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xavkno

Where/how to start learning chinese

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xavkno

sorry if i put this in the wrong forum section.

 

The question is the title I am an 15 year old and would like to learn Chinese part to read Chinese litrature like Romance of the three kingdoms

but also part to  possible futureproof my possible career.

 

So where should I start cause i have no access to traditional classes at the moment.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Shelley

Have a look at the edX online classes they are free and you can start them any time. If however you start them the first time the course is run you can get more things to help with learning and a certificate if you reach the required standard.

Have a look here https://www.edx.org/course/basic-mandarin-chinese-level-1-mandarinx-mx101x-0

This is level 1.

 

I suggest a textbook, do you want to learn traditional or simplified? when you decide you can pick a textbook.

I use New Practical Chinese Reader. It you are up for read have a look a my blog for how I use it and other materials.

I also highly recommend HelloChinese, here is the introduction to the app https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/49944-hellochinese-–-new-chinese-mandarin-learning-app-learn-chinese-speak-chinese/

 

You have already made a good start by finding and joining the forum. Welcome:P

Hope this is a help.

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xavkno

Thank you for your reply I will look at those things then.

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xavkno

And does new practical Chinese use simplified? As that will most probably the handiest to learn right?

 

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安笛 {Andy}

The app 'Hinative' is a really easy way to ask native Chinese speakers some quick questions.

 

Find youserlf a language exchange partner, or pay a Chinese person for 1 to 1 help.

 

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Flickserve
On 05/03/2017 at 1:07 AM, xavkno said:

possible futureproof my possible career.

 

Which means also knowing how to listen and  speak in Chinese. Do not underestimate having specific lessons on learning pinyin and pronunciation. They can be tiring and take up a lot of time. The end results after 6 months don't have to be perfect pronunciation but definitely aim to have a strong foundation. You will benefit from that all the way through your learning experience. Many beginners gloss over this and it shows up quite painfully later on. 

 

Learning characters can start a few months later.

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889

Learning Chinese, the biggest hurdle is speaking so that you are understood. It's quite possible to be able to read Chinese well yet draw polite but mystified looks from native speakers whenever you open your mouth.

 

The problem with starting alone, without a native speaker to train your voice, is that you will almost certainly develop a slew of bad habits, bad habits that will be near-impossible to change.

 

I'd strongly suggest you either find a native tutor, using Skype if necessary, or hold off your Chinese studies until you're able to find a teacher.

 

Learning Chinese solo is not a good idea.

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Flickserve
1 hour ago, 889 said:

Learning Chinese solo is not a good idea.

 

Agree

 

There is always the temptation to use "apps" as a substitute for teachers which I think for a beginner, gets you only a very short distance and you can easily go off track. For an ambitious person wanting to go far, beginner apps are not the way forward. As a supplementary aid, some are OK. But I think you can go very far with a tutor on skype, recording and reviewing a lesson. The really useful app is the one that lets you find a native speaker who you can learn from.

 

In fact, I might go as so far to say you can easily double or triple your value of a lesson if you record AND review it. Unfortunately, I didn't at the beginning of my learning.

 

Finding a native speaking tutor, can be found for affordable prices for Chinese because of the sheer numbers of tutors available. Go to italki.com and you see very competitive prices for Community Tutors who I think many are very adequately equipped to teach pronunciation and pinyin. They are also quite willing to provide free teaching materials.

 

Compare with other languages such as French and you can see higher tutor prices.

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Mati1
5 hours ago, 889 said:

I'd strongly suggest you either find a native tutor, using Skype if necessary, or hold off your Chinese studies until you're able to find a teacher.

 

Learning Chinese solo is not a good idea.

 

I would never suggest to someone who is interested in learning a new language that she should not do so just because she does not have access to a human teacher from the beginning. You and Flickserver are raising valid points though.

I'd rather express it this way: Learning solo is harder, can be more frustrating and one will end up making more mistakes, most of which should be fixable easily enough when one finally gets the chance to use the language with real people for a longer time.

Learning to speak is important if one wants to be able to speak (well). But that's not specific to Chinese.

