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mackie1402

Weekly Intermediate Study Updates - join in!

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Mr John

It has been interesting to read others thoughts regarding the Mandarin Companion version of "Great Expectations." I'm kind of in the same boat as you both. It was cool to be able to fly through it with very few look-ups and reinforce some grammar patterns, vocabulary etc, but obviously with such a stringent word limits it was always going to be an impossible task to give the characters real depth. I estimate that it took me between 5-6 hours to get through both volumes.

 

Recently, I've started reading short stories again on a website I found a while back called justlearnchinese, but I'm not sure what my next book will be as of yet.

 

I'm currently using 汉语口语速成 (提高篇).

 

My speaking and listening are quite a bit stronger than my reading and writing, so I'm usually fairly relaxed at language exchanges. Obviously it's still challenging, but it's a great way to pick up words and expressions you're unlikely to find in a textbook. My approach is generally to ask an open question then do my best to weather the storm which follows.

 

I believe there is a thread on this very site regarding sub-vocalisation. Have a read through if you get time.

 

Lastly, it's nice to see this group growing, hope to see even more people joining in the coming days and weeks!

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Napkat

Mackie - I found the reading to be the toughest part. I'd forgotten so many characters over the course of six months that it was just embarrassing (600, to be precise). A knock-on effect of this was that it seriously affected my reading score, so I've decided to almost completely focus on character learning until my retake in April. Ahh, Skritter! I used it for a while and found it fantastic, but the obscenely high price tag (especially on subscription) is nothing short of terrifying. If I can get a job once I'm back home, I'll definitely consider buying it. I find Anki fantastic - it's been brilliant for writing out mnemonics in English and using those to practice character writing; if I pass my next HSK attempt, I certainly owe thanks to that gorgeous little piece of kit. As for next week, I've just put my wallet under a bus and forked out for Glossika's 123 Fluent program. Annoyingly I can't seem to download it due to having hit a weird 'limit' (thanks, Amazon) and the owners being on holiday until the 15th, so I'm holding out until then to make a start on that. I'm currently packing to leave China in two days, so it looks like overall I might be a tad busy; I want to learn at least 50 new characters and complete two textbook lessons, though. How about you?

 

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xit

Wah, I just realised it's been over a week. I guess my update is going to be a bit embarrassing ^^;

 

I think, for the first few days, I was in some kind of a daze...Somehow the hours would pass by unnoticed, and by the time 'chinese' would pop into my head, it was already very late and my concentration was gone. Zero focus...So, i figured the best way to improve my concentration and focus > meditation...And, surprise surprise, I think it's working. I am more present, it seems easier to focus on reading and even the millions and millions of unknown words don't discourage me, it's so much easier to learn new words, and I have actually written a few diary entries in chinese, mind you with probably horrible grammar and syntax, but hey, it actually felt like me pouring my heart out on the paper. Why I have never thought of incorporating meditation into my study schedule is beyond me. I'm also considering exercizing more often, maybe adding more cardio and learning headstands and stuff, something that would actually help me with my study. Any advice?

 

One of my (relatively) short term goals is to be able to read modern love stories without the help of a dictionary. The cheesy kind, with everyday vocab, nothing fancy. Right now, I'm actually enjoying looking up words all the time. It makes me feel like I'm working hard. And I really like the story. It's just that I've realised that there are so many common words that I don't know. Does anyone know, roughly, what the 'chick flick level' is? How much do I have to know to be able to just read them, for fun, without 'working hard'? It'd be really useful to have a more precise goal, and maybe even some advice on how to attain it? Thank you, thank you.

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li3wei1

Don't know how long it's been for me, but I read about a quarter of my kiddie version of 水浒传, did an hour with my italki tutor, and did a rough draft of the translation that Roddy brought to our attention in another post, the Leeds competition (don't have much of a chance, but it's as good a focus for effort as any). Also went through 3 chapters of the Journey to the West adaptation on Epic Mandarin. No flashcards. I have to fly to the US for the weekend, so wondering what book to take with me. Also a little distracted because I've decided to learn Esperanto, and am working through it on Duolingo. Just because it's easy.

