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mackie1402

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stapler

Haven't done anything Chinese related for a few months. Strangely I don't feel like any of my abilities have deteriorated. I suspect that may for similar reasons I don't feel like I'm making progress any more as well. I'm going to try and get back to Anki, which now has many reviews piled up. I might just have to delete them and start again with some fresh material anyway. I plan to restart practicing by watching the rest of the second season of Huanlesong, which due to more dubbing, is easier to understand than the first season (or maybe I got use to their accents... except for Guanguan, her Dongbei accent is often impenetrable for me. Ugh.)

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winterpromise31

Stapler, good luck with your Anki reviews! I ended up deleting mine and starting all over because I was SO far behind. 

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stapler

I've been in magical Chinaland for the last 3 weeks. I'm in the south where in an area where no one speaks Mandarin. The downside is that I never actually get to practice any Mandarin. Well, I can, but everyone will reply to me in dialect or Mandarin so heavily influenced by the dialect I have immense trouble comprehending what they say. The upside is because I am largely linguistically isolated I have plenty of time to study Mandarin; time that I lacked in Australia due to other commitments. It's not ideal to be practice by myself (especially when I'm in the country of the language!) but it is still better than nothing. The other upside is that I get to try and learn a new dialect, or at least the basics of it. I'm always amazed at the geographical limitations of village dialects, that is, how quickly they can become incomprehensible after going more than 30km from their source, and how they begin diverging after a few kilometres of distance between speakers.

 

Most of my interactions are with children because they are the only Mandarin speakers I have access too. The benefits of speaking with children is that they often naively assume I can understand everything they say and don't degrade in the slow and slightly condescending tone some adults can revert to once they realise you cannot speak Chinese. Children also don't want to talk about politics or make endless comparisons with China and the West. A few days ago I was helping a kid with his English homework. I realised that Southern kids have much more difficulty with English because they can't distinguish F and H, S and SH, or L and R. This poor kid could only pronounce "shy" as "sigh" and "fresh" as "flesh".

 

When I first arrived in China a few weeks ago I found I could understand a great deal more than the last time I was here 2 years ago. I would not consider myself fluent and I still struggle with every single conversation I have. But it became obvious I had made some progress. Disappointingly however I realise it will take another five years to get to an elementary command of spoken Mandarin. By learning the language outside of the language environment I have achieved an acceptable grasp of the written language but at the cost of my audio abilities, which are by far more important. I again believe it is not possible to learn this language without living in the country as the amount of audio input I require to get a basic level of spoken fluency and comprehension is cannot be practically gained living at home.

 

 

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Flickserve

Had another break from Mandarin. Fitness is going really well and I double promoted on two occasions for taekwondo. A bit of a quirk but because of taekwondo, I actually get more contact with native Korean speakers in HK than I do with native Mandarin speakers in HK. Did go to Jeju island and Seoul for the first time on holidays and there was a lot of Mandarin being spoken to cater for the tourists. A pity I am not into shopping.

 

 

I did an italki instant tutoring lesson this week. Again, the tutor said I speak Mandarin like a HK person. I have always interpreted this as having poor pronunciation and beat myself up about it.

 

However, the tutor went on to stress it is not an accent issue. My 口語 is essentially chinese thinking with HK style. He said the way I speak in Mandarin is not how a native English speaker learning Chinese would speak. This calmed me down quite a lot because in the past, I have been freaking out about poor pronunciation and that any Mandarin speaker saying nice things about my Mandarin I have regarded as just being polite in my face. So, I have had some progress after all.

 

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edelweis
4 hours ago, Flickserve said:

I double promoted on two occasions for taekwondo

Well done :clap so what's your current rank?

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stapler
11 hours ago, Flickserve said:

I did an italki instant tutoring lesson this week. Again, the tutor said I speak Mandarin like a HK person. I

Which as you note, is fantastic. Not imposing English logic onto Chinese is one of the hardest things for learners. At least, I presume, Cantonese logic is much more similar!

 

Also I have a theory about the rank of compliments (though maybe I read this somewhere else , so sorry if I'm stealing someone else's thoughts). I'm not sure where "you speak like a HKer" fits in this ladder. Or if it does at all.

 

When you learn to say hello Chinese will say "wow you can speak Chinese!"

