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zakiya

I know thousands of characters but can read or make proper sentences

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zakiya

Hi

 

been studying Chinese for almost 2 years at school. the studying material used at school is New Chinese Practical Reader. i have gone through all of each  lessons new words list and I am currently on book 4 of the textbooks series. i probably now know 1000-2000 characters but still for some reason get bad grades when it comes to tests.

 

my sentence structure  is rubbish is always get in wrong even with making the simplest sentences the structures just never right. and my reading is quite bad too. i usually know what every character in the sentence means but can never really make sense of what the sentences means as a whole.

 

i don't know where I'm going wrong with studying could some shed some light on how to improve this problem.

like any formulas i can follow when studying to get my reading and sentence writing up to scratch!!!

 

I apologise if these already a thread like this .

 

 

zakiya

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Hofmann

Most likely your studying and/or the instruction you received did not adequately emphasize communication, i.e. the exchange of meaning. This entails that you get many opportunities to put your own thoughts into words, and successfully convey them to another person.

 

Most likely this isn't your fault. Materials such as the NPCR series encourage careless instructors to follow backward pedagogy that mistakes rote learning with language acquisition.

 

Your problem is common, and not simple to solve. You need to obtain comprehensible input, i.e. language that you can comprehend. Then, language acquisition happens when you are exposed to input that is slightly beyond your level of comprehension. When you process that, and comprehend it, you repeat it again with other material. In addition, you need to give yourself many opportunities to communicate, i.e. put your own thoughts into your own words. Your ability to do this comes with both comprehensible input and practice. Having experts who can guide you will also help.

 

There is more to this. Maybe I'll write something later about what I'm learning in grad school.

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roddy

Write three simple sentences and lets see what's wrong with them...

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Demonic_Duck

You wrote that you went through each lesson's new words list, but if you've been neglecting the actual texts in favour of the word lists, it's hardly surprising you're facing this problem.

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Shelley

You might benefit from trying TPRS have a look here http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/46693-any-experience-with-tprs/

 

I had a similar problem to you, I found making sentences difficult and could just about string together short "baby" sentences but since i had a few taster sessions with Eszter I was able to apply this method my self and use the vocabulary I had learnt in each new lesson.

 

I am also using NPCR, do you use all the materials available with this textbook? There are workbooks, audio and videos.

 

If you actually work your way through all the exercises and do all the substitution and drills this also helps, also don't move on to the next lesson until you completely understand and are comfortable with that lesson.

 

You also need to remember that you might know 1000-2000 characters but how many words do you know?

You need to realise that Chinese words are usually made up from 2 or 3 characters. There are some single characters words but 2 characters are usually used to avoid confusion. You also need to learn how to divide Chinese sentences up in to these 2 or 3 character words, IMHO this can be best done by practice, use a flashcard program (I use Pleco) and learn words not just individual characters. it takes time and effort but eventually it will all start to make more sense.

 

Try reading short stories you could try here http://chinesereadingpractice.com/ they are sorted according to level and have reading help and translations. You can also import text into the full version of Pleco and use the reader to read texts.

 

Do you have much opportunity to speak with a native speaker? This can help a lot, they can help correct you and give you ideas about how to make sentences.

 

Hope this helps :)

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zakiya

to be honest i haven't been going through the dialogues in the textbook and usually just go straight to the new words of each lesson as earlier on at the beginning of the course it was said to be the most important to do.

 

@Shelley i recently purchased the workbooks for all 4 level and I'm about to go through them. maybe my problem is that i don't read through the dialogues....

also thanks for the links i will check them out thank you!!!

by the way Shelley what is your routine that you do when going through the lesson as i have a couple of months before i leave for China for 1 year so i went back to book 1 and I'm working my way back up as i think this is the only way i will get the hang of stringing my sentences together properly. 

 

@Roddy

-我 给 妈妈 那个书

-他 三年前不知道 英文

-你 要吃不吃?

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Shelley

Well I think that you were misinformed about the new words being the most important thing to learn, they are important but not at the expense of all the rest of the lesson.

 

My routine is to read through the dialogues, read the notes and the grammar, then listen to the dialogue mp3 with the text in front of me, then listen to it again without the text a few times. Then I read the dialogue again, check I am happy with my understanding and do the same with the second dialogue of the lesson.

 

Then I put all the characters (words) into Pleco and spend some time reviewing and testing those. Then I start the exercises in the text book and work my way through them. I write as much as possible using characters, so for example the substitution and drills section I write out fully each one with all the different possibilities. This helps reinforce the new characters and the sentence structure.

 

I then watch the video, this can clear up some things I may have not quite understood, I usually watch them a couple time more when I have a moment spare.

 

I then move onto the workbook and work my way through that.

 

Then I go back and cover up the pinyin and read the dialogues again and if I feel happy I have grasped the meaning I move on to the next lesson and start over again.

 

I will review and test the characters using Pleco and actual paper flashcards throughout the entire time i am learning that lesson, but also at other random times, in the doctors waiting room, waiting in a long queue etc..

 

It takes me about 2 weeks to complete a lesson, putting in about an hour and half to two hours a day. I study for pleasure and have no deadlines or exam dates so I may miss a day here or there.

 

If you spent more time, maybe 4 hours a day you could probably do it in a week, but don't try to do it too fast or you will suffer burn out or it will just become a chore and you won't enjoy doing , because if you enjoy it you will learn better.

 

I should say I am using version 1 of the Textbooks.

 

I have to agree with imron it looks like you are going have to go back to the start and go through all the lessons.

 

I hope this helps and that you make some progress.

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zakiya

thank you guys for your help!! 

