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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)
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I've been following Publius' and Imron's advice: Transcribe by hand to improve listening ability. Here I'll keep track of the results.
Here's the original thread: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/53708-transcribing-mandarin-as-a-learning-method/#comment-412781
To ensure consistency in how I keep this record, I've created my own arbitrary "rules":
-Before starting, I watch aprox. 4 minutes of the video I'll be transcribing, without subtitles. This time is not counted. This is the "step 2" we talked about in the forum thread.
-I transcribe using LAMP player, which allows me to quickly toggle subtitles on/off, pause after each line, and repeat a line, all with keyboard shortcuts.
-I work for 2 25-minute sessions per day, separated by a 5-minute break
-If the break starts when I'm mid-sentence, I leave it there and continue after the break.
-If, during the second 25-minute session, the time's up and I'm mid-sentence, I finish the sentence.
-I'm writing by hand on paper, with a mechanical pencil and an eraser. I designed my own page w/25 8mm squares per row, and left enough separation between rows for corrections. I was previously working with 7.5mm squares, but it felt cramped. I'm attaching the PDF in case you want to use it. It has 2 pages to make it easier to print it double-sided in duplex printers.
-I don't consult any dictionary when I'm writing down each line.
-After each subtitle line, I show the subtitles (toggle with Q in LAMP player) and make corrections. Only now I do consult the dictionary for new words, words I got wrong and to clarify stroke order if I'm in doubt. This correction is done after each subtitle line for immediate feedback, and included in the 25 minutes. This way I got a second chance to get a word right if it appears often within the session.
-I'm sticking only to this particular type of video: Documentary/interview style, clearly dubbed to Mandarin from the original English. Subject matter is very familiar to me. I did watch it in Spanish days before starting to transcribe it in Chinese, so I know the general idea, but I already forgot the specifics.
As you can see, my stats go up and down wildly from one day to the next. I guess I need to complete the first 30 days and average the results to get a better picture of my current ability. I can then compare that result to the next 30 days, and the final 30 days.
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
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.
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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.
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.
Once again I am at the Thyssen-Bornesmisza museum in Madrid. This is one of my favourite museums which I have visited repeatedly. It has just occurred to me that the Museum has chosen to use Simplified Chinese in some (not all) of its signs (as shown), which seems a bit unusual / unconventional. I mean, usually, such museums would only use their native languages and the better ones would have English (like Prado, which is another great museum that I visited again yesterday). If a musuem chooses to use an Asian language, I think it would usually go for Japanese. The museum's brochure is of course in several different languages, including Chinese and Japanese. And as usual there is not a Korean version. At Prado yesterday I actually saw a group of Korean tourists with their own translated guide to the masterpieces, which I assumed that the tour guide / company had done for them.
I appreciate that all three of the grand museums in Madrid are open for free for everyone (every evening for Prado and Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-B on Monday PM). I think it is very generous of them.
PS - And the British Museum is always free (but suggests donation of like 5 pounds, haha).
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":
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.
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:
What are you doing?
A canonical example of the "tree trunk" meaning is:
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.
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
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)
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.
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?
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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: 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
"memories form and pass by".
I thought remembering or as he remembered would be an appropriate translation but I am unsure.
"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.
"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.
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.
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!).
ughhhh the forum is overrun with youngsters about to start a term of study in China... ah well. Good luck and don't party too hard kids. 努力学习，天天向上等等.
Warning: people who are of the opinion that Chinese Opera needs not be mentioned in NPCR may find most or all of these utterly boring (even though there are no actual references to 京剧 that I know of below).
Other ideas? please comment.
Activities (please tell me if you have other ideas of typically Chinese activities that you like to watch or practice)
剪纸 (paper cutting) also see explanation videos on 三农服务网 which also has other crafts demonstrations.
篆刻 (seal carving) explanation
中国结 (Chinese knotting) explanation
踢毽子 (shuttlecock) example
体操 (gymnastics) example
民族传统体育 (minorities traditional sports)
象棋 (Chinese Chess)
曲艺 folk spectacle arts (disclaimer: I understand almost nothing of it, but I do find it fascinating)
相声 example:funny and easy (suggested by BertR below)
山歌 (hmm this is probably not 曲艺 but I like it anyway...)
xx大鼓 example: 西河大鼓
好来宝 example (not in Mandarin)
上海美术电影制片厂 Shanghai animation movies
猴子捞月 my favourite!! (no speaking, occasional screeching)
三个和尚 2nd favourite (no speaking, some sulking)
鹬蚌相争 a beautiful example of Chinese Painting animation suggested by LaoJian below.
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
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)
This word means intuitive, audio-visual, visual, i.e. something that is directly perceived through the senses.
aids to object teaching; audio-visual aids
On the upside, I found working with the Facelets API to be very natural and intuitive.
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?
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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?
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"
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.
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.
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.
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