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Flickserve

I get the same feeling. Contrary to the advice on the Internet, I can't keep up a regular schedule. I go through good phases and not so good phases.

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Wurstmann

@stapler:

You read novels, right? So you probably know the words they're saying.

How much watching/listening do you do?

I was also frustrated, but then I remembered how I learned to listen to and understand English TV/Movies/Videos. 

For over ten years now I have been watching something in English daily. At the beginning with English subtitles, now without. And of course there were the English lessons at school.

The time I put into listening to Chinese paled in comparison. How can I be good at something I'm not doing very often? That's why I recently decided to not watch anything English anymore (with the exception for Game of Thrones of course).

I replaced Youtube with Youku and downloaded a bunch of TV shows. And even after such a short period of time it shows effect. Two month ago or so I was doing something else while the TV 

was on. Suddenly I realised, "Wait a minute, did I just understand what they were saying? Even though I wasn't actively paying attention?". I never had that before. 

I think to really get good at a language it has to play quite a big part in your life. Especially for Chinese which does not have a lot of cognates for Americans or Europeans.

Language learning is hard. But learning English didn't feel hard. That's because English plays such a huge role in my life. I didn't realize how much time I actually spend on, and more importantly, IN the language.

 

I don't know wether you have learned a foreign language before. You can and will be successful if you persevere.

Of course, if you are having no fun learning than it's okay to take a break. You are learning for yourself, so having fun is most important in my opinion.

 

 

Congratultions to all who made it through this unstructured, probably error-littered mess of a post.

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wensente

I'd like to jump aboard the band wagon. I passed HSK5 in September 2014 and since then life (and learning French) has gotten in the way and have let my Chinese wither away. I had a wake up call last week when I found my self at the hotpot table with 4 Chinese friends engaging in lively Mandarin conversation.

 

I was surprised to still be able to understand almost everything (80% roughly of what was being said - the topics of conversations were not exotic - food, school, Pokemon Go). However I found it immensly difficult to contribute. Even after 1 year in China I found it difficult to produce sentences, however after 2 years of dormancy my brain simply refused to actively formulate even the most basic phrases. It's therefore high time to dust off the Anki app. My short term goal is to regain my previous level and my long term goal is to sit for HSK6.

 

This week I will:

-Find an Italki teacher for 1 or 2 hours conversation practice / week

-Do a blitz review of HSK4 words

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stapler

I've had a couple of weeks to cool off and reflect on what I'm doing. Even though I thought I was going to stop 2 weeks ago I still kept on doing flashcard reviews (never really too much of my routine to begin with however), almost just out of habit. I also kept up and maybe even expanded the amount of novel reading I'm doing. But I never consider reading novels as study or work. I just really enjoy it for its own sake and doubt I'll ever stop. And I think this is the source of my problems. Communicating in Mandarin, and in particular, speaking and listening, always feels like a chore or something I dread. Whenever I have a loss of motivation its from my brief experiences trying to listen to or speak the language.

 

So what does all this mean? I think I'm still in a similar position to where I was before. I don't have much joy or interest left in learning the verbal/audio part of the language. I can read what I want and I enjoy it. So I have the sense that I don't need to continue studying the language.

 

I don't have this problem with the other language I'm learning (Russian). In fact opposite to Mandarin I really enjoy speaking it aloud, I love the sound of it, I enjoy listening to it. In terms of audio aesthetics I often just feel like Mandarin gives me a headache or is even obnoxious (sorry I really don't mean to be offensive here) while I feel like Russian sounds beautiful. But I think even more important than the aesthetics of the language are my very different attitude towards the languages. I feel really embarrassed to speak Mandarin in public. I have a sense of being a weirdo or a creeper. While I'm being completely honest here... I think I've developed a very negative image of people who learn Chinese and don't want to be associated with that image. So much so that when Chinese speakers ask me if I'm learning Mandarin I often just say "no". I say this because I feel like they're asking me in a roundabout way if I'm learning the language to pick up. I don't have this feeling at all with Russian. I even wonder if it's a "racist" thing - if people see/hear me speaking some kind of Slavic language they might just think I am Slavic, but if I speak an East Asian language they think I have ulterior motive. Maybe the other thing is that I can speak Russian anywhere and I feel safe because I can be almost 100% sure there are no Russian speakers around me. Mandarin on the other hand is spoken everywhere around me all day long.

