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Weekly Intermediate Study Updates - join in!

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AdamD

This year has not been great but I've kept up my daily study. Recently I've been working through series 1 of 爸爸去哪儿 and my comprehension is steadily climbing. My motivation is as strong as ever.

 

@laurenth: It can be hard to find a level of audio that's slightly above where you are. Sometimes you think you've got it but then it sharply deviates into subjects you know nothing about. It's my eternal frustration, but I try to mitigate it by tracking several sources at once (podcast subscriptions, YouTube channels).

 

@Mr John: Your cinema idea is great and I might do it myself. Nothing forces you to focus like being in a dark room with a single giant screen.

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imron
This year has not been great but I've kept up my daily study

Discipline is more important than motivation.  Motivation comes and goes depending on your mood, how good/bad your day was, whether you are hungry or not and so on.

 

Discipline is what keeps you going when motivation is lacking, and it's the 'keeping going' for sustained periods of time that leads to improvement.

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AdamD

I completely agree, and it's paying off. On Thursday I met someone who later remarked on my listening comprehension, which a year ago was so terrible I nearly gave up. Discipline is how I got there. (By 'not great' I meant issues beyond Chinese.)

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Flickserve

This past week has been a difficult week with illness. I converted a couple more films into Anki decks.

From a HSK 3 deck, I selected a few words I didn't know, plugged them into the Anki search function and then looked up a few sentences, listening and trying to mimic.

Otherwise, not much other progress.

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stapler

I still haven't finished the NPCR4 chapter I said I was going to. Just the thought of it... Ugh. I did cut up all the audio and turn it into some nice flashcards however. And I also listened to lesson dialogues many times to the point that it's a piece of cake to understand (I think this is the most important thing I can do with the textbook material (drilling and listening to the audio, not the written exercises).

 

I managed to do another chapter of classical Chinese, which I find infinitely enjoyable. Too bad it's of no real practical use for my main goal: speaking Mandarin (though I still see how it's quite useful for understanding 書面)

 

I've still been doing around one hour of sentence drills a day. Often I'm in a place where I cant speak aloud so I've always been speaking sentences under my breath. Sometimes I speak too loudly and people give me dirty looks. But over the last week I've had some quiet places where I could let my vocal chords rip. Jesus. One hour of drilling Mandarin and my throat and tongue get really sore. I really need to get speaking aloud more often. Strengthen those muscles. And this is actually another really useful part of mass sentence drilling. Because I usually don't speak any Mandarin in my day to day life it's the one way I can really get some muscle practice with the language. I think this is important for bridging the gap between my written production ability and more verbal production ability, and building my confidence while speaking. There's such a big gap between "knowledge" Mandarin and actually being able to articulate it spontaneously and clearly.

 

I've been studying Chinese for 4 1/2 years now (always in my own time, always in Australia) and I think I'm finally approaching the point where I can almost understand very basic conversations in real life and begin to make small spontaneous sentences in Chinese. This week I dropped a 打開窗戶讓臭屁散去, a 我把我的腳踝弄傷了,痛了不已, a 我長了一個啤酒肚, and a 這什麼聲音啊,把它關掉吧.  I'm not sure if they're correct grammatically. But I was easily understood and I think it's because I could rattle them off fairly smoothly/spontaneously. They're all just sentences I've been drilling or variations/parts of them. These are the small victories that really make me feel positive about learning Mandarin. I'm finally getting up to the point where I can make "small comments", even if not carry on conversations (without lots of pain).

 

I think another part of these successes can be attributed to development in my pronunciation. After uploading some of my speech to the thread on this forum where people provide pronunciation feedback I realised I had slacked off on my tones and pronunciation. Since then I've been really focusing on that again now with my sentence drills. I think it's paying off. Often people will get use to your bad accent and give you a false sense that you speak very clearly. Speaking to strangers is a good test.

 

Finally, I had another moment last week where I got a strong sense of the progress I've made. By accident I ended up having to hang out with four Chinese speakers for a few hours. It was a great opportunity for some practice. I was getting the broad meaning of all the conversations and feel like in a few years time I'll be able to really understand almost everything in casual conversations.

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laurenth
This week I dropped a 打開窗戶讓臭屁散去, (...)  a 我長了一個啤酒肚 (...) They're all just sentences I've been drilling or variations/parts of them.