 

i have gone back to the beginning and have started to follow the dialogues. @ Shelley i like you routine in studying the book so i will probably implement some of those ideas into my study plan. and as for study time i already do 4-5 hours monday to friday so its should take me to long to go through all the books thoroughly again. thanks guys

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lechuan

Have you you practiced the grammar patterns in the New Practical Chinese Reader? They are set up well for substitution drills (ie. you can make a bunch of different sentences, using the one pattern, by subbing in/out all the words you know.

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Shelley

I hope you get on well with it and be sure and let us know how you are getting on, and don't forget to ask any questions you have, they are helpful bunch here :)

Just remember to "show your work" and give as much context as is useful and your attempts at an answer if you can.

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Johnny20270

i have this exact problem too, my total word count is about 2500 now and I can barely speak or form a sentence. I have no idea why, but in training courses certainly in Beijing there constantly seems to be a race to amass a huge amount of words. Some of my colleagues have been to other language schools and had the same experience. Perhaps its because people often come for a few months and leave and the language school ram through as much as they can. 

 

My teacher has started New Practical Chinese Reader. Shelly notes she is doing 1 session every two weeks, we are on 1 lesson every 2 or 3 days. Far too fast in my view.

 

Reviewing and more reviewing is super important in my view, its amazing how much you pick up 2nd time, especially when words are used in different contexts

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zakiya

@ thanks Shelley i will do..

@Johnny in the first year of Uni will were doing 1 lesson ever 2 to 3 days from New Chinese Practical Reader 1 we finished book 1 in one semester which is about 3.5 months and then went on to book 2 I am now in my 2nd and were on the 4th textbook of NCPR. i agree that review is the key in progression i have started to follow some of you guys advice on improving my reading&writing and speaking. and its been a short time but my sentences are started to key together.

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Johnny20270

@zakiya. 

Thats a good pace. For me I can keep up with the pace of 1 chapter every 3 days however I find now (9 months in) I am starting to get muddled and the basics are being polluted by the intermediate stuff and the shear amount of words has become too great. I would much rather put the brakes on and do a lot of revision and reinforce the basics.

 

I personally take the view though that many language courses are fundamentally designed incorrectly. There has to be something wrong when you cover 3000 words in a year and 3 / 4 text books yet can barely say anything and form any more than a basic sentence. I see my fellow class mates are in the same boat but we seem to all have convinced ourselves we are at an intermediate stage.

 

However it is understandable that its useful to expose students to a lot of material in a limited space of time and later on they can review it. Can't be a full time student for ever :)

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AdamD

@zakiya: Characters are tools, and it sounds like you've amassed a pretty solid toolkit. Pick up your tools, learn how to make them work, and revel in the fact that the hardest part is behind you.

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pross
I personally take the view though that many language courses are fundamentally designed incorrectly. There has to be something wrong when you cover 3000 words in a year and 3 / 4 text books yet can barely say anything and form any more than a basic sentence. I see my fellow class mates are in the same boat but we seem to all have convinced ourselves we are at an intermediate stage.

 

 

How much time are you devoting to theory (textbook and classroom activities) versus practice (talking to people)?

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Johnny20270
How much time are you devoting to theory (textbook and classroom activities) versus practice (talking to people)?

 

 

To answer your question, very little. Its a bit of a catch 22 isn't it. If you practice talking to people and then you have little time to revise words, read the text do the homework etc.  I lot of my teaching materiel might have introduce a 2 words in one sentence and are never seen ever again and many words are informal usage. Its a system that doesn't work for me but seems to be common across many schools here in Beijing. For example i see one fellow student who is very extroverted, loves talking to people and on the face of it appears fluent, But her vocab is very small and in class she can't read hardly any characters, sticks to pinyin and has little knowledge of the grammar. As a result she has fallen well behind. Not so say its a bad way, just different. Of course I guess in depends of what you want from the language. 

 

As its the OP's post I don't want to take over but I think we are in the same boat here. My plan is to put the breaks on as soon as I finish NPCR 4, and then on its 复习复习复习. 

 

AdamD makes a good point!

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Demonic_Duck
I personally take the view though that many language courses are fundamentally designed incorrectly. There has to be something wrong when you cover 3000 words in a year and 3 / 4 text books yet can barely say anything and form any more than a basic sentence. I see my fellow class mates are in the same boat but we seem to all have convinced ourselves we are at an intermediate stage.

 

It's already been established that the OP wasn't actually following the dialogues in the book, but simply going through the word lists. In light of that, I don't see any reason to assume there are design flaws in the course. It's also not even slightly surprising that the skill being neglected was the skill that suffered in the long run.

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zakiya

@Johnny

@AdamD

i agree that sometimes some institutions have stressed the importance of words that its easy to loose your way but now i know where i have gone wrong i am actually starting to make improvements and at a really fast paced i just have to keep going.  the key is kinda up starting from the beginning and ignoring the intermediate stuff that u already know until u reach say book 2/3 so you can cover all the basics again without over thinking and complicating things.

 

i have indeed found the tools and now i am reusing them to fix the issues and thanks to the help i have gained from other members of the forum in how to improve the issues and also ways in which to study i feel the improvement already. I'm now just making sure to be consistent.

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Johnny20270
It's already been established that the OP wasn't actually following the dialogues in the book, but simply going through the word lists. In light of that, I don't see any reason to assume there are design flaws in the course. It's also not even slightly surprising that the skill being neglected was the skill that suffered in the long run.

 

 

Hi DD, ahh ok I was referring to specific taught language course (not NPCR) I have come across in Beijing and else where. It was more a general comment of the apparent over emphasis on word count than focus on good grammar, pattern usage, pattern drills etc If we look at NPCR I think that is a great series, especially if you use the workbook. If you cover each chapter fully then its time to move on to the next on.

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