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MrDuque

Resources to learn Chinese from nothing

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MrDuque

Hi everyone, I made this post to ask for some good quality resources for learning from the very beginning.

 

YouTube channels, books (physical, PDFs or Epubs), podcasts, webpages, apps or anything else that could come to your mind. I also want to emphasize that I'm an independent student and I have no access to native/fluent Chinese speakers and teachers so any resource that could allow me to self-study would be really useful.

 

I know that all of these resources are spread across this forum but it would be really helpful for me and future Chinese language learners to have a single thread where we could find them.

 

Thanks in advance.

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2 hours ago, MrDuque said:

I know that all of these resources are spread across this forum but it would be really helpful for me and future Chinese language learners to have a single thread where we could find them.

 

You will find many (several hundred) listed here on these forums if you simply type "study resources" into the search box, upper right corner of the page. Some are specifically aimed at people who are self studying from zero. You can limit your search to those if you wish.

 

It's too much for one single thread. Discussing and finding study resources is probably the main reason most people originally come to this forum. Over time, many members end up listing their own favorite tools.

 

Here's a recent one I found helpful: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51989-a-short-list-of-resources-for-studying-chinese/

 

 

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werewitt
Quote

 

One word of caution @MrDuque - Olle Linge (hackingchinese author) is extremely verbose. You might find it useful to skim a couple of his posts (or more, if you read just the bolded headers) but there's nothing earth-shattering to be gained from them, especially for beginners.

 

Maybe it's just me, but I find myself procrastinating online reading how to study Chinese much more often than actually studying (eg right now!). Same with this forum - there's a ton of materials and opinions, but just try and see what works for you. And probably go to some formal course just for kicks and external feedback. At least, for the first few months of your year study with a coursebook of some sort, if you're targeting real language and not just the test.

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Flickserve

It's easy to get lost in all the information. I would say looking back on my learning journey that the time on repetitive listening is not emphasised enough. I worked on pronunciation and pinyin early on with exercises and specific lessons. I think my pronunciation is OK enough for me to sound better than many typical (non-ethnic Chinese)  Mandarin language learners. Pushing myself on repetitive listening took me a level further (of course,  still so much more to do) and now I am currently adding repetitive shadowing of sentences. I am talking about listening hundreds of times to the same sentences. Speaking early has its value but if you cannot understand the other person, this is not communication. 

 

YouTube channels are okish but I get impatient of having to filter out the English.

 

The absolute best way for me is to record my lessons and ask the teacher to transcript what they said later. I then review it and translate and store the lesson. One lesson like that done properly and sorting out the good bits is 2-4 times increase in value of the money spent on the lesson itself. 

 

 

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Flickserve
5 hours ago, MrDuque said:

I have no access to native/fluent Chinese speakers

 

If you have Skype and Internet, then you have access. 

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艾墨本

***

This is a good place to start along with the Oxford's Elementary Chinese:

Hello Chinese - Duolingo-like phone app for Chinese learners with a handwriting function like Skritter and voice recognition

Oxford’s Elementary Chinese Grammar Course - Self-teach yourself the basics. [free]

***

 

EdX Beginner Chinese - Part 1 and Part 2 [free]

Coursera Beginner Chinese- Part 1 and Part 2 [free]

 

Popup Chinese for good podcasts with excellent explanations. Take notes while listening to the grammar sections.

ChinesePod - An enormous library of podcasts

Chinese Grammar Wiki - Excellent grammar explanations. You could systematically go through the grammar points. Don't do more than one a day. Instead, focus on studying one to the point that you can use it creatively ad freely.

 

 

Especially as an independent student, the need to invest lots of time into understanding tones, pinyin, and mouth positions (tongue, nose, airflow, etc) can not be overstated. You are, after all, learning to communicate with a language.

Hacking Chinese - A comprehensive explanation and guide to pinyin [free]

Tone Trainer  online exercises to develop an ear for single tones [free]

Hanping Chinese SoundBox - sound board with different tone pairs [free]

Mandarin Chinese Phonetics

The initial sounds

 

Get some reading material. I recommend the Mandarin Companion graded readers from the same folks that do the grammar wiki. The Chinese breeze ones are nice, though the content less interesting, and have the added bones of audio recording. Otherwise, just jump online:

The Chairman's Bao - Graded reader-esque news with recordings.

 

 

I pulled most of these from "A Short List of Resources"

 

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werewitt

A note re Chairman's Bao - they appear to be completely for-profit, I could not find a single free article to even check what their quality is like these days.

DuChinese has at least a few free articles.

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艾墨本
21 minutes ago, werewitt said:

A note re Chairman's Bao - they appear to be completely for-profit

Look for the stories tagged on the picture as "sample." The samples are swapped out every one in a while as well so you can read their articles for free occasionally. 

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Shelley
10 hours ago, MrDuque said:

to have a single thread where we could find them.

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51989-a-short-list-of-resources-for-studying-chinese/

This link has been posted earlier in this topic but I reiterate it because it is the answer to your question.

 

It is all very well having all these resources but you need to decide a few things, do you want to study characters, if so are you going to use simplified or traditional. Personally i would recommend learning characters as you go.

 

Do you have any aims or goals in mind as to what you are learning chinese for? This could help you tailor your learning materials to be more useful for your end goals.

 

As an extra have a look at my blog for more about the learning materials I use and how I use them.

