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fritz

How to attack advanced characters

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fritz

I've been studying HSK advanced for quite some time and I've got a lot of the vocab under control, including the 3000 or so hanzi in the HSK list.

Now I'm not really sure how to take it to the next level. On plecoforums there is a list of the the 5000 most common characters and I've been looking through the hanzi and related words one by one. I find it a bit tedious though. Is there a good way of doing this rather than just cold memorising? On basic levels you have readers which repeat the hanzi often enough to learn them, but not sure if there is anything for more advanced levels. You can just read any book, but some of the words are so rare that it would take a long time to progress and it's hard to measure such progress. Any ideas?

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skylee

Could you give examples of the words which are so rare?

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daofeishi
it would take a long time to progress and it's hard to measure such progress

Sounds like the advanced level. This is probably how it's going to be from here on out.

Levels like "intermediate" and "advanced" are an artificial construct, and only measure your progress with respect to other learners. Now you are trying to master the language in the same way native speakers have, and then you have to learn all those rare words that you will only use once in a blue moon. You know these words in English, so you'll have to learn them in Chinese if you want to claim proficiency.

Once you get to a certain level, you cannot use the same learning strategies you did as a beginner, and progress inevitably feels slower (although I suspect that in reality it isn't). I'd recommend you to engage with the language through novels, newspapers, TV, websites and other media that are targeted at native speakers. Then you can use SRS for all the new words you encounter, or plain old osmosis if you feel memorization is not for you.

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gato

I would encourage you to stop memorizing characters and concentrate on word if you already know at least 2000 characters. Most people get stuck at the intermediate level, not because they don't know enough characters, but because they don't enough words. While 2000 characters should be close to enough to read most newspaper articles, you will also need to know about 10,000 words. The latter will take quite a bit more time than the former.

Aside from working on memorizing words with flashcards, I would also encourage to read a lot (read materials that are slightly difficult for you), and listen to a lot of podcasts or watch a lot of TV programs. High volume and balance between different types of skills are the key.

You might some ideas in these previous discussions.

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/4964-my-recent-studying-methods/

My recent studying methods

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/21143-my-recent-studying-methods-part-ii

My recent studying methods, Part II

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/29300-memorizing-vocabulary-at-the-advanced-level/

Memorizing vocabulary at the advanced level

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fritz

Many thanks Gato, Daofeishi,

I think I am just encountering a bit of frustration of not feeling a fast progress. The method I used in the beginning was to go through textbooks by memorising words with flashcards and reading respective texts a few times. By doing this you can progress quite fast and you know that the learning process is structured. I wish there more books following say the third Boya advanced book so that you can just continue in a structured way. I got an 8 on the HSK earlier this year but haven't tried the advanced yet (is it still available?) or the BCT... I may have a go of signing up to one of them. I'm watching 中国式离婚 now and just finished 蜗居, getting most of it but not always the colloquial stuff.

I read newspapers at work and sometimes get distracted by new words when reading fast. That's why I'd like to familiarise myself with more advanced characters so that when I see them in words I can at least relate to something. A lot of the characters I don't are characters used in names. Just by reading today's 财新 I find 竺, 鑫,碾... as for words I find 抢滩,囤积,委派. The list of 5000 characters I got from plecoforums includes quite a few of what I think are fairly obscure characters, such as 戌,雋,娥,綴. I've seen some of these before but not sure if they're worth studying.

Daofeishi, when you use SRS flashcards what program do you use and how do you handle it in practice? I've been using the normal settings in Plecodict with iphone, when reading a book I just add a new category and put the flashcards in there and go through them. However, if you're adding new cards you may not want to go through the old cards again and going through large stacks of cards can be tiring. I think if I get a good routine with the flashcarding it could be worth a lot.

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renzhe

Honestly, I don't think that rote memorisation from frequency lists makes much sense after you cover the most common 3,000 - 3,500. I'm a fan of toughing it out in the early stages, but learning the characters after the 4,000 mark is pretty futile.

I've been attacking the rarer words and characters with volume. Lots of watching, lots of reading. About a year ago, I stopped all flashcard work (the reason was that I was too busy), but found that reading helped me retain most of the vocab.