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Mr John

Two weeks in and we're already struggling haha.

 

Last week wasn't the best. While I managed two language exchanges, I only learnt new characters on three out of the five planned days.

 

On the plus side, I have been picking up a few interesting words here and there.

 

I'm also very close to finishing the BFG. There were parts where my comprehension dropped substantially, but overall it has been a good challenge.

 

Lastly, after a year off, I have started using the Hellotalk app again. It has been more manageable this time around, as I've set strict limits on when I use it so that it doesn't interfere with my core study.

 

P.S - I really like the DuChinese app, it's just a shame there aren't more stories released each day.

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mackie1402

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday! My update is well overdue!

 

This has been my busiest week at work with plenty of overtime. I’ve been getting an average 3 hours sleep for the last 5 days! However, next week my mornings become free in preparation for the language course I will be starting.

 

Long story short, this week I’ve:

  • Not touched any ChinesePod
  • Read up to 50% of my Great Expectation Part 2
  • Breakthrough – I always have a translator to talk to my clients, even in person. This week I’ve had a lot more work so I’ve started doing the communicating myself. I was actually shocked how well I could handle this. The clients were delighted they could talk directly to me too.

I’ve still got a few more busy days ahead, so I’m not expecting to get too much studying done. Next week will be a nice catch up week with plenty of free time. I’ll update again on Monday and even update some of the new resources I’ve came across.

 

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Bigdumogre

Time to face the truth

 

Been sick for the past 5 days with the flu and my concentration has been horrible.  After studying for 10 min I wanted to nap and my head was pounding. Did do a few thing though-

 

1. Chinese pod - went through several old lesson and learned 2 new ones

2. pimsluers audio - Did 1 new lesson and reviewed a few old ones

3. NPCR - none :(

4. Learn 5 new words a day - learned a few through courses but not what I was trying to accomplish

 

Hopefully this cold will be gone soon and doing a NPCR on the train home today 

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mackie1402

So it’s Monday. I said I would update so here it is.

 

Last week was pretty awful for studying. Like I said, I was extremely busy. However, today is a new day!

 

First things first, in the moring I headed to the gym. Thought this would kick start my day, and it did!

I got home and picked out ‘Go For Chinese 4’. Ive got Go For Chinese levels 4-8, but never touched them! I opened up to Unit 2 (unit 1 was a typical Chinese Holiday unit, had enough of those)

 

I opened the audio file in Adobe Audition and play the first dialogue a few times to listen. Then I slowed it down to 90% speed and really try to get a good understanding. Not too many problems. Next I opened up my book and read the dialogue a couple of times. I then then researched the new vocabulary. I put each item in my Pleco flashcards, then in my notebook made a few other notes such as using the vocabulary. I also wrote down any things I was still confused by (Stative verbs vs English adjectives!).

Once I had the dialogue nailed, I played it looped, sentence by sentence and done some shadowing.

 

All in all I’m pleased with how my day went. I think i’ll try and keep this style of studying this week. We can see how it goes!

 

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Mr John

I managed my five days of new characters last week.

 

I also finished the book I had been reading.

 

After some deliberation, I have decided to drop the t.v show I mentioned and search for a new one.

 

I started listening to intermediate level Popup Chinese lessons again on repeat. It has been a great way to dispel the notion that I'm anywhere near intermediate haha.

 

Finally, I managed two language exchanges last week. Also found out that I have neighbors down the road with Chinese home stays. I ended up having a brief chat brief chat with them in both English and Mandarin. The Chinese student provided with the most blunt assessment of my Chinese that I have been given in a while, which was good.

 

Happy studying all!