 

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Luxi

Coursera offers several online courses for beginners from Beijing and Jiaotong Universities. 

https://www.coursera.org/courses?languages=en&query=chinese

I don't know anything about the quality of any of these, but there may be people here who have tried and commented on some of them.

 

Jiaotong University also offers a Beginners Chinese 'Speciality' that includes preparation for HSK1 to 3 through Coursera

https://www.coursera.org/specializations/learn-mandarin

You can try 7 days for free by enrolling for the speciality, but if you want to continue the formal series and get a certificate, it's not free. You can apply to have the fee waived if you can't afford to pay, I imagine there will could be a few thousands of  students applying for this. The actual certificate is not the equivalent to an academic certificate and if you want the actual HSK certificates you'll have to sit the exams separately in your location. 

 

You can alternatively enrol in the individual courses of this Specialization using the links in the page above, and audit them for free. You  won't be able to do all the assignments and get  a certificate, but you'll get the knowledge.

 

 

 

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mlescano

When I started, I also spent way too much time reading about how to begin, how difficult it was, how it compared to other languages, considering different methods for getting started, reading about the debate of traditional vs. simplified, stressing over whether I needed to learn to write or not, reading hackingchinese, asking my friends, browsing this forum, collecting tons of internet bookmarks of resources that seemed useful, reading more hackingchinese, etc. This leads to "analysis paralysis" due to something called "the paradox of choice". You end up being a hoarder of resources instead of a learner.

 

Maybe at the beginning it's best to just get started with one particular course that "takes you by the hand" and stick to it for a while before starting to cobble together your own study routine with the above-mentioned resources. As mentioned, Coursera has quality free courses on a lot of subjects. Give one of them a shot.

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大块头
3 minutes ago, mlescano said:

Maybe at the beginning it's best to just get started with one particular course that "takes you by the hand" and stick to it for a while before starting to cobble together your own study routine with the above-mentioned resources.

 

Fair point. I would have probably had the same "analysis paralysis" when I was first starting out if I wasn't taking a class with an established curriculum.

 

17 hours ago, MrDuque said:

I know that all of these resources are spread across this forum but it would be really helpful for me and future Chinese language learners to have a single thread where we could find them.

 

@imron @roddy Does this new forum software have the functionality to create a community wiki?

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Shelley

We have dedicated thread to learning resources, what difference would a wiki make? The learning topic feels like the elephant in the room, its there but it seems to be invisible.

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51989-a-short-list-of-resources-for-studying-chinese/

 

if you think it is incomplete or biased, chime in, its an open topic, put your views forward, it might be useful to everyone.

 

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大块头
14 minutes ago, Shelley said:

We have dedicated thread to learning resources, what difference would a wiki make?

 

Two benefits come to mind:

  1. Wiki websites allow you to create a hierarchy of topics and pages that can all link to each other. Such websites are easier to navigate than 100+ posts in a single topic.
  2. If there was a tab at the top of the chinese-forums website (next to "browse" and "activity") that said "wiki", that would make this community resource more visible. I've been using this forum casually for more than a year but this is the first time I've heard of that thread. Having a visible community wiki might cut down on people asking the same questions over and over too.
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Flickserve
12 hours ago, Shelley said:

 

Do you have any aims or goals in mind as to what you are learning chinese for? This could help you tailor your learning materials to be more useful for your end goals.

 

It will be HSK 5 within a year according to the other thread. 

 

For such a high aim,  I think the OP will definitely have to consider spending a little money before going to China. 

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MrDuque

@Flickserve Would you recommend me to take some classes in an academy or does buying some materials and using online resources suffice? 

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imron

We used to have a wiki with an older version of the forums, but it was never really used and the wiki content  was folded in to forum posts. 

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Flickserve
3 hours ago, MrDuque said:

Would you recommend me to take some classes in an academy or does buying some materials and using online resources suffice? 

 

Academy can mean two things. If you mean attend a class with other people, this can be quite cheap and you can get a feel for the subject and how you compare to other learners. If you mean an online academy where you get one to one tutoring, they have their own syllabuses which may or may not suit you.

 

I think there are quite a lot of written resources on the Internet. The textbook 'New Practical Chinese Reader'  is quite good since you plan to attend University. You should be able to find a free copy of the pdf vol 1 on the Internet and the videos with dialogue are on YouTube. 

 

The one thing I would definitely advise to spend money on is working with a one to one tutor to help with your pinyin and pronunciation. It is definitely difficult work and you need to be patient. I did about 15 hours of pronunciation practice with a tutor about three months after starting Chinese. It meant sacrificing time on speaking sentences. I improved a lot but still far from perfect. Why do I recommend pronunciation? Because there are plenty of stories of students who have learnt Chinese in their own country but when they arrive in China, no one could understand what the student said. Those students had not given enough attention on pronunciation. So, that's an important practical point. Working on pronunciation early also gives you long lasting benefits in reducing bad speaking  habits. Trying to correct bad habits later in life is harder. The tutor I found for these lessons came from italki.com but it did take me some time to find one that I was comfortable with. 

 

The other thing I spent money on which I think has been worth the money is buying software to record my online Skype lessons so I can review them at a later time. You might be able to setup Audacity to record Skype conversations for free.

 

I personally spend a lot of time on listening and mimicking repeatedly to sentences. So that's why recording software and a good player is important to me.

 

I understand you need HSK 5 so get to grips with basic pronunciation, lots of listening skills, basic reading. If you have good basics,  everything should be  easier afterwards.

 

A disclaimer - I am not taking the HSK but only state what you might need to start off. 

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