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Patrick_ChineseForum

How to not forget Chinese language when you don't live around Chinese people?

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David Wong
That's one problem when Thai try to pronounce English words with R sound. I think Mandarin has an R sound like English, right?

A lot of Southern Chinese dialects don't have the R-sound either. I know a whole bunch of Southern Chinese (and -descent) Mandarin speakers who simply substitute a different sound (L or Y, typically) for the initial R-sound and have no problems being understood :P.

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Patrick_ChineseForum

David Wong, thanks for pointing it out. I'm glad to hear someone confirming that southern Chinese dialects have no R sound. My grandparents from both sides speak southern Chinese dialect. I never heard of the R sound ever! Yes one of my grandparents who could speak Mandarin simply substitute the R with L. Actually Thai people also do that when they try to speak English. They substitute all R sound with L sound.

I learn something everyday. :-)

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kari

I don't think it'll be easy to forget Chinese, but learning it is definitely harder. I also studied Japanese, and forgot the majority of what I learned, but mostly because my study wasn't fully serious. When you're interested in something and really love it, you'll want to keep studying, no matter how hard it gets. That's why I dropped Japanese and took to learning Mandarin. To me, Mandarin is much easier. For one, they don't have three writing systems, they just a lot of characters. The vocal part is harder, but it's more beautiful to my ears. Japanese is a flat language, and runs together when I hear it.

I live in the sticks and I can think of... maybe two Chinese families that live in our town. They're nice people but are way too busy to teach me anything (they both own restaurants) so I'm stuck without anyone to practice with, except when I drive 30 miles to visit Mrs. Teresa at the Asian Market store. She teaches me words and phrases in exchange that I buy snacks from her store. But I only do that, maybe once a month? Other than that, I'm strictly self taught. The only colleges that teach Mandarin Chinese here I believe are in the northern part of my state (I live in the southern part). I can't attend them anyway... so unless I can find friends online who can help me, my study will continue to be slow.

If any of you are willing to help this girl with a heavy southern accent speak proper Chinese, please inbox me or otherwise, I'll be stuck speaking Chinese the way George Bush spoke Spanish. Zai jian, y'all.

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Patrick_ChineseForum

@Kari: Thanks for responding to my old post. It's nice to hear from someone who has studied Japanese before Chinese (like me). Good for you if you think Chinese is easier. Based on my experience, they are difficult in different ways, but overall I think Chinese is more difficult to learn. Japanese grammar is many folds more difficult than Chinese. Then the Kanji characters that can be pronounced in diffierent ways is another tough thing to master. The 3 sets of characters of Japanese is actually simpler than Chinese IMHO. The sound of both Hiragana and Katakana is very clear and easy to understand. That's entirely different when it comes to Chinese especially the z and zh sounds (at least for me). Oh the x and sh sound also hard for me to distinquish. For writing, if you forget any Kanji characters, you can always cheat by writing in Hiragana. People understand it. You can't do that for Chinese characters. Hmm... maybe write in pinyin? That would be funny to have pinyin and chinese characters mixing together :-) hee hee. I'll PM you.

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kari

@Patrick:

I know it was an old post, but it looks like a lot of posts here have some age on them. Oh, I learned how to write Hiragana and Katakana (but now I only remember a few of them), and yes they are much easier than Kanji. What is hard for me is the multiple ways to pronounce the Kanji, and it 'hurts' my head to see Kanji & Hiragana together. Like, how can this one Kanji symbol have two syllables but the Hiragana beside it has one... That throws off my reading, and I never can remember how to pronounce the Kanji. Instead, I *always* read it in Chinese. Always. Which throws me off even more. Oh well. If Japanese would stick with Hiragana and Katakana, it would be more simple for all of us. And the grammar... don't get me started on that. Some things you can force yourself to learn, and other things just seem to come natural. That's why I switched languages! Mandarin feels like home! :)

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David Wong
That's entirely different when it comes to Chinese especially the z and zh sounds (at least for me). Oh the x and sh sound also hard for me to distinquish.

There may be a thread on this already but it is not as hard as you think. It is because there is no overlap between the vowel sounds after an "x" and the vowel sounds after 'sh'. For example, possible vowel sounds following an 'x' are:

xi (ee sound) and all other sounds with the "xi" initial, like "xia", "xie", "xiu", "xiong", and xu (implied ü sound) and all sounds with the" xu" initial, like "xuan" and "xue" have no equivalent sound with the "sh" initial.

I suppose on could look at "x" as an extension to the "s/sh" initial, providing the "ee" and "ü" vowel sounds that are not present in the 's/sh' initial set. If you hear one of these vowel sounds, you can safely assume that the pinyin starts with 'x' and not 'sh'.

As for the difference between 'z' and 'zh', a northerner explained it to me this way: to make the 'z' sound, the tongue's starting position should be directly behind the teeth, but for 'zh', the tongue's starting position is slightly curled and retracted away from the teeth.

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Patrick_ChineseForum

Hi David Wong. Thank you for sharing some tips about the z/zh and x/sh sounds. It's really helpful! Now I think I can pronounce the z sound pretty close to my Flash pinyin program. :-) For zh sound, I think it sounds really close to the j sound in English. However we don't curl our tongue when pronouncing the j sound. Do I have to curl my tongue when pronouncing the zh sound to make it sound like the native? Do the non-northerners really curl their tongue when they say zh words? Please advice.

