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Fluency, Proficiency etc...some insight please!!


MelissaBarrows
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Hey readers!

I am looking for a little insight or feedback if you have some spare time. I have a tentative goal in mind of going back to the U.S. in December 2010. I would like to be fluent by that time. Fluency for me is being able to read the newspaper and watch the news. I would settle for understanding about 70-80% of what is being said or written. I have been studying Chinese for one year now in a university setting and now I am studying at a language center five days a week and everyday with my Chinese roommate. I plan on living with her for another year as well. I was not so focused on Chinese my first year in China but ever since I have a more clearly defined goal in mind, I have really put 1000 % more effort into learning Chinese. I would like to know if from you or your friend's experience if I would be able to read the newspaper or watch the news in one more year. That will mean I have been studying Chinese for two years. If not, what level do you think I would be able to reach in another year. By going to a language school in the daytime and studying with my Chinese roommate at night and also when we hang out at various times. Thanks so much for reading this. :help

Edited by roddy
Too colourful, says grouchy admin . . .
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Not knowing anything about your ability to learn languages, it's difficult to say, but with a total of two years learning time, I think you should be able to achieve understanding 80% of a newspaper. (Actually, I'm not really sure how you measure 80%. Going just by words, that's equivalent to not understanding 1 in every 5 words, and this is a pretty low standard as far as reading goes.)

If I were you, I wouldn't spend so much time worrying about how far I could get in the remaining time available, but rather just get stuck in, make the best effort, and when the time comes be satisfied with the result knowing that I achieved the maximum I could have achieved.

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Well, I can't take credit for it. I first read about it in this post here (keep reading for a few pages to read the followups). It is an intense way to study but it is also methodical. I know different people have different ways of learning but if you want to see a large increase in ability over a small space of time then you really need to do something like this as it will push your levels far beyond what you'll get from going at a slower pace.

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Since finding this forum and learning about the wealth of resources available for learning, I have been pushing myself and probably averaging 10 new words a day.

I find the problem is retaining that knowledge (as every other learner does I'm sure). Imron's method focused on two exercises; how about a method for retaining the new vocabulary?

I never imagined Jerry Seinfeld could help me with my studies either... :D

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Regarding retaining vocab do you know about Spaced Repetition Software such as Anki?

As for learning speed, the amount of words you'll be able to handle depends a lot on the amount of time you can put in and your level. A full-time student will be able to cover more ground than someone doing things in their own time after work. Also, at the beginner/elementary levels, new words typically means new characters. As your level increases, this is not necessarily the case as the words will be made up from characters you already know. This makes learning new words significantly faster and allows you to cover more ground.

See also my thoughts about improving speaking and reading speed (basically just variations on the same technique mentioned above).

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Great writeup. We have to tell our students the same thing: vocab is the base and you can't get around it. Imron has a great method to achieve your vocab aquisition goals.

When I used to cram I used a similar approach (a write up one day I suppose). His long term focus is the key point I have always missed even if I profess it. :oops:

Glad to see someone finally liked my http://dontbreakthechain.com/ suggestion. When I first mentioned it, the idea was met with complete silence. Imron, I always knew someone was listening. :mrgreen: Further suggestion: Set it as your home page and you won't be able to escape the promise you have made to yourself. It is so simple yet so powerful. I used to highlight cells in Excel, but the problem was that I could forget to open the file (or avoid doing so because of guilt). Set it as your homepage and you can't escape.

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When I first mentioned it, the idea was met with complete silence. Imron, I always knew someone was listening.
I think I probably ignored it too the first time you mentioned it. It wasn't until I saw it that time on your computer that it twigged how useful it was. I've actually recommended it now in quite a few posts.
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