 

Reflecting on all this I realise my biggest hindrance at the moment is my irrational state of mind. I need to think about Chinese more clinically and stop worrying about how I'll be perceived for using it. Yesterday I started hitting up my textbook again because "I just felt like it" rather than trying to force myself. I think this is a positive sign. Writing this all out here is cathartic as well. I'll continue working on my textbook and reading for now to at least give me a "hook" into the language. Maybe later I'll get over this weird attitude towards Chinese and get back into the audio side of it a bit more.

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stapler

@wurstmann - "How much watching/listening do you do?" - I've spent a fair bit of time this year trying to find stuff to listen to that I find enjoyable or interesting but I've had a lot of difficulties finding something like that that I can understand enough of to enjoy. But to quantify it, I maybe only do about 30 minutes of listening a week... Looking at this I can see why it's hard to get anywhere. It's nowhere near enough. I'm in a weird  zone. I don't find textbook audio challenging. But I find real speech too hard to follow for more than a minute before I fade. I'm fairly sure I need to do what everyone else here has done - go through movies/videos slowly, line by line. But I don't think I have the discipline for that :( 

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Wurstmann

After posting last time I got into a crisis of my own haha

I understand when you say that Chinese doesn't sound good. If you watch a movie or TV series in English or Japanese, the villain and the hero will sound badass, with deep voices and cool one-liners. In Chinese I almost never hear someone sounding cool. I also think that Chinese people are really loud and self-centered in eeryday life, which doesn't help (this might be because Shanghai is such a large city, I don't know).

I also hate that everything gets censored.

 

I can't get myself to watch more than one episode of a Chinese drama per day. If it were Japanese/English/.. I would have no problem watching/listening the whole day. But I'm in China, my wife hates Japan and I still love 汉子, so I keep on learning. 

 

I admire the people that can go through movies or transcripts line by line or listen to the same stuff repeatedly. That would bore me to death.

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艾墨本

These past couple weeks I was busy with work and had only small pockets of study time. However, I also spent big chunks of time on trains before and after which allowed for bing watching 欢乐颂 and working through several hundred vocab words.

 

I used the little time I had to start reading 三体. It's been really hard and slow moving. I had over 100 words from the first 10 pages, many of which I doubt I'll encounter outside of this novel. However, since the story and the characters are so interesting, I've enjoyed the process thus far. The time I spent learning those words is already starting to pay off as I finish the second 10 pages with significantly more ease. A friend suggested I think of this book as intensive reading instead of extensive reading, and that helped me a lot. I read 2 or 3 pages at a time, learned the words, and then read them again before moving on. I've read some pages 4 times with vocabulary study between each read before I felt like I "got" it. I think I'll continue reading 三体 intensively for the first chunk until I feel more comfortable with the words in it and then shift to doing extensive reading and just enjoy the story.

 

@stapler and @wurstmann, My listening has improved drastically over this last year and I have never done the whole "work through transcripts line-by-line" thing. I just did extensive listening with content I enjoyed. It took a lot of time to find that content (the chinese dubbed version of avatar the last air bender) and then I watched it all three times. It also helped that I already knew the story and plot from the English version. I actually couldn't even find the appropriate subtitles for it and ended up not having subtitles to read. I think this also helped me improve my listening. That said, I hope to try that method with zootopia. I saw the Chinese version and it is so fun!

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Mati1

Hello everyone,

 

I am eager to begin my own weekly challenge today. Before going into details, let me give you a short self introduction.

 

My native language is German. Like most Western Europeans I learned English in school for a long time, in my case as second language. However the level of English I was able to pick up at school back then was pretty low because I was a very demotivated student. The thing that saved me was my interest in computers and the Internet; I started to read all webpages in English - with many problems at the beginning - and never stopped. Now, many years later, I'm much happier with my level of English. Considering that I never made a real effort to "learn" English and that I've never been to an English speaking country, I'd say my English (especially reading comprehension) is not too bad ;-)

 

I have started my Chinese language journey three years ago out of curiosity, without a specific goal. The first resource I used was Chinesepod. After about two and a half months I bought a character book (Matthews' "Learning Chinese Characters", first edition). Only after working through that book for a long time I dared to start reading. My books of choice were Chinese Breeze books, level one to three, one of each. I was disappointed that levels one and two only used some of the characters from my 800 characters book I previously tried to remember. When I finally got to the level three book (750 words), after reading some pages, I gave up in frustration because trying to read was so painful haha.

I am learning on my own. Looking back I made many mistakes; e.g. I should have started reading all Chinese Breeze level one books half a year earlier (I skipped all other level one books, the total number of my level two books is only three). Having my Chinesepod background I skipped over beginner textbooks - that didn't work so well either.

