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Pokarface

What kind of paper do I buy or print?

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Silent

 

Not sure why you reacted like this because it sounds like we agree.

Basicly because I didn't understand your remark or maybe I subconsciously felt the remark a bit derogatory. Obviously pinyin it's (just) a learning tool. I don't think that's under debate, but then, if I read it back I guess I just made the wrong connection.

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AdamD

Then I probably misjudged the way I wrote my post. I meant to say that pinyin is critical for learning, but only for learning. I could never have learnt how to ride a bike without training wheels!

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Shelley

There are times when I read English that I read very carefully every word because I want to make sure I understand.

 

But sometimes when I am reading a story for example I may not read every word and I know that when i am reading stories where people have unusual or made up names ( especially in scifi which I read a lot) I will just skim over the name and think ok that arrangement of letters is the hero and this one is his GF and so on.

I have been surprised when someone says the name out loud and for a moment I think who is that? Oh ya its the hero, so that's how you say it. :)

 

I suspect it could be the same in Chinese, sometimes you read very carefully, other times you just skim, get the gist and move on.

 

I think pinyin as a learning aid is very useful, but like training wheels, they must come off sometime and then you take to the road fully fledged on 2 wheels but that doesn't mean you won't have the odd tumble and have to look something up and use pinyin. (as a side note I didn't use training wheels, straight up and on 2 wheels no problem :D  but I would never have coped with out pinyin)

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Pokarface

Thanks everyone for your input. I'm getting the Hanzi Grids paid membership since I know who made it and everything he does is top quality. http://www.hanzigrids.com/
So I'm going a little bit old school with constant writing repetition. Skritter sounds good, but isn't it built to be used with a tablet and/or stylus?

 

I can't really leave pinyin and move on to characters all of a sudden since I won't have a clue on how to pronounce things (unless pronunciation is hidden somewhere in the character).

 

Haha, Imron, you should use the, ™, symbol instead of the, *, one. That way we know it's patented =-p
 

@AdamD, I don't know how to tackle Chinese characters and I don't know if I'll be doing the colored characters technique. In my books, I highlight new pinyin words with different colors (although, I don't do it to indicate tone since they still have the tone marks). I really don't know how characters work, except that I read somewhere that I should learn the radicals first.

 

@Shelley I recently bought Tuttle's 800 character book based on my first impressions and NCPR 1 since it's a very popular series.

http://postimg.org/image/wmm3oro1v/ (how can I post this picture in the forum? It's just a pic of the two books and a small note, hehe)

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AdamD

Ah, cool. In that case you should definitely use Hanzi Grids and take it slowly. Consider keeping both pronunciation and tones in mind as you go though, because it's hard to catch those up later.

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Mr John

@ Adam

 

Just wanted to say I like your idea about using different colours to represent the tones when writing characters. I've been trying to ween myself off pinyin as much as possible recently, so I think it'll help a lot.

 

@Pokerface

 

Coming from a fellow learner that has finally seen the light, I hope you make the effort to learn hanzi, Pokerface. If, like me, you're concerned about how it will effect your speaking ability, I'd suggest considering this solution:

 

Set yourself a modest number of characters to learn everyday. At the same time, continue learning new vocabulary using pinyin with a renewed emphasis on also checking out the characters as you go. This way, you'll still be improving your ability to communicate without creating a glass ceiling for yourself that can't be passed without the ability to understand characters.

 

Keep in mind, I don't know your aims. However, I've become convinced by others and my own experiences that if you want to learn Mandarin well there are no short cuts.

 

Perhaps others will think my advice isn't sound as it encourages and uneven skill set. However, you have to balance that consideration against whatever is motivating you to learn. 

 

Besides, as others on here have pointed out, practicing reading or writing hanzi while out can also work pretty well as a conversation starter (although from what I've seen, you don't need any help with that haha).

 

Best of luck making your own decision!   

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Johnny20270

Keep in mind, I don't know your aims. However, I've become convinced by others and my own experiences that if you want to learn Mandarin well there are no short cuts.

 

 

Very true. You can be smart about it (I wasn't). It really irritates me to see people like Benny Lewis talking about becoming fluent in 3 months or some muppet who has a great way learning 5000 characters by Christmas.

 

Bit like going to the gym. You should be smart about it but get stuck in. I think the 'smart' part is often the problem especially if you self study. 

 

 

Character recognition is vital given the shear amount of homonyms in Chinese and really aids learning. I avoided characters for a long time which was a mistake. Its very easy to get into the association of one pinyin (&same tone) = one English meaning) at the start. 

