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Does speaking fluent Chinese help people in the english teaching job market?


ablindwatchmaker

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Angelina

I do agree that the brain is more plastic when we are younger.

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Take Dutch and English for example, mutual intelligibility is relatively high.
No, it's not high at all. Well, I suppose it is compared to Dutch and Chinese, or English and Hindi, but I think less close than two Chinese dialects. Dutch speakers and English speakers won't understand more than a fraction of what the other person is talking about unless they have learned the other's language. A big reason is that English contains a lot of words from Roman languages and Dutch a lot less. Dutch is the language second closest to English (closest is Frisian), but they are not mutually intelligable.

 

Yes we've already established why, because they "learn" the language in their own country typically use their native language to learn. The average student typically only studies the language during the actual lessons so maybe just two hours a week perhaps.
Then how do you account for people who learn Chinese in China from Chinese teachers and yet still have an accent? Or other people who learn their language in the target language country and yet have an accent? And are you posing that the 'average student', or students who study only 2 hours a week, are the only ones who end up with an accent? Because that's just not true. Almost all non-native speakers have accents, no matter how they learned the language and no matter who taught them.
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Angelina

It's difficult to measure, but it's easier for someone who speaks English fluently to understand what someone else is saying in Dutch (only a fraction yes, but they can still get the gist-that is why I said relatively high).

On the other hand, the mutual intelligibility between certain Sinitic languages is as low as Dutch and Italian. These are all different languages, and it is impossible to compare them, but I still think it is strange how we call diffrent Sinitic languages dialects, while in Europe we all have separate languages, while if we use mutual intelligibility as a criterion, the picture looks much diffrent.

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As a speaker of Dutch, English, and Chinese, who knows people who speak English and have listened to Dutch and didn't understand a word, and who has listened to various Chinese fangyan and learned one of them, it appears to me that you're still wrong. Do you have any sources to back up your claims? Scholarly articles or such? That might convince me.

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Angelina

Which 方言 can you speak? One from the Wu, Min, Yue, etc. groups?

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I learned some Minnanese (Taiwanese). You mentioned speaking Italian and you clearly know English, but how is your Dutch?

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Angelina

When I hear Dutch I can understand what the other person is trying to say. When I hear 潮州话 I can't understand what the other person is trying to say (coming from 普通话)

I can't speak Dutch, and I can't say that English and Dutch are 100% mutually intelligible, but mutual integibility seems higher than 普通话 and 潮州话.

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stapler

Anecdotally, as a native English speaker, I don't understand anything at all in Dutch. As a Mandarin newbie who has spent a lot of time around a dialect of 客家話, I can understand and recognise many parts of it as similar to Mandarin to the extent I can often work out the basic meaning of an odd sentence or two.

 

Perhaps it's just because I haven't spent much time at all around Dutch speakers, but I feel like Kejiahua and Mandarin are much closer than Dutch and English. I wouldn't call either a dialect of the same language though. I'd call both related languages. Although even calling Kejiahua a language seems a bit weird to me when clearly it's just a cluster of 1000's of highly related topolects which quickly lose mutual intelligibility over space in the way Dutch or English regional differences don't.

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Angelina

But you have spent a lot of time around 客家话, imagine hearing someone speak it with your only experience being 普通话. Even some people who speak one of those topolects have trouble understanding each other unless they switch to 普通话.

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stapler

I guess my point was more: as a native English speaker I can't understand Dutch at all, as a Mandarin beginner I can understand bits of Kejiahua. If I was a native Mandarin speaker I should be able to understand even more. Thus Kejiahua and Mandarin must be more closely related than English and Dutch.

 

As another anecdote, I know someone (who didn't know any Kejiahua at all but was a native Mandarin speaker) who learnt this version of Kejiahua just from living in the same house with other speakers for a few years. I don't think I'd ever learn Dutch just living in a house with Dutch speakers through osmosis like that (although maybe that is precisely what can happen, I can only really go on my intuition at this point)

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I don't think I'd ever learn Dutch just living in a house with Dutch speakers through osmosis like that (although maybe that is precisely what can happen, I can only really go on my intuition at this point)
I think that's actually very possible (I had a Dutch friend who learned Spanish that way as an au pair), but that's at least one step removed from mutual intelligibility.
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Angelina

I don't believe in nation states and I don't believe in the concept of native speakers. If your argument that the intelligibility between Dutch and English is lower than let's say 普通话 and 客家话 or 普通话 and 台湾话 is based on you being native speakers who will always know more about how their 'own' language works, I will not try to convince you otherwise because you will always use the native speaker card.

Unlike Dutch which is being used for official purposes, except for 普通话, most other Sinitic languages are not being used at institutions, schools included.