 

 

From which interesting textbook does that come?  :P

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Flickserve

Did a bit of listening to radio again and also watched some old 中国好声音. I may be dreaming but am I actually comprehending a little more with a bit of aid from Chinese subtitles?

Converted two more Growing up with Chinese episodes into anki decks using workaudio book. That means I was repeatedly listening to dialogue.

Also, I converted 大武当之天地密码 into a tsv file to later import into anki.

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艾墨本

Update for the sake of update.

 

Just took a one week break from Chinese during National Holiday.  I know it will be hard to get back into the groove of things, because it is every time. 

 

The past month has been pretty good with a consistent daily study schedule. I've been enjoying 成龙历险记 is a casual watch. Besides that, I've made the final book from the comprehensive series of Developing Chinese my goal for the semester. It's been a long time since I focused on a textbook rather than entertaining material. While it is certainly drier, it has helped to get me thinking about a lot of similar words. On the other hand, having the vocab lists, exercises, and comprehension questions already there instead of having to create my own makes the process easier.

 

I also watch CCTV 13 most days and try to get a healthy dose of pleco notecards every day, as well.

 

The other focus of this semester has been pronunciation. I've been using a 普通话 training book for native speakers. Progress has been slow, but at the very least I now know where my mistakes are. It can be frustrating at times to hear the mistake the moment I say it and be incapable of getting it right. 

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stapler

@ laurenth - from a big book I sentences I mentioned on the last page. It actually has hundreds of sentences and words about smells, things feeling gross, making fun of people's various deformities and health problems. It sounds pretty "low brow" but I actually find myself using this language more than I do anything from textbooks or novels. While we like to think of ourselves as smart people who only discuss Newtonian physics or Tang poetry with our friends, we actually spend more time talking about the size of people's "chests", their "buck teeth", or how gross snails are (all sentences in the beginning of this book!).... Well at least I do!

 

The 书面 problem

 

I touched on this before but I'm still finding it hard to sort out what is written and what is spoken. For a long time I just assumed that this distinction in Chinese was like in English: there is a written style and a spoken style, but both languages are interchangeable, although a bit funny. That is to say, in English you can speak using the language of a novel or instruction manual. It'll be a bit funny but not wrong or jarring. This is not the case at all in Chinese.

 

I think for a long time I just went along with the idea that Mandarin had a vernacular writing system (白话)that was largely analogous to English. Now I realised I was badly mistaken. The "vernacular" revolution in China seems to have failed, or rather, is incomplete. The amount of written Chinese that you still can't use in spoken Chinese is large (or rather, the amount of written Chinese that can be spoken is still large)

 

To make this problem worse, a large amount of audio material for Westerners is actually 书面 only. For example, this week, I said “我疲惫的时候无法打得好". I was told this is absolutely incorrect. "You can't say 疲惫 or 无法“. The meaning is understood, but this language is strictly the written language. I was somewhat surprised. I know things like 本, 该, 之, etc are generally written. I did not know 疲惫 or 无法 also were. I used these terms because I'd heard them in audio recordings. I figured "if they're being spoken, they must be a part of the spoken language". Wrong. Maybe the situation is different in Taiwan. I don't know. But it seems in the mainland there is a very strict divide and the language is still quite diglossic. I'm going to have to research and find out how to distinguish between these two forms. Sometimes my intuition is correct. Maybe most of the time. But quite often it's not and it's quite frustrating.

 

The "i" sound in "xiao", "qiang", etc

 

I had another opportunity to actually speak some Mandarin last week. As before I still cannot follow conversations but do feel like I can often work out the topic being discussed. I learnt one of my biggest problems is when someone suddenly asks me a question in Mandarin. I always feel like a deer in headlights. The question "sounds" simple but I often get so stressed and despite concentrating as much as I can I can't work out what's being asked. I'm much more comfortable sitting quietly and trying to listen along rather than actively participate.

 

Anyway, someone asked me if I thought they were losing weight. I thought I said "你有变小". Now the problem wasn't using 小 instead of 瘦, but that I messed up the 小. They thought I said "傻", much to everyone's amusement. Reflecting on what I said I realised that my pronunciation problem wasn't confusing the "x" with "sh" but actually just not articulating the "ee" sound after the "x", making it sound more like "sha" rather than "xiao" to a native speakers ears. This little "ee" sound is definitely one of my weaknesses and I believe the reason why I often have trouble distinguishing "chang" and "qiang" etc. Getting the "ee" sound from the "i" is just as important, if not more, than getting the "q" correct.