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li3wei1

had to go to far away for the weekend, and managed to chew through two stories in Capturing Chinese Revolutionary short stories book while on trains and planes. I'm not sure the vocabulary in these stories is what I need right now, and I don't seem to be retaining it as easily, so will go back to textbook stuff as soon as I can. It's a handy book for traveling though, as I hardly needed to use pleco, and there wasn't much page-flipping either. I like the layout. An index of all glossed items in the back would be useful, but would probably also take up half the book.

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mackie1402

 

 

had to go to far away for the weekend, and managed to chew through two stories in Capturing Chinese Revolutionary short stories book while on trains and planes. I'm not sure the vocabulary in these stories is what I need right now, and I don't seem to be retaining it as easily, so will go back to textbook stuff as soon as I can. It's a handy book for traveling though, as I hardly needed to use pleco, and there wasn't much page-flipping either. I like the layout. An index of all glossed items in the back would be useful, but would probably also take up half the book.

 

Although it might not be the best vocab to be trying to retain at this stage, it's still some input! It's always nice to be reading without too much page flipping! 

 

 

 

I started listening to intermediate level Popup Chinese lessons again on repeat. It has been a great way to dispel the notion that I'm anywhere near intermediate haha.

 

Mr John, I know how you feel! I've just set up some smart playlists for my ChinesePod dialogues and textbook dialogues. The ChinesePod's are all intermediate and aren't a problem, however the textbook series I've just started is called "Elementary Level". There are 8 books in this series which are all called elementary and there are a total of 4000 words in the 8 books! I love how only a few words off of the highest HSK and the books still call it elementary.But I like this! I know too many people who have passed HSK 6 and still struggle in day to day communication. I for one wish they brought up the old HSK tests with a lot more demanding levels. So from now on rather than judging my HSK or ChinesePod, if anyone asks me 'what level are you?', I will say I'm elementary until I finish this series  :lol:

 

 

Been sick for the past 5 days with the flu and my concentration has been horrible.  After studying for 10 min I wanted to nap and my head was pounding. Did do a few thing though-

 

1. Chinese pod - went through several old lesson and learned 2 new ones

2. pimsluers audio - Did 1 new lesson and reviewed a few old ones

3. NPCR - none  :(

4. Learn 5 new words a day - learned a few through courses but not what I was trying to accomplish

 

Hopefully this cold will be gone soon and doing a NPCR on the train home today 

 

It's all progress! Sooner or later you would have to review some of these anyway, so at least they've been reviewed now! It's the worst feeling when you make a plan then something occurs like being sick, but I suppose that's life! I only did Pimsleur Level 1 and tracks 1-5. That was the first Chinese materials I ever had. It was really nice being able to throw together the 'I can speak a little Chinese' within a few hours! But I didn't get on with the rest of it. 

 

 

 

Mackie - I found the reading to be the toughest part. I'd forgotten so many characters over the course of six months that it was just embarrassing (600, to be precise). A knock-on effect of this was that it seriously affected my reading score, so I've decided to almost completely focus on character learning until my retake in April. Ahh, Skritter! I used it for a while and found it fantastic, but the obscenely high price tag (especially on subscription) is nothing short of terrifying. If I can get a job once I'm back home, I'll definitely consider buying it. I find Anki fantastic - it's been brilliant for writing out mnemonics in English and using those to practice character writing; if I pass my next HSK attempt, I certainly owe thanks to that gorgeous little piece of kit. As for next week, I've just put my wallet under a bus and forked out for Glossika's 123 Fluent program. Annoyingly I can't seem to download it due to having hit a weird 'limit' (thanks, Amazon) and the owners being on holiday until the 15th, so I'm holding out until then to make a start on that. I'm currently packing to leave China in two days, so it looks like overall I might be a tad busy; I want to learn at least 50 new characters and complete two textbook lessons, though. How about you?