What I'm doing now is reading newspapers and challenging stuff. If you read challenging stuff, you will run into rarer words more often. Note important things, study those as you encounter them. Watching 武林外传 and reading 鲁迅 brought a lot of rarer vocab. Reading the newspaper brought lots of specialised vocab I didn't know.

I don't know any shortcuts.

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gato

fritz, I think you are ready for this list of common idioms ;)

http://plecoforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=516

Most commonly used Chinese idioms

Just by reading today's 财新 I find 竺, 鑫,碾... as for words I find 抢滩,囤积,委派 I think are fairly obscure characters, such as 戌,雋,娥,綴. I've seen some of these before but not sure if they're worth studying.

I am actually a fairly devoted reader of 财信 (新世纪周刊) and 财经 before the whole gang picked up and left.

You should write down the new vocab words you look up so you can go back and review -- if you get around to reviewing. That's why I like Pleco and the Firefox Perapera-kun plug-in, both of which have one-click solutions for adding words you look up to vocab lists.

囤积,委派 are very common words in news articles.

抢滩 sounds like a military word. I haven't seen it before

鑫 is pretty common and always used in name. xin rhymes with jin, and three gold gives a pretty good idea of what it means.

戌 is almost always used in 戊戌变法, the "One Hundred Days of Reform" in 1898 that attempted to reform the Qing, including trying to turn into a constitutional monarchy.

娥 is always used in 嫦娥.

缀 is often used in 前缀 (prefix) and 后缀 (suffix), which are about as common as "prefix" and "suffix" are in English (which is to say fairly common).

I see 竺 from time to time in names, but I still am not sure how to pronounce it, but as long as you it's part of a name, it's not an obstacle to comprehension.

I actually haven't seen 碾 and 雋 before. So they can't be that common. :P

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James Johnston
That's why I like Pleco and the Firefox Perapera-kun plug-in, both of which have one-click solutions for adding words you look up to vocab lists.

Can you actually get that to work in Perapera-kun? How? I can't get it to save words or indeed find any word list and searching on google suggests others have the same problem.

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gato

Oh, I didn't notice that the "save word" feature is no longer working. The Perakun 2.1 version upgrade seems to have broken the word list sidebar. It was working in 2.0.

You can find the Perakun 2.0 installation file (XPI file) here (click on "Perapera-kun 2.0").

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/23226-perapera-kun-20/page__view__findpost__p__190288

Perapera-kun 2.0

To reinstall 2.0 instead of 2.1

1. Uninstall 2.1 (you can leave the dictionary in place)

2. Download 2.0 XPI file

3. Open the 2.0 XPI file in Firefox (File->Open File)

4. Make sure you have one of the Perakun dictionaries installed as before

Now you should be able to save a you are looking up by clicking 's'. The word list sidebar should show up. You can export your word list in the sidebar by selecting the words you want and clicking on "Entries".

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skylee

雋永 is not rare. There is a HK movie guy whose name is 文雋.

When I see 碾, the poem "零落成泥碾作塵,只有香如故" comes into my head. The word is not rare (well this depends on your definition), but I would think it is not very frequently used.

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creamyhorror
娥 is always used in 嫦娥.

At first I thought that was the "e1" in 婀娜多姿, but I see I'm wrong. The difference in tone should have tipped me off.

缀 is often used in 前缀 (prefix) and 后缀 (suffix), which are about as common as "prefix" and "suffix" are in English (which is to say fairly common).

Not forgetting 点缀 (to ornament, set off).

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anonymoose
雋永 is not rare.

This is a traditional character, right? Nciku.com changes it into 隽.

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Sarevok
缀 is often used in 前缀 (prefix) and 后缀 (suffix), which are about as common as "prefix" and "suffix" are in English (which is to say fairly common).

and there is also 中缀 (infix), which is not that frequent, but for the sake of completeness...

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skylee

And 搶灘 is not rare. Think of the early combat scenes in "Saving Private Ryan". That is 搶灘 (literally to seize the beach). When you launch a product or a service in a market ahead of your competitors, that is 搶灘 too.

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wushijiao
I got from plecoforums includes quite a few of what I think are fairly obscure characters, such as 戌,雋,娥,綴. I've seen some of these before but not sure if they're worth studying.

