hope these little summaries are helpful.

    I am going to do the same sort of thing for my NPCR lessons starting with lesson 15. I am going to be trying to study both simplified and traditional at the same time but concentrate on learning to write simplified. Looking forward to this new challenge. Feel free to join in with comments or corrections:) Look out for the first one in a couple of weeks or so.


  9. Bigdumogre
    Latest Entry:

    Well its been a while since I updated this blog and I have tons of excuses why and why I haven't studied for 6 weeks until last week. But that's what they are just excuses, and I should of never of stopped. So I am going to redo all the NPCR chapters I have already finished, redo most of the pimsluers I have completed and re listen to podcasts that I already know. I know this will take a few weeks but I will be back up to where I was and with accurate tones and words. Has this happened to anyone else? Seems like at times stepping back a few steps will help your get to your destintion.

  10. This was copied from the conclusion of a research paper I wrote. I'm not super confident on the quality of the paper so I'm not putting it here. A lot of this should be "no shit" to many of you. Some of it might be surprising.

    A teacher’s ability to naturally gravitate toward good pedagogy depends on target language proficiency, linguistic expertise, and familiarity with current research and technology. Based on the studies referenced in this paper and the discussion in the previous section,

    • Reading complements writing and writing complements reading. They should be developed together, with reading prioritized.
    • Students should not be expected to write whatever they can say or read, but should be expected to write something in order to develop sensitivity to orthographic features of Chinese.
    • Students should be shown and be allowed to use the best learning tools available on their various devices.
    • Allowing novice students to produce written Chinese using phonetic input methods is not a handicap, but a scaffolding tool providing reinforcement of the connection between phonetic notation, meaning, and written representation of words.
    • Learners who are freed from having to handwrite everything in their oral vocabulary should learn handwriting at a more deliberate pace, where more attention is paid to form.
    • In particular, the modular structure of Chinese characters should be taught explicitly.
    • Although unfashionable, rote repetition is still useful in developing motor memory, which automatizes encoding, allowing a focus on meaning.
    • The same stroke order should be followed each time a character is written.

  11. navaburo
    Latest Entry:

    I have had trouble with the trio of traditional characters which simplify to 干. It turns out (as usual) that all three have curious and twisted etymologies. Here are some mnemonics for keeping the traditional characters 幹干and 乾 straight in your head:


    This is the most straight-forward of the trio.

    It means "dry":


    dried fruit



    In its qian2 pronunciation, it is also one of the Eight Trigrams, and a surname, but those are much lower frequency uses.

    Mnemonic: When there is a drought you beg for even a little mist.

    Etymological note:

    Wieger clarifies that "dry" was originally written using 旱 on the left (with 十 above it?). The character 乾 originally was read qian2 and represented the sun shining into the jungle, dislodging vapors which then rise up into the sky.


    This character can mean "to do" or "tree trunk".

    It can be used alone:


    You have committed ("done") a folly.

    Or in the common idiom gan4ma5:

    你幹嘛/ 你幹甚麼?

    What are you doing?

    A canonical example of the "tree trunk" meaning is:



    tree trunk


    A tree (which originally was made of wood but is now a post-modern clothes hanger pole) is topped with an umbrella of leaves. But, through the mist, you can only see the trunk.

    Etymonlogical note:

    Wieger says the 干 component in 幹 is supposed to be 木, the former being an "absurd phonetic redundancy" This would make more sense.


    This is the odd-ball in the group. It has several meanings. Its most prolific meaning is "to offend":



    to offend or to violate



    to meddle

    But this gan can also mean "stem" in:


    the Ten Heavenly Stems

    An archaic meaning is "shield":



    weapons of war, literally "shield and spear"


    In Toronto, up until a couple of years ago, it was illegal to hang clothes outside, i.e. one of the biggest offenses and ways to offend the sensibilities of people was to hang your clothes outdoors. Silly, but unfortunately true. (credit: koohii user vorpal)

    Etymological note:

    Wieger tells us that 干 represents a pestle. By extension it means to grind or destroy. Destruction in the moral sense gives offense. Destruction in the martial sense gives the warlike association in 干戈.

  12. jbradfor
    Latest Entry:

    Just a warning, in case all of the "女" confuses you into thinking that a "女婿" is female. I assumed it was, and boy did I get the wrong impression of that relationship!

    "姪女婿" is male too. Just saying.

  13. feihong
    Latest Entry:

    By feihong,


    Point out the errors in the translation.

    Mark: AWESOME night. Dry spell = broken.