 

The best piece of advice I can give is find a new textbook series and review with them. When I first studied our University books I was slowly getting through them. After the language course I had a break and wanted to review. I hated going back to the same Uni books. I was just remembering the texts, not reviewing. So I decided to buy NPCR 2-4 and started going through them daily. The first levels were 1 lesson per day. They were easy but fresh and fun again! Now I'm getting back to a serious studying routine, I've started a new textbook series called Go For Chinese. This time I've started at book 4 to review half the vocab and make it fun and fresh! The textbooks are dirt cheap in China which is why my book shelf is covered with them! However I know that when i was back in the UK it was extremely difficult to find any. Even when I did, they were extremely expensive! 

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mackie1402

Short Term - Long Term

 

It's great that you guys are still updating. Like they say...

 

success is a lot of little things done well

 

and

 

motivation doesn't achieve anything, it just gets you started. Discipline is what you need to achieve

 

Well something along those lines anyway, not too sure exactly. 

 

Every week we have our short term goals, but how about our long term goals?

 

For me, my wife is Chinese so I really want to pick up my communication skills with her family. Also most of her friends don't speak much English so I want to be able to communicate better with them. 

 

I would like to sit the HSK 5. I don't think it's too serious and I'm not a big fan of the whole "we can teach you how to pass the HSK" classes you see around. However, it's one of the first things I read about when I started learning Chinese and I always said to myself I want to get the level 6. It's just one of those things on the list. I'll try and do my HSK 5 by the end of summer! 

 

For listening and speaking, I would like to be comfortably listening to upper intermediate ChinesePod and watching some Chinese TV shows. I'll give this to the end of summer too!

 

How about you guys? 

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Mr John

@mackie

 

My medium term goal is also to pass HSK 5. Perhaps then I will feel comfortable saying my Chinese is somewhere around lower-intermediate; like you, I usually tell people it's elementary if pressed.

 

The main reason I'm using HSK is to keep me focused on improving my reading - and to a certain extent - writing ability.

 

My long term aims are still a bit fuzzy. I have certainly thought about whether or not I would want to live and work in China again. When I left, I thought I'd like to, provided I was working in a suitable working environment. Now, I'm not so sure. Having said that, I am aiming to do some intensive study half way through next year to consolidate vocabulary, grammar etc in China. I also want to reach the point where I can read some of the novels which have been mentioned on this forum.

 

Overall, I'm fairly relaxed. Although I regularly reflect on what I have learnt, the real milestone I have set myself to see where I'm at with the language is the ten year mark. Not so long ago I had no intention of learning Mandarin. Now I can discuss a range of topics, read simple texts and follow the plots of quite a few t.v shows - even if I miss many of the details.

 

P.S - I found a series of textbook readers at my uni book store that seem pretty good for consolidating vocabulary and grammar. They are called 新阶梯 (New Step) 中级汉语教程 with three different levels (上,中 and 下). I get sick of reading dialogues, so it's nice to read some stories for once. If you guys see them floating around they might be worth checking out.

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stapler

 

My medium term goal is also to pass HSK 5. Perhaps then I will feel comfortable saying my Chinese is somewhere around lower-intermediate; like you, I usually tell people it's elementary if pressed.

 

I haven't taken any HSK tests. But I was curious just now because everyone talks about them so just now I went and found some mock tests.I found most parts of level 5 quite easy and believe I could get a fairly high mark without any need to study. 6 was a bit difficult but it seems like something I'll grasp eventually. Anyway, I don't say this to brag, but more to note my shock. I recently just came back from China (i've never lived there, just a holiday) and I often have a lot of trouble carrying on even the most basic conversations with people. I would definitely consider myself a beginner. I'd consider myself "intermediate" if I could handle the basics of every day life in china on my own (no way can I do that) or even understand simple children's television (can only grasp the rough idea) and "advanced" if I could talk about politics or express what I want to say without too much effort. Thus I feel like even if I could pass HSK6 I would most definitely still call myself a beginner. This is whack. How can you pass a top level test when you're language ability is at the level of a one year olds?

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Wurstmann

Because it doesn't measure your language ability. It measures your HSK-taking capability. 

I passed HSK5 almost a year ago. But only now am I slowly getting somewhere with reading, listening and speaking.

