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how do you remember the tones?


zozzen
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Learning a character very often means - learn a character and some words, which use this character, otherwise you learn a character again if you come across it in a different situation.

I think it's the opposite of what you say. If you learn a character as part of a word, never seperate it out and consider what it looks like, it's meaning, or how it's pronounced by itself, there's a pretty good chance you won't be able to re-use that info when it appears in another word.

This is probably not what you meant, but I get confused everytime someone says "learn words, not characters". I'm pretty sure they don't mean to consider a several character word as one huge character, ignoring the seperate parts, pronunciations and meanings, but that's sure what it sounds like.

What I like to believe they mean is wait until you encounter a character in a word, then break it out, and use the word to help you remember the writing, pronunciation and meaning. If that's the case, I wish people would stop saying "learn words, not characters", or at least tell everyone that they mean something completely different.

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They just mean they aren't sitting and memorizing individual characters devoid of context. One could know 5,000 characters and still be unable to speak a single sentence. A good example is xiao3shuo1. If one only knew the characters, how would one ever guess that that meant "a novel"?

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They just mean they aren't sitting and memorizing individual characters devoid of context.

I think you're right. I wish they'd say that, rather than something that makes no sense.

One could know 5,000 characters and still be unable to speak a single sentence. A good example is xiao3shuo1. If one only knew the characters, how would one ever guess that that meant "a novel"?

True. But there are certainly advantages to learning characters out of context. The method does work, it's just not for everyone. What bugs me is the people who imply that those of who learn characters in isolation are going to stop after they learn the character, and never go on to read. Of course they'll go on to read; learning isolated characters is just an intermediate step.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've recently learnt some Vietnamese which is a also tonal language that shares many similar difficulty in learning Chinese pronunciation.

The best way to learn the right tone for me is not listening music or reading books, but learning as a kid.

I almost don't spend efforts in remembering the tone number, just keep talking with hundreds of native speakers until they understand me. When a Vietnamese doesn't understand my tones, I know I got a mistake. Another time, i know what's my mistake. A third time, I begin to remember right tones. Then practice them by talking with many locals. Learning by specific purposes (to buy fruits, to complain, to tell jokes) is effective to me.

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True. But there are certainly advantages to learning characters out of context. The method does work, it's just not for everyone. What bugs me is the people who imply that those of who learn characters in isolation are going to stop after they learn the character, and never go on to read. Of course they'll go on to read; learning isolated characters is just an intermediate step.

I guess I cannot deny that there are advantages of learning isolated characters, but I simply find it very very boring. Since language learning is a hobby for me, it is very important that it is interesting. Thus I instead rely on simultaneous listening and reading to learn to read chinese. My reasoning behind this is that the most common characters will surface over and over again so they will stick eventually. Maybe, using this method, I will always encounter unknown characters while reading books, but that is ok with me as long as I understand enough of the book for it to be enjoyable. After all I don't understand every single word I read in english novels (it is after all not my native language) either but I can still read and enjoy them.

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I guess I cannot deny that there are advantages of learning isolated characters, but I simply find it very very boring.

Good point - many do. Others merely believe it will bore them, so don't try. I have to say that in my case it was the funnest, most rewarding language learning experience I ever had. Many others have said similar things. But I agree that it's not for everyone.

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They just mean they aren't sitting and memorizing individual characters devoid of context. One could know 5,000 characters and still be unable to speak a single sentence. A good example is xiao3shuo1. If one only knew the characters, how would one ever guess that that meant "a novel"?

Well, they could deduce it from the context where they found it. I think you'd be able to get a good sense of what the word "flambert" meant if you knew all the words in these sentences except "flambert:"

"Tom picked up the flambert from his desk and began to read it."

"Of all his flamberts, this one was his favorite. The delightful characters and plotlines never ceased to excite him."

One could also hear someone refer to a novel as a xiao3shuo1 in conversation and make the logical connection upon seeing the printed word 小説.

Or even better, a combination of the two methods.

It's far more possible than most people to realize to deduce the meanings of words from the context in which they appear, even for a person with a very small starting vocabulary. First the meanings of small, simple sentences begin to become clear, then slightly longer ones, until the learner is tackling entire paragraphs. I've done this myself.

So an open-minded person with a 5000 character arsenal and a vocabulary of only a few hundred words would be in a very good position to acquire a wealth of Chinese ability without ever touching a C-E dictionary or a textbook if they go about it the right way. I certainly wouldn't advocate learning 5000 characters and their pronunciations without trying to read some Chinese along the way, but I am merely illustrating a point.

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