    Karen likes this.


    Mark: MOM WTF


    Karen: Oops. How do I unclick?




    Source: Awkward Moments in Facebook Likes

  14. Have almost finished translating the song 纯真年代 so will post that up when done, but to take a break and try translating some smaller passages I'm going to copy some sample sentences from NCIKU.com's dictionary. Here is the first one I tried with my translation underneath:

    A: 回忆起过去那如火如荼的革命岁月,他激动不已。

    B: 岁月漫长,世事如白云苍狗

    A: Remembering the rapidly growing revolutionary years, he is endlessly excited

    B: The years are endless, world affairs are like white clouds and dark green dogs

    • 回忆起过去

    "memories form and pass by".

    I thought remembering or as he remembered would be an appropriate translation but I am unsure.

    • 那如火如荼的革命岁月

    "That like fire like bitter herb revolution years".

    This really confused me when I broke it down as I didn't know how to combine the 如火如荼 part. The dictionary said it was a saying meaning either "magnificent" or "originally used to describe a soldier's demeanor and discipline; developing quickly; growing rapidly;blazing", so I opted for rapidly growing as seems more appropriate to describe a revolution.

    • 他激动不已

    "He excited endlessly".

    I thought this would sound better as "His excitement is endless" but that would need 的, and the translation that I have for 不已 is endlessly, which is an adverb. I would have used this first translation but when I saw that 漫长 translates as endless in the second phrase I compared the two.

    I don't know what time frame the first line occurs in. Present tense? - As he remembers the revolutionary years he is endlessly excited, or past tense? - As he remembered the revolutionary years he was endlessly excited.

    • 岁月漫长,世事如白云苍狗

    I'm not sure about the last line, Nciku.com says that it's a saying meaning "how things change in this world". My literal translation looks a bit silly but it's based on my current knowledge so I will leave it as it stands.

  15. keitha's Blog

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    Latest Entry:

    I've been here in Beijing at Beihang University for a week now. The lectures starts on tuesday so I have had some time to explore the surrounding area and check out some markets. So far it has been a great experience and from a swedes point of view the chinese are very friendly and open for contact. I wish I had some language skills to be able to chat with people but that will change (hopefully!).

    Some photos : http://www.flickr.com//photos/keithakid/sets/72157627476683131/show/

  16. Chinoiseries Etc.

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  17. abcdefg
    Latest Entry:

    I've been traveling again. Here's a sign above a urinal in Kunming Airport.

    blogentry-20301-061432100 1312591563_thumb.jpg

  18. bijian's Blog

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    昨天和今天,我花好几个小时看一篇文章在这个URI: http://business.sohu.com/20100730/n273866891.shtml


    北京人大常委会建言:对流动人口采取新户籍模式 - 2010年07月30日07:17 - 来源:新华网

      北京市人大常委会就“十二五”规划建言 对流动人口采取新户籍管理模式











      市人大常委会建议,要充分发挥农民在农村城镇化中的主体作用,切实保护农民的合法权益,努力实现农村城镇化进程中“一变四有三进”,即:随着农民集体土地性质功能的变化,使农民有住房、有新型产业、有稳定就业、有新型经济组织的股权,进入与城市衔接的社会保障体系、进入均等化的基本公共服务覆盖范围、进入股份合作制的新型经济组织。记者 王皓 实习生 王颜欣 (来源:北京日报)


    文章来源:http://business.sohu.com/20100730/n273866891.shtml (责任编辑:李瑞)





  19. buanryoh
    Latest Entry:

    n./adj. 直观

    This word means intuitive, audio-visual, visual, i.e. something that is directly perceived through the senses.


    aids to object teaching; audio-visual aids


    object teaching

    On the upside, I found working with the Facelets API to be very natural and intuitive.

    在有利方面来说,我发现使用Facelets API非常自然和直观

    The touch-key designed accords with the trend of the products, and operate the products more easily.


    For an interesting take on intuitive English vocabulary learning, check out: http://pic.daqi.com/slide/2934663.html

    What do you think?

  20. Beijing Bicycle

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    I pity the fool who can't shake the evil bean. (Not really, I just wanted to use Mr. T's famous "I pity the fool" line.)

    Living on the Big Island of Hawaii for 7 years turned me into a coffee snob. I grew to like the strong, bitter taste of Kona coffee and the coffee my friend grew on the Hamakua coast. During my 3 years in Japan I frequented two small cafes in Gifu City that served strong coffee and sweet cake, and played good, old-school jazz. I never got hooked on Japanese green or barley tea. Japanese green tea is good, but I prefer green tea ice cream and green tea chocolate to drinking it.