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ablindwatchmaker

Theoretically, of course it is achievable to speak with a native accent, but based on the percentage of people who speak foreign languages very well and still have accents, I think it is important to acknowledge how rare that is. The fact that I have never personally seen an adult learner pull this off speaks volumes. I don't think it is a stretch to say that far fewer than one percent of people who become fluent in a foreign language, as adults, completely eliminate their accent. It might even be the case that accomplishing such a feat is  more difficult than learning the language in the first place.

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Silent

 

It might even be the case that accomplishing such a feat is  more difficult than learning the language in the first place.

This is probably true and a poor investment unless you work somewhere where accent is very important such as media. Even then, a limited accent is often acceptable, specially when you bring some real knowledge/skills to the table. Where many natives show their region/city when they are speaking and don't put in the effort to speak perfectly according to the official standard why would a foreigner keeping himself to a higher standard?

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ablindwatchmaker

 

speak perfectly according to the official standard why would a foreigner keeping himself to a higher standard?

 

Exactly. I'm always torn between using the northern pronunciation for things like 听,京, and the southern one, which sounds more like how reading straight pinyin would sound. I don't know what to call it but it is a very significant difference.

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Quote

Yes we've already established why, because they "learn" the language in their own country typically use their native language to learn. The average student typically only studies the language during the actual lessons so maybe just two hours a week perhaps.
Then how do you account for people who learn Chinese in China from Chinese teachers and yet still have an accent? Or other people who learn their language in the target language country and yet have an accent? And are you posing that the 'average student', or students who study only 2 hours a week, are the only ones who end up with an accent? Because that's just not true. Almost all non-native speakers have accents, no matter how they learned the language and no matter who taught them. 

 

My comparison was people who learn a foreign language for a couple of hours a week as teenagers at school, with teenagers who actually move to a foreign country and have ALL their lessons IN that language and all their friends only speak that language to them all the time. I'm not comparing people who go to Beijing to learn Chinese and outside of lessons watch American tv and hang out with their buddies from America the rest of the time.

 

Yes, you can go to China, study Chinese four hours a day in a small city with no foreigners and in your spare time you're glued to the Chinese tv channels and your girlfriend is Chinese and she doesn't speak a word of English. I would bet that this person would have a great accent and natural grammar BUT.....not if he tried to speak too often early on and already has bad pronunciation and grammar habits. Kids always have great pronunciation because they don't speak for years and even when they do its just short sentences and slowly builds up over the years. Its primarily input all the way along. Not only is it listening but they're also constantly SEEING the mouths of their friends and parents actually forming these words. It helps a hell of a lot to see someone speak and not just hear.

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Angelina

Yes, you can go to China, study Chinese four hours a day in a small city with no foreigners and in your spare time you're glued to the Chinese tv channels and your girlfriend is Chinese and she doesn't speak a word of English. I would bet that this person would have a great accent and natural grammar

 

lol lol  :P

 

Bless your heart, sista, you made my day!

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ablindwatchmaker

 

My comparison was people who learn a foreign language for a couple of hours a week

 

Increase it to 30 hours, apply all of your variables, and you will almost certainly still have an accent. Take this forum, for example. We can safely assume that a significant percentage of frequent participants take their studies seriously and have fluency as a goal. Many of them are already fluent and have achieved professional level proficiency. How many of them do you think have a native accent? I won't speak for them, but I imagine it is a very small number, if there are any at all. Actually, this would be an interesting topic to explore.

 

Based on my experience, If this "teenager" is 16 or younger when they start studying seriously, they might have a chance, but it's not the norm. In the best examples I've seen, a student will start learning English in elementary school, come over here when they are 16 or so, and by the time they are in college have native accents. I recently met a Korean girl who was 20, and her English was native, despite only having been here for four years, but she had studied English for many years prior to coming.

 

Ultimately, I just don't think it is an achievable goal for most people and isn't a realistic expectation as an adult learner. Attempt it if you insist, but just try to observe how many people achieve this in any language.

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Based on my experience, If this "teenager" is 16 or younger when they start studying seriously, they might have a chance, but it's not the norm. In the best examples I've seen, a student will start learning English in elementary school, come over here when they are 16 or so, and by the time they are in college have native accents. I recently met a Korean girl who was 20, and her English was native, despite only having been here for four years, but she had studied English for many years prior to coming.

 

Yes that's exactly my point, the people who go to a different country to study IN the target language rather than to study the target language typically have a much higher exposure to the language. There are exceptions of course. With so many Chinese living abroad, many of them can just hang around other Chinese 24/7 and never really pick up English at all. They can even copy of their friends all the work so they don't even need English for that and barely bother attending the lectures.

 

I think you'll find there are some people on this forum who have native accents. Julien Gaudfroy has a native accent after learning for just 3 years. Although he's not to my knowledge a member of this forum however but he's an extreme case. He not only has a native accent, he also in general has better Chinese than many Chinese people.

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