 

Errors with native speakers

 

I feel like you can only learn things like the importance of the "ee" sound from speaking with native speakers. Indeed I made a lot of mistakes with the native speakers. And boy is that effective for quickly reforming the way you speak. The embarrassment that comes with making mistakes really drives you make sure you articulate your sounds correctly, get your tones right, use the appropriate word, etc. I'm going to say I think it'd be quite impossible to learn a language without this kind of constant engagement with native speakers.

 

Too much reading

 

I realise another problem I have is I do way, way, way too much reading. Basically I'm addicted to it. In a bad way. Reading is easy, comfortable, fun. But you can't read your way to learning a language. I even told someone this recently but I haven't even listened to my own advice: language is a skill. You can't read your way to being able to use it. Bike analogy. etc.

 

My problem is that beyond speaking to native speakers in real life (rare) I just don't find listening to audio material that engaging. And the problem is that I probably need to drastically increase the amount of boring audio I need to listen to to be able to effectively engage with native speakers.

 

To this end I started getting back to watching some dubbed and subtitled GTO (麻辣老师). But as before I feel like I just fall back onto reading the subtitles because it's so much easier than actually listening (or rather, as I read the 汉字 I feel like I can understand the audio. but without the characters I feel lost) . So then I tried watching some Chinese shows without subtitles. But I quickly understood almost nothing and started to get the really bad feelings that nearly crushed my motivation to continue learning the language earlier this year. I have to stay away from native audio content for now.

 

I might try and get back to the upper intermediate chinesepods. They seem to provide the best mix of lots of spoken Chinese at a level that I can understand. After I've graduated and have more time I might even try looking for some more native speakers to talk to, or even consider going to a Chinese speaking country for a while to boost this part of language. In fact I'm thinking this might be a necessary step. I haven't seen or heard of a person who has become fluent in Chinese without eventually going to a Chinese speaking country.

 

Plans

 

Okay so over the next few weeks I'm going to *try* to stop reading my novels and replace it with some Chinesepod. And also try and find some time to do what I said I would a few weeks ago: go through some of the graded reader's audio only - sentence by sentence.

 

Also I'm going to try and find/make use of my opportunities to speak more Mandarin in real life.

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Flickserve

I didn't do my two episodes of converting Growing up with Chinese into flashcards.

I recorded an italki lesson. It took me a fair while to review and edit it. I was cutting out silences and keeping sentences where I couldn't tell what she was saying. The edited file has been sent back to the teacher with the intention of her giving me the written words back - still waiting for that.

Not sure why it came across me to do so but I tried workaudio book with an old Chinese song, 愛如潮水 - just need a bit of variety. Felt that worked out quite well as the song is slow paced interspersed with some fast parts.

In summary, with all the recent repeated listening of vocabulary and sometimes mimicking sentences, I get the impression of having improved my 听力 when I do hear Mandarin in daily life. I should have started with workaudio book earlier.

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Flickserve

Since deciding to spend more time on listening and taking a more relaxed attitude about speaking, I don't feel like I am struggling so much. Going through workaudio book and other apps to create sentences in Anki gives me motivation to simply listen. A language partner commented that my writing (it is only a little output) is becoming a bit more 书面.

I did one italki lesson deliberately slowing down and trying to reduce the umms and ahh's. I don't feel any different but the instructor commented that there is some improvement with some erhua coming into my speech. Maybe she was trying to give me some encouragement and not lose face.

Processed another two episodes of Growing Up With Chinese into Anki cards. When the word 橄榄球 comes up in conversation, do Chinese people think of rugby or American football? I do shadow some of the sentences so it's not as if I do not do any speaking practice.

Anki work consisted of going through a couple of songs at opportune moments in the day. I am really going to have to write out words in order to help read them. Next step will be to pick out the unknown words from the songs and see if I can locate sentences in my Anki database with those words.

By some good fortune, I received a copy of the 8,000 sentences book by Brian Foden from a friend who visited Taiwan. Skimming through it's very impressive with deep vocabulary within sentences arranged around topic areas. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an index of words and expressions. The tough part is turning it all into Anki cards and I am still puzzling over how to semi automate it...

