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rogerdunnhawaii

starting an online Chinese character class for free for learners

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rogerdunnhawaii

Hi,  I am experimenting with trying out an online class to learn Chinese characters.  Anyone is invited.  It will be free.  Purpose of the online class is to seek feedback and see if it's useful at all.  I'm starting a class online on Khan Academy.

 

feel free to join by using  the code 2SUWYW to join.They can then join this class by entering the code 2SUWYW on the "Coaches" tab of their profile page:

 

Let me know if you have questions.  thanks.

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roddy

Don't quite understand - are you running the course, or attending it? Is there anywhere we can see information about the actual course?

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rogerdunnhawaii

Good questions. I will be running the course. I haven't written up a course description but I will enable a learner to better learn search and write-read Chinese characters. Beginner to advanced should benefit from course. Will be going over radicals, non-radicals, components, sound and meaning correlation between characters, simplified vs traditional characters, and how characters form to make words and phrases. Will be 50-50 lecture vs Q&A. Any further questions?

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rogerdunnhawaii

Hi, My name is Roger Dunn.  I am an American Born Chinese.  I started learning Chinese when I was 12.  I learned through teachers from HK, Singapore, Taiwan and China.  I minored in Chinese in College.  I went to National Taiwan University and obtained my MBA in Chinese.  I was a student at ICLP in Taipei.  I passed advanced level Chinese from both HSK and CPT.  I have developed a character database which allows for meaning and sound correlations between characters.  This system leverages a learner's existing character knowledge by 5-10x It allows for faster more effective searching and learning.  I did two screenshare videos in the past. http://www.educreations.com/profile/5160319/  I also developed an app for Apple products at www.sunrisemethod.com  Ultimately, to truly know if I can teach you Chinese characters better than what you're doing currently is to take my course and ask me specific questions. 

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Skunq

Hi Roger

 

I am very interested in your free classes, I have already signed up at Khan Academy. However, this concept is completely new to me and it's the first time I see a website like Khan Academy. Could you tell me how this works?  When are you planning on giving the first lesson?

 

I'm just about to leave and go to class so I'll check your last post and links later when I get home again.

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OneEye

You have convinced me that you have no idea how characters work. You're not even close. You don't even get the most basic stuff right. As far as I can see, the only thing you've offered as a "qualification" is that you know Chinese, which makes you no different than about a billion other people. So...why should people listen to you?

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roddy

Skunq, I'd strongly recommend you stick up a new post telling people who and where you are, what you want to achieve, and what your budget is, then see what approaches people recommend. I'm not convinced this will be a good use of your time. 

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Shelley

Well I went and watched one of the screen share videos, have to agree with OneEye. To me it seemed like 4mins 23 seconds of rambling and mutterings about a character with a lot of umms and ahhs.

 

There seem to be no structure and as OneEye says it does not instil in me any confidence in this person's ability to teach. I am not questioning his knowledge but his ability to teach. These are 2 completely different things.

 

Maybe some people like this rambling approach to learning but it is not for me.

 

If your proposed new on-line class is like this, then it is probably a good thing its free cos I would not be happy if I paid and then got this.

 

As always I really like to get behind anyone who wants to help and share but sometimes I just have to say whoa hang on there, think again my friend.

 

Thanks for trying, but............

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imron
You have convinced me that you have no idea how characters work. You're not even close.

I'm not sure what makes you think that.  It strikes me that he has quite a good idea of what characters are about, however those videos appear to be talking specifically about something called 'the sunrise method' and some of the terminology seems to be related to that, rather than other commonly used terms.  This is fair enough in a video titled 'Cheng1 . Via Sunrise Method'.

 

Suggestions I would have is to use tones rather than numbers for pinyin, and make sure you're putting the tones over the correct vowel, and also try not to let the screen get too crowded.

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OneEye

First, let's look at 京. You can't look at small parts of modern Mandarin pronunciation (-ng endings, j- initials) and assume a phonetic correlation like he does. For instance, there is no sound correlation between 京 and 就 (就 is a 會意字, not a 形聲字). It may be acting as a phonetic in the other characters, but there's no way to know simply by looking at the -ng endings.