I think this depends on what you mean by studying.

In my opinion, vocab like this isn't usually worth "studying", in the sense of putting it into flashcard piles and doing repeated sessions. However, it is worth "noting".

Basically, my strategy for learning advanced level words/characters involves doing two types of reading: 1) reading in which you look up every possible new character or word, even if you're 50% sure you know it; and 2) speed reading in order to get the exposure needed to get the volume of reading needed to make rare words common. The dilemma is, of course, if you spend all your type looking things up, you won't have the speed to do the second type of reading.

My strategy to overcome this was to set aside certain times in which I would "read", but I could have very well just called it "dictionary work". In this type of reading, I would look up everything, and often just "note" the existence of these types of words, or maybe put them into flashcards. You might even review the words every now and again. However, I strongly feel that the key is coming across these new words in context, and looking them up in that context. Surprisingly, the next time you see the word (maybe a month or two later) the odds that you will remember it will be fairly good. On the other hand, I think trying to memorize words like this out of context, say, by going through certain pre-made lists or even common chengyu books, hasn't tended to work very well with me at least.

Secondly, I think you can also do "speed reading" sessions in which you aren't as concerned with looking things up. I often would do a certain exercise in which I'd be reading a book and see how many pages I could do per hour. If it was, say, eight, I might sit down at a coffee shop and time myself and try to cover ten. At that point, I'd only look up words that were absolutely necessary for comprehension of the book/plot. For most unfamiliar words, I'd read and would double underline all words that ones that I could most likely comfortably skip over without affecting overall understanding too much. Then, at the end of the hour (which hopefully was productive in terms of speed), or later at night, I would look up all of those double underlined words, and put some into flash cards.

So, overall, my advice would be to look up and "note" as much vocabulary as you possibly can. Then, combine that with enough volume input (through reading, listening, TV, movies, and conversations) so that rare words show up with some frequency.

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lollypop90210

(1) I will suggest reading something that you are interested or at least familiar with. Like

reading US News, but in Chinese. Then you know how to use these characters, and you will

understand them, and that makes it easier to memorize them.

I will suggest that you try reading Voice of America's twitter page or even their Chinese edition.

http://www.voanews.com/chinese/news/

http://www.freexinwen.com/chinese/eng/news_bilingual/index.htm

(2) Watching Chinese dubbed movies might also be a good suggestion. How about "Avatar" Chinese dubbed ?!

That exposes you to vast Chinese vocabularies. That also improves your listening and understanding greatly

as they come with Chinese sound track / English subtitle. Try Google "Chinese dubbed Avatar" or other

movie titles.

After all, either 5,000 or even 3,000 Chinese characters are what's being used commonly by average

Chinese. Mastering the combination of characters that are forming the Chinese phrases are the real thing.

Hope I am suggesting some better approaches.

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fritz

Thanks for this. I will give speed reading a try Wushijiao, I've been reading to little before, scraping by though with good memory. I tend to look up every word but doesn't give much flow or a high fun factor either. Best is probably is to be sincerely curious before looking up a word, otherwise it becomes too much routinized.

雋 is indeed the traditional version of 隽, for some reason it showed up in that plecoforums list, so I guess that come across that one too. It's good to know that you've seen those characters anyway, give me some more motivation of taking note of them (all around the 4000 mark on that list). 碾 was used in the context of 碾死 for a woman in Henan who was crushed by a bulldozer on a construction site.

Getting into routine with SRS flashcarding and speed reading will be my new year's promise. If you have any more tips on how your daily flashcarding routines work I'm also curious to hear. Cheers

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renzhe

You're probably aware, but there is a new newspaper thread where there are daily articles posted.

Good for building vocabulary at the intermediate and advanced level, and for practicing speed-reading. These are my main goals when it comes to newspaper articles.

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Glenn

Another occurrence of 碾, also unfortunate: 深圳巡逻警车碾死两龄童 肇事者是否酒驾成焦点. This part makes me think they have a serious problem there in 深圳: 这已经是深圳2010年来发生的第三起警车撞死人的意外。I'm understanding that as meaning this year. Or does it actually mean since the beginning of last year?

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