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Flickserve

So what have I done recently. 

 

Continued with my TPRS teacher on italki. I did a couple of of evening sessions and definitely less productive. It's also been really cold in HK and sitting in front of the desktop in a cold room freezing my nuts off and trying to get through Chinese hasn't been appealing in the slightest. 

 

Have been messing around with the hellotalk app quite a bit instead. I did get quite a lot of false positives in people contacting me - I suspect my age didn't show up (now changed the setting) and I have also deliberately added a few more years to it. Fewer University students are contacting me. 

 

Despite what I thought about avoiding English teachers who are native Chinese speakers, I have now had second thoughts given my TPRS experience. We tend to avoid English majors because a) their level of English is much higher than our Chinese, and b) a language exchange eventually gets dominated by English and no reciprocal exchange. 

 

So far in Hellotalk, 2 out of the 3 people I have had most exchange with are English primary school teachers. One of them I hadn't realised was an English teacher and we had already got on quite well. She gave me quite a lot of messages in Chinese of her own accord. The second one I told quite early on about the concerns with reciprocating in Chinese and she has been great with the voice messages and the wonderful Beijing accent that I don't understand much of but want to train my listening skills. 

 

It occurred to me this week that a middle aged basic Mandarin learner should be no different to a primary school child in China learning English. A bit of investigation confirmed that these teachers seem to be using techniques similar to TPRS to teach English.... Is there any reason why they can't adapt it to teaching Chinese?

 

Why this train of thought? After many lessons on italki, I am still quite weak on conversation, mainly because of weak vocabulary. Even if I analyse my conversations, separate out the sentences and listen to them again, I am not really assimilating them in a way that I can use for the future. The vocabulary range is just too big for me, even with the theoretical principle of common things should come up more commonly. Italki professional teachers tend to follow the similar teaching methods which are a little uninspiring.

 

A problem to overcome is how they treat me. Being an adult learner invokes a slightly different attitude from the opposite party. They tend to talk as an equal and hence some of the vocabulary is much richer than what they would use on a child. So, I explained that we would have to try simplifying and repeating  sentences during the sessions. There is a natural human  tendency to try and cover as much as possible during a session which really is not in my best interests. 

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BearXiong

Happy to report that I just finished reading my first novel in Chinese! I didn't think it would be possible to read a novel at this stage in my Chinese journey (4.5k words, ~2k characters). I tried to find a super easy novel to read and settled on 深夜小狗神秘事件 which is a Chinese translation of "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time". I think that perhaps the biggest things that made it possible are:

 

(1) I've read the book in another language before, so I'm familiar with the plot.

(2) I used Pleco's file reader to read the text, so I could get a translation of words or look up unfamiliar characters with minimal disruption.

 

Some observations:

(1) I feel a noticeable improvement in my reading ability after having read the book. I feel more confident with the characters I'd already known, and learnt many new ones in the process without really trying.

(2) Vocabulary seems to be easier to learn via reading than watching TV shows. It seems the same vocabulary is repeated more often in books.

(3) Reading seems to be easier than listening. Throughout my Chinese learning journey I spent the vast majority of my time improving my listening skills. Despite this, my reading skills are quickly catching up, and I imagine if I read a book every month or two then in a year or so I'll be better at reading than listening. I think one reason why reading seems easier is that with decent character knowledge you can infer many words that would be very difficult to do when listening.

 

Anyway, looking forward to reading more books! Just hope my listening skills don't stagnate.

 

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AdamD

My listening has not been as good this week, so conversations haven't been working out as well. I don't know why but I'm not fretting about it. There really hasn't been a lot of time to do more italki lessons, so I've not gone back to that since last weekend either.

 

After several years of routinely giving up on 注音符號, yesterday I decided it's time to force myself to use it on my phone. Last night was painful but today's merely slow. I can see this coming together inside a couple of weeks. This is important because I need the 注音 keyboard installed for when I give a Taiwanese person my phone to type something, but also because iOS11 has a crappy bug which throws up a random keyboard, usually 注音.

 

HelloTalk-type language exchange has been painful this week, mainly because of the sheer number of 'hi' and 'how are u' that don't go anywhere (see below). I told one weeks-old 網友 from south Taiwan that I'm going to north Taiwan, and they insisted on travelling 300 km just to visit me. I had to put my foot down fairly forcefully — I will not lose whole days of my short holiday to someone off the internet who doesn't understand boundaries. I'm anticipating more of this, which is frustrating because I'm doing all I can to impress upon 網友 that I want to meet people, casually, 順便, in the real world before I'd even consider going to that sort of trouble.

 

 

8 hours ago, Flickserve said:

We tend to avoid English majors because a) their level of English is much higher than our Chinese, and b) a language exchange eventually gets dominated by English and no reciprocal exchange. 

 

Your experience is interesting. Perhaps there's a big difference between those people who are actively studying English teaching and know how to teach others, and English beginners who can't string together more than a few words but insist on speaking all-English anyway (I had to brush off two of these recently).


 

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AdamD

This has been a quiet week. I've done no voice practice at all because I've been tired and distracted. My only real achievement was to ditch the 拼音 phone keyboard to force myself to use 注音, and it's going pretty well.

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imron
4 hours ago, AdamD said:

 My only real achievement was to ditch the 拼音 phone keyboard to force myself to use 注音

The next step, once you feel proficient in 注音 is to ditch 注音 and force yourself to use handwriting recognition :mrgreen:

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Balthazar
On 6/3/2017 at 5:39 PM, Vanderlander said:

Reading - It took me about 4 different novels before finding one I could make it to the end of, 猫眼 (readable even for HSK4 learners!), and even then it took 4 months to finish that.

 

Who is the author? I wasn't able to find any information about this book (admittedly I didn't dig deeper than the first search result page of Baidu).