Although I wanted to learn at least some Chinese every day, due to frustration I ended up not learning a couple of times for several weeks I guess. On many other occasions I half-heartedly spent 30 - 60 minutes each day, mainly to not forget everything I've learnt so far. I often thought to myself everything up to an hour each day only helps me keep my current level, improving my level of Chinese would need a more serious approach. Oh well. I reapeated the above a few times. Listening (CP), learning characters, reading.

The more I was able to read graded elementary texts the more I liked spending time to learn Chinese. However, in comparison learning characters is pretty boring and dull. So the more I read the less I made an effort to "learn" characters. That's why my known characters count is still very low; perfectly knowing those 800 characters from my first character book would require some real effort ... I am still at an elementary level.

 

My strength: Reading

My weaknesses:

Characters (boring but doable if they don't confuse you too much)

Speaking and active grammar (Not achieved easily without much contact with real people, right?)

 

Regarding learning characters, yesterday I received my new character book: "Reading and Writing Chinese" third edition by McNaughton. The third edition looks promising, check it out if you haven't done so before. For example it now claims to also cover everything up to HSK 6.

Coming from Matthews' character book there are two things I miss / find annoying:

> A new character does not list it's components -> you really should remember all those components exactly.

> The compounds (words) are kind of random. In Matthews' book all characters in compounds have been learnt before AND link back to where they are so you can look them up again easily. In McNaughton's book the words contain characters from all over the book and they forgot to include the character / page number for easy lookup. But I think it's not so bad since you could check out the words after going through the book to learn the characters, or just skip the more difficult words for the time being.

 

----

Now back to my personal challenge:

 

Challenge duration: 8 weeks.
When the challenge finishes I will judge my progress and decide what to do next.
The numbers given below refer to daily amounts, unless stated otherwise.

Note: Listening to an English Chinesepod conversation does not count as listening time below.

90+ m for reading and listening combined.
5+ characters: Learn and write down several times. (Also try to remember the given example compounds.)
Review old characters and keep the forgotten ones in the review queue.

Try to improve my Chinese pronounciation and sentence flow by shadowing some audio recordings at least once a week (30+ m).

 

30+ m Korean (Yes, Korean. I finally want to get into a habit of learning some Korean regularly, without giving up after a few weeks again.)

 

----
I'll kickstart my character (re-)learning by learning 10+ characters each day for a limited time and see how it goes; I should already know (recognize) most of the first couple hundred characters anyway.
 

I will post weekly updates to give you (and me) a boost in learning motivation ;-)

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stapler

The last time I made a post here I was recovering from a really demotivating slump and was even pondering if I would continue with my study. I don't think I've ever been in such a big slump before. Making a conscience effort to back off and not worry about my progress or force myself into doing anything related to studying Mandarin was a good step however. After cooling off a bit I think I'm back on board with continuing my studies.

 

I think my situation turned around a week or two ago when I had some really positive experiences with some Chinese speakers who were encouraging of me trying to speak more. I wasn't actively seeking out any opportunities to speak so this was a quite fortunate accident. After that I started feeling really positive about learning again and I've become more proactive in practising my Mandarin when the opportunity comes up. Speaking is starting to feel 'fun' again in the same way it was when I first started learning the language (rather than feeling like an anxious test of my abilities, which is was it had turned into).

 

Most of my last few posts have been about my psychology. So I thought I should add some more "practical" activities. I've finished two more novels this month. The speed and ease at which I'm going through Chinese reading now is really starting to astonish me. In particular I think I'm getting a really firm grasp of 書面 and can decipher most 成語 fairly quickly. My efforts dabbling with classical Chinese last year I still believe have been really useful for this.

 

Probably the other major thing I've done is finally get the 8000 sentence Taiwanese book that's been mentioned around the place and started turning all the audio into Anki flashcards. I've largely stopped doing front-side-listening cards as I feel after I've heard a sentence once or twice it becomes too easy. Now most of my flashcards are largely written English on the front with Chinese audio on the back that I have to reproduce.

 

For those who don't know what book I'm referring to, its 史上最強英語會話8000. The title is a bit ridiculous (and all the advertising on it) but the content is solid. Here's a picture of the first page:

 

post-57919-0-92400300-1471243303_thumb.jpg

 

All these sentences are on the CD with an English then a totally naturally paced Chinese recording afterwards. I really enjoy practising these sentences and finding opportunities to use them in real life. I find these sentences better than the Glossika ones (too boring) and the 8000 smart.fm ones (too formal/weird/not 口語). Also, ordering this book online was a lot of fun. I had to order it from a site all in Chinese. Being able to do all that, read all the confirmation emails etc, without any difficultly was big ego boost.

