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戴 睿

A "unique" environment of study... how to be most effective[?]

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Chief123

Maybe I missed it but are you shooting for traditional or simplified characters? Most of the below suggestions are based on traditional.

 

The Church has a lot of materials that can be used in the reading process. Using them may help if you aren't now.

 

Second, the Church has a set of training materials that missionaries in Taiwan use to get better grounded - including some writing. Do you have that?

 

Third, one of the things I'm about to try is reading materials in Chinese from the latest conference WHILE listening to the audio in Chinese. I think it may help fill in some of my own gaps.

 

Do you teach the lessons in Chinese only, English only, or a mixture? If anything but total Chinese you may try to make sure that the entire lesson is in Chinese. You aren't there to help people learn English necessarily - you're there to help them understand completely what you are trying to share.

 

The last thing I suggest you may try is to read the monthly magazine in Chinese and specifically the children's part. Since that part is specifically for children it would be of necessity simpler so that they can read it.

 

Good luck.

Mark

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戴 睿

mark,

Thank you for the reply!

I am actually focused on learning simplified characters, not simplified. As a missionary not serving in Taiwan it just made more sense to me to go the simplified route! I do often use conference materials to sharpen my listening skills especially.

As for teaching lessons, our lessons are almost always 100% Chinese, so no worries there.

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戴 睿

I've purchased the 秘密花园 graded reader and I have to say I do enjoy it quite a lot. One question I have is how to use it most effectively to expand my vocabulary, and increase writing capability.

How do people usually use a graded reader? Read until they discover 10 words they are unfamiliar with, and then stop reading, afterwards drilling those 10 words?

I have noticed that there are ALOT of characters I can read, but cannot write. I find this to be quite concerning. Any specific tips on how I can catch my writing up to my basic reading level, so that when I learn no characters, I can effectively learn to both read and write them at the same time?

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imron
I have noticed that there are ALOT of characters I can read, but cannot write. I find this to be quite concerning.

I remember feeling the same way (as I'm sure so does every Chinese learner coming from a western background), but there's nothing to be concerned about, you've simply discovered that reading and writing are actually completely different skills.  Reading relies on passive memory (e.g. recognition), but writing relies on active memory (e.g. recall).  English and western languages hide this to a degree because it is relatively easy for educated native speakers to derive the spelling from the pronunciation, but if you've ever tried to think how to write a word, but needed to write out a few different spelling combinations in order to remember which one was correct, you'll see that these are still different skills in English too.

 

so that when I learn no characters, I can effectively learn to both read and write them at the same time?

In the modern era it's going to be much more time effective if you place a larger emphasis on being able to read.  For sure you should still make certain that as you are learning characters you also train your active recall abilities rather than just your passive recognition ones, but focus on reading because if you can read, you will also be able to type on phones and computers which is where the vast majority of written communication takes place these days.

 

How do people usually use a graded reader? Read until they discover 10 words they are unfamiliar with, and then stop reading, afterwards drilling those 10 words?

More or less.  It will be a combination of reading, learning, drilling, and re-reading.  Don't feel you need to stop instantly after getting to X number of words.  As your vocabulary increases you can try to read for longer periods and following the story even though you are missing some of the words.  Then you can come back the next time to re-read that section and learn the words.

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戴 睿

@Realmayo: Thank you for the link to the Matthews book. It certainly looks useful, I've ordered a copy which will be arriving Friday.

 

Another quick general update on my progress:

 

I've gotten the 秘密花园 graded reader (digital version). I have to say, I really enjoy it a lot. Reading seems to be such an effective way for me to retain characters and build up literate fluency, I've noticed a difference in even these few short days. In terms of difficulty, I would say that it's pretty easy. Due to my lack of character knowledge, I run into a character I don't know about once or twice a page. That being said, I usually understand pretty much everything that's going on from even a first read through. Definitely, if someone were to read this out loud I would understand it word for word. Has anyone read the other graded readers produced by The Mandarin Companion? Are they all similar quality to 秘密花园? 