    So when I moved to China last year I was hoping to maintain the coffee buzz. Not sure what happened. A few lukewarm cans of Nescafe and a few mediocre mocha's at some cafes and I just wasn't feeling the buzz anymore. So I gradually switched over to tea.

    Flashback: The best cup of tea I've ever had in China (or anywhere else for that matter) was in a small town called Xiahe(夏河) in Gansu province. It was in a small ramen shop. The young waiter reached into a bag, pulled out a handful of tea leaves that were so dark green they almost looked black, threw them into a drinking glass (not a tea mug) and then poured hot water over them. The tea had a strong, smoky taste but it was also very smooth. I've been trying to "find" that taste ever since (about two years ago). I got a hint of it in a small ramen shop in Miyun (密云) two months ago. It wasn't as strong, but a hint of the smoky taste was definitely there. I asked the waiter what kind of tea it was and he said it was Oolong. A few weeks later I went to a couple of tea shops and tried to explain the flavor of tea I was looking for, but I still haven't found it. Maybe a trip back to 夏河 is in order. Next time I'm going to take some of the tea leaves with me.

    So I bought a tea set the other day. And so far, my male ego is taking it in strides. I'm thinking I need some dolls and stuffed animals for a tea party. While she said it looks nice, my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm for tea. She likes fruit juice and milk. I'd like to bring this point up the next time a language teacher throws me a "Chinese people like tea, Americans like coffee" generalization.

    I'd like to study the art of making tea. For me, it's about more than just drinking a beverage. It's like a mini ritual. It's about taking time out, sitting quietly, drinking something that tastes good and relaxes me.

    I'm digging Jasmine tea. I'm hoping to switch to some green tea as the Summer heats up.

    What kind of tea do you like?

  21. simonlaing
    Latest Entry:

    I take the Shanghai metro a lot. While on the subway they have different TV programs, at the moment usually just the recap of the Shanghai expo of the previous day. On the weekend though I have found they have a program I like to call "Shanghai's most devious Criminals" blogentry-9471-127686048303_thumb.jpg

    The show features a police man and actual CCTV footage of criminals stealing or doing some sort of con. The con in the picture is an old man crossing the street and making an expensive car slowly bump into his partner in crime a bicycle that just happens to be riding next to the car in the blind spot when the old guy walks towards the car. The bicyclist falls down and asks for compensation. The policeman is eventually called and after reviewing the tapes and seeing how these two scam artists worked arrested them for the scam. There was another one 2 weeks ago which had the cop chasing the criminal who ran across a wide 3 lane road and climbed over the median. He was about to get away when a pedestrian saw the cop chasing him, ran after the criminal and tackled him to the crowd, putting the criminal in a headlock until the police could catch up and put the cuffs on him. For a public documentary show it had a bunch of action and a little uneditted violence.

    Anyway this use of the Metro TV is quite interesting I thought, it was half instructional on how to spot scams and half (look how we're catching criminals, don't think about trying anything as we have cameras everywhere.)

    Much better than the red light -green light of how to get on the subway movies and how not to go after your cell phone after you drop it on the tracks.

    Have fun,


  22. Forums Affairs

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    Latest Entry:

    It's way too early to tell what if any impact the change in software will have on site usage. But lets look at some numbers anyway.

    First off, early indications are that everyone has figured out how to post - new posts figures for the last couple of days are broadly in line with the same days last week. Subtract all the posts made in the topic about the move (which don't really count as normal posting) and you've got figures down a bit, but not to a worrying extent.

    There are page redirects in place to bring anyone attempting to visit old forum content pages to the right place on the new system, so search engine traffic is still finding us. It has dropped by about 10% on the same day last week, presumably as Google and the rest update the index with the new urls. That kind of drop is well within the realms of random Internet fluctuations anyway.

    Talking of Google, the changes have certainly been noticed - there's a clear spike in indexing as the new pages are visited to check what if anything has changed. blogentry-3-12735792029_thumb.png

    And it's maybe a bit early, but it looks like Googlebot is finding the new pages easier to eat - this shows how long on average it takes to download a page. There's not a lot of value in that information, but it indicates that the new scripts are at least not running any slower than the old ones.


    And if anyone wants to do their bit to boost the stats - get posting. Posts generate more posts, and more visitors.

  23. Daniel's blog

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  24. MystiqueEmpress

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