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reading magazines and news articles is so discouraging...


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Try underlining words you don't know but don't look them up until you have a dozen or two or them. Then look them up en masse. Call it the assembly line dictionary lookup. It'll save you time whether you're using a paper dictionary or an electronic one. If you're using PlecoDict, you can store every word you look onto a flashcard list with just one button tap. If you don't have have PlecoDict, it would still be a good idea to keep a notebook of all words you look up so you can review. Practice makes perfect. After 30 days straight of doing this, you'd already know a lot more words even if you are just learning few dozens a day.

hmm why didnt i think of that. i have ZDT and DimSum. time to put some of those to work huh?

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Danwei.org often has interesting articles translated into English (some by forum members here) with links to the Chinese original. I suppose you could also try that if you're not to into business topics.


I checked the site (English) but I couldn't find the Chinese version? :conf

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd say you probably won't know all of the characters in a Chinese newspaper after only one year abroad. I'm in 4th year Chinese at my school, and we've only just started to look at articles written in modern Chinese (or as modern as they get; Chinese textbooks tend to be either crap or outdated. -_-

The problem you're likely encountering is that the words and characters they teach in your classes are relatively basic, and not necessarily the more advanced ones that native speakers take for granted, like war bonds, resignation, IT, etc. These aren't hard words to learn, but they're hard to find in Chinese textbooks.

Also, articles tend to use very "vogue" words, and the words that are in fashion can change overnight, so staying in touch is important. Even native speakers can be caught off guard by developments that they haven't seen yet. Furthermore there are plenty of 成语 and 连词, both of which can throw you if you don't know what they mean, even if you can recognize their function and the characters in it.

I'd suggest keeping a dictionary with you while you read. It's slower, but it's pretty much all you can do at first. Once you've learned a good deal of the common words, you'll begin to speed up. So just keep at it and don't get discouraged.


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BLCU actually has a text called 报刊阅读 that teaches the usage of a lot of vocabulary in Newspaper articles. It has short articles along with vocabulary that is used, asks you to restate the meaning of certain words, asks you to summarise articles. You might want to look into getting a copy of that series, it will do wonders for learning vocabulary to understand mainland newspapers. Assuming you take the time to study it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Have a look at the Chinese Voices Project webpage: www.clavisinica.com/CVP/voices.html. You'll find a good selection of short, accessible Chinese-language mini-essays on a variety of current, interesting topics (Starbucks controversy, Zhang Yimou's latest film, Beijing traffic), with accompanying audio. You can download the podcast and then read along with the text. It makes reading a lot more fun (and less frustrating) when you can hear the audio at the same time; also has got to help with the listening skills!

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Early reading can be frustrating. But I am more amazed of what I know, rather then what I not know.

For now, with my 200 or so characters, I just read my learning material (Rapid Chinese Literacy). I read each lesson I done so far a few times a day. Even the very simple once. Those I struggle I read more times. But not too much, otherwise I would know them from memory, which is not the objective.

If I don't know I read again, and again, and again. And then the next day again. Sounds boring, but after listening to Steven Kaufmann it makes sense. He said, that reading is the best way of language acquisition. Because reading expends your vocab, speaking does not. So I try to read more.

I am not reading magazines, but the day will come. Then I would probably do the same, take ONE article and read it until I really understand it. Then the next one. If it means reading 20 times, ok, then 20 times....

I think not giving up is the key.

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ChinesePera-kun and other pop-up dictionaries take frustration out of reading Chinese web sites. I use ChinesePera-kun to navigate through Chinese version of BBC, NHK or CNN, select a news article and read it. It's fun!

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I do the same thing, atitarev, but I find myself asking to myself, "How come I don't know these characters?!" And then it doesn't take all of the frustration out after all. :oops: Maybe it's because 我这个学生很差.

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For the technically motivated you can find out how many times a character appears on any given web page. Here is the link:


To give an example, what this article has: http://news.people.com.cn/GB/46990/69822/5332395.html

total GB: [6706]

unique GB: [1017]

Top 10:

[0] => 的

[1] => 国

[2] => 企

[3] => 有

[4] => 资

[5] => 业

[6] => 红

[7] => 是

[8] => 利

[9] => 分

[10] => 一

Top 10 frequency:

[0] => 239

[1] => 187

[2] => 121

[3] => 116

[4] => 104

[5] => 97

[6] => 82

[7] => 81

[8] => 80

[9] => 76

[10] => 75

Means the top 10 characters make out 1258 characters on that page, or 18.7%

I also learned somewhere that in most languages the 100 most frequent words make about 50% of the used language. In this example the top 100 characters are used 3595 times, or 53.3% . If you look at the top 500 you have 6059 cases, or 90.3% of all used characters.

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