 

The 尔 in 稱/称 is an example of 草書楷化 (where 尔 is a simplification of 爯), same deal in 你 et al (simplification of 爾). In 稱/称, 尔 is the phonetic, not directly but by way of 爯 (it is representing 爯 chēng). In 你 et al, its role as phonetic should be a bit more obvious, but he misses it. Whether they are pronounced the same in Mandarin or not has no bearing on whether 尔 functions as a phonetic or not. Er/ni is a common split (check out Middle Chinese, modern 方言, and Sino-Japanese pronunciations of 二、而、爾/尓 etc). When he said there was no sound correlation for 你、妳、袮、迩、弥, he was 100% wrong. 尔 is the phonetic component in every one of those characters.

 

There's a start. Maybe it will clear up why I don't think he has any clue what he's talking about.

 

In fact, I suspect he took some surface-level ideas from a friend of mine who gives a talk about characters every year at ICLP (and who very much does know what he's talking about) and tried to make his own system without doing any real research into the subject. I'm willing to admit being wrong about that if I am, of course (I don't know which year rogerdunnhawaii was there), but I am certain about his lack of research. There's a mountain of scholarship out there about this stuff that should be taken into account. Really, the more you know about the writing system as a whole and how it came to be what it is now, the more sense it makes, requiring less mental gymnastics and allowing for a more logical, ordered understanding.

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imron

@OneEye I think the mistake you're making is that you're talking about the historical aspect of how the characters came to be, whereas Roger Dunn's method appears to be a breakdown of characters as they exist today cross-referenced against other characters with the same components and the differences in pronunciations between such characters.

 

From what you've written above, it also seems that you've misunderstood a key part of the video.  The phonetic correlation he is talking about is not that 京 is a phonetic component of 就 in the sense of a 形声字.  What he's talking about is all the different possible sounds for characters that contain 京 in them, which he clearly lists in the video.  Nothing wrong with that, and in fact that sort of cross-referencing is potentially quite useful.

 

When he said there was no sound correlation for 你、妳、袮、迩、弥, he was 100% wrong. 尔 is the phonetic component in every one of those characters.

Once again, you've completely missed the point he was making.  He's not talking about phonetic components in the traditional etymological sense, rather it's looking at how those characters are pronounced today and whether there is a common sound for all characters containing 尔.  Clearly he is 100% correct when he says there is not.

 

Maybe it will clear up why I don't think he has any clue what he's talking about.

The more you explain, the more it appears you've completely missed the point of what he's saying.  Perhaps because you've been so absorbed with character etymologies and the like as part of your studies that you're trying to link any and all analysis of characters back to that?

 

And while it is definitely useful to know the etymology of these characters and how they are traditionally related, there is also a great deal of utility in having a modern cross-reference of character components and their various pronunciations, as they are spoken and written today.

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OneEye

In my experience, understanding the real reasons behind why characters are written the way they are today makes for less work in learning them, not more. I don't expect people to agree with me on that, but that's something we'll just have to disagree about.

 

Comparing the pronunciation of characters containing 京, regardless of its function in the character, is like comparing the pronunciation of characters that contain 心. It makes no sense. If you're going to talk about phonetic components, then talk about phonetic components. But don't talk about phonological relationships between characters when there is none. That 就 and 京 both start with j- is an accident of history and doesn't explain anything about what that 京 is doing there.

 

That there is no common sound for characters containing 尔 is not really correct. Are they pronounced exactly the same in modern Mandarin? No. But their pronunciations are related. Knowing about ni/er also helps with the component 兒, which in turn makes it easier to accept other, similar changes as part of the overall system.

 

My point is that some basic phonological knowledge and a well-researched book or two on characters would not go amiss, and would make his analysis much more convincing. Even if he pretty much completely ignored the historical aspects in his explanations, it would help him to avoid making mistakes like 京/就, or neglecting to mention that the 尔 in 称 comes from the cursive form of 爯. In my experience, knowing which components in simplified Chinese were simplified via 草書楷化 makes it easier to remember the simplified character for someone who knows traditional, and also makes it easy to remember how to write shorthand or cursive that will be acceptable to users of traditional characters.