 

Personally I have no interest in hand writing (even though my teacher insists on doing it and I simply refuse lol). Although I 100% agree that one will retain newly learnt characters for a lot longer via hand writing than simple recognition, however I am not (at all) convinced that the overall effort is a useful task in this day and age.  This is assuming we all have limited time, limited interest etc Each to their own of course. 

 

 

Besides, as others on here have pointed out, practicing reading or writing hanzi while out can also work pretty well as a conversation starter (although from what I've seen, you don't need any help with that haha).

 

 

Never happend to me yet. Must be too unapproachable haha 

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AdamD
Just wanted to say I like your idea about using different colours to represent the tones when writing characters. I've been trying to ween myself off pinyin as much as possible recently, so I think it'll help a lot.

 

It's also built in to Pleco! You can even customise the colours.

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Johnny20270
I meant to say that pinyin is critical for learning, but only for learning. 

 

 

I suppose you could argue that for spoken Chinese is simply someone speaking pinyin, the shape and design of the characters is completely irrelevant. It could look like Klingon and would make no difference to your misunderstanding of the dialogue  :)

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戴 睿

I have often felt that individuals who so fiercely support the "no handwriting method" of learning Chinese are sort of missing the whole point.

Learning a language is about more than just "economic efficiency" and min/maxing your time to fluency. Learning a language is like choosing a lifetime partner. Sometimes it feels as though many members of this forum are only interested in a short term relationship with Chinese (a 10 year relationship is still relatively short term, by the way).

Maybe their sense of urgency comes from a desire to learn the language and "study international business and get rich." Maybe it's a result of them feeling like all of language learning is some kind of massive competition, and anything less than 100% efficiency means you are losing.

I feel that this attitude demonstrates a lack of love and passion for the Chinese language. Almost all of the truly exceptional foreign chinese learners I have met also could write with a decent level of proficiency. I have come to understand this as being representative of their lifelong passion and commitment to the language. While min/max-ers of chinese language learning obsess over time efficiency and what tasks are "worthy of their study time," they completely miss the point of the largely unquantifiable, yet undisputably crucial passion/love/commitment element in terms of Chinese language learning.

Many of you who read this and think it's a bunch of hot air only need to wait a few years and you too will realize that I am write, and you are wrong.

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Mr John

Actually, I agree with your general sentiment. I'm bothered by what I'd called the gamification of learning languages. Perhaps I'm way off but I think learning another language should be an organic process, something inherently open-ended. The great advantage in approaching a language on its own terms is that greater understanding tends to lead to greater interest and consequently greater effort.

 

Still, given the amount of time involved it's fair enough that most people - myself included - want to figure out the best way to use our time. In saying that, I'm not arguing in favour of not learning to read or write.

 

The problem with all this is that people with the kind of passion you're describing are always likely to be in the minority. For that reason, holding everyone to that kind of standard seems a bit harsh - then again, that probably isn't what you mean.

 

A while back I was in the minority in being fairly negative about Zuckerberg's efforts. True, I could have worded it better than I did, but the reason was simple. People like yourself and some of the other memebers on this forum help set a standard to aspire to. It help people like myself who are still fumbling around see what might be possible given enough time, passion and commitment. That's why I think it's better to reserve praise for those that have truly achieved. At the same time, people should get at least some level of encouragement for giving it a go. Even if they choose to do it in what seems like a half arsed way.  

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Johnny20270
I have often felt that individuals who so fiercely support the "no handwriting method"

 

 

well, I would never fiercely support "no handwriting", if people want to do it and enjoy it, fire away ahead. Happy for them. I have my own views oin the subjkect but others will diasagree
 
 
of learning Chinese are sort of missing the whole point.

 

 

Actually I think your missing the point of why some (maybe most I daresay) people learn Chinese. Some do out of need for jobs, passing interest, to enrich their life in China etc. Horses for courses as they say ...
 
 
Learning a language is about more than just "economic efficiency" and min/maxing your time to fluency. Learning a language is like choosing a lifetime partner.

 

 

For me anyway, totally disagree. I don't wish to radically alter or dedicate my life into learning Chinese. I might drop it in an instant and take up dunno art or something. I spend decades doing other non language related hobbies, ... Language is only one of my many interests. I am certainly not alone in that regard
 
 
Sometimes it feels as though many members of this forum are only interested in a short term relationship with Chinese (a 10 year relationship is still relatively short term, by the way). 