Thanks,

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David Wong

When I first started speaking Mandarin I made no distinction between s and sh, z and zh and c and ch, but you probably don't want to do that! :D I'm trying hard to correct it.

By the way, the Mandarin z does not sound like the English z. You almost have to start with your top and bottom teeth lined up together, jaws almost closed, and not much air escaping from your mouth. I'm sure there's a better explanation out there if you search for it.

And the zh sound is like the z, except the tongue is placed a little ways back away from the teeth.

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kari

That's helpful for me too! Thank you, David Wong. :)

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milhaus

Assuming the biggest problem is forgetting vocabulary I would recommend you to use an app for practising the vocabulary you have already learned. There are many apps for all kinds of smartphones which specialize in practising Chinese. If you happen to have one, you can try it. The problem can be finding a word list containing vocabulary you would like to practise and making own vocabulary list is too time consuming. But if you use a good text book, you should be able to find something 8)

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JiangshiLieren

I don't have much to offer in terms of advice for keeping Chinese memorized other than the regular use of apps or flash cards to reinforce vocabulary that you don't frequently use. I use an App called Skritter and find it invaluable. Additionally, as others have mentioned, the Internet is a wonderful thing and it has several sources of VoIP-based classes taught by native Mandarin speakers. Movies, music, podcasts, and books. Reading chinese (I'm on really low-level graded readers right now) has made enormous strides in my understanding.

 

I also need to object (slightly) to the comment about those of us over 35. I'm 38 and I started from scratch with no Chinese learning or exposure whatsoever and I took and passed the HSK 2 in the 99th percentile only 4 months later. So, this isn't to riposte the person commenting about us 35+s, it's to provide some comfort to other folks who do live full, busy lives - it can be done.

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muyongshi

@JiangshiLieren- You do realize you are posting in a thread that is over a year old right? (nothing wrong with that, just pointing out the flow of conversation is a tad not current).

 

That being said, perhaps you could elaborate a bit on what Skritter is and how you use it so that we don't all have to go look it up and guess why you find it so invaluable.

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JiangshiLieren

Yes, I know the conversation is a year old. I find that on most forums you end up with a few current threads and then a pile of stagnant ones. I thought being new here I might try and revive a couple of the dusty old threads :)

 

As for Skritter, it's an app that I have for iOS that is at its core a flash card system. The thing that separates it from other less useful flash card systems is that you get to choose the source material from different learning texts. For example, there are lists that are vocabulary from some books and other lists that contain all the words for the various HSK tests. I used HSK1 and HSK2 to study for the HSK2.

 

The other thing Skritter does is remember which flash cards you had trouble with, which ones were easy, and which ones you forgot. It remembers when it introduced a new word or reading and how many times you've seen it and it plugs that into a math formula based on a lot of neuroscience and memory studies. This tells Skritter what to show you and when. If you use Skritter a little bit every day, you'll find that it knows exactly which words you're about to forget and it brings them up, keeping everything fresh in your mind and building both short-term and long-term memory connections to the words.

 

My favorite feature of Skritter, however, is the variety of quiz forms. It will ask you for the meaning for a word, it'll ask you for the pinyin for a word, but the best feature is that it will also ask you to draw the 汉字 for the words. You can get hints as to the next stroke (if you ask for 3 hints it considers that flash card as not memorized). It enforces the correct stroke order and absolutely nothing burns a character into your mind than drawing it over and over again with your finger (or an iOS stylus).

 

They also make a Japanese version of Skritter as well that I used for learning Kanji.

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muyongshi

Welcome to the forums!

 

Thanks for the write-up! I did go and check it out and I will add that it is only compatible with iOS 7 (which I think is kind ridiculous but I'm sure they have their reasons).

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JiangshiLieren

I've been using Skritter since long before iOS 7.. But it is possible that the newest version of Skritter only works on the newest version of iOS7. As an iOS developer myself, I can vouch for the fact that this is pretty common practice.

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Marguerite

I'm surprised that the earlier versions are not still available somewhere. I have Skritter running on my 3GS, which can only go up to iOS 6. There's also the web version, which I actually like better for some things. Namely, being stricter on not separating the tone from the rest of the pinyin, which I think is an excellent idea. Trying to draw on my trackpad is a pain, though I imagine using a mouse or (best!) a drawing tablet would be much easier.

 

The other thing to note is that it is a paid system - I think the app itself is free, but the demo only works for a week, and then you have to subscribe to their service.

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JiangshiLieren

I've never had to subscribe to use the mobile apps - I think I paid a one-time fee for access to some of the learning resources, but I've never been asked to pay a recurring fee. Maybe that fee is only for the website?

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Marguerite

How long have you had it? I also originally signed up through the app, and only started using the website recently. They have terms running from one month to two years. If you log in here - http://www.skritter.com/account - you should be able to see when (if) your account expires. Maybe they ran a promotion for a while, or offered permanent accounts for early adopters or something.

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JiangshiLieren

Hah, well that's what I get for not paying close enough attention to my credit card statement. I am indeed a subscriber, and my next payment is due January 14th. I've been using Skritter for about a year now.

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imron

There's a big thread on the iOS version of Skritter here.  There are several others on the forums also if you search for them.

 

@muyongshi, that's what you get for being away for so long :P

 

I'm also surprised though that they'd make it iOS 7 only.

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