I'm reading 圈子圈套, which was recommended here, right now. It's relatively easy but I still have to look up quite a few words.

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Mr John

@stapler

 

I think this simply reflects our different experiences. I started learning Chinese from scratch in China, so my listening and speaking are well ahead of my reading and writing. I have listened to some of the mock HSK5 listening materials and I have little trouble understanding them; it is the reading (speed) and writing which trip me up. Also, although textbooks are generally geared towards HSK, I don't study specifically for taking the tests.

 

From the perspective of a native speaker, given the mistakes I make grammatically, I am still a beginner or a high beginner. However, from the perspective of a second language learner I'm much higher than that. By that, I mean, I can handle a range of situations using Mandarin, although the accuracy of what I say will often be imperfect.

 

If you aren't far off passing HSK6 you can be sure that your reading ability is well beyond a one year olds lol. How many one year old Chinese kids have you seen reading 汉子? It's a delicate balance being confident in your ability but also honest about exactly where you're at. Yes, the test isn't a definitive measure of your language ability, but give yourself some credit, in at least some aspects, you've have already made good progress.

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stapler

Yes I think you're correct. My reading and writing are miles ahead of my listening/speaking. I can read Chinese novels without too much pain for example. And that's probably the difference that comes from learning inside and outside the country. I'm guessing this means the test is much more skewed towards reading/writing than it is listening/speaking. And that's a shame because personally I think the ability to hear and speak are vastly more important than literacy.

 

Also, sorry for the thread derail. I'm enjoying reading everyone's successes and failures!

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Mr John

Another week has passed, so here's my update:

 

I only managed three days of new characters last week.

 

No language exchanges or online lessons, but I did go to see the Andy Warhol, Ai Wei Wei exhibition with some Chinese friends who were kind enough to speak Mandarin with me. 

 

I also read the first reader in the series I mentioned earlier in the thread.

 

I'm still looking for a new t.v show to watch, if anyone has any suggestions I'd appreciate it.

 

Hope you guys had a more productive week than I did. 加油!

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stapler

A couple of weeks ago I tried to make a switch from heavy reading to more listening and speaking. It's going okay but I really want to finish 余華‘s 十個詞彙裡的中國 so every time I get on public transport I have to fight the temptation not to continue reading it. When I'm tired from work I give in and start reading it. And inevitably when I start reading it I encounters heaps of new 成語 that I'll add into Pleco flashcards, which I'll then need to review the next few days.... Ugh you can see where this is going.

 

Nonetheless despite the temptation to just spend all my time reading I have been fairly disciplined in getting a lot of listening practice. Each night I watch about 2-3 episodes of some idol dramas. My problem is subtitles. I can follow the shows without effort with subtitles (Chinese of course) but this isn't the skill I want to train. Because of the hard Chinese subs I've got a piece of paper with sticky tape across the bottom of my monitor to block them. But when I do this I lose a lot of comprehension. Even re-watching an episode with the subtitles blocked after having already watched it with subtitles I struggle quite a bit more to actually understand the given sentences (though I know what they're saying from last time, of course). -- And Jesus Christ do they speak fast sometimes (because everyone is always shocked, angry, in a panic I guess). I'm in two minds about what to do now. Should I just keep the subtitles covered and struggle through, or should I keep the subtitles up? I'm leaning towards the later because I watch the shows for entertainment/relaxation as well as study. When I get more advanced I might try and block the subtitles. More importantly, I have other Chinese practice routines which focus more specifically on unassisted listening practice.

 

So in addition to watching lots of dramas with Chinese subs I've been listening to 1-2 episodes of the old creative commons license chinesepod. Here I really try and focus on understanding everything rather than "just the general idea" as with TV. I'm not sure if I should listen to the intermediate or upper intermediate lessons. The intermediate lessons I feel are better for vocabulary building, but I find the half-English a bit off putting. The upper intermediate, being all in Chinese, is more enjoyable. I might just start alternating between the two.