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stapler

My plan to listen to some more Chinesepod went well... for a while. I managed to spend a few hours listening to Chinesepod for a week. But then I was naughty and started reading again for the second week.I recently (today -_-) just got back to some more Chinesepod. I've also managed to have a few small conversations in Mandarin in my day to day movements. But that was more luck than effort. At the moment I feel like Chinese is definitely on the backburner/low priority. I'm really busy with work/school/and I might have to move cities in few months (I feel like this is everyone's biggest problem, time!) I'm not branching out and doing "new" stuff, just sticking to my routine. That involves about 30-45 minutes of sentence drilling with production flashcards 5 days a week and maybe the same amount of time reading/listening to Chinesepod. I'm not sure I'm going to improve at this level, but I'm at least keeping my level consistent.

 

(This is the book. Another one I got in Taiwan last year. It's a translation of an English book. It talks about the lives of some girls working in factories in Dongguan. The fascinating thing about it is that two years ago I briefly stayed in Dongguan as well. This book was written around 2004 I think. And boy does it feel out of date (though some things are very much the same))

post-57919-0-51591400-1477440753_thumb.jpg

 

So some other thoughts about Chinese for this fortnight...

 

Chinesepod

 

I was listening to the old free intermediate and upper intermediate podcasts. Out of curiosity I went and checked out the website. Man Chinesepod is really different now!

 

While looking around I noticed that there was a $1 (which turns out to be $2 with exchange rates and forex fees!) for one month deal that gives you access to the podcasts and what they call "premium" access. The premium stuff is actually pretty good. In addition to the postcast they have a thing called "expansion" which is basically a pdf of example sentences using key words from the podcast and, most importantly for me, an audio recording of these example sentences. This is fantastic. If you've been reading what I've been writing the last few months you'll know I'm all about sentence drilling. Great stuff. But there are two problems with the new Chinesepod. The first is that the "intermediate" now has way too much English and the upper intermediate doesn't have enough. Ideally I'd wish the new intermediate lessons would go back to using less English. In the upper intermediate however, I miss the old American fella who would speak Chinese but who would also every now and again use English to explain a piece of vocabulary very quickly - usually with a synonym. That's all I like/want. Anyway, its still really good. But there is one major problem. The prices for a subscription are absolutely insane (especially the "premium" - I like example sentences but I'm not going to pay $20 a month for them - that's the same price as the 8000 sentence audio book!) I think if I do subscribe, it'll be just for one month to hit up the library hard then drop it again. This is pretty scummy, but I downloaded about 30-40 episodes (plus all the example sentences) I thought were interesting to use for later. I think that'll keep me going for a long time because I generally like to spend a week or so listening to each lesson until I understand it all without effort and get bored of it (happens much quicker with the intermediate ones).

 

Formal language challenges

 

I was talking about this problem with Flickserve (and I think I'll just copy and paste some of our exchange at the bottom of this post in case anyone else finds it useful or has any comments/corrections/suggestions), the problem of sounding "too formal". I had some suspicions that there was a Taiwanese/mainland divide which have been confirmed by the new Chinesepodcasts. I'm not talking about the use of 會 and 有, nor the different vocabulary/pronunciation differences, but the acceptability of what on the mainland are considered "formal" words in colloquial speech.For example, in the first of the new Chinesepods I listened to they used 諍友. I tried this on a mainland friend and they thought it was bizarre. They understood it but thought it was far too formal. I looked it up in Pleco and its got 書面 written all over it. Usually my problems with "too formal" come from words that aren't explicitly marked as 書面 in the dictionary (eg 疲憊).

 

SRS

 

So as I've said multiple times, I'm working my way through the 8000 sentence book, cutting the audio for each sentence and trying to reproduce it when prompted in English using Anki flashcards. I was originally adding 7 sentences a day but I've scaled it a back to 2 a day because my reviews were quickly getting out of control. This is different from my strategy with Pleco flashcards (which I use with words/characters) or my other decks (which I use to drill sentences from textbooks). In these decks/cards I quickly delete things after repeating them a few times. I'm not sure I want to use this same method of quickly deleting/suspending sentences from this deck with the sentences from the 8000 sentence book. I don't want to delete them because I feel like I'm still getting a lot of positive reinforcement from repping them, even though I can produce them with minimal effort.