 

I've also ordered The Chinese Breeze Graded Readers: 错!错!错!and 向左向右。 I expect they'll probably be right around the same level for me. Assuming they are, I would hope that by next month I've bumped up a level in difficulty.

 

 

I also downloaded and printed off the Free supplementary learning packet that is intended to work with the Integrated Chinese textbook (linked earlier in this page). I answer the questions (writing my answers in characters, not english) after circling the characters I don't know and reviewing them.

 

My general process of handling these readers:

 

I read the text, and identify around 15 characters a day I don't know. I look these up by hand, dissect their character components, and physically write down their information in a notebook (all mostly to help my brain genuinely focus on the act of learning and retaining characters). After I've done all these things the old fashioned way, I use Pleco to create a vocabulary list of each individual character, and a separate vocabulary list of words containing each character (generally about two words per character). 

 

I think the obvious step after that is to use SRS to drill these vocabulary lists, but is their a faster way of exporting the words into Anki then doing it manually? I have not been able to find a way.

If not, would it be worth it to buy the Basic Package on Pleco, thereby gaining access to their own SRS flashcard software? I have no problem dropping the money on the app, just hoping to see if anyone else around here has bought the Pleco features and found them to be worth the time and money?

 

Finally, at night I use the rest of my freetime to hand-write each of the 15 characters around 25 times each. Meaning on a daily basis, I drill 400 repetitions or so of characters (in the hope that it will simply help  me get really comfortable with writing). 

 

This all may seem like a lot, but to be honest I love it. A lot. I find myself growing more and more obsessed. With each even small step in the right direction, I can't seem to contain my enthusiasm.

 

So yes, any additional suggestions?

When my Matthews book arrives I'll probably need to adjust the schedule to fit that one in to the picture.   

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Lu

 

I use Pleco to create a vocabulary list of each individual character, and a separate vocabulary list of words containing each character (generally about two words per character). 

 

I think the obvious step after that is to use SRS to drill these vocabulary lists, but is their a faster way of exporting the words into Anki then doing it manually? I have not been able to find a way.

Pleco has its own flashcard system, could you just use that? (I also make my Anki cards by hand, so if the Pleco flashcard system is not suitable for you I'm out of ideas :-) )

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Ruben von Zwack

 

This all may seem like a lot, but to be honest I love it. A lot. I find myself growing more and more obsessed. With each even small step in the right direction, I can't seem to contain my enthusiasm.

:lol:  welcome to the club!

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戴 睿

Pleco has its own flashcard system, could you just use that?

The Pleco flash card system appears to cost either $15 on its own, or $50 included as one of the features within the "Basic Bundle."

Are those features worth the money? Specifically, how does the Pleco SRS Flashcard system (mobile app) compare to Anki's mobile app?

Haha and thank you for the welcome!

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imron
just hoping to see if anyone else around here has bought the Pleco features and found them to be worth the time and money?

A large number of people (including myself) have and think it is worth the money.  Search the forums for any number of threads discussing Pleco and its various features.

 

Anyway, quick and easy Pleco flashcards are created directly off dictionary entries at the press of a button (though you can also create them manually).  In that sense they are less flexible than what you can create for yourself in Anki, but if you're happy having automatic flashcards in any combination of headword, pronunciation, definition and audio (if you have the audio module), then they will save you a significant amount of time.  Pleco also has more flexible drilling options than Anki (not just SRS, but also a bunch of others).

 

Personally I love Pleco flashcards and am perfectly happy with the dictionary based cards - although I think it's important to have a good dictionary because that's what makes the flashcards.  I mostly use the Chinese-Chinese Guifan, but also have the ABC Chinese-English dictionary too.  I would definitely consider getting some combination of add-ons that includes at least the ABC one.

 

Pleco can seem expensive compared to other apps, but it's an investment that will pay off time and again over the course of your learning.

