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Ruben von Zwack

TED talk video "ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese with ease"

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Ruben von Zwack

Hi all!

I was watching this Chinese calligrapher talking on "TED" just yesterday, and I was mildly puzzled. Not about the things that she explains of course, but why they would present it as a new method.

Just thought I post the YT link here so you can join my confusion :wink:

ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!

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Demonic_Duck

In six minutes she couldn't find the time to mention that this isn't how the overwhelming majority of characters are actually formed? TED Talks, I'm disappointed in you.

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Shelley

Well I enjoyed it but I already knew the characters she chose to teach, so I wasn't trying to absorb all she said in 6 minutes. If it was my first introduction I would have been rather dazed but intrigued.

It reminds me of Fun with Chinese Characters.

I don't think it was supposed to be a new method, more as a method for introducing, demystifying and encouraging the learning of characters, for people who have no experience at all.

It is a simplified version of the actual way that characters work, cos as we know a lot of words are actually made up of 2 or sometimes 3 characters.

I like the colourful, clear way she presents the information, I also applaud her English, clear and well pronounced, nice accent not trying too hard to be any accent in particular. She also smiled a lot which helps :)

I don't think we should expect any more in the time she had. I hope though the reality does not put people off when they realize its harder than she made it look.

All in all not a bad effort.

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Ruben von Zwack

"I hope though the reality does not put people off when they realize its harder than she made it look."

Oh yes! I was so convinced that all Kanji were pictographs and made some sort of sense, back in Uni, when I enrolled in Japanese. And I felt so betrayed when my eyes hit 雜志 I still remember the feeling, like, "excuse me?!!"

Actually I still get that feeling quite often :lol:

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kdavid
In six minutes she couldn't find the time to mention that this isn't how the overwhelming majority of characters are actually formed?

Exactly.

While the presentation was excellent, the content misleading.

As both a long-time language learner and a teacher of languages (English and Chinese), the one thing I find many language learners hate more than anything is to approach a situation thinking something that is far from reality.

I always tell new learners of Chinese that characters around which "common sense" stories can be constructed, such as the ones in this talk, are the exception, and that the vast majority of them require brute rote memorization.

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gato

TED talks tend to be entertainment mostly.

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Steingletscher

She used a combination of simplified and tradition characters, most notably 从 and 众 with the simplified (從 and 眾 are their traditional versions) and 門 for the traditional, so it is somewhat misleading. How does the logic work for 牆 that she shows in the beginning?

I also don't get the perpetration the myth of "you only need a 1,000 characters to read basic stuff," perhaps it's just to encourage others to learn the language. Also 8 year olds know way, way more then a few hundred characters.

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kdavid
TED talks tend to be entertainment mostly.

Eh, I've been following TED for a few years now, and I've found most of the talks I've watched more piquant and informative than entertaining.

I also don't get the perpetration the myth of "you only need a 1,000 characters to read basic stuff," perhaps it's just to encourage others to learn the language.

This was also another egregiously misleading aspect of the presentation. Even knowing 5,000 individual characters won't help you make sense of them in their various combinations and contexts. I always tell new learners to learn in combinations.

Sure, knowing 药 or 肉 will help in day-to-day dealings, but knowledge of merely high-frequency characters in limited, superficial contexts is not tantamount to mastery; though I don't believe this was her argument.

Overall, it's a nice presentation, but the overall content is equivocating.

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roddy

If her website is to be believed, speeding up the (yawn) process of learning to (oh, I've suddenly become so tired) read for Chinese lear...(sorry, nodded off) learners is the least interesting thing she's ever done.

I haven't watched the video, but if people think it's nothing new, it's probably nothing new. But it doesn't have to be, it just needs the audience to be new.

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Lu

These are mnemonics for characters, not some new method to make Chinese easier. And things like 'knowing 200 characters will allow you to understand 40% of basic literature'... 40% is nothing. Learning the words 'the', 'is' and 'a' will allow you to understand some 20% of English, but not the 20% that is any use. Almost the entire talk is misleading.

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li3wei1

From her website:

ShaoLan recently concluded an eighteen month sabbatical,

I should put that on my CV. Sounds better than "looking for a job".

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Ruben von Zwack

Lol @ Roddy nodding off :lol:

happened to me too but it's really my fault. Whenver I see someone promising to learn Chinese easier I will tune in. I'm so gullible :mrgreen:

But I absolutely agree with Shelley, it's good to encourage people. It's sooooo pointless and annoying to scare new learners. Did anyone happen to read "Making Sense of Japanese"? (yes I know this is the Chinese-Forum ;))). The author describes how a lot of people are like "to even master the basics, you will need 5 years of intense 8 hour/day study, and even then, you will only have grasped the basic level" and he says, they forget to mention the recreation time in a mental hospital you will need with that learning approach :mrgreen:

So, yeah, thumbs up for encouraging people! The "errrm, so why is "magazine" made up of a short-tailed bird and a tree and some other scribble"? shock will come soon enough anyway :wink:

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gougou

I think that most of the people that replied here weren't exactly her target group. Yes, it's pretty daft if you have learned Chinese for 10 years already, but for somebody who's never had any exposure to the language, it's quite an interesting talk. And it's not like the entire audience is going to jump up and say, alright, if it is that easy I am going to enroll in Chinese studies now, only to be utterly disappointed.

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roddy

I can see that might make an amusing interlude between the proper talks (I'm assuming there were proper talks). But as a language learning approach... meh, are we going to have the same conversation someone recycles the Chinese-as-pictures idea?

Anyway, I'm going to see if I can get a refund on my 6 minutes.

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Lu
for somebody who's never had any exposure to the language, it's quite an interesting talk.
Sure, it's interesting, but there are plenty of other things (about Chinese and other subjects) that are not misleading yet at least as interesting. This is barely a step up from 'crisis = danger + opportunity' and 船 is eight 八 people 口 in a boat 舟.

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Shaolan

My book has now been released, I would love to see what you all think of it. 

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roddy

How many free review copies are we getting?

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Shaolan

I will give away 10 Ebooks for review, please message me if you want one

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Coys1991

When learning Chinese characters I am a visual learner and the idea of the Chineasy book can to be very useful.  What do you guys think of the book?  Im thinking of purchasing it for the visual artistic value the book brings to the characters.

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