 

When you can tell them your name or ask if it's hot they'll say "Wow your Chinese is so fluent!"

 

When you can carry out basic conversations they'll say "Your Chinese is very standard!"

 

When you can freely communication but with problems they'll stop complimenting you.

 

When you are almost fluent they'll start criticising the flaws in your Chinese

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Flickserve
10 hours ago, edelweis said:

what's your current rank?

 

On this TF grading system, blue belt after starting in Feb. I took the first test after about 4 weeks.

 

2 hours ago, stapler said:

I'm not sure where "you speak like a HKer" fits in this ladder. Or if it does at all.

 

 

The last two. But usually I am with tutors.

 

Ask the person if they are hot?

 

2 hours ago, stapler said:

ask if it's hot

 

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Flickserve

IP

 

23 hours ago, stapler said:

Which as you note, is fantastic. Not imposing English logic onto Chinese is one of the hardest things for learners. At least, I presume, Cantonese logic is much more similar!

 

On reflection, it should have been obvious. Why did this particular tutor point it out whereas others didn't? I believe it is the background of the tutor. Although he is from North China, he has been living and teaching Mandarin in Singapore for a number of years. So, I guess he appreciates regional differences and styles more so. 

 

The aim is to speak to a more mainland Mandarin style. Do I really need to? It's always helpful but no need to excessively fret about it. I should still concentrate on 聽力。 

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stapler

@Flickserve i meant ask if the weather is hot. This question I get asked multiple times every day. "热不热?". Its up there with “吃饭了没?"

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Flickserve

It's funny how small things might motivate oneself. Met a new person who had been working in shenzhen. He is fluent in Cantonese, can read Chinese, spent a lot of high school and first degree overseas using English. He had been working on improving his Mandarin, reading, asking colleagues to show no restrictions if he spoke mistakes in his Mandarin and giving lectures in Mandarin. Just talking with him gave me a kick of incentive to look at my learning materials again.

 

I have taken a couple more lessons on italki. Essentially, the instructor reported I am able to express my ideas fairly OK. The smoothness of delivery and some of the tone accuracy leaves something to be desired but that's understandable if I haven't practiced speaking so much. I just have to do more shadowing practice.

 

 @stapler, something has happened to my listening skills whilst not actively learning. I just seem to be picking up listening to words a little faster than before if not slurred. Listened to some new  intermediate learning materials and surprisingly found them very manageable. 

 

Of course my vocabulary range is small (always my Achilles heel). However, definitely more comfortable with listening. After my lessons, I listen back on the recording, identify the words I didn't know and those sentences are sent back to the tutor to type out for me to examine the unknown vocabulary.

 

Unfortunately, I missed a lesson but I have identified vocabulary that I am interested in and will discuss this vocabulary with the instructor to try and reinforce them better. Although I have reviewed vocabulary in the past, it's been more passive with just reading, translation, looking and repeated listening. Maybe active discussion will help reinforcement.

 

Another process to do is to separate out those sentences which I only got my expression wrong. Let's say the sentence was expressed incorrectly and the instructor gives a better one with vocabulary that I already know. That sentence is put into a mp3 to be used for shadowing practice as opposed to just listening. Hopefully, this will aid delivery of speaking more native like expressions.

 

As you can imagine, this reviewing takes up a lot of time. One hour lesson analysis might need 3 to 4 hours of reviewing/analysis time.

 

Benefits of the method: examining and understanding each single word of a sentence spoken and thus the whole meaning rather than most of it plus a bit of guessing, lots of repetitive listening practice of a relevant real life conversation from editing the sound file. Thus the cost effectiveness of a single lesson based on conversation practice is very good.

 

Drawbacks: reduced variety of input since time is taken away from potentially talking to another person or moving on to another topic (referring to non-immersive environment). Less interesting. Need to learn audio editing software. I have Adobe Audition as part of a package and use that but Audacity should be quite adequate. 

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stapler

What happened to studying Korean instead?!

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Flickserve
4 hours ago, stapler said:

What happened to studying Korean instead?!

 

I learnt a couple of words a week.

