Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

farfromhome

fluenz mandarin or other beginners resource?

Recommended Posts

self-taught-mba
To represent the tones by finger movement is quite a good idea and it can really work if you use it consequently.

Haha, the problem with this is that then everytime you talk, you look like you're conducting an orchestra

This is certainly better than the alternative which is to indicate with your head. We had a couple tutor/teachers to encourage students to do this and I fix that right away. It will only lead to a strained neck and can't possibly keep up the pace of the conversation later. Actually met a couple people that nodded their heads upward every time they did a second tone. To this day I feel subconscious strain on my neck occasionally, because I did the same thing initially. (Fortunately, our students are saved this awkward silly looking speil)

At least you can put your hands in your pockets later or otherwise occupy them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

imron
This is certainly better than the alternative which is to indicate with your head.
Haha, yeah, I did the same thing too when I first started learning, that's what made me think of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DavidMason

Hi All

Just want to say thank you for this forum and thread.

I started learning Mandarin last year, however, I've grown increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with my one on one lessons. I've been learning from a book entitled 'Experiencing Chinese', published by Chinese XP.

Apart from learning basic phrases we've done no work on structure or the tones – it a sort parrot style of learning. I’ve found this soul destroying – even when I get a phrase into my head it’s only a phrase……if this leads to conversation I’m usually stuffed! Additionally, on a recent trip to China I found out how important the tones are!

Although I like my teacher I honestly think she’s avoided structure and tones because (1) she’s not that fluent in English, so it’s difficult for her and (2) she’s not a trained teacher.

We’ve also done a small amount of characters – no explanation just parrot like. I guess this questions whether she’s worth keeping? Thoughts would be interesting.

However, the great thing is that I feel motivated again for the first time in months. Having read the posts through a number of times and done some research I’ve opted for:

(1) Michel Thomas Method: Mandarin Chinese Foundation Course

(2) Beginning Chinese Reader, Part 1 (John DeFrancis)

Just ordered them on Amazon - I can’t wait to get them!

Thanks again.

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
renzhe

David,

the decision whether you want to keep working with this teacher will depend on many factors: how much you're paying, are there better teachers around, but most importantly, are you enjoying your lessons.

I think that with a language like Chinese, the majority of your learning will inevitably be studying on your own. This doesn't mean that instruction is not important, just that you need to put in a lot of extra effort compared to many other languages. And a large part of learning Chinese is, in fact, parroting sentence structures and learning characters by heart.

I think that getting a good, well structured textbook is the first step in the right direction. The second step will be to dedicate an hour each day to Chinese, whether it's listening comprehension, conversation, practicing reading/writing, or something else. You'll find that this really adds a lot. If you do this, coupled with some other tools/advice you can find in this thread, then you will be able to make better use of your teacher -- having a native speaker explain things is essential. You could still meet one on one from time to time, and have her explain the words/sentence structures you don't understand, have her correct your tone/pronunciation, and use the time to practice conversation and applying what you've learnt. She can also check your written characters, give advice relating to reading, etc, etc. Even a non-trained teacher can do this, if you use a well-structured textbook as a guide.

Of course, a teacher by trade, and a good one at that, is always the best option. But you need to consider the financial and personal factors as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DavidMason

Hi Renzhe

Thank you for the advice it's appreciated.

I can understand what you are saying reference parrot style learning and I guess this is always a challenge and part of learning a language - I may have over played this in my last post.

I think the problem from my perspective is more related to structure. At the moment I feel like there's foundation to build the structure.....I get home after a lesson and I'm unsure what to practice etc - by the way I'm clearer on this now!

I agree with the hour a day approach albiet it isn't always practical. And as far as the teacher is concerned I think I'm going to move to every two weeks.

Thanks again

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flameproof

@DavidMason

I think you (or better we all) should look into the general issues on how to study. Teachers simply don't teach for you to learn. They teach to make money, or get whatever benefit they can think of.

I took a learning break and had a look into general learning issues. I got interested in memorization methods for your brain. Firstly was to memorize items. If you show a normal person 20 items, they can usually remember without any technique around 5 items a few Minutes later.

If you string the items into a weird (MUST be weird) story you can usually remember all, in exactly that order without much training. I could do that instantly. That would last for a few days, if you repeat it in that time then forever.