 

I guess a very high percentage of learners can't be 100 % sure that they will really need or use the language later in their life. Those who do will learn the language anyway. For the others learning the new language is more like a test run, because they can't know in advance how hard, interesting or joyful learning and using the language will be for themselves later.

 

Please nobody suggest to others not to try learning a new language. It should be the other way round: If someone has the slightest interest in learning a foreign language tell them to give it a try; because you never know. If someone doesn't have an interest in learning a new language she may not know what she's missing, maybe because she never tried it. After all, having "learnt" a second language in school isn't the same as making the decision independently and taking the initiative. So it can't hurt to motivate "normal" people to give learning a foreign language a try either. Well, that's my opinion now hehe.

 

@xavkno mentioned a strong interest in reading. In the special case of Chinese one could argue that it's completely useless to postpone learning until one has access to a speaker, because it takes a very long time to learn the characters. I'd even go as far as to say that, depending on your personal circumstances in your home country versus living in China, it is wasted time to learn the characters after arriving in China. I think it makes more sense to learn them before moving there; your memory works the same everywhere, learning characters is pretty boring and your flashcards and memory hooks are the same in every country.

 

I know that xavkno also mentioned his career, thus most likely requiring good spoken Chinese in the long run. (But not necessarily; I am sure there are people only writing translations.) How many people do you know who have acquired a high level of spoken Chinese without being able to read? And would companies higher them?

 

So xavkno just go for it! Dive into the language and have fun!

Personally I can't imagine learning to read without knowing who to pronounce the text correctly in my head. I've started with audio lessons, some of the first covering pronounciation, before starting to learn the characters for reading longer texts and books.

The first phase is the hardest.

By the way, given a certain minimum language proficiency, once you find a native friend it gets even more interesting.  :D

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Flickserve
15 minutes ago, Mati1 said:

How many people do you know who have acquired a high level of spoken Chinese without being able to read?

 

If you mean function in daily life without knowing specialist topics and can carry decent conversations, get and understand explanations without being able to read Chinese, then I am one such person (with Cantonese).

 

Contrary to 889, I think the biggest hurdle is underestimating the time needed on listening skills. Which is why I support recording lessons.

 

I do agree delaying a start is not a strategy I would suggest.

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Shelley
17 hours ago, xavkno said:

And does new practical Chinese use simplified? As that will most probably the handiest to learn right?

 

Yes it does use simplified but you can also get the traditional version. You need to decide which you want depending on where you might want to use your chinese. I started with simplified and after a few years (many years!!!) I decided to add traditional to my studies. This is relatively easy to do so its not impossible to change your mind so don't worry if you are not sure, starting is the best thing. I would start with simplified. I would also recommend starting to learn characters from the start, a lot of people disagree with this, if you do it as you go along it will be easier later, the first few (1-5) lessons can be pinyin only but after that begin learning characters. Writing characters is the best way in my opinion to memorise them.

 

NPCR is easy to use if you are studying on your own, there are audio CDs and free videos on YouTube, and you can get an instructors book with answer keys. There are also workbooks to practice writing etc. For me its an all round course, a very good place to start, you can make additions or change things as you go. They are available on amazon or even possibly in your local book store or they can order it for you.

In my blog I list the books and resources I use, and how I use them. This might help.

 

Please don't be put off studying just because you are on your own, you can study very well by yourself. It is good to have some lessons eventually, but even using the edX course I described will help.

 

 

 

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LiMo

I think the bad habits can be avoided by careful planning. If you record yourself and play it back you can then compare your pronunciation to native speakers and self correct. Although I agree that iTalki tutors are good value for money, you get Chinese prices no matter where you're studying from. 

 

Regarding characters, as Shelley says, this is somewhat controversial and some forum members stand staunchly by the idea that you should avoid them until you have a solid foundation in pinyin. This view is apparently supported by language acquisition studies conducted on Chinese youth. My answer to that has been that Chinese youth studying Chinese in school and in a full immersion home environment have different needs to those of foreign adults studying abroad. I wouldn't presume to put a time period on when you should start "studying" characters, but in my opinion you should always be aware of them and have your sights set on them as your end goal from the very beginning, even if you just try to remember a few at a time.