 

 

Indeed as are many many other forums populating the internet ! but whats your point (not trying to be provocative, just giving you a different view point ). This is human behaviour. 
 
 
I feel that this attitude demonstrates a lack of love and passion for the Chinese language. Almost all of the truly exceptional foreign chinese learners I have met also could write with a decent level of proficiency. I have come to understand this as being representative of their lifelong passion and commitment to the language. While min/max-ers of chinese language learning obsess over time efficiency and what tasks are "worthy of their study time," they completely miss the point of the largely unquantifiable, yet undisputably crucial passion/love/commitment element in terms of Chinese language learning.

 

 

This is life! Again I don't see the point, If a DIYer wants to do a bit of house electrics, he doesn't train as an engineer for 4 years. If you are interested in cooking, you don't have to be train as a master chef etc For me personally I have no interest in handwriting, nor etymology of characters, but why is that wrong? I'm sure many people from this forums are on other forums discussing vastly different topics than language. In the last two weeks I have posted on forums regarding house electrics, central heating systems, interest rates in Europe and watercooling a compact PC. The variety of topics is interesting to me 
 
 
Many of you who read this and think it's a bunch of hot air only need to wait a few years and you too will realize that I am write, and you are wrong.

 

 

No, I don't think its a bunch of hot air and you are welcome to your view point, (hence the fundamental point of a public forum) but by the fact that you said your are right and they are wrong has just dismissed the validity of your argument, sorry! 
 
Also, being an older now I have seen so many people in my life time being fiercely interest in something and years pass they they lose interest ... I wonder how many members this site has had over its life time , against how many long term members there are still around. 

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戴 睿

I feel very sorry for people who take the approach you just described to language learning.

I guess I just presupposed that the goal of language learning was to actually "learn" the language, not to mess around with it for 3 months and drop it for another hobby after you get bored.

In fact, I think the attitude you just described is the minority of learners. Most people I have met that are students of Chinese began with the goal of achieving fluency in the language.

Maybe I'm weird, but I have a hard time setting a goal with the caveat "I'll probably just dabble around with this for three months and then move on to something else" in the back of my mind.

I also feel that the majority of the Chinese-forums community have goals of fluency in regards to their study of mandarin. It would appear the OP does as well.

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Shelley

@Pokerface if you are using NCPR it has some basic character writing at the end of each lesson.

 

Have you got the workbook? This also has character practice grids for each lesson, not that I am suggesting not using Hanzi grids but in addition. (Hanzi Grids are excellent and will be useful throughout your Chinese language learning)

 

I am not familiar with Tuttle 800 character book but I have got their books the first and second 250 character books and flashcards. I like Tuttle materials a lot.

 

IMHO Skritter works best with a tablet, but you can also use a PC with a tablet and pen or use a mouse. You can try a demo for free here http://www.skritter.com/

 

I hope you enjoy learning to write, I couldn't imagine learning Chinese without characters, I personally find it very good for remembering words and it is almost like meditation. In fact if you ever take up calligraphy you will find that "the correct frame of mind"  is encouraged.

 

 

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Silent

 

 

I feel that this attitude demonstrates a lack of love and passion for the Chinese language.

Maybe, there's true love, there are in betweens, mistresses and one night stands. There's no need for real love and passion to meet a need.

 

 

 

Most people I have met that are students of Chinese began with the goal of achieving fluency in the language.

Sure, that's the official goal. No-one will say I stop learning when I know x words. People learn to meet a need. That need can be something to waste time, a functional need (e.g. I want to be able to order food and drinks when on my business visit), achieving a (near) native level(whatever that may be) in order to become a translater.....  If the need is met people tend to change their priorities. If  you ask they will say I want to reach a high level, but they're not willing to put in the effort needed to do so.

 

 

 

The great advantage in approaching a language on its own terms is that greater understanding tends to lead to greater interest and consequently greater effort.

Personally I never experienced this. I don't care about the languages I somewhat learn(ed). The only way the interest changed was due to utility. If you reach a certain level interest is changing as utility increases (return on investment comes in, still don't care about the language). E.g. for English after reaching a certain level it gave access to information about engineering and finance that was not available in Dutch. For me language learning is primarily aimed at utility.

 

 

 

At the same time, people should get at least some level of encouragement for giving it a go. Even if they choose to do it in what seems like a half arsed way.

 

You may call it half arsed, he uses the language even with his modest level. Something many students don't dare but the only way to really learn a language. I see someone who doesn't make silly excuses, but does what needs to be done. I think he should be praised instead of criticized. 

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