 

I briefly skimmed over a dummy HSK 5 test. I didn't find it too challenging. So I then looked at the HSK 6. I don't think I could pass it, or maybe I could just scrape through with some dedicated test practice. I haven't taken an HSK test before but then made me think about working towards trying to pass the HSK6 as a goal to give my study some more discipline. But I also feel like it's a bit of a waste of money. I'll have to think about it some more. Maybe the price is worth the reward/satisfaction.

 

One other final thought. I've also started noticing that quite often now I find myself in conversations with one side using Chinese, and myself replying in English. It's pretty bizarre. But also funny. I wonder if this is what it's like for some immigrant children.

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stapler

Someone asked me a bunch of question. I guess they want to remain anonymous. But I'll reply here in case anyone else is curious.

 

My language learning "philosophy" is straightforward. I try to do what I enjoy. That means I don't subscribe to any particular language learning method or technique. I'll try out all sorts of different things, switch things up when I get bored of them, drop things I feel are just a pain, or return to different methods I haven't used for a while. I'm pretty much the laziest language learner around in the sense that I don't do anything "intensively". Each day I maybe do around 1 hour of assorted activities depending on my mood with no real broader plan or goal. But generally I'll do around 30min-1hr of reading, 40 minutes of flashcarding sentences (almost all reading sentence then producing Chinese at the moment) each day, and on the weekends maybe do around 15-30 minutes of speaking.

 

With this kind of schedule I have to accept that I'll never reach the kind of levels that people who study full time, live in a Chinese speaking country/environment and forced to use it every day, etc. In fact I doubt I will become "fluent" or break out of the intermediate stage. But as I've talked about above, I think I'm happy just remaining a beginner, as long as I can keep studying the language entertaining.

 

To answer some more particular questions:

 

Textbooks

 

I still use a lot of Chinese language textbooks, but perhaps not in the traditional way of "work through the lesson, learn new concepts, move onto next stage". At an intermediate stage most textbooks cease being about learning new concepts and become a source of revision and sentence farming. I'll take the textbook I just finished - David and Helen in China - as an example of how I work with textbooks now. This book isn't "challenging" in the sense that I have difficultly working through it. What IS challenging is being able to spontaneously use the grammar/vocabulary in these kinds of books, which I think one needs to master before one can move beyond intermediate, that is, get to the point where you can properly spontaneously communicate in everyday situations, not just understand them.

 

If the textbook has audio (which I think is quite important), before I do anything else I'll listen through the entire audio once or twice until I'm fairly confident I understand the majority of it. Then I'll write (type) the whole dialogue out onto paper/into a word document (depending on whether or not I feel like I'm in the mood for character writing practice). Then, after that, I'll check what I've written against the actual transcript and, in the case of D&H which has a second dialogue with no transcript, ask a native speaker to confirm any sentences I may have doubts or questions about.

 

Second, I'll briefly do the exercises and make a note of what grammar structures or vocabulary I think are interesting. I'll then get all the interesting example sentences from the exercises and the dialogues, and after having my own writing checked, get those sentences too, and turn them into production anki flash cards. - that is, English on the front and Chinese on the back. I drill/review these sentences until I can reproduce the Chinese exactly or almost exactly, even if not "smoothly" or "fluently". If I did recognition cards - if I Chinese audio/characters on the front - I would blow through the flashcards too quickly and wouldn't get much of out of them.

 

When I have time, I'll use audacity to cut out the relevant audio for these sentences or get a native speaker to record the sentences without audio and add them to the flashcards in anki.

 

To use a very specific example from another textbook - the Practical Chinese Reader - I found I didn't really have a good grasp of 作用 and the 起 that goes with it. So I got the following sentences from the dialogues/exercises:

 

這場足球賽我們贏了,老張起的作用很大
你要是想學中國傳統的武術,最好請個老師教,我只能起個輔導員的作用
能不能成為一個優秀的運動人,教練的培養是有很大的作用的
打太極拳對有的病可以起治療的作用

 

When I first saw these kinds of sentences they caused me to pause and think. So they were definitely candidates for flashcards.

 

Extensive Reading

 

I'm not actually sold on the supposed benefits of "extensive reading", namely, that it increases your vocabulary or 語感, at least in terms of crossover to oral communication. My study has been very heavily biased to reading because it's basically what I enjoy most. But this hasn't improved my speaking or listening abilities in the slightest. Even though I can read novels I can never use any of the vocabulary when I speak, and I don't feel like I have a better sense of how to construct sentences while speaking from all the reading I do. In fact I can't even really spit out or understand most basic sentences in daily life, even though I would consider myself almost "literate".