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CherrylS

My reading has been miles better from my listening for quite a while. So I've been listening to a lot of shows and stopped looking at subs. I can finally feel that payed off as I can now understand most  standard speech in interviews and talk-shows.

I also finished 2 novels, which is something quite frankly I never thought I'd be able to do.

My anki deck is now at 5000 cards, half-way from my goal.

 

 

I guess the nice thing about reading being miles ahead from listening is that I can always reference to the subtitles if I missed something.

 

Next stop is HSK 5, but there is a writing section.

 

The word scrambles aren't a problem for me, but I'm not sure to go about the pure writing part. I don't have a tutor to correct me. If anyone has advice, please let me know.

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Flickserve

So it's been two months since updating because simply being nothing to update! 

 

Chinese New year killed my enthusiasm off and without the environmental stimulus, I dropped languages learning. Spending time on my sports might have been a contributing factor.

 

I still play a bit on Hellotalk. It is a good platform to meet people to try and get a bit of practice. Just like reality, people are busy, times don't match, personalities may not match. The good thing is that there are lots of people. In the end, my preference is to pay people for their time like I do on italki.

 

To get back into languages and to get back the interest, I chose something easier to manage and a slightly different methodology. Most of my italki lessons have been Mandarin conversations. This time I took a Cantonese class. Of course, it's much easier for me to have a discussion in Cantonese since I use it everyday. But there are a fair number of colloquial expressions or formal vocabulary which goes past me. For instance, this one

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdsZYwtr1-E 

 

It's funny and very involved with local culture. What I try to do is repeat what I heard and we discuss the meaning and nuances either using Chinese or using English. The lesson went quite well though typically, I can't remember most of the new vocabulary except for 掉金龟。

 

I tried the same for a Mandarin lesson. This time, I had to select a tutor who isn't in China in order to access YouTube. I selected two short videos which were sports videos of badminton. One was made by a ex national Chinese player. Unfortunately, for that one the teacher said she could not understand the heavy regional Hunan accent of the player! I was hoping use that to improve 听力. Instead, we used the second video with slightly more standard Mandarin. That went fairly smoothly with some new vocabulary in a weaker second language. 

 

Real life conversations are painfully few. I would put my present level of Mandarin as still being very basic. Can survive but very basic. 

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Flickserve

Just to recap. 

 

Hellotalk - got bored of it

 

Italki - carried on with a few lessons. Need to revise the material. Had a couple more lessons with the TPRS tutor except she did free conversation instead. Didn't like that at all. Need to be clear with her next time. 

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mungouk

@Flickserve I've only just heard of TPRS... could you explain how it works for you on italki/skype?  Are you doing it 1:1 or in a group?

 

If there's a post already out there that I've not been able to find feel free to point me that way.

 

btw this old post  says "(If you don't know what TPRS is, here's a great video from Terry Waltz, explaining it, or here's a simple introduction I wrote on TPRS)" but both the blog and the vimeo video have since disappeared... if anyone knows where to find them (or something equivalent) it would be good to know.

 

Thanks!

 

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LuDaibola
11 hours ago, Flickserve said:

Had a couple more lessons with the TPRS tutor

 

Flickserve, I'm completely sold on TPRS even though I've only watched videos of Terry Waltz and Diane Neubauer and have never had the opportunity to participate in a class.  How did you find a tutor who understood the method?  I'm new enough to social media and this forum that I don't know if you can publish her information; if not, can you tell me how you found her?  Thanks very much.

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Flickserve

https://youtu.be/D9jKfHRZQfs

 

@mungouk

 

TPRS is a story telling technique. The teacher guides you through a story with visual images gradually building up vocabulary and asking you repetitive questions. It doesn't assume that if you have already said an answer correctly, that it is already at your fingertips. You get asked the questions again to groove your recall and speaking. From my experience, the amount of new vocabulary is not especially large over the course of the lesson.

 

I just do it 1:1. Prefer it that way. 

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mungouk

Thanks @Flickserve!  

And how did you go about finding someone on italki who knows it (do you need to be trained?) and was willing to do it online?

(I love italki btw, or rather I love my teacher in Shanghai who I found on there... we mostly use zoom for lessons.)

 

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Flickserve
4 minutes ago, mungouk said:

And how did you go about finding someone on italki who knows it (do you need to be trained?) and was willing to do it online?

 

It is stated in the profile of that particular teacher. :D Mei Ho

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AaronUK
5 minutes ago, mungouk said:

And how did you go about finding someone on italki who knows it (do you need to be trained?) and was willing to do it online?

 

Hi, not sure if this would help but I did try a lesson with https://www.italki.com/teacher/3292840 before who seemed to follow this type of approach. it was a long time ago so you might want to clarify what you are expecting haha.

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mungouk

Ah OK.... it appears that on italki you can use the advanced search and put in TPRS under "skills", which brings up Mei Ho, among others.  Thanks guys. 

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Flickserve
10 minutes ago, mungouk said:

it appears that on italki you can use the advanced search and put in TPRS under "skills"

 

Good tip. Not many Chinese teachers using this method. To be fair,  the vast proportion I have tried are community tutors. 

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LuDaibola

Thanks everyone...I wasn't aware of these options.

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sekkar

Going from studying Chinese full-time abroad to working full-time back home sure is rough. I never felt I was progressing that fast back then either, but now I feel like I'm barely moving forward. I guess I just have to get used to the fact that it will probably take me 3-4 more years to reach the level I'm aiming for.

 

As for my studies, I've mostly being focusing on my passive skills the last 3 months back home. Lots of Chinese TV-series, books and videogames. Also found a textbook (Advanced reader of contemporary chinese short stories, reflections on humanity) cheap on bookdepository.com which looks promising, planning on starting on that this weekend.

 

 

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