 

I've also started getting back into my textbooks. I got to lesson 40 in the NPCR series last year and kind of got bored of it and left it. I was kinda mindlessly going through it, doing the exercises and not really thinking much/using much energy. I'm working on a new approach now with the NPCR lessons. Understanding the dialogues is fairly easy. After two listens I can get 85% of the text. Reading them is like child's play. So what I'm doing is focusing on "production", which is much, much, harder for me. I circle all the "non-basic" sentences in the dialogue EG "只有在各個方面男女都享受同樣的權力,男女才能平等“ and put them into flashcards with the English translation on the front and the Chinese on the back. When I review these cards my goal is to reproduce the sentence in Chinese exactly.  I actually did this when I first started with the series but I found it too difficult to translate from English to Chinese and get my answer resembling that text dialogue ("there's too many ways to say this!" I would say to my self) or wouldn't have the ability/energy to say such long sentences. Now I feel it's a very effective way to "internalise" the grammar structures of basic spoken Chinese. Likewise I focus more on the speaking drills. The final "reading comprehension" tasks in each chapter are also quite good for listening practice - much more so than the main dialogues. I can rarely understand all the detail on the first listen - mainly because of the large amounts of new vocabulary, and very strange topics (Lesson 40 is about women's position in society at a superficial level, but the reading comprehension is a detailed story about a lady setting up secondary industries in a village in Henan. It's quite a leap in terms of complexity). So I listen twice, then read the dialogue, then listen again and I feel pretty good about it.

 

I've also been going through "Developing Chinese Listening: Beginner Part 2". I like these for "bite size" listening sessions that aren't too taxing. Actually I think this book is great for practising listening in the way that it builds up the grammar and vocabulary. This book is kinda "below my level" in that I don't find it mentally taxing to go through, but it's actually what I need in addition to everything else: it consolidates my more foundational listening ability. I'm almost finished with this book and I'll move onto the Intermediate Part 1 soon.

 

I've had a few encounters recently where I've noticed my listening ability is steadily improving despite feeling like I've made no progress while I'm actively practicing. These tests are always when you encounter something you haven't encountered for a long time and realise how much easier it is. I walked past a TV playing a Chinese television show and easily understood the girl on it was talking about why a guy who had gone to university didn't ever pick up any women. That was a surprise for me. Usually I understand nothing. The second "event" was just walking down the street behind some Mandarin speakers and hearing them talk about their shopping plans, where to buy stuff, etc. Again like before I never really use to be able to understand these random, out of context, snippets of conversation. The final event was playing soccer where there were a few Chinese players and I could understand them talking about where to move, what to do etc. All very surprising.

 

And lastly, I keep experiencing a really strange phenomenon. Whenever I hear indistinct language sounds - like on the street, or in a pub, or someone talking far away, I sometimes hear it as Chinese that I can't quite decode. Then after 20 seconds I realise they're speaking English and I can understand them fine. Very very weird. I guess it's because my brain goes "that isn't clear, switch to Chinese decode mode".

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li3wei1

whoops, two weeks have gone by. Not much to show for it. knocked off another ten pages or so of the textbook, which I'm finding too easy, like it's been rewritten just for people like me. On the other hand, the repetition of new words is just right, so I find I remember them the second and third time I see them, and the articles are ever-so-slightly more interesting than the usual textbook pap. The end is in sight, and I will have to move up to the next level. I've already started 中文广角(高级汉语泛读教程 下) and 中高级汉语泛读 上, and find them both more difficult (despite the similarity in titles, and the fact that they're both from PUP, they're very different). I handed in my entry to the Leeds translation competition, and, coincidentally, got my first paying translation job (some simple dialogues for a first-year textbook). I also read a couple of 成语故事 from this random site. I figure 成语故事 are as good as anything, and they have the added bonus that if I even encounter the 成语, I might have a slim chance of remembering the story. I'm not flashcarding, and not making a special effort to remember the 成语 or any of the other vocab, just reading, looking up, and moving on.

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