 

Regarding graded readers, according to their website, Mandarin Companion has 2 other readers available at the moment, with more in the works.

 

I use Pleco to create a vocabulary list of each individual character, and a separate vocabulary list of words containing each character (generally about two words per character).

My advice would be to focus more on the words, rather than the characters.  Which is to say rather than having characters as the primary unit and using that to create a separate list of words containing that character, have words as the main unit and then have separate lists for the characters that appear in those words if desired.  e.g. instead of seeing 嫌疑 and thinking these are two characters 嫌 and 疑 and a word 嫌疑, you should think of it as a word 嫌疑 made up of two characters 嫌 and 疑.  It can be a subtle distinction, but as a language, Chinese is made up of words and so using words as your primary focus of learning will help with your ability to parse Chinese sentences more easily.  For sure still learn the characters, but just focus more on the words.

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戴 睿

Imron, thank you for the advice. The suggested focus on words seems to be particularly beneficial, I'm trying to come up with a system that would allow me to do so. It seems something focused on words, which simultaneously will break down unknown parts into characters and even character components would be beneficial. That way each Flashcard you use is somehow linked one to another, reinforcing connections with each review.

我还有一个问题想要问大家。

Basically, one thing I loved about anki was the automated 1 minute, 10 minute function that would drill you on cards you don't know multiple times within the same review section before graduating the character the next day or future review period.

Pleco seems to not have this? If I don't know a character, it is immediately bumped to the next day rather than allowing me to review it multiple times.

I searched to see if Pleco had a similar function as Anki's, but most posts I found seeme outdated.

I understand Pleco does have some strange point-system that (based off of your self-grade) assigns scores to words. But while this system is customisable, I have NO idea how to alter in a way that will be most effective in reviewing cards.

I also read that even if I alter those values correctly so that they'll be available for review within 5-10 minutes, the process of actually going back over them would involve starting up an entire new session.

Does anyone have tips for how to do this? I really appreciate all the help!

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imron
That way each Flashcard you use is somehow linked one to another

I wouldn't necessarily try to link the flashcards to each other.  Link them to the context where you first encountered them.  If you first learnt a word as part of the graded reader, think back to that part of the story when you see the flashcard, and recall how the word was used there, and think about how that fits with the dictionary definition.

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戴 睿

Also,

 

I still am really struggling on how to get SRS to work through the Pleco flashcard system.

 

I can't seem to figure out how to get the settings right, and it seems so Alien from Anki. I really enjoy the functionality of Anki, and the easy integration involved in Pleco - is it really not possible to get the best of both worlds?

 

Specifically the function of anki in which it will steadily re-test me each time I get a flashcard wrong once ever 1-10minutes until I have "passed off" the card. How can I configure Pleco to do the same?

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gato

Try toggling on "Repeat incorrect" under New Test->Commands. The ones you get wrong will be repeated at the end of a session.

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戴 睿

Alright,

Time for a small update. I'm tearing through the Matthews book right now. While the mnemonics are useful, I find that with the addition of graded readers and pure mental focus, I internalize the characters surprisingly fast. I am shedding the "scaffolding" of the mnemonics much earlier than I ever thought I'd be able to.

I'm very happy with the progress I'm making. I would estimate that in about a month, my reading and writing will have caught up enough to my spoken language to use an actual textbook to continue to advance my language, like a "normal person"

Which begs the question:

Which textbook/s should I be looking towards? What's the best out there?

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戴 睿

I guess to be more specific:

I hear NPCR is the best textbook around to work out of.

 

If so, then what volume/level should I get? Having not started my learning from the beginning with the book, it's hard to know which one would be most fitted to my current proficiency!

Any tips?

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imron

Start from the beginning.  It never hurts to repeat the basics.  Even if you think you know them, you might find that something gets explained in a way that gives you a deeper understanding, plus it's all good revision.

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