 

One reason might be because there is a big disconnect between spoken and written Chinese. But I think the bigger reason is that there seems to be quite a cognitive gap between reading and writing. Or to be really extreme, I feel like language is inherently verbal. If you can speak a language, once you learn the spelling rules of its written system, I imagine reading/writing comes fairly easily. But I'm not at all confident that it works the other way. Being able to read just seems like being able to grasp an image of the language rather than really internalise it.

 

I think reading (for enjoyment, like novels, essays, etc) shouldn't even consider reading "study" because nothing about it really helps improve my Chinese.

 

歷史 8000

 

My precise process is as follows:

- I'll get the mp3 for whatever the next section is (say 視力). The mp3s have around 30 sentences back to back with English followed by Chinese.

- I'll open it up in Audacity and go through each sentence one by one. First I'll play then export the English sentence.

- I'll then try to come up with a Chinese sentence that reflects the meaning of the English speaker

- Then I'll play the Chinese sentence to see how a native speaker would probably say it, and export that sentence.

- By the end of the process I'll have 30 or so files labelled e01-e30 (English) and c01-c30 (Chinese), with each e* corresponding to a c*

- I'll then back anki flashcards for each sentence, with the E audio on the front and the C audio on the back (and sometimes add 漢字 on the back too for difficult sentences I may want to look at more closely)-

- then I just basically review these cards until their review interval hits around 2 weeks and I feel like it can produce the Chinese without too much difficulty. At this point I;ll just suspend the flashcard.

 

I've got around 5-6 anki decks. Each with hundreds or thousands of sentences from various sources. Most of the cards I haven't started or I have suspended. I never let any big review queues build up. My goal isn't to be able to reproduce these sentences perfectly and on demand long into the future. My goal is more so to internalise and feel comfortable with grammar and word usage. For example one sentence I was drilling/flashcarding today:

 

太陽大到讓她的眼睛睜不開

 

I'm not sure I'll be able to use 到 like this at the moment, or even remember this sentence in a month or two, but I do think I'll remember things like 太陽 being described as 大, and the smaller section 眼睛睜不開.

 

And this means I can create my own sentences like "燈光太刺眼,讓我的眼睛睜不開", where as before I may have tried to say (when i'm trying to speak) really awful things like 我不能看見甚麼

 

If at any point I feel like I'm doing too many reviews I'll just start suspending cards on mass. Instead of just suspending cards I feel like I have mastered, I'll start suspending cards that I have a rough feel for, "probably" got have gotten it, etc. Flashcards are like aggressive grass. You constantly need to mow them.

 

Last note

 

My "advice" for the person who asked isn't to focus on study techniques or methods. If you want to become fluent in Chinese I would simply say you really need to increase the amount of work you do, and perhaps more importantly, increase the amount of real interaction you have with native speakers.

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Flickserve

I think you need to revise your definition of lazy! If what you do is lazy, then I am in a permanent state of frozen activity.

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stapler

Well if "lazy" isn't the appropriate word maybe I should call it "cowardly"; cowardly because I always avoid doing the tough things I probably should do to advance my level - speak and communicate more with native speakers.

 

I had a small victory today. Dropped a " 我的眼睛裡的東西弄得我很痛” spontaneously into an (English) conversation. Usually sudden switches to Chinese confuse people, especially if the tones aren't bang on and perhaps more importantly, if the sentence construction is incorrect. But because I've drilled this one it came out pretty smoothly! Now I'm always looking for opportunities to use my rehearsed sentences or slightly modified versions of them. Love the feeling of saying something that's just "correct" without fuss.Unfortunately unless I'm talking about the most simple/banal things that rarely happens.

 

Also, every time I want to say something in Chinese, but I can't figure out the best way to say it, I now go on lang-8 and make a one sentence post try to write what I wanted to say. After I get a good revision I add that to my flashcards. I like the idea of having sentences that are directly connected to some situation I was in, or think I will be in. Again, this is the problem with the smart.fm sentences (the most popular audio sentence decks on the anki site). The things they talk about just aren't going to come up in any normal conversation.

