Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Flickserve

HSK 3-4 vocab (?dis)advantages

Recommended Posts

Flickserve

Someone has put me into a little dilemma.

 

Chinese vocabulary retainment is rather slow. I recognise it is always going to being slow because of not being in a putonghua environment.

 

A preliminary analysis of HSK 3 word set shows I know about 75-80% of the words. My true vocabulary is rather larger so I might know some random words in HSK 4 or 5 word sets.

 

Someone suggested I learn the rest of HSK 3 and 4 words that I am unfamiliar with as it gives some boundaries to vocabulary learning. By boundaries, that person suggested that learning vocabulary can give the feeling of being limitless and lost in the sea of vocabulary. By reaching HSK 3 and 4 vocabulary familiarity, I would get the satisfaction of acheivement of reaching a milestone. (I am definitely not going to take a Chinese exam).

 

But my issue is this. So far, I have been working with workaudio book, subs2srs and putting sentences into anki. Even this time consuming work has helped me improve. I am trying to get through all the episodes of "Growing up with Chinese" and converting them to Anki cards. This project is half finished. During this process, I and other people have noted my listening skills have improved and even without actually speaking much, my intonation, tones and fluency have also become better (still not great but better). Vocabulary range probably has improved but naturally still passive vocabulary. I cannot assess this very well. I am very pleased with progress in the last three months considering my struggles in the two years prior to starting to use this particular methodology.

 

 

I also take lessons once in while, which I record, analyse the sentences, get the teacher to write the dialogue for me from the edited MP3 and I mimic the sentences working on accent. This I feel is useful because the teacher repeats sentences which I know but say with a wrong tone, or repeats a sentence which my sentence logic is poor and then I can work on changing my brain logic (very hard), and then an additional small amount of extra vocabulary.

 

The fact is I just don't have time to add something more like working on HSK vocabulary. I would have to drop the Growing up with Chinese project which is only half finished.

 

Would a good working knowledge of HSK3/4 really be so very helpful? You know, it might not be very interesting or motivating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

realmayo

I'd say there are two general preferences when learning vocabulary:

 

1. prefer more useful and common words over rarer, less important ones.

2. prefer to encounter new words in something close to a 'real' environment where you've just needed or used the word, rather than simply ticking items off a list

 

Sounds like the way you are adding words from this Growing up with Chinese project meets point number two? That your current method is helping you really know and understand the words you meet and learn? And you find it interesting and motivating? Then I'd just want to make sure that the vocab you're learning also meets point number one above. If so, then the HSK 3-4 lists can wait.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
艾墨本

Maybe too much focus on vocabulary. Have you considered picking up some graded readers and enjoying using the vocabulary you already know?

 

The Mandarin Companions ones on Amazon are a real pleasure to read. 

 

Edit:

 

While preparing for HSK 5, I really focused on learning all the different vocabulary. It sucked. I spent a month doing it, 40 new words a day and all reviews (Anki). I still feel it was a good decision even though it sucked the life out of my studying-Chinese process for a little while. Now, as I read 活着 and see words I learned pop-up I feel really satisfied. This is why I suggested picking up some graded readers.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve

Thanks for the replies.

I find Growing Up With Chinese fairly realistic (to my relative inexperience of Chinese). Learning the vocabulary is of course two stage. I also want to increase my listening skills of different speech in which GUWC is actually quite good for: the boy slurs his speech, the girl speaks pretty clearly, the mother speaks really fast. That's quite good exposure for me.

I haven't got round to practising the vocabulary actively. That's the lack of time and lack of environment factor in my life. Honestly speaking, I felt rather empowered by learning how to use Anki(!) and integrating all those other software to create decks from films. I really enjoy that process (see Yadang's thread for the decks I created). Rather than having too much focus on vocabulary, I feel I don't have enough time for discussion. I was going to buy Imron's software but suddenly got snowed under with work. Maybe just as well because I certainly don't have time to analyse swathes of text. Chairman's Bao is definitely something to consider with new and varied content. Graded reader books are possible but without the push of an exam, there are a number of books I have yet to go through. Adding more books would help me spend money but the effectiveness is a bit doubtful looking at my behaviour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
li3wei1

It sounds to me that you've got something going that a) you enjoy and b) gives you results. My advice would be to stick with it until either of these ceases to be true. Or until you run out of material. Or until you stumble on something that works even better. Then change. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve

Thanks all. I made my decision to stick to what I am doing now.

The italki tutor is a bit horrified (in a good way) that I am sending back MP3's to type out exactly what has been said. I do pay for the time. It just that sometimes unprepared speech has some small things that make it difficult for me to understand. I should have recorded lessons before. It is a bit tiresome and needs motivation to review them. It certainly more tempting to take an easy route which is book another skype lesson.

For anybody who is interested to know, I end up selecting anything between 30 to 60 sentences of teacher only sentences for the teacher to type out and roughly characterise as follows:

A) sentences I know but they repeat it after I have said it. I assume these are sentences where my pronunciation/tone is poor

B) sentences I know but wouldn't have thought to say it in such a way. Non-mandarin language logic is mixing me up

C) sentences with words that I know but forgot to use. These words need to be practiced in different sentences to move into active vocab

D) sentences with new vocabulary.

E) idioms that might come up

Lessons are about 40-45mins of conversation and I give them 15-20mins of typing time.

For ease of editing, my recording software is set to only recording teacher voice. Skipping the silent parts can be done very quickly. A teacher who speaks faster or a bit more chatty will lead to more sentences. I think every conversation will differ in sentences generated depending on the topics discussed.