 

Again, knowing the real reasons behind things, even in a basic way, helps a lot with knowing the whole system. Simply understanding how 尔 really works in those few characters is very illuminating. These very typical changes demonstrate principles that can be extrapolated to many other characters, thereby saving a lot of time and mental energy when compared to viewing things individually and in a disconnected fashion.

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Shelley

Regardless of how in depth you want take your character studies (personally I am for knowing as much as I can because this helps me remember it) I found his teaching method too loose and rambling for my liking.

 

I think something like character studies requires well structured and informative teaching. I am old school in as much as I believe in the more you write the character the more chance you will have of remembering it, and the history and etymology is very important.

 

I have been to the sunrise method website and had a look around, I have come to the conclusion that this method together with the rambling style of audio and crowded screen is a problem for me.

 

This may work well for some,

 

It is not so much the content as the delivery method. Although the content seems to be the minimum required to comprehend the character, there was one bit where we were told that if we added 3 strokes to the left of water we had ice (bing) but if we added mouth to water we did not get sing???? I think that what was it, but regardless of me getting the example exactly right the point is we were told some thing that wasn't which was very confusing and unnecessary.

 

So all in all the sunrise method is not for me.

 

I suggest people have a good look at the site themselves and make up their own mind before committing time to this method.

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Sobria-Ebritas

就 [jiù] From 京 (jīng) 'capital' and 尤 yóu phonetic.

 

  尤 [yóu]

就 [jiù]

优 [yōu]

犹 [yóu]

扰 [rǎo]

忧 [yōu]

       

       *稽 [jī] (<旨 zhǐ)

 

 

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rogerdunnhawaii
Thank you all for your responses and feedback, both good and bad.

 

Let me try to address each of your comments/thoughts.

 

@Roddy, thank you for having a place to have an online discussion.

@Skunq, I am new to Khan Academy, online teaching, etc. thus I am doing it for free.  I haven't decided yet when I will begin my first lesson but hopefully within the next month.  Right now I have two students signed up.

@OneEye, it is clear to me you have studied Chinese for a long time, or have a true interest in Chinese characters.  I appreciate your response.  My approach to Chinese characters is a mix of tradition and modern, so in some ways, you are correct.  I am not a native Chinese speaker.  I am a native English speaker who has learned Chinese for a very long time.  My qualification is probably that I had similar (but possibly different) experiences to you learning Chinese and characters.  People don't have to listen to me, but I'm offering it for free and if it's useful, continue to learn from me, if it's not useful, no need to spend anymore time with me.  What's difficult to do as a learner is to be able to know within a short period of time if something is beneficial or not.

@Shelley, these screenshare videos is not my "marketing" video. It's actually my first time at trying to do screenshare and messing with the technology.  Granted, I would agree, I'm not the best teacher when it comes to these videos, but in my mind, they only get better.  I know I am a good teacher in person, or over skype.  I am not a "professional" public speaker, lecturer, teacher, but I believe I have something to offer which is beneficial to the learner.  so yeah, I would agree, if you had to pay for this, I understand your dissatisfaction, but it's free and I'm still working out the kinks, if that makes sense.

@imron, thank you for your kind words.  I appreciate your feedback on using tones vs numbers (numbers were used in my database) and yes I need to put the tones over the correct vowel and yes the screen was too crowded, (hopefully will get better over time)

@OneEye - you are correct about 京 vs 就.  The 尔 in 稱/称 is probably a bad example because it is a character which has an overlap of traditional vs simplified characters.  so again you are correct.  As for ICLP, I was a student from 2002-2003.  I am not sure when your friend attended ICLP but it's probably after me cuz I don't remember this guy visiting our school/class.  what is his/her name?  I agree, there is a lot of research/scholarship on this topic, I am just trying to find an effective way to bring it to the general learner and not just the scholars.  And I am trying to find the most time-efficient way to teach learners the writing system and they how/why and tricks to acquiring lots of info quickly and effectively.

