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Ori_A

I can read Chinese!

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Ori_A

Well.. no.. I can't really read chinese.. but I'll get there.
My name is Ori, and I'm currently studying Chinese at Xiamen University. I started two months ago, after three years of learning it in my home country. I am amazed to see how fast my progress here is, but yet even more amazed to realize how little I learned in three years outside of China.
Yes, I can understand many characters and many words. Yes, I can read *some* Chinese. No, I don't consider this as "being able to read".
Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that this is a long process that will not end when I will be able to actualy read, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. But I started wondering when will this moment arrive, that I could just pick a random newspaper or random book, look at a random page and understand what is written (while not necesserily understand every word and character).

 

I can tell that it's going to be much more exciting than getting to the same level in English, for example (with no disrespect to the English language.. :) )

And this is actualy the point of this thread - to ask some of you if you are willing to share that moment, when you suddenly told yourself: "Hey, I can read Chinese!"

How many years did it take you to get there? at what point did you actualy tell yourself that you can read? I get the feeling that once you can actualy read full documents/books/newspapers/etc., it is much easier to continue the reading practice, since so much more is available - would you say that's true?

And of course, feel free to say anything else on the subject, it would be most appreciated!

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somethingfunny

Progress comes in stages and I don't think anyone here will commit to a time when they 'can read Chinese' as it were.  Whatever level you reach, theres always something more difficult that you could be reading.  For me, a few big milestones were:

 

  • Being able to read and respond to text messages without having a dictionary in one hand.
  • Spotting when people were using the wrong character (I remember in particular noticing 代 instead of 带 and 在 instead of 再)
  • I used Baidu maps to direct myself and my two Chinese coworkers to a hotel that they couldn't find.
  • Checking definitions of new words in a Chinese dictionary rather than a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary.
  • The first time I read an entire novel from start to finish.  (This was a big one)

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Bigdumogre

I'm still a beginner at everything so reading my first Chinese breeze 300 word book was a huge accomplishment without having to look up words. Next phase will be reading it at a quicker speed then work my up to a 500 word book and so on. Start small and build your confidence but don't stay stagnant and always thrive to improve.

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Frederik451

One thing i remember was when i found out i could actually read the subtitles in TV shows to bail me out when they spoke very quick or with different dialects or accents. 

 

Another one was when i decided to go for Harry Potter in Chinese. It was my first book ever. I read the first 30 pages one afternoon and i was just so happy. Harry Potter is something that most of my non chinese speaking friends have read in Danish, so it felt really good to tell them that i was on "harry potter level" in Chinese. It was surprisingly easy for me to read it actually. So i never continued after page 30 haha  :P

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Ori_A

Thank you for your responses!
I know, of course, that the progress comes in stages, and what I've mentioned is merely my own view of learning. Even when learning something as massive as a new language, I find that I always have this point of "enlightenment", when I realize that I can speak/read/any other skill that comes to mind. Different people see this differently, as their standarts are different than mine, and clearly the point is always improving.

Thank for you comments, looking forward to read more.
 

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anonymoose

It's impossible to put a time to it. I can read virtually anything in modern standard Chinese without much problem, but I still feel there's plenty of room for improvement (in speed, and amount of effort it takes, for example).

 

I can't say I've ever had any moments of enlightenment with Chinese. It has all just been steady (and slow) progress.

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Lu

I studied Chinese in university, and in my third year I spent the year abroad, studying at Beiyu. After I returned I had a class in reading Chinese (I forgot the actual name of the class). For the first class, we were assigned to read a short story, some 20 pages. I read most of it on the train, without a dictionary. That was my 'hey I can actually read Chinese' moment.

In my fifth year I read my first full novel, that was quite a milestone too. But at the same time it was just a first step of a road I'm still on, one that hopefully leads to reading Chinese purely to relax and reach for an English text as readily as for a Dutch or English one.

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Pingfa

 

 

One thing i remember was when i found out i could actually read the subtitles in TV shows to bail me out when they spoke very quick or with different dialects or accents
Subtitles make for great reading practice. If I go a long time without reading anything in Chinese, I may find myself reading slowly and struggling to get into the flow of it; feels like my eyes don't know where to look. One thing I've found effective in getting the ball rolling again is watching a foreign movie with Chinese subtitles (for me it's usually something in Cantonese). This forces one to read as fast as the subtitles require without overthinking every line.
I believe it's overthinking and doubting everything you read that is the biggest hurdle when learning a foreign language. I find subtitles easier to read because it suppresses that mental dialogue - subtitles generally leave little room to mull over the previous sentence.

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Hofmann

For the longest time I'd usually have to look up a character in whatever I'm reading. One day I noticed that I read several emails without having to use a dictionary. I could no longer say I can "sort of" read Chinese because I obviously could. Of course, these were emails, so I'd easily encounter unknown vocabulary if I pulled out a random novel.

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Ori_A

Thanks for the comments guys, very interesting to read.
Personaly, I'm getting better with subtitles, and I just realized it a few days ago. quite fun to be able to follow some of the subtitles in time. 
Being able to read is quite exciting to me, even more than speaking the language, so I'll definitely work hard on that.

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