 

I really like drilling these sentences because it is the one place where I can feel I'm exerting some effort and getting some reward. I think it's really improving both my listening and speaking, and that the language is really sinking into my brain. The downside (or upside?) of only adding 2 sentences a day is that it'll take me years (10 years!) to get through the whole book.... I might start ramping up the sentences again because I'm beginning to spit out my rep sentences very fluently (quickly and precisely) with minimal effort right now.

 

Speaking aloud

 

Whenever I'm walking around the street I generally have my Russian audio on loop, listening on my headphones. As I'm doing this I speak the language at full volume. I've started adding "ah" and "yeah" into the silences to make it sound like I'm talking to someone on the phone! This "speaking aloud" technique I think is very powerful for getting your speaking skill and confidence up. I really want to do it with Chinese but because every second person in the CBD (where I work and study) is Chinese this is a bit more awkward. Basically if half the people around me can hear me saying all sorts of random stuff I'd feel pretty embarrassed (not a problem with Russian). So as a compromise I've tried to really start actually speaking out my Chinese when the opportunity is available. - when I'm at home, when I'm on the street by myself, when i'm alone in the office by myself etc. For too long I've just been speaking in my mind only!

 

Textbook

 

Okay so for a few months now I've been saying I'm going to finish NPCR4. I have managed to put it on my table. An improvement for last month where it was still sitting in a cupboard. Why is it so hard to get myself to look at this textbook? Is it because the material is so dry? Is it because it's too easy? -  Yes it is easy, but I still learn new things from it and can't understand all the dialogues completely on the first listen. I think it has something to do with not feeling "authentic".

 

Appendix): Wall of text discussing the 8000 sentence book and related topics with Flickserve

 

In terms of mainland V taiwan differences, there are few words. Not many. One's I can immediately think of are 柳橙 instead of 橙子, 搔痒 instead of 挠痒, and 嘈杂 instead of 吵杂. Even though people on the mainland might think these words are bit strange they seem to understand the meaning. The other major difference is the Taiwanese Mandarin use of 有 to represent tense, 会 as an auxiliary verb. But my general experience with this is that most people in southern mainland feel this is quite natural. And people in the north have no trouble with these usages as well. I think the important thing is to recognise that some sentences use a style that is too formal. Sometimes 而‘s and 以's and 此's are used when in spoken Mandarin (especially on the mainland) you should just omit them or use 所以, etc.

 

I basically feel it's not anything to really worry about it. Most of the vocabulary I find is very useful and stuff I probably wouldn't have learnt elsewhere. But probably more important - at least in my experience - is that after drilling these sentences I have a better sense of how to construct Chinese sentences rather than translate my sentences into Chinese but with an English structure.

 

.....

 

Hmm.. my formal speaking I think is largely a product of all Chinese learning materials for Westerners. In a way I feel some of this is unavoidable. You have to get a grasp on the formal/standard language aka become "fluent" before you can really start using "street" language. And similarly, you need to have a pretty good grasp on the language to intuitive know what register to use or what register particular phrases are in. I don't think it's a big deal, just something to be aware of and keep an eye out for.

 

The 8000 sentence book has lots of formal sentences. But also many more very colloquial ones. I think you'll be able to tell what is formal and what isn't in this book. Here's one sentence you'll see "他太累了,以致於一直揉眼睛“ - This will be understood perfectly. But a native speaker will probably just say "他太累了,所以他一直揉眼睛" or another sentence "奧斯卡把鑰匙插入門鎖" would probably just be said "奧斯卡打開門". The first one is too formal because it uses "written" expressions like 以致於, the second one is too formal because the information is too excessive. Use the book for vocabulary acquisition (this is a really good part, has lots of phrases you need but won't learn from other books), getting a feel for how to construct Chinese sentences, and perhaps most importantly, pronunciation/sentence intonation.

 

Two other "Taiwanese" things you should keep a look for. They say 肋骨 (ribs) as "le4 gu3" and mainland is "lei4 gu3", and 腋下 (armpit) they said "yi4 xia4" and mainland is "ye4 xia4". There's probably a lot of other minor tone changes and pronunciations I have encountered yet. But again, I would say don't worry about it. The only way this might cause trouble is if you say these words on their own and out of context. In context you will be easily understood on both sides of the straights. - And remember that most Chinese are quite use to grappling with all sorts of accents and pronunciations from other Chinese speakers. The reason they don't have trouble like they do with non-native speakers (of a Chinese language) is that other Chinese speakers are still "fluent" so their meaning can be understood from context.

