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Did you learn Mandarin *without* going to China?


Rrina

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Hi!

A few questions for anyone in this forum who learned Chinese in the US, or any other country outside China:

Did you have to take class? What kind, where, for how long? What did you do for practice? If you learned without class, how did you do it, what kind of materials did you use? Did you have a Chinese neighborhood nearby and if so, was that helpful in your learning?

Thanks so much!

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Hello Rrina,

Well, I haven’t learned Mandarin yet; however, I will have to learn it from classes. It will either be Wossing (NY), ABC Language Exchange (NY), or The Chinese Language School (CT). I might be able to attend a combination of two of them, because of their flexible class times.

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Rrina' date=' have a look at the 5th comment of this post. You'll find also a link to a post related to Steve Kaufmann where he explains how to learn Chinese by yourself.

Good luck[/quote']

sounds like a less extreme version of no speaking/writing at all until at least a child's level of comprehension is reached through pure listening, to avoid accent and grammar issues.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I live in the US and studied Chinese for 4 years online (college level) through a university in Australia. My professor was from Wuhan. I really enjoyed it. I conversed with my professor and some Chinese friends using voice chat, as well as IMing using hanzi. The entire course was online, I didn't have to buy anything extra, however, I bought lots of books, movies and music to practice with. I loved it! Now I just keep up through reading, writing to my friends, watching Chinese tv programs, etc.. There really isn't a Chinese neighborhood near here, although I did get to go to some Chinese bookstores once. They are too far from my home to go very often, which is a pity, because it was fun to go there. My neighbors are from China, but they only speak Cantonese, so we really can't converse much in Chinese :(

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  • 1 month later...

There are a number of programs where you can learn Chinese online with native teachers from China. These include:

1. eChineselearning. Been around for about a 1.5 years. They primarily use Skype. They'll scan a book and email you the PDF and just use Skype video on the teacher using a Whiteboard. It's a bit ghetto, but it works.

2. HelloMandarin. Similar model to eChineselearning but have been around for about 3 years. It's very low price ($10 per hour). Also do the scan method (though the scanning is a bit nicer than eChineselearning's).

For complete disclosure, I actually run a Chinese language school in Beijing called 1on1 Mandarin. We have been around for 3 years and just recently launched an online service called GuavaTalk with the teachers from 1on1 Mandarin, who typically have at least 3 years of experience teaching Westerners.

Check us out our online Chinese classes by clicking on the link or just visit us at www.guavatalk.com.

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  • 2 years later...

Hi Rrina,

Many community colleges in the USA offer Chinese instruction classes. It will be most helpful for a beginner to take such a class as it offers an opportunity to practice Chinese with your teacher and fellow students. After acquiring some familiarity with the language, then you could work independently by making use of books, multimedia and free Chinese instruction material on the Internet, such as at http://www.mandarintools.com/

Living near a Chinese community is not necessarily helpful as people may or may not wish to talk with you. Making some Chinese friends will definitely help. You can practice your Chinese on them, and maybe even email them in Chinese.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two years University study.

I'm still particularly curious to see if people who live near a Chinatown -in SF for instance or NY- have been able to benefit from that...

For me, no. I lived near SF-Chinatown. Keep in mind, however, that this was 20 years ago, and pretty much Cantonese was exclusively spoken then. I've heard it's changing, though.

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It should be easy to find a community college that offers Chinese courses. I took two quarters of Chinese as an online class offered by a nearby community college. The curriculum they offered is available through Active Chinese. You can also check to see if your local Chinese community offers Chinese lessons.

Chinese language lessons can also be bought at bookstores. I don't know how effective they are - I've read mixed reviews about them throughout this forum. If this is a route you wish to pursue, then you'll be able to find a fair selection at Barnes & Noble or Borders.

If you live on the West Coast, the older established Chinatowns tend to be heavily Cantonese. The newer emerging Chinese communities have more Mandarin speakers, though, as more people move in from China and Taiwan. That's what I've observed anyway.

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I learned basic stuff without going to China or classes. Now in China on a 66 days trip, feel pretty confident with language. Most important for me was establish a system, to determine most effective way, what to do and not to do. This was painful, but once system was in place, the rest was easy. I am sure my own system is not for everybody, but it works for me very well. I use spaced-repetition tools (ANKI and my own) and read a grammar book. This is the best grammar book I have ever seen.

Advice on grammar (and other) books: prefer to have mainland Chinese authors. (I would especially avoid authors from Taiwan.) Also, some books for Chinese learning English can be helpful.

My basic advice is: don't be scared and keep on going, eventually it will work out. There will be moments of doubts, but don't give up. Find what works for you and stick to it.

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I would also recommend checking out this grammar book http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Mandarin-Chinese-Grammar-Practical/dp/0415700108/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290653459&sr=8-1 very clear and concise for anyone studying on their own. Also has an exercise book that you can work through in tandem. I recommend it to all students studying at our school

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To start out, I took a year of classes at a large public university. While the quality of instruction wasn't exceptional, pretty much the entire class consisted of Chinese-American students who were there for an easy A. This made it extremely challenging (you can bet there was no grading curve), but, on the other hand, I probably didn't pick up any bad habits from the other students. During the second semester, I remember there was one student who had the temerity to read a Chinese comic book before every single class. I hadn't even learned 300 characters at that point.

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To start out, I took a year of classes at a large public university. While the quality of instruction wasn't exceptional, pretty much the entire class consisted of Chinese-American students who were there for an easy A. This made it extremely challenging (you can bet there was no grading curve),

feihong, that was exactly my experience at the University of Illinois way back in 1985. But it's an easy A for them in terms of speaking and listening. The second and third year tends to focus more on reading and writing and that was when I really pounded them all to pieces because they generally hate reading and writing. Soon they all hated me too. Just as well.

A Chinese comic book, you know that has pictures to go with the text to help with comprehension, so don't get floored from seeing that kid with the comic book. You will eventually pound them all to pieces. Many stop at second year Chinese anyway. You have the option and motivation to go on.

Another resource for the OP - try to contact a Chinese community center where you live, the local Confucius Institute or heritage school. There may be resources there that can help you maintain Chinese without going to China.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I lived in China for 7.5 months and came home last year, I've carried on studying Chinese since coming back home to England and I can definitely say that living in China has massively helped and sped up my learning, I use skype to regularly talk with chinese friends online and keep up the practise, but I think it would have been very difficult to get to this point without having so much cultural immersion initially.

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20 years ago for me.

I guess the U of I doesn't change much does it.

The Chinese program there was never really the best so I sought out the Chinese student community for my language practice. At the time I was there the U of I had one of the largest numbers of Chinese grad students in the nation.

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Hey Rrina

Yes I have been studying Chinese in Egypt for about a year now, and all of my teachers are Egyptians.

Language learning is all about how hard you work, it doesnt matter if your teachers are bad or good as you are working hard in the right way.

About the materials I used beside my class, I used the pimseleur approach first level, new practical Chinese reader.

You can sign up for a QQ account and make Chinese friends so that you can practice what you have learned and learn new words.

Hesham

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