@Admin.  Thank you for noticing that I am taking a modern approach to learning characters.  I also respect etymology, but what I'm trying to do is take a character (simple/difficult) and break it up into it's parts and spatial layout, and dynamically determine if there is any meaning/sound correlation to other characters, and then learn in a very "relationship"-based way.  so yes, my goal is do develop a modern cross-referencing tool of components, radicals, non-radicals, etc and their pronunciations on how they are written/spoken today.  Furthermore I am trying to allow the user to determine how many characters they want to master (not everyone wants to learn 3000+) and if they want to learn just traditional, simplified, or both.  Based on the learners goals, I should be able to customize a character acquisition pathway/curriculum.  So in a sense each person gets a customized way of learning. 

@OneEye, understand the real reasons behind why and how each character is written is beneficial for sure.  I learned this way for a period of time as well.  But I'm looking for innovative ways to understand characters.  Maybe the traditional old methods are still effective. I am not saying they aren't because this is the way I learned as well, but I'm also trying to offer an ALTERNATIVE method.  My goal is to provide this knowledge for free and then improve it over time.  AS to your point about 就 and 京.  not everyone knows that it is phonetic or not, not everyone knows the radical to 就 and 京, all they know is if they recognize the character or not or if there is a character they do recognize with an overlapping part.  they will try to make links in their head.  In short, I think it's easy to do explaining when you are going backwards, but not forwards.  My example is "nose" bi2zi3 the bi2.  what is it's radical?  there are three parts to it, and people choose different parts based on the logic they think.  The radical system is also easier when you already know the meaning, in essence you are going in the reverse method.  To a learner, they just see three separate characters broken up vertically and just want to know meaning/sound of the character, so in my mind, all three parts are useful and helpful.

I guess I am trying to find a happy medium. Between what you're promoting (which I agree is very important) and looking at it from a beginners perspective. Maybe the learner just needs a basic phonological knowledge and a well-researched book or two on characters, maybe Sunrise Method might help.  I am here to just help people master Characters easier, quicker, more efficiently.  I would love to have you on the team for further ways to improve the experience for learners.

@Shelley, I respect the old school way.  I am just trying to offer a new school way.  I will always get resistance from the old school way.  I understand this.  I agree the delivery method needs to be improved, thus my reason for offering my services for free.  as for the video.  we are going from water to ice to forever to swimming to singing.  Or shui to bing to yong to yong to yong.  I am trying to offer the meaning/sound relationship.  And basically showing how people can search/learn characters.  if you add two strokes to water you get ice.  In any case, the animation is quick.  Maybe in a online video session I can explain further.

@Sobria-Ebritas - thank you for your reference.  In my mind. this explanation doesn't help me much memorize 就 [jiù] From 京 (jīng) 'capital' and 尤 yóu phonetic.  It is however, clear that 尤 [yóu] has 3 characters with the same pinyin spelling.  why do these characters have the same pinyin spelling and jiu and rao do not?  this is what Sunrise method assists with.  explaining how to educatedly learn/guess the sounds of characters you don't know from characters you do know.  Maybe certain parts to the left of "you" have strong/weak sound influence on the right part?  what is clear is that all characters are 2 part left-right spatially. I see meaning correlation in all the characters except Jiu4, and sound correlation in all characters except rao3.  This is an inkling of what sunrise method does (much more of course), but we analyze groups of characters based on their spatial layout, radical, non-radical, component, phonetic/meaning relationship etc.

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imron
I appreciate your feedback on using tones vs numbers (numbers were used in my database)

Regarding this database, what sort of format is it in and have you considered making it available to others, e.g. similar to CC-CEDICT?

 

From what I can tell from your site, it appears the application you've developed can query any character based on a spatial breakdown and identifying parts either by pinyin, chinese, english or a combination of each?  If you have a database that allows for easy querying of this information, then that strikes me as very valuable contribution to the Chinese learning community and there many Chinese learning applications that would benefit from having access to this sort of information (every now and then we also get posts here asking if such a database exists).

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imron
Comparing the pronunciation of characters containing 京, regardless of its function in the character, is like comparing the pronunciation of characters that contain 心. It makes no sense.

