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

How I've been teaching myself to read Chinese literature


Recommended Posts

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.

imron

Excellent writeup, thanks.

 

4 hours ago, laurenth said:

I have the impression that I'm just starting to appreciate the style of the author I'm reading, which is a welcome development.

A good indicator of progress!

Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone currently working through the DeFrancis readers, honestly, your post sounds a little depressing. Although I know that Chinese will always provide plenty of things to learn for me, to see how much is left until I will be able to enjoy Chinese literature can be frustrating. Great post, though!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some questions:

- How did you learn grammar patterns etc.? Textbooks?

- Any readers that you think were particularly helpful as preparation for native content? I checked the Chinese Breeze series and the level 3 is just 750 words, so there is sitll a huge gap to native texts... I assume?

- Now that we have the long list of readers, would you still try to read as many as possible or do you think your level was the right one to make the jump?

Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
40 minutes ago, wibr said:

to see how much is left until I will be able to enjoy Chinese literature can be frustrating

If you are currently at an intermediate level, then would say that you can be enjoying Chinese literature within a year.

 

Just pick something