 

As a part of focusing on what I enjoy, I've also just purchased a Russian language textbook in Chinese. I get a thrill out of 一舉兩得. And reading this textbook is actually far easier than reading a novel. In the process of studying Chinese I've become very familiar with lots of Chinese linguistics language. Combined with the writing necessarily having to be concise rather than literary means reading foreign language textbooks are actually quite straight forward. The other interesting thing is getting a glimpse into on how the Chinese approach learning Russian. As English speakers we can leverage our mother language quite a bit more than a Chinese speaker can when learning Russian. For example, we have a better intuitive grasp of how a rising tone turns a statement into a question, of verb conjugation, etc etc. Chinese speakers seem to have to build up a lot more groundwork. I imagine it may be like Chinese speakers learning Vietnamese or Korean. Even though they aren't even the same language families, there's still more basics they can bring over from the mother language.

 

Finally I've begun reading the Rouzer classical Chinese textbook again. I reread the book from the beginning to where I stopped last time. I hope once I get some more time I can work through more units. I always feel understanding classical Chinese really helps my Mandarin reading ability. Literary sentences that seem somewhat vague and intimidating always feel more straight forward after studying classical Chinese... And I start using 而 a lot more for no good reason when I speak :lol: (not sure if this is a good thing!)

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stapler

The last few weeks I've kept up my routine of drilling sentences from the 8000 sentence book. I'm still amazed at how this is giving me the kind of "day to day" vocabulary I sorely lacked before. Hanging out with Chinese people I'm not that interested in talking about textbook subjects. I wanna say something about how smelly something is or about how good some food tastes. I think each day I find three or four opportunities to use the vocabulary and sentences I'm picking up from this book. It's also a really good way for me to drill my pronunciation. My one concern is that some of the sentences are bit too formal. Again, it's not as bad as the smart.fm anki decks, but you do get the occasional 以致于 type of phrases.  Luckily there's lots of good ones - eg 那可怕的恶臭味是从哪来的 or 老板双手交叉放在胸前盯着提姆看, which I love rattling off spontaneously, or more often, modifying and using for my own particular needs. I feel like I'm getting some really good 语感 from this - which is all I really care about developing at this point.

 

Another problem I've noticed with my speech is that it tends towards the formal. This is not just the result of formal sentence drills but the result of too much reading as well. While what I'll say is often correct I always get told off for sounding too formal - particularly by mainland speakers, who appear more averse to formal language when speaking. The biggest problem however is that I've noticed a really large gap in my reading ability. While I have little trouble with novels I've found things like the Sinolingua graded readers quite difficult to parse. That is, while I can understand what it is trying to say, I always have to slow right down and think carefully about it. This is a product of the dialogue being very 口语. Reading 口语 almost feels like reading a dialect or something to me; understandable, but difficult. This needs to change. So I've decided that my "goal" for the next few months (if I can get the time. ugh) will be to use the Workaudiobook program mentioned in another thread to do some listening exercise with recording dialogue (about 5 hours of audio per book) of these readers and possibly ditch reading novels and go back to some mass 口语 text like the DeFrancis readers.

 

My approach to using the Sinolingua readers will be the same as what I did with textbook dialogues. I'll go through the stories sentence by sentence, repeating the recording as necessary until I understand it, and only checking the book when I get stuck. I think this has been the most effective method for digesting new audio and developing my listening abilities I have tried so far. Hopefully this will get my 口语 语感 a bit more developed too.

 

I managed to do a small bit of Rouzer's Classical Chinese text, but again, I find getting enough spare time to do something like this difficult. But at least I managed to do some. Even one month I think is enough for me and a reasonable goal. Especially considering classical Chinese is not a priority.

 

Finally, I did some "tests" on lang-8. I just started 'recklessly' writing some entries, talking and typing stream-of-consciousness. My goal wasn't to write perfect paragraphs but merely try and gauge the progress of my ability to spontaneously construct Chinese sentences.  I didn't provide any English translations of my posts because I was not interested in having it corrected as much as I was interested in seeing whether native speakers would be able to understand what I wanted to say. I was actually quite happy with the results of this exercise. As before, I had lots of red ink. But a lot of it was minor adjustments rather than heavy editing to make my writing comprehensible. Even though I can neither see nor feel my progress, the type of feedback I got from lang-8 signals that my sentence construction abilities have improved, even if they are still flawed. Indeed I think it'd be quite unreasonable to expect to go from flawed to perfect. And this is what makes judging the progress difficult. I think no matter how much I improve I'll always get red-ink-bombed. But what's important is to notice the change in the style and manner of the feedback. Less "加油's" is a good sign that you're being taken more seriously, but more importantly is seeing the way the feedback changes from serious grammatical corrections to pointing out more appropriate vocabulary and stylistic changes.