 

Attitude is all important. I went into Chinese quite ignorant of the characters, how many I would have to learn and how long it would take. I learned about them properly in the first lesson of my textbook and then bumbled my way through various methods until I found the ones I liked best. I think this is in contrast to others who do a lot of research first and hear about how "terrible" characters are from some jaded expats and how "you can just get by with pinyin and google translate,” and then they get discouraged. So start with them when you're ready and try out different methods to find what suits you. I quite liked using memrise flashcards when I started off, they give you a nice introduction to radicals (the building blocks of characters), which really helped me build a strong foundation for when I started learning them in earnest (although I didn't know this at the time).

 

Check out hackingchinese.com for some really good advice on how to study Chinese effectively. 

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Luxi

You might want to look into the Confucius Institute Online  pages and take some of the free online course series to get you going. There is a bewildering amount of learning material and choices. If you want to meet other learners or join actual classes, you won't be too far away from a Confucius Institute branch anywhere in The Netherlands, ask in your nearest University if they have one.

 

BTW, Leiden University has one of the best Chinese learning centres in the world. You might want to look them up and ask for advice there if you are near. 

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mlescano

I'd start with some inspiration and encouragement before planning the work ahead. 

 

The books "Fluent in 3 months" and "Fluent Forever" can provide such inspiration. You can find them on iBooks and Kindle. They will also help you figure out how to handle the huge task at hand.

 

Or you could at least read some encouraging words from the same authors. I highly recommend these two blog posts in particular. I might not agree with every point, but I agree with their highly positive tone:

http://lifehacker.com/5903288/i-learned-to-speak-four-languages-in-a-few-years-heres-how

https://www.fluentin3months.com/chinese/

 

After those, feel free to come back and ask for more help. :)

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Shelley

Oh no fluent in 3 months makes an appearance. Well if you read the topics on this forums about Benny you will see it caused quite a commotion.

 

IMHO I don't think you need this kind of stuff now.

 

I think the only inspiration you need now it to carry on as you have started, with a desire to learn chinese.

 

6 minutes ago, mlescano said:

After those, feel free to come back and ask for more help

 

Please don't feel that in anyway you need to read these before you can proceed, you can ask for more help without knowledge of these books.

 

 

 

 

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Mati1

I agree with Shelley.

 

Anyway, if you have your own inner motivation it can keep you going, regardless of what other people say you should or should not do or achieve.

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Flickserve
7 hours ago, mlescano said:

 

Had not read the first link. I think the author must have had plenty of time during the day. That's no criticism but readers have to set realistic expectations if they have other commitments.

 

The second link is exactly the reason why a person needs to learn pronunciation. He is not exactly fluent and he is difficult to understand. Would you want to sound less than half decent and not be able to communicate?

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mlescano

Yup. I don't agree with everything Benny and Gabriel say. Gabriel wrote his book without having tackled non-European languages, and Benny did forget almost all the Chinese he learned.

 

I'm actually now in the camp of beginning with prosody, that is, the "music" of sentences. I wrote a bit about it here:

http://www.learningspanish.rocks/blog/why-prosody-the-music-of-the-language-should-be-the-number-one-thing-you-learn-in-a-new-language

A phrasebook with mp3 is great for this.

I still have to write part 2.

 

A few years ago, I spent a lot of time reading aloud whole sentences while "chorusing" native recordings. Of course, I already had the pinyin basics down by then. After that, I spent a few months laser-focused on characters and pronunciation (using Gabriel's pronunciation trainers). I still keep self-correcting myself on pronunciation every time I do SRS with Pleco, and I still practice longer reading while chorusing native recordings (and now also a TV show). The results have been good so far, but yes, it's been, and continues to be, lots of work. At one point Chinese consumed around 3-5 hours every day. These days I can read almost everything within a particular subject, but other subjects are still difficult.

 

I believe the "You can learn this in x months" mentality is akin to wanting just a fling with the language, while if you really want to go far, you need to make some long-term investments, even if you don't really see immediate results from them.

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