 

The second "Taiwanese" thing is they seem (I could be wrong) to be much more happy to use 的 in place of 地 and 得. - Splitting 的 into 得 and 地 is a very recent modern phenomenon. Also things like 哪 was just 那 as well until recently too... that the Taiwanese are lazy with things like 的 is strange given they really like to use 妳 (female 你), 牠 (它 for animals), 祂 (他 for God), and other modern variants of 他 that serve same clarifying purpose as 得 and 地。

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Flickserve

This week was a bit slow. I had to reinstall my operating system. So that took up quite a bit of time to iron some bugs out. It's nice having a clean system again!

Converted another couple of episodes of Growing up with Chinese into Anki cards. After listening to the dialogue in workaudio book, it will be quite interesting to discover if I can understand a bit more when going back to earlier episodes.

I found a few other songs that I liked and used workaudio book and subs2srs to convert the lyrics into anki notes. This is just for some comic relief. The songs are 左右為難,北京北京, 火花. To be honest, the level of vocabulary is too advanced for me for 北京北京 and 火花. 張學友 is doing a series of concerts in HK for December. Hope to get tickets so perhaps learning a classic like 祝福 would be nice for the concert.

After familiarising myself with the 8000 sentences book, I popped by a couple of bookshops in HK and instead of going to the learning Chinese for non Chinese speakers section, I browsed through the Learning English for Chinese Speakers section. It was a complete revelation. Looking from the perspective of just garnering sentences, there are a huge number of resources, mostly, if not all, from Taiwanese publishers. I even found the 8000 sentences book albeit at a higher price than what my friend bought it for in Taiwan. Most of the books come with MP3s but sadly not with a corresponding PDF file.

Previously, I spent a lot of time just talking to people over Skype but felt this gave some limitations. Textbooks for learning Chinese are a bit difficult for me - difficult to physically open the books. After some reflection from Chinese forum experiences (Tamu, Imron, tysonD) and some polyglots by changing to a repeatedly listening to sentences strategy, I have been able to keep my interest up better. Don't get me wrong, I think reading and writing have their places but random conversations or trying to read books out loud have not been helping me gain the feel of Mandarin so far - Not in the same way as repeatedly listening to sentences. I think speaking is coming along more naturally and that brings me to my next experience.

This week at work, I did meet one native speaker of Mandarin and interacted in a mixture of Mandarin and English. She didn't convert to using English all the time and I found Chinese comprehension to be easier and faster. Despite not practicing much speaking, I do think my tones have a bit of improvement because I start to feel when the tone is wrong relative to other words in the sentence, or when I get corrected, I can hear the differences much faster and repeat back the correct tones. When it came to more complicated areas in our conversation, I did have to drop back into English but that's perfectly fine. Later, I dropped in that my learning is about the two year stage mark and she showed a lot of surprise at the level of communication I have been able to attain. Perhaps it's dropping those 嗯,啊,那你, 那麼 around in the sentences just makes it feel more rounded?

Finally Cantonese. It's improving from learning Mandarin! There is a better appreciation of my use of Cantonese words and even colleagues have commented on the improvement. Some of the passive Cantonese in my head has turned into active Cantonese and they say it just sounds more fluent. Even my passive Cantonese vocabulary has improved. Colleagues ask me in a jokingly worried way, "what is your Chinese question for today?". Why the worry? Because even they have difficulty explaining the differences and its a nice distraction from the drudgery of work. For example, 滿意 versus 滿足. That took about five minutes and a couple of people to work out how to explain it and give examples - all in Cantonese. If the explanations were in Mandarin, I wouldn't be able to pick up the nuances just yet and would subsequently feel dissatisfied. By asking them, my feel for Chinese using either Cantonese or Mandarin improves.

In summary, the process of learning has improved a fair amount and learning doesn't feel like a struggle. Subjectively, I feel different rather than always having a feeling of no progress. Probably now at the stage of lower intermediate in certain topic areas.

 

 

**Edit** Just discovered my anki cards are a bit messed up. I think it comes from the reinstall of Chinese support plugin which probably has some changes.. For instance, my sound is now in the wrong field. I have to delete the anki notes and reload from the TSV files. :(

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Flickserve

I die lah. PC got the black screen of death. Coincidentally, my second monitor has stopped working. It was working fine last night.