 

Finally, psychology, I think I've had a large turn around recently. From being shy about using Mandarin I've become more confident to use it when the situation arises. I've also become more comfortable acknowledging that I cannot follow group conversations about non-basic topics and I'm now taking heart in the fact that I can follow simple conversations of the kinds people would have with children, especially in a one-on-one context.

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stapler

Anyone of the original posters still around? Feel like I've just been left on my own here!

 

The last week I finally managed to do another chapter of Rouzer's classical Chinese book. I also stumbled across a CC poem by accident and found I could read it (get the idea of what it was saying) without too much fuss. It was a great feeling to suddenly have my ability validated like that. I always really enjoy doing Rouzer's book and am grateful I managed to find time to do it this week. I just wish I had more time. I'm growing increasingly jealous of the people who have the opportunity to move overseas to study a language.

 

I still haven't managed to go through my readers with the recorded dialogue as I said I would last week. I may need to put off this kind of time intensive sit down task for a while longer. I did however put some of the DeFrancis intermediate reader recorded audio on my phone and listened to that for a bit. I had no particular goal or reason to listen to this audio. But in the end it gave me some more validation to be able to listen to some Chinese I hadn't heard before and be able to understand it fairly well. I think this is the most important feeling to have when learning a language - the spontaneous recognition of new dialogue/speech/sentences.

 

I have managed to fairly regularly write entries on lang-8 which, after being corrected, I have been repeating to myself as I walk around. I mentioned before the stuff I often write on lang-8 are sentences that I wanted to say in Chinese in a particular situation but could not formulate at the time, or something  I want to tell one of my Chinese friends. Eg. "Can you imagine how angry they'll be if they have even the smallest bit of interference in their experiments?"

 

I have decided that I'm going to make an effort to finish NPCR4. This textbook bores me to tears but I have a compulsion to "finish books" rather than leaving them half done. I think this is a particularly bad habit for language learning, where ditching boring material is probably one of the most important things you should do. One thing that still surprises me is just how impenetrable I find the Beijing/Northern accent. Listening to the NPCR4 videos on youtube with their Beijing accents, every otherwise simple and clear sentence is turned into gobblygook by 兒化. For example, I listened many times the sentence "你買一件兒我送一件兒". Even with context my brain just couldn't stop thinking "what the hell is a jia4?"

 

兒化 is the bane of my exist. Earlier this year it caused me so much grief while watching TV until I discovered Taiwanese TV and mainland shows that were heavily dubbed into "standard" Mandarin. Even in real life when I hear people on the street speaking with northern accents it's just a wall of noise, quite different from the very standard/clear Mandarin most Chinese here speak. Indeed I want to call it a "dialect". I fear my inability to digest 兒化 is going to be a problem in the future. But for now I'm just going to avoid it as much as possible. - Also, one last thing on this topic. I always read on this forum that people want to study in Harbin (or at least, the people selling learning in Harbin) because of its "pure" Mandarin. Hogwash. The most "standard" Mandarin will always come from well-educated youngsters, regardless of the region they grow up in. Maybe this was true a long time ago. But those days have long since gone. Anyway...

 

I got anki set up to add 10 new Chinese sentences taken from various sources (friend's recordings, textbook dialogues, sentence book) each day. I'm pretty consistent about adding sentences and only mark them correct if I get them absolutely correct or my variation is still okay. For example, if I miss a "就" or something, even if the sentence would still be comprehensible, I mark it as wrong. I believe being this strict is necessary to help me really focus on the small stuff that I need to eliminate/improve in my production. I don't think it'll ever fix itself on its own and thus requires conscious attention. The downside is that this is quickly leading to a big anki deck pile up. I'm spending about 1 hour a day now drilling sentences (reading/listening to an English prompt, speaking the Chinese translation aloud, then comparing the Chinese recording). Normally at this point I'd start suspending cards, deleting decks, etc to reduce the time. But I feel like the heavy sentence approach is paying dividends across all my Chinese abilities, including speaking, sentence construction/語感, and even listening. So I may hold off on cutting down for now and hope that as I keep on drilling these sentences I'll get better at producing the correct Chinese thus reducing the rate of the reviews.

