Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Melanie1989

Knowing Characters, but not understanding sentences

Recommended Posts

imron
I would argue that it is possible to attack novels and newspapers with considerably less than 10000 words under your belt

For sure it's definitely possible, but note the follow up part of your sentence 'at first the parsing was gruelling'.  Knowing 10,000 words will provide for a much less grueling experience (though it will still be difficult initially).

 

It all depends on your tolerance for looking up words and how disturbing you find it.  Even with popup dictionaries and/or tools like Pleco Reader, the process can feel incredibly disruptive.  There's also the real issue that instead of reading Chinese, you are actually just reading a poor word-by-word English translation.  Choosing the appropriate material can make for a more pleasant experience, making it easier to sustain over a prolonged period of time.

 

And really, that's the key to learning Chinese - persistence.  If you are practising regularly, and looking up and learning a portion of the new words you come across, you will slowly get better, and if you can do it for 6 months you should notice real progress.

 

I also agree about the utility of Pleco.

 

For a learner these figures are not that relevant as a native who is already fluent in speaking can do a lot more with those characters.

This is true.  The reason being that a native speaker will already know the words, they just need to learn the characters that make them up.  If they see '好容易' written down they already know that it actually means 'with great difficultly'.  A learner on the other hand might get exactly the opposite meaning from putting the meaning of the characters together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

rebor

I guess it comes down to how you feel about the alternative - textbooks and graded readers. I'm probably a bit extreme in my dislike of them, so the pain caused by frequent lookups was less severe than the one induced by yet another story about the virtues of language partners or chinese traditional medicine ;) If you find material that you like, it is probably more time effective to focus on your learning materials until you've established a decent base vocabulary. You need to have the basics down of course, I wouldn't dream of recommending a beginner to try to work through an article in 南方周末. That'd be masochism. 

Still, I'd advise learners to try native content(suitable for their level) reasonably early and often. It's good to get a reality check, and it's easy to become too comfortable in the non-threatening textbook universe. And even if it can feel depressing to see a long road ahead of you, you get a kick out of reading something meant for native speakers, even if it's a few pages in a comic book. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Melanie1989

Lots of good advice again, thank you so much guys. This was really driving me crazy.

 

I do use Pleco and i absolutely love it. I have been thinking of useful words in English and searching Pleco to find the Chinese equivalent, that seems to be quite helpful, if a little boring. Admittedly, not much of what you all suggested actually got looked up yesterday as i fell asleep, but i have it all written down so i will be doing that as soon as i finish this post.

 

Having stumbled across other people's recommendations of Pimsleur Mandarin, i now have that on my tablet so i'm hoping that will help as it has audio and Hanzi. I also found something moderately good (so far) that i'd still recommend and that is an app called 听客. It's on android, but you might be able to find it for other things, i don't know. It's good cos it's a native speaker, not dumbing it down for 外国人, reading Chinese books. I think it is actually made for natives. Either way, it's good but a big downside is that the audio quality is not great. A little fuzzy, but understandable for the most part. With that i have been working on writing my own translations by hand and actually  i don't think it's that bad (though there are a few blanks where either i can't understand the speaker or i just don't know whatever word or sentence).

 

My grammar in Chinese is pretty good, though it can always be improved. I also have been learning many two or three character words, i just stuck to learning what seemed most relevant at the time so that could also be improved. When i first started learning Mandarin, i found a youtube channel called Mandarin Chinese School that had a series running called ...........something like "5000 Chinese sentences". I can't remember the exact number as it was a while ago, but i copied most of that down as i watched. Most of that has stuck, but it did seem to focus mostly on single character words. I'll take another look later on, it might be helpful.

 

Also will be taking everyone's advice into account, off to google some things. Thanks a lot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Silent

 

For sure it's definitely possible, but note the follow up part of your sentence 'at first the parsing was gruelling'.  Knowing 10,000 words will provide for a much less grueling experience (though it will still be difficult initially).

Sure, with more vocabulary and better knowledge of vocabulary it will become easier, but even if you start with more vocabulary it will still be a tough task to get through your first book. You need experience and the only way to get experience is by doing. native material should be added in as early as possible. The best balance is a personal one where stamina, sense of progress/motivation are important factors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
I guess it comes down to how you feel about the alternative - textbooks and graded readers.

Yeah, it can be difficult to strike a balance, especially when in intermediate no-man's land, where textbooks and graded readers seem to simple, and native content seems to hard.

 

I'd advise learners to try native content(suitable for their level) reasonably early and often. It's good to get a reality check

Agree.

 

You need experience and the only way to get experience is by doing

Agree again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CJGait

I recommend Pleco, an app available on iOS and Android. It has OCR, handwriting recognition radicals, etc. available and uses its dictionaries (one built in, the others are in-app purchases) to parse sentences into words and phrases. It is invaluable in my translation work. For instance, using the Pleco and the Hanyu Da Cidian and Grand Ricci in it I was able to determine that maji, the 'horse-chicken' in your story, is a type of pheasant:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_eared_pheasant found in northwest China. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Zander

I definitely have the same problem that Melanie is having, even at a relatively low level of reading. For example I know the characters 小 and 看 obviously, but today I encountered 小看 which I just couldn't understand, I was thinking "small look" which although gives the general idea, it wasn't untill I looked it up that I realized the actual meaning. I'm reading very very basic texts, but even in these I'm encountering words that I don't understand despite 100% knowing their constituent characters, I guess the only way is to practice!

 

As a side note, @imron I am having trouble getting onto http://www.chinesetextanalyser.com/ in the PRC, my request keeps on getting timed out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tysond

That's no good.  Is anyone else in China able to test access?

 

 

 

10 seconds to load pages.  Download speed is ok, 70-100kb a second.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

Thanks.  @zanders also sent me a PM to say he could access the site now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...