I disagree with you here.  It might not make much sense for 心 because there are so many characters with that component, however if you're going to do a complete breakdown analysis of every character and stick it in a searchable database, you can't just leave out characters with 心 in them.

 

Common components aside, for less common components, there is great utility in having this sort of information - especially when you get to a more advanced level and do most of your reading without the aid of a dictionary.  When that happens, quite often you'll come across a character that looks similar to one you already know.  From context you can probably guess the meaning, but the pronunciation you can never be 100% sure of - yes there are clues that allow you to make a good guess, but sometimes knowledge of previous characters can cause that guess to be completely wrong.  A good example of this is characters with 青 in them - most characters will be some variant of jing or qing, unless it's 倩 and then it's pronounced qiàn.  These sorts of gotchas happen all the time at the more advanced level because rarer characters are more likely to be ones with funky pronunciation.

 

Being able to look up that and see, oh, characters with this component will either be jing or qing except for 倩 which is qiàn, is valuable in this instance because that's information you can store away for later and when you come across other 青 characters you'll be able to make a more educated guess if you now know all the possibilities.

 

This is something I've noted elsewhere (see this post of mine on vocab acquisition where towards the end I mention how to prioritise which words to learn).

 

Maybe knowing the traditional etymology will help with this instance, I don't know, but to be honest, I'm just not that interested in that.  I just want to read (relatively) modern books and other native content, and don't want to have to do a thorough study of character etymology in order to be able to make an educated guess of the pronunciation of characters with a really low usage frequency.

 

@rogerdunnhawaii, regarding your iPhone app, out of curiosity I tried downloading it, but it's not available in the Australian iTunes store.  Not sure if that's something you can control, or if it's Apple, but it might be something to look in to.

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rogerdunnhawaii
@imron - I am considering making it available to others but probably not like CC-CEDICT.  I am open to suggestions.  Probably not 100% free but at the same time it won't be real pricey.  The bigger issue isn't just giving the database to others, but applying the database to an individual learners needs and wants.

 

And yes what I've developed can query any character based on a spatial breakdown and identifying parts either by pinyin, chinese, english or a combination of each. As for whether it is easy querying depends on UI/UX and individual.  Of course this can and should always be continually improved.

 

I'm glad you feel this is a valuable contribution to the learning community.  If there are learning applications which would benefit from this info, then I may be open to licensing it (at an affordable rate).

 

As for your 青 example, I totally agree.  I am/was at the intermediate/advanced level in the past and know the frustration.  why does  倩 have to be qiàn? I actually met a girl with that name so it is stuck in my head.

 

As for why you can't download it in Australia, I have no idea.  but thanks for letting me know.

 

"Being able to look up that and see, oh, characters with this component will either be jing or qing except for 倩 which is qiàn, is valuable in this instance because that's information you can store away for later and when you come across other 青 characters you'll be able to make a more educated guess if you now know all the possibilities."

 

In essence, this is one of Sunrise Method's many valuable features.

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Sobria-Ebritas

In my mind. this explanation doesn't help me much memorize 就 [jiù] From 京 (jīng) 'capital' and 尤 yóu phonetic.  It is however, clear that 尤 [yóu] has 3 characters with the same pinyin spelling.  why do these characters have the same pinyin spelling and jiu and rao do not?

 

 

First of all, I think one should make a clear distinction (and keep it mind) between the actual sound and the graphic representation of it (.i.e. pinyin in our case).

The initials of jiù and rǎo are not spelled the same because both sounds differ from one another. But no so much as their spelling can lead to believe. In fact, both initials are not so different in their mode of articulation, since the first is an affricate and the second a fricative; neither do they differ that much in their point of articulation, since the first is an alveo-palatal and the second a retroflex.

So I think that the question of whether, or to what extent, one can relate, for example, the sound of to those of, , , , , etc. depends partly on the extent of one´s knowledge of Chinese phonetics and Chinese historical phonology.

Having said that, I guess that the average learner of Chinese has little or no interest in this kind of knowledge.

 

P.S. "尤 [yóu] has 3 characters with the same pinyin spelling" provided you do not take tone differences into consideration.

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