 

On another final and somewhat unrelated note, I'm still terrified at how quickly my Russian is progressing compared to my Chinese. Russian is a "hard" (read not Spanish or French) language. But the ease at which I can assimilate it, hear it, produce it is astonishing. I think a part of this might be because I'm a more experienced language learner after spending a few years with Chinese. But more than anything, it's a reminder about how foreign Chinese is to English speakers. And I'm not going to lie, it makes me feel "superior". If someone tells me they're learning a European language, while I'm outwradly polite, deep down I'm secretly thinking "pish, anyone can do that. Maybe if you told me you were doing Japanese or Arabic..." - I know this is bad but I can't help it :P  But also, more than this, I'm really starting to develop a very deep respect for the many millions of Chinese speakers who have learnt English and don't really get any praise for it. The pain they must have gone through I cannot begin to imagine.

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Flickserve

Stapler,

I love reading your updates. I don't have a weekly routine and my routine is rather haphazard. I don't do much. Do you think I should write what little I do do?

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stapler

Feel free to join in (or not!). I'll keep going either way. Just wondering what happened to everyone else :)

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Wurstmann

I also started learning a bit of Russian recently, but I think it's way harder than Chinese. Pronunciation is harder, grammar is harder and words are harder to remember. So I quickly gave up. xD

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Mr John

Like a few other contributors, my Chinese study has slowed right down, but I'm keeping it alive. Just.

 

Not only have I barely been making it to any language exchanges, but the time I spend reading and listening has also declined substantially.

 

Having said that, I still read at least one short article a day and usually listen to or watch something in Chinese most days.

 

Recently I hit up a Chinese cinema on my lonesome and watched a film at random. Fortunately it was half decent, although my expectations were quite low. It was called 追凶也者 (Zhui1xiong1ye3zhe3). It's slow going to begin with but it does pick up. Kind of a black comedy I guess, definitely worth checking out.

 

I will need to reassess what I want to achieve with Chinese during my short uni break coming up and make more concrete study commitments.

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Flickserve

It's been about two years of learning Mandarin though the progress has been slow, partially my own procrastination. I do have the radio on almost everyday listening to putonghua. That's a mixture of passive and active listening.



My major progress this week (and last month) has been dropping any semblance of learning putonghua and learning how to use workaudio book, subs2srs and anki. My major motivation in finally getting to grips with the software was an italki tutor and not understanding her. I bought some recording software, recorded our conversation, cut out my parts, sent her back the recording of the parts I couldn't fully understand, asked her to type out what she said in the conversation and return the text back to me. In 45 minutes of conversation, there were about 50 of her sentences I couldn't really understand. She got a shock as she thought I was able to understand what she said. I think I get the gist but there are just too many holes and I cannot process it fast enough with those holes.

With that, I decided to undertake the technique described by TysonD and Tamu and build up a massive bank of sentences from films, movies and speech with native speakers. I was able to use workaudiobook and subs2srs quite succesfully and import into anki but I had major problems trying to get anki to work. I put up this thread asking for help and once it worked, I had an overwhelming sense of relief and elation (people would refer me to the anki instructions but I couldn't understand the instructions).

 

 

Currently, I working on converting the series "Growing up with Chinese" including audio and screenshots into anki cards. Just by using workbookaudio to create timings and subtitles forces me to listen more and repeatedly. I particularly like listening to 小明 and his mother as I find they are slurring speech or speaking really fast respectively. I am not converting Charlotte MacInnis' speaking.

 

I am have already processed 飲食男女, processing the Pixar film "The Incredibles" and have a couple more in the pipeline where I think the srt files look very promising.

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laurenth

My active listening comprehension exercises through transcription in pinyin have slipped into watery ruts lately. Again.

 

Reason #1 Three or four times in a row, I've chosen audio files that were too difficult. After three aborted attempts I grew kind of disheartened again because of the lack of any noticeable improvement. But if I keep on working, in theory, it's not possible that my listening comprehension could get worse, right? Right?

 

Reason #2: The thing I really like is reading books, and I've indulged into reading quite a lot in August and September. After 林良's 雨天的心晴 and vol. 1 of  三國演義 (白話改寫版) I returned to simplified characters and Yu Hua's 没有一条道路是重复的.

 

Reason #3: A stint in old Chinese territory. I studied Rouzer's A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese, lessons 1 to 9, and then stopped for the time being. It was time to let my stomach digest what I'd been learning. Reading literary Chinese remains a long term objective, but there's no need to hurry.

 

Reason #4: lots of HelloTalk chatting (mainly written but also a couple of live conversations) with several Chinese pen pals. With some of them I've had extensive conversations about a variety of topics. 

 

OTOH, it's not that I've stopped doing listening comprehension exercises but I've mainly listened to De Francis'  "Beginning Chinese" and "Beginning Chinese Reader" audio files - at least I can understand 90% of *that*.

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