Next I looked at numbers. The technique here is to give each number 0-9 a consonant (2 could be n, 3 m, coz it had 3 legs, 8 could be B, 9 could be g, coz it looks similar). Then you chose words for the numbers 1-99. Like, beagle would be 89 then. That way you can remember 25 digit numbers instantly, and 100 or more digit numbers with some training.

With language you can use funny similarities with your language. The problem with Mandarin is, things often sound the same. Maybe it would help to add characters, but how to handle those then....? (I am still new to all this and will look into that, the speed in which I managed numbers and things is extremely motivating)

Anybody has answers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
renzhe
I think the problem from my perspective is more related to structure. At the moment I feel like there's foundation to build the structure.....I get home after a lesson and I'm unsure what to practice etc - by the way I'm clearer on this now!

If you've already purchased a good textbook, then you should have plenty of structure.

Do a lesson a week or (even better) a lesson every two weeks. Here are some of the things you can do for your daily routine:

- Read the lesson text every day. It will help your reading skills

- Put all the new vocabulary into a spaced repetition flashcard program. That should give you some vocabulary to review every day

- Do the exercises in the book. A few every day is better than all of them at once on weekend

- Listen to the CDs / watch DVDs for your lesson

- Get some podcasts to listen to, and suitable for your level. Chinesepod.com is a very good one, but there are others. Find all the words they use and put them into your flashcard program. Always listen to a lesson more than once (you can space them out).

Every two weeks move on to the next lesson. You can meet your teacher and read the lessons with her, get tips on your pronunciation, ask about anything you didn't understand, have her look at your solutions for the exercises, and -- most importantly -- strike a conversation about the lesson that you've just finished. Talk about what happened, describe it to her, anything that will get you talking.

If you do this, you'll easily fill 30 minutes - 1 hour a day with useful stuff that will improve your Chinese.

I can understand what you are saying reference parrot style learning and I guess this is always a challenge and part of learning a language

It is, and it is especially a part of learning Chinese. There are many words, characters and sentence structures you have to learn. Even with the best teacher, you can't escape it.

But it's best to do the repetition, reviewing, exercises, writing practice (if you do that) and the like on your own and use your time with the teacher to check your prununciation, clear up any confusing parts and talk talk talk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flameproof

I finished the Michel Thomas "Foundation Mandarin" 8 CD set. Here is my feedback:

The course has 96 lessons on 8 CDs. The length per lesson is from 2 to 11 Minutes, average about 6 Min/Lesson I guess.

The course is aimed at people with zero knowledge. With my tiny background I didn't learn much new stuff, but in any case I found the course very interesting and have no regrets buying it.

The format is interesting, you basically listen to a class with a teacher, a native speaker, and 2 students. Specially the male student has really bad pronunciation, which is somehow disturbing, but on the other hand does give strong motivation to do it better. It's always a great relieve to hear the female native speaker (seems to be from UK).

The students do make mistakes from time to time, which then get corrected. That I find also good, because I usually spot the mistakes before the correction.

2 things I find special:

1. Tones are visualized via colors and hand movement (read about that earlier here). Certainly an interesting method that should work for many people.

2. The course tend to make quite long sentences. That, IMHO, gives a better learning effect. Sentence structure in Mandarin is easy, so it's not really a challenge, but again, it raises motivation.

Total course length is about 10 hours. I didn't count the words (yet), I think it's maybe 100 or, that's quite normal for audio only courses of that length.

The other big audio only course out is of course Pimsleur. But they are way more expensive. I find the Michel Thomas course more lively, less sterile, then the Pimsleur course. I do prefer to have fewer words, but being able to construct longer sentences.

The Advanced Mandarin (4 CDs) is out now and I will buy that too.

http://www.hoddereducation.co.uk/Title/9780340957233/Michel_Thomas_Method_Mandarin_Chinese_Advanced_Course.htm

I wonder if they also plan a Vocabulary Course ? That would really round it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Volapuk49

Flameproof

I am the author of the MT Mandarin Course.

Thanks for your comments. They are much appreciated.

There is a Vocabulary course scheduled for release in 2009.

Besides additional vocabulary, it will also contain more of the basic patterns which form the structure of spoken Mandarin. I consider the Vocabulary to actually be the third part of this course.

Be well.

Harold Goodman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IndhuRen
Flameproof

I am the author of the MT Mandarin Course.

Thanks for your comments. They are much appreciated.

There is a Vocabulary course scheduled for release in 2009.

