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First Update

js6426

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Suddenly occurred to me that I have a blog on here that I haven't used yet!  My degree started last Monday, so I thought I would give a short update.  Right now in many respects it's really easy.  It's right back to basics, although the teachers are speaking all Chinese for the most part, which is helpful for me because listening is my worst area by a mile.  The basic listening is also incredibly helpful.  Another foundational aspect which is helping me a ton is stroke order.  I never learnt it, and didn't think it was very important.  But now going back to the basics they take us through stroke order, so that's great.  I've picked up a few new words here and there, and I am also trying to learn every character in each of my books along the way (as in all the ones used when instructions are given for exercises etc.), the books have a lot of pinyin, but I also find out the meaning of those, and then try and learn those and the hanzi to go with them.  I don't want to just waste my time while stuff is basic, but really try and learn new hanzi/words that will help me as I move into second-fourth year.  

So yeah, so far not much to report, but all in all things seem to be going well.  My class is composed of me (English), 2 Russians (maybe 1 as 1 guy hasn't turned up almost every day), then all Thai and Koreans).  Breaking into the Korean clique is somewhat of a struggle, but the Thai are all really friendly and easy to get on with.  It also helps that some of them have next to no English, so we have to converse in Chinese.  The students range from those who have been studying Chinese for 8 months, to those who have been studying for 3 years (and really should be starting year 2 instead of doing this year according to the teachers).  This makes it hard for the teachers I imagine, they have to try and even it out so it isn't too slow for the more intermediate speakers, but not too fast for those who only know the basics!



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Would be great if you could keep this up! Where are you studying? Or are you undercover?

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Not at all!  I am at Harbin Institute of Technology.  I will definitely try and keep it up for the whole four years.  I'd love to be able to compare where I am now with my standard 4 years down the line after I graduate (assuming that I do hah)!  

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Are you staying in dorms?

Also, what textbooks are you using, and what's your weekly time table like?

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No I'm staying off campus as I have a wife and two kids. 

 

I have 20 hours a week.  2 hours on Monday, 6 on Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 on Thursday, and 2 on Friday.  The middle is a bit more intense, but the Monday and Friday are awesome!  For textbooks we are using the Hanyu Jiaocheng series at the moment for reading and listening.  For our comprehensive class we use a series called 'Road to Success', which is also by Beijing Language and Culture University Press.  And then for our speaking class I've forgotten and I just worked out so can't be bothered to get up and go and have a look haha, it's a very standard beginner type speaking book.  Small and green, I want to say something like '301 basic conversation skills for foreigners'.  I will get back to you with that one, it's been a long day!

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Thanks for the details :)

Well, feel free to write a blog post about your courses and the degree requirements, I'm sure it would be of interest to people considering going to HIT for this degree. (Also, I'm curious 嘿嘿).

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Sure thing!  So the book I was too lazy to grab is called 'Conversational Chinese 301'.  It's not bad, but unfortunately it has pinyin all the way through.  I find it so hard to concentrate on the characters when the pinyin is written underneath, but in theory you don't even need to pass HSK 3 to do this degree so I can understand it.  The degree itself is 'Chinese Language and Literature', and the only requirement was high school graduation, so very easy to get in for.  However, once you're in it seems like they won't have a problem kicking you out if you're not serious.  My teacher was not amused today when a guy strolled in an hour late, and another of my teachers said our class will probably go from the 28 we are out now down to around 20 students or so in the next couple of weeks as they deal with people not coming to class etc!

Tomorrow we will finish the final chapter (8) of the first book of the 'Threshold' level of the Road To Success series, which contains 4 books.  On Wednesday we are meant to have a test on all the characters we have covered in the book (there aren't actually any in there, but we either had to find them or were given them so we could learn them).  By the end of the 4th book in this series we should have studied 1200 words (according to the back of the book).  The next stage then has 2 books, which gets us up to 3000 words, then the final stage has another 2 books, leaving us at 6000 words.  I actually really like this book, in fact I really like all the books we are using, I have found them especially helpful for stroke order.  I am far from perfect, but I find myself actively thinking about stroke order and getting it right much more of the time now.  Also, even though they are beginner books, I find I am having to learn characters that I would never have taken an interest in learning to write otherwise (things like fruit and vegetables).  This is great because it means I'm not getting bored just hearing stuff I have already learned repeated. 

Last Friday I gave a brief description of a family photo.  It was an on the spot thing rather than prepared, so it wasn't until afterwards that I realized how bad it had been!  I pretty much just went through and said who everyone was, pointing at people or using the colour of their clothes to describe them.  I should have been using words like 旁边,前面,后面 etc. but I didn't.  Anyway never mind, it was good fun and reminded me to slow down and think a little bit more before I speak. 

 

The quality of the teaching at this point is fantastic.  It's almost 100% Chinese which is great (although obviously spoken at more of a basic level so we can understand).  Our 'comprehensive' teacher relies very little on the book, and breaks off into his own little world all the time, which I actually really like as we end up getting all sorts of new words and culture points out of it.  He also teaches us things that we probably wouldn't learn for a while otherwise, like 公主病, 王子病,or how Q is commonly used in place of 可爱 on social media, or 3Q for 'thank you'!

It's hard to know what to put in an update, but as I said, I would love to look back on this in 4 years and remember the start of this journey, so most of this is for me rather than anyone else!  But if anyone has any questions or anything, then please feel free to ask!

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That would have made a decent blog post - you'll get more attention with a series of blog posts than one long comment thread...

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Ahh, it was meant to be a blog post.  I've just realized from your comment that I am commenting on my initial post rather than putting this in my blog haha!  I think I will copy it over to the blog!

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