After a few failed attempts at restarting, I switched back the old SSD but could only get as far as safe mode. I tried reseating the ram but that only made things worse. Maybe my Motherboard is starting to die. It's about four years old.

The problem is I cannot access Workaudio book, subs2srs and my main anki decks. Die die die.

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Flickserve

@Stapler,

A Wechat friend on the mainland showed me a few textbooks similar to Brian Foden's 8000 sentences book. She said the Chinese sentences in the mainland books look very natural. When you use a few of Brian Foden's Chinese sentences, you mentioned some are a bit formal to mainland Chinese speakers or perhaps Northern Chinese speakers. Do Taiwanese also hold the same opinion?

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stapler

Interesting. Do the books your friend showed you have Chinese audio too?

 

I don't think there is a formality difference between northern and southern mainland China. I just think people in the south will feel the Taiwanese use of 會 and 有 doesn't stand out as much as people from the north would.

 

I'm not sure whether Taiwanese speakers would fine some of the sentences in Foden too formal if spoken. I know Taiwanese use a level of formality mainlanders find a bit funny when doing business/shop related stuff. And I've noticed a few phrases can be used in conversational Chinese in Taiwan that can't be on the mainland because they're too formal (不俗 and 諍友, come to mind) - but there might be some context that I was missing. On the whole though it's all pretty much the same.

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AdamD

This is not so much a weekly study update as a fundamental change to my weekly study: I've decided to stop attending all basic/generic language exchange events. The routine of meeting six new people and answering the same template questions several times in a row ("why do you want to learn Chinese?") has worn very very very very thin, and when I find myself talking mostly to students who have an IELTS coming up and need to speak English, there's no longer a constructive reason for me to be there. I maintain they're great for newbies and those who are stuck on the intermediate hump, but I need purpose and focus now.

 

What I am doing is attending closed groups with specific tasks and outcomes: translation/interpretation, deep text analysis, round-table (all-中文) discussion. They give me something to get my teeth into, while avoiding the verbal equivalent of handing out pamphlets.

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stapler

Sounds good AdamD. I can definitely imagine the problem you've encountered.

 

I've been on cruise control for a while. Will continue to be for a while as "life" continues to mean I have to de-prioritise Chinese. I'm still clearing all my Anki reviews. They're down from 40 minutes a day (producing sentences from English prompts) to about 20 minutes. Rather than ramp up my new cards I might let Anki tapper off and switch back to drilling lessons from textbook audio just to mix things up. I'm still speaking about 10 minutes of spontaneous Chinese with my friends each week. Not making an active effort to force myself to speak. I definitely think my mass sentence drilling and recording is paying off. I can feel a tangible difference in my ability to structure Chinese sounding sentences rather than Englese ones. Not only do I seem to have developed intuitive and automatic use of 是。。。的 for emphasis, actually using the correct 量詞 etc, but my word order is becoming much closer to a native's - eg. I really like making massive 主語's. As I'm just on "maintenance mode" for now I've also refocused my extra energy on my favourite part of Chinese - the study of its written language! But rather than start a second novel I've been reading a book about 書面語 called 現代漢語書面語學習手冊 by 馮禹. I wish I had read it much earlier. At this point all the grammar of 書面語is pretty intuitive to me. But I remember the pain it cased when I first started reading.

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xit

Hi everyone.  It's been a while since i last posted here... I've recently started attending Chinese classes twice a year, and I'm taking HSK 五级 and HSKK 中级 on the 4th of December. That's in 25 days... I feel like I don't know anything, I don't feel ready... Maybe I should've gone for hsk4... All this time studying on my own, I just recently realized how bad my 口语 is. I get tangled up, make mistakes, it's just bad. 阅读 speed is going to be the death of me, and what if I don't understand any of the 听力 ? And I haven't even started practicing my 书写 ... There are words on the list I have yet to learn...

 

OK, rant over. I have 25 days of full time studying to go with. Still don't have a concrete, detailed study plan tho... Really need some advice...

 

Ah, but there are some good news. I think my reading speed has improved. I'm currently reading 小时代 (which I downloaded and then printed out A4 format, since it's impossible to get anything chick-flicky where I'm at) and I'm at almost at 10 pages per hour  8) But there are still so many unknown words, especially when something is being described... Also, I don't have troubles understanding my Chinese professor. All of this is giving me some hope...

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