Learn Chinese in China
wushijiao

Some advice for beginners

49 posts in this topic

I pretty much agree with what anonymoose and other have said above. To solve the problem of not being able to quite catch the local dialect, I suggest (as have others):

1) Doing massive amounts of listening practice, and just improving your Mandarin in general.

2) Increasing vocabulary. (If you can catch 90% or more of the words of a sentence, you can probably focus on how the pronunciation is different, but if you understand less, pronunciation that differs from the "standard" will probably throw you off).

3) Talking with people whenever possible.

4) Learning some dialect words.

5) Do listening drills for tones (tones vary much less in regional forms compared to the pronunciation of the pinyin, so to speak).

6) Watch TV series that use the regional standard that you want to practice. I, for example, watched 80 or so episodes of 东北一家人, which uses Dongbeihua. At first it was hard, but my listening got better over time.

7) Realize that it will get easier over time.

8 ) Psychologically speaking, don't blame locals for speaking the way they do (and I only add this point because at certain points I've somewhat blamed locals for speaking non-standardly. I think this can be very destructive towards your learning mentality- which might be the most important thing in language acquisition).

But anyway, as far as the whole "where to study thing" goes, I think being in a place like Shenyang might actually have its advantages. For a few years, my problem was that I had a easy time understanding people who spoke extremely standard Putonghua (as you find in tapes/CDs/CCTV/radio), but I found it much harder to understand the people who don't speak standard (from a foreigner's point of view). Basically, with the exceptions of some rare cities like Harbin, I'd say that just about every place in the Mandarin-speaking areas of China puts some degree of local dialect/accent into their Putonghua, with the variation in degree being based on age, education level, and so on.

So, in other words, living/studying in a place that is slightly off from standard Putonghua could be seen as a blessing in disguise. If you only learn CCTV-style Putonghua, it's a bit like having a radio that can only receive one frequency. Exposing yourself to other regional pronunciations, over time, is a bit like a radio that able to receive lots of frequencies and stations.

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Thanks for the advice, even after a year at uni i sometimes feel a lot like hunxueer's students, happy to read and write but completely deer in the headlights when it comes to conversation... determined to remedy this before going to guangzhou next year, time for a dinner party with my chinese friends i think,

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I found the most important thing for getting to speak at the beginning was living with a Chinese only speaking family - being forced to speak Chinese, with English just not being available. I think it would have taken me a lot longer otherwise to start speaking.

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wushijiao-THANK YOU! what a wonderful post(s) well written and inspirational

:clap

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Hello all. I've just signed up to the site. Some interesting points were noted whilst reading through the previous posts.

Having always heard that chinese was a hard language to learn I've taken the plunge. Surprisingly within a week of really focussing i picked up quite a lot.

I know a few phrases and can write some albeit limited.

I'm not sure whether I'll be able to become fluent but it's always nice to at least know the basics.

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Biggest advice for Beginners: don't quit. In the early early stages we feel like we are learning loads, making massive progress because the beginning grammar is easy, and so on. Eventually we will hit "the great wall of china". It will feel like there is way too much too learn and no way you could ever learn it all. Just take it step by step. Every day make consistent effort and progress.

 

Also, it is never too early to start speaking to natives. Get all your ni hao's to sound like a native. then move on.

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This isn´t just for beginners but I would like to recommend a website called Conversation Exchange. You can use this website to find language partners who are learning your language in exchange for theirs. It´s a global exchange site and have used it many times. On the site I have made many friends and improved with my oral skills because of language partners so there´s no harm in giving it a try!

 

www.conversationexchange.com

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From my experience, I have two points here:

1. Don't just learn how to answer questions but also learn how to ask questions. I see many beginners can not ask people's nationality in Chinese, but they can answer it, that's is because usually the way we study is by answering our teacher's questions.

2. Don't be lazy and answer the questions in simple words. Try always answer questions in w whole/full sentence.

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One thing that's really helped improve my listening comprehension was when asked a question, repeating it back to the person before answering.

 

That way, you check to see that you've heard every Mandarin syllable correctly. If you haven't, the person you're talking to would immediately correct you.

 

It sounds silly, but I think it's really helped me improve both my pronunciation and listening! :)

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