Besides additional vocabulary, it will also contain more of the basic patterns which form the structure of spoken Mandarin. I consider the Vocabulary to actually be the third part of this course.

Be well.

Harold Goodman

Hi Mr. Goodman, I need to clarify the price of the course. MichaelThomas website list the price as 70Pounds http://www.michelthomas.co.uk/MandarinChinese.htm

but Amazon lists it as $ 50 http://www.amazon.com/Mandarin-Chinese-BeginnersThe-Beginners-Program/dp/0071547363

, so which is the correct price of the course......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trien27
Harold Goodman

Hi Mr. Goodman, I need to clarify the price of the course. MichaelThomas website list the price as 70Pounds http://www.michelthomas.co.uk/MandarinChinese.htm

but Amazon lists it as $ 50 http://www.amazon.com/Mandarin-Chine.../dp/0071547363

, so which is the correct price of the course......

Michael Thomas is based in the UK, so they used pounds.

Amazon.com is based in the United States, so they used dollars.

It all depends on where you buy it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Volapuk49

The identical course is sold under different names. In the UK it is called the Michel Thomas Mandarin Foundation course. In the US it is called Michel Thomas Method Speak Mandarin Chinese for Beginners. It is more expensive currently to purchase the UK version.

The Advanced version is currently only available in the UK version. It will be published by McGraw-Hill in the US in the future.

If you are at all considering getting the Foundation/Beginners then buy the 8 CD rather than the 2 CD Intro. If you buy the 8 CD Foundation you will find that the first two CDs which comprise the Intro are included.

More is on the way in 2009.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lingo

Seems pretty sad that everyone is selling their program and not answering the question originally posed. Not that I can answer it myself, but should note that Mr. One Eye is way off with his "nativist" comment. It is widely accepted that beginner language learners after the age of 15 or so are not in any way affected by the teacher's accent. That stage of the learning process is all about structure and vocab. Actually, before thinking about accent beginners must concentrate on stress, which non-native speakers can easily teach. But the fact is that even before stress, people wanting to learn Mandarin have to master tones. As long as the tones are right accent will become important only after advanced learning has started. Unless of course you want to play on prejudice and stereotype. Just like Republican politicians diverting attention from critical issues, the "nativist" talk takes the focus away from how beginners can master the basic structure and vocab of a language. Before buying anything I would research the different answers different methods give to this question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Deepblue

I'm really suprised that no one has mentioned Rosetta Stone, which is probably the most popular software out there. There's also one called Rocket Chinese which I don't know much about.

I've learned French with MANY different resources, and from that experience Michel Thomas was the fastest, least expensive program I'd seen. It was great, but not very broad in depth. Pimsleur is good, and more in depth, and you really can construct your own sentences to communicate what you want, and you think you are learning something - right up until you try to watch a DVD entired in French (by selecting languages in the movie options - if available), and then you're totally blown away. Pimsleur takes discipline to continue day after day since its kind of dry, lessons need to be repeated a couple times (for me anyway), and you often need to pause to process and answer the questions, but it really is great for being able to construct sentences and verbalize, and for giving you a good spoken command of the language, it's probably the best - but requires MUCH more time and concentrated effort than Pimsleur

Rosetta Stone was really good I thought, but again, you get destroyed with live native speakers in a fluid environment. What I found that worked and cured that problem for me was a program by the BBC - "French in Action" which is a 52 episode video series, with each episode being 30 min long. Watching that actually got me up to speed where the other programs couldn't (though they were great groundwork for helping me assimilate FIA). I imagine Mandarin will be the same way - but the only thing I found in Mandarin Language video was BBC - "Real Chinese" which is only a 10 episode basic series. (Have not watched this yet) (Note: I'm assuming going to China and learning first hand isn't an immediate option)

One other resource which really helped with gramar and vocabulary in French was linkword - but I don't think they have Mandarin, and since it's not roman characters, it might not even be possible to present Mandarin with this method.

I can't say for sure how my efforts to learn French translate into learning Mandarin, but one thing I did learn is that learning from different teachers and sources is critical because they all approach things from such a different angle that it gives you a much better view of the language you're trying to learn. In other words, even if all the same exact information is covered by two diff resources, one lesson or concept may not quite sink in, while the other method will totally make it click.

Aside from that, from my experience, Michel Thomas is everything it's cracked up to be. In my efforts, it's probably going to be the first place I start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...