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Flickserve
On 25/04/2017 at 3:13 PM, AdamD said:

 

I'm now so familiar with how plateaus happen (or don't happen, as is actually the case) that I'm completely confident any perceived lack of progress is just an illusion. Now even my worst listening days are far from terrible, and my best days are fantastic

 

It's great to look back at past discussions as a refresher. With experience of learning a different skill and the advice of this forum plus a bit of time, I also have more confidence in getting through the plateaus.

 

I am still quite far away from understanding TV native Mandarin but it is getting better. TV can be quite boring. Vlogs are more interesting but can be very difficult. 

 

It was nice to speak to a linguistics friend about learning languages. For her, she said she gets interested in looking for patterns in the language. I have read about this before but what you read sometimes doesn't go to the head very well. So, with a renewed sense of hope, I move on. 

 

Because Glossika is having a sale and discontinuing their MP 3, I bought some language packs (other languages) to take around and listen to for a bit of variety. The Cantonese one I can pretty much understand 97+%. I have just written to them to see if I can add on Mandarin as a triangulation package to experiment on. Bit concerned that the Cantonese will even more adversely affect my Mandarin pronunciation but why not try first. Isn't just a matter of practice?

 

My last encounter with a native Mandarin speaker was at a badminton social get together a few days ago. She happens to be an ex world Champion at badminton. I got tongue tied. I mean, what sort of small talk questions can you ask to somebody who has been prominent in the media? It is just a very different situation. Wish I could have done better there.

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mackie1402

Can't believe it's still going! Good work on keeping up the logs everyone! 

 

I've been absent from the forum for quite a while now. I've been expanding the school at work and we're about to open a Chinese Language branch within the next few months so been extremely busy! 

 

As for studies, I've decided to go the Zhejiang University (hopefully) next September to study their 4 year Chinese Bachelor degree. I'm currently in the prepping stage. I'm trying to fit in as much study as I can these days, but probably only getting close to 30-60 minutes a day. Aside from that I'm speaking a lot more to parents at my school. They used to always speak English, but recently they've discovered I can speak Chinese so now more and more are happy to approach me to have a chat. I don't know why I never spoke more before! 

 

My adult learners are actually using Glossika to practice English, so it's nice that I can use the Chinese to get them to say the English. 

 

I've not really studied grammar in a long, long time, but something's just clicked. Anyone else had that? Recently I've been sending messages to my wife to check my messages/emails are correct. For a while I thought she was just glancing at what I wrote and saying 'Yeah, it's fine', but when I asked her honestly she said they were all correct. It's nice to see progress in a real life situation! 

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Flickserve
On 10/11/2017 at 10:59 AM, mackie1402 said:

My adult learners are actually using Glossika to practice English, so it's nice that I can use the Chinese to get them to say the English. 

 

How do you deal with the pronunciation differences? American versus British thing.

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Flickserve

Although I still listen to Chinese sentences on the go, and listen to Chinese radio (which is above me), there's a lot of variability in what I can understand. 

 

This week:

 

A) Spoke to a client in Mandarin. Went quite OK. I know some parts of my speech are inaccurate but I was understood. 

 

B) went into a Taiwanese food place and for the first time for me living in HK, the waitress started off speaking Mandarin straight off the bat. I couldn't really read the menu as it was written on a paper that I had to mark down my choice and the characters were really, really small. Next time I will take a photo of it, and try OCR. I sort of half understood the waitress so that's not too bad. 

 

C) another day, walking around in another area, I saw a Beijing dumpling shop and dropped in for a snack. Lo and behold, this  waitress also started off in Mandarin. Two times in a week. I made my order and she asked me if I wanted some type of sauce (couldn't catch the full name). I said yes. The 'sauce' arrived - it was a cup of soya milk... At least this mistake was pretty harmless. 

 

 

I just happened to listen to some French language recordings. Although I haven't practiced it since school and I didn't do that well at it at school, it was a bit of a surprise to still be able to understand French sentences. The amount of time I have spent listening to Chinese compared to French is a huge difference, yet the listening skills in French seem just easier. Mandarin doesn't really come that much easier even though I have Cantonese (proficient second language level). Quite interesting. 

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imron
12 hours ago, Flickserve said:

she asked me if I wanted some type of sauce (couldn't catch the full name). I said yes. The 'sauce' arrived - it was a cup of soya milk... At least this mistake was pretty harmless. 

