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Is it my fault if my husband's Chinese speaking isn't improved?


strawberry_only

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And btw, as we're getting old, I often find it difficult to acquire new vocab instantly. My friends seemed to think "it's as easy as an apple and orange, you should get it", then they thrown a lot vocab into my memory. Once we rided on a car , he tried to translate everything on the road to me. "Hey, that's a car... that's a motor, it's air-conditioning, a tire, pedicab, a rear mirror, an engine, windows...." That proved disastrous because I finally got nothing.

Many repetition is just needed. I would prefer to learn not more than 10 vocab every day, and repeated it many times in a conversation.

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  • 11 months later...

Okay, I just finished reading this thread.

To the OP: if the situation is still is still the same, you need to bear in mind that learning from all these adult language classes (incl advanced) are mostly basic by native speaker standards. Also, there's just too much in a language that can't be learned through such courses. I remember after finishing an intermediate level book, I still couldn't understand thouroughly a regular teeny bopper taiwanese TV game show. So it's fair to cut some slack here with regards to the expected level of chinese. That is unless he chooses to venture out to learn it the hard core way like most of us here on this forum!

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Some random thoughts having just read this thread for the first time:

The definition of basic, intermediate and advanced vary greatly. I think the HSK definitions are rather higher than most others.

In London, there are really only about two places that offer classes that reach to HSK advanced level (SOAS and Westminster) and maybe as few as two more that go to lower intermediate level (including City Lit). Local authority classes tend to have too high a drop out rate and don't get beyond basic (first text book).

The other source of classes in the UK are Chinese community schools. My experience is that, these tend to be more oriented to converting from Cantonese/Hokkien to Mandarin and tend not to get beyond the first text book, although they may end up using vocabulary that isn't in the text book. There are occasional higher level classes, but the one I've heard of sounds to not be particularly structured.

Teachers in evening classes and community schools often don't have much teaching experience, and those that do, tend to have a rote learning approach. People have told me that SOAS also tends to use people who aren't specialist teachers for their adult evening classes.

From the above, I'm saying don't assume that because the class calls itself advanced, that it is advanced, and don't assume that the teachers are actually much better at teaching than you are, unless you are dealing with one of the very few real centres of excellence. If his standard really is enough for HSK Intermediate, I think he needs to be thinking in terms of those centres of excellence.

As to teaching by immersion in a language, anyone who teaches English as a second language is expected to believe that is best to do all the teaching in English (L2 language of instruction). However, I don't think that is actually the best approach when teaching adults at all but the higher levels, when they all have the same first language. It can go particularly wrong where many of the students already know a Chinese dialect, unless the teacher is particularly good and can detect when the minority are not understanding.

Some of your concerns are related to lack of vocabulary. Proper text books generally don't concentrate on vocabulary, but rather on grammatical structure and the subtleties of meaning of certain very common characters. One is expected to read books (not text books) and listen to films and TV to build vocabulary.

Community schools may concentrate more on vocabulary, but often do not track what words the students should know.

Children have an inbuilt ability to learn by immersion, but adults tend to lose that, so your difficulty in teaching your husband really has no relation to your ability to teach a new child. On the other hand, adults have the ability to plan their learning. I think this is a common misunderstanding amongst untrained teachers of Chinese who try to teach in L2.

One of the things that the HSK tests is the ability to cope with material that does contain unfamiliar words, so it is important that there be situations where total understanding is not possible.

I think my suggestions would be:

- find out what is being taught in a class on a week by week basis and try and give practice on the specific points in the lesson - talk to the teacher and find his weak points;

- to build vocabulary, take a very limited area at a time and intensively practice the words for that area. There are some pictorial dictionaries, even ones for adults, which have nouns grouped by themes; try working with just one theme for a whole week, or more;

- find some activity where misunderstandings aren't dangerous (physically or emotionally) and try to carry it out without using any English. If one word isn't understood, try explaining in other words. Accept that you may have to change your plans because you can't find the words, or that there may be other consequences of misunderstanding.

Conversely, don't try and force the use of Chinese where misunderstandings would be dangerous.

- Make sure that he is reading real books and magazines, not just text books. This may require very heavy use of a dictionary. I'd suggest the Pleco one, because if its handwriting recognition.

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We are actually married. sometimes my husband say if I can not teach him Chinese than I can not teach our children Chinese in the future. I don't quite agree with him about this and it made me quite upset. I also think that spouse-spouse and parent-child is totally different.

I hope I'm misinterpreting this, but some important points:

  • it is your decision whether you spend some of your time teaching your children Chinese;
  • No-one should be trying to make you think you would lack the capability to teach your children before you have tried (about the only way of failing to teach young children your mother tongue is not to try);
  • as you are not a trained language teacher, no-one should be suggesting that a failure of an adult to learn is your fault.

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It's a long thread I didn't have to read it yet. Planning too, looks interesting!

My personal observation: often if a native speaker, knowing that I am learning Chinese tries to speak to me and finds out that I don't understand him/her, they immediately change back to English.

For a native speaker trying to help a learner, this is what I do: When I teach somebody Russian - I don't switch back to the language the other person understands but slow down and say the same thing slower or even slower, breaking down the phrase into smaller pieces and explaining each piece, if they still don't make sense. If the other person understands, make sure you review the whole sentence or monologue.

This usually works, trust me, if the person you are talking is listening!

Someone said that we are usually quite dumb when we teach our own language. No offense, we need to feel what the other person feels when we talk to him and learn how to act like a teacher. Of course, you BOTH need patience and perseverance.

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For a native speaker trying to help a learner, this is what I do: When I teach somebody Russian - I don't switch back to the language the other person understands but slow down and say the same thing slower or even slower, breaking down the phrase into smaller pieces and explaining each piece, if they still don't make sense. If the other person understands, make sure you review the whole sentence or monologue.
This is an excellent method if the learner is actually interested, concentrated, and learning. If I recall correctly the husband in this thread expected the Chinese to somehow jump into his head if only his wife made the effort to teach him. In the end language learning has to be done by the learner, not by the teacher.
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I don't disagree with you, Lu but for some people without the learning skills, they might need some extra help or encouragement or maybe, just a demo, how Chinese can be learned. Her husband may not be (so) interested in learning to read/write but he can still learn to understand/speak by practicing with his wife. It may be limited and one-sided but I know some people who learned Chinese up-to a certain level just by talking to their partner.

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I know some people who learned Chinese up-to a certain level just by talking to their partner.
You're right atitarev, but the fact that there are such people does not entitle one to expect such things from one's partner. People are all different and circumstances are all different and combinations of these differences can lead to different results. So one should consider such results just as accidental bonuses, and not to be expected as a matter of course. To expect such unrelated matters from a relationship is a good recipe for a breakup.

Sorry atitarev, I'm just voicing what I think, without any implication that you may think otherwise.

:D

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