I think I can move to CEFR B1 like this. The approach feels to me to be more targetted. Although reviewing the recording may take up a lot of time, I seem to feel more happy about it than compared to having more conversations but only half grasping the meaning. Later, as my familiarity with the language grows, I may need to tweak things a little.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

I agree with what realmayo said, and also think sticking with what you're doing is the best approach.

 

Although HSK levels can provide a sense of structure, and although they are loosely based on frequency, it's also important to realise they are quite arbitrary - especially as the levels increase.

 

To take an example from 活着, and throwing it in to Chinese Text Analyser, if you had learnt all of HSK 4 you'd be able to read about 60% of the text.  If you then learnt all of the HSK 5 vocabulary (an extra 1,300 words) you get up to 65%.  If you then learn all of HSK 6 vocabulary (an extra 2,000 words) it gets you up to 68%.

 

Compare that though if you had started on HSK 4 and then learnt 1,300 of the most frequently occurring unknown words from the text - it gets you up to 93% of the text.  If you learn the next 2,000 frequently occurring unknown words it gets you up to 98%.

 

And those gains carry through to other texts also.  For example if you'd learnt the 3,300 most frequently occurring words in 活着 from a base of HSK-4, and then decided to read 圈子圈套 (a completely different setting and style by a different author), you'd be able to read 78% of the text, compared to only 67% if you'd learnt the 3,300 words in HSK 5+6.

 

What this means is that in terms of improved understanding, you are almost always going to be better off learning words from context rather than general wordlists.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
艾墨本

What imron has just described is the exact process I'm going through now, except I learned up to HSK 5 first. 

 

I've decided to pre-learn all 500 words I don't know in the first chapter of 活着. It's been a really rewarding process to be able to go back to the book and just read it. 

 

Also, after learning these words I will not only know 94% of the words in the book, I will also only need to learn about 50 more words to get to 98% with the second chapter.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve

So what I am doing is the same as reading, but using more conversational recordings to which I can go back and listen to.

 

If I need a fuller discussion, I can just pick up one of my old topics and talk to another person on it, and that gives me the variation I need to hold a fuller conversation.

 

 

Sometimes I listen to a few chinesepod recordings but the conversations are a little unrealistic for me. I think I just need that little bit of human interaction.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

I will also only need to learn about 50 more words to get to 98% with the second chapter.

That's great. You'll probably find it carries over in to similar amounts for future chapters also, and then you're at the point where you are reading close enough to your comfort level that you can understand and enjoy the reading process, but just enough outside of it that you still get a steady stream of new vocabulary, and that stream of new vocabulary expands your level enough to allow you to read more and more advanced content without noticing an increase in difficulty.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mkmyers45
On 12/18/2016 at 8:53 PM, 艾墨本 said:

I spent a month doing it, 40 new words a day and all reviews (Anki)

 

How exactly did you this? What was your retention rate a day later?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
艾墨本
1 hour ago, mkmyers45 said:

 

How exactly did you this? What was your retention rate a day later?

Probably would get about 35/40 right the next day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mkmyers45
10 minutes ago, 艾墨本 said:

Probably would get about 35/40 right the next day.

 

 

How many hours did you spend doing this per day? You mentioned reviews (I assume with anki or pleco). Did you review learnt characters that day or the next? I find my retention is higher after reviewing but i feel that might be making it too easy because i rechecked everything just before going to bed. What do you think about loading up the words the next after trying to re-write them as a better way of gauging retention? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
艾墨本

I would spend about two hours per day on just vocab. 40 new words wasn’t the problem but rather the 100+ reviews on top of them. I did them in the early afternoon usually during what would normally be my most unproductive time of day. I was rigid in finishing them all each day for fear of missing one day would mean even more reviews the next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
1 hour ago, 艾墨本 said:

Probably would get about 35/40 right the next day.

More importantly, how is your retention of these words a year later?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mkmyers45
1 hour ago, 艾墨本 said:

I would spend about two hours per day on just vocab. 40 new words wasn’t the problem but rather the 100+ reviews on top of them. I did them in the early afternoon usually during what would normally be my most unproductive time of day. I was rigid in finishing them all each day for fear of missing one day would mean even more reviews the next.

 

Wow!!! I doff my hat to you for writing and taking in 40 new words in 2 hours!!! Takes me so much more time. You where doing this from hsk 4 level or its been your method all along? (hsk 2??? 3???)

 

14 minutes ago, imron said:

More importantly, how is your retention of these words a year later?

 

I would assume with daily SRS review and constant use (reading?) it shouldn't drop less than 30/40 a year later because the odd unused character is definitely going to be forgotten.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
9 hours ago, mkmyers45 said:

and constant use (reading?)

Ah yes, I should have made this part of my question..  I'll amend the questions now to:

 

"More importantly, how well do you recall these words when you encounter them in the wild a year later?"

 

My point being 40 words a day is great, but it's all for naught if you can't apply them in the real world, and the standard for usage is the real world is significantly higher than the standard for passing a card during a flashcard revision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
艾墨本
8 hours ago, imron said:

"More importantly, how well do you recall these words when you encounter them in the wild a year later?"

 

Most of the time. At first it was usually a delayed "oh" before I would recognize them but as repetition and contexts added up, eventually my response time would be a bit quicker.

 

After learning all those words, I had spent a significant amount of time doing mock HSK 5 exams which meant I was encountering many of the words in various contexts outside of Anki. Usually when I cram a lot of words, my attitude is I want them in my "recognition" vocab list and then I start consuming more material (HSK tests, 活着, 许三观卖血记, 草房子). I would also put the HSK mock exams into Audacity, truncate out the silence and listen to them on repeat. Now That I've discovered the HSK standard course series, I do the same thing using the texts from HSK 6 and would have done the same with HSK 5 standard course books had I known they existed back then.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×