I remember learning this way too.  We used to just point at random things on the menu and see what we'd get.

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stapler

I've pretty much stopped actively learning Chinese. Or rather studying it in any meaningful way due to time constraints. Nonetheless it seems I've managed to get some non-planned practice! I recently started a new job which as it turned out involves working with some Chinese people. Because it's work I didn't really want to use anything except English to avoid any communication problems. Nonetheless after the Chinese realised I could understand what they were saying, they very quickly changed to speaking only Chinese to me (they feel they can't express what they want to say in English). We now have a normal working relationship where they speak to me in Chinese all day and I reply in English (unless I want to say something secretly or cut other people out of the convo, in which case I use my broken but understandable Chinese). When messaging or emailing them, everything is in Chinese (unless other people need to be included in the exchanges). It's quite funny because everyone else is all really nonplussed by the situation. It's nothing that I forced or encouraged, but just something that we slipped into. I think most remarkably for me is that I have very little trouble understanding what they're saying. I think I've only asked them twice to re-clarify something in English. I never thought I'd end up working partially in Chinese!.  I feel really grateful to be in this situation. Unfortunately it's not going to be a permanent arrangement due to some business changes. But I am nonetheless treasuring this time.

 

It seems sometimes you can go a month or two without speaking or practising at all,  and then perhaps somewhat like Flickserve, you have an experience like this that builds up your confidence by showing you that you can actually do something practical with the language after all.

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Flickserve
On 24/11/2017 at 1:35 PM, stapler said:

We now have a normal working relationship where they speak to me in Chinese all day and I reply in English (unless I want to say something secretly or cut other people out of the convo, in which case I use my broken but understandable Chinese).

 

Your speaking skills must be improving, right? 

 

This week was a slow week. One of my italki tutors sent back some sentences of 老北京 style speech spoken slightly more slowly. I haven't had time to go through the present batch of sentences. I find this accent particularly difficult to comprehend. Learning standard mandarin is fine in itself but the gap to 老北京口音 is just tricky and I need some stepwise learning material. 

 

I was attending an international badminton event this week. The winner of the ladies singles is from Taiwan. I was listening intently to the interview amongst the other reporters. Alas, I didn't record the interview as it would have been good material to review. It was about 20-40% comprehension for the questions asked in Mandarin and answered in Mandarin. However when the questions were posed in English, translated to Mandarin (less complex Mandarin) and answered in Mandarin, my comprehension went straight up to 80% (before the translation back to English). 

 

Here is a picture of the winner on court and another at the interview. 

 

 

AG1I1292.jpg

AG1I0637.jpg

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stapler

I feel like a lot of our struggles are very similar. I know I've written at length about my own difficulties with the Beijing accent. I think a lot of it is just a matter of exposure. I think I'm slowly getting more use to it the more I hear it.

 

I use to play badminton 3 times I week, but I've never been to a professional game. It'd be great to see. Very jealous!

 

----

 

My own mini update. So the last few weeks I've been working in a funny Mandarin/English mix. This was just something that accidentally arose and really reinvigorated my interest in getting back to 'studying' Chinese rather than just using it on the odd occasion. I've increased my daily 'study' up from 30mins to a day to about an hour. I deleted a lot of old material that was just turning into a review timesink and put some fresh stuff in. But I think more than anything, using Mandarin at work each day has built up my confidence with the language and my willingness to use it with Chinese speakers (where as before I would feel quite uncomfortable knowing that communication could just be done much more easily in English).

 

After a bit of a Chinese drought, by good fortune, I also got another opportunity (besides work and occasionally dealing with Chinese-only speaking customers) where I really had to give my Chinese a thorough workout. A friend of mine had his grandfather visiting but had to go to work for half a day. He didn't want to leave his grandfather on his own so he called me in to take care of him. The grandfather speaks some kind of weird dialect/Mandarin hybrid. It's very difficult to understand but I successfully managed to get him what he wants, take him around, show him around the city etc. We had a lot of fun and I got a good solid 4 hours intense Chinese practice with no possibility of recourse to English. Now I want to look after grandpa every day!

 

Although my Chinese has plateaued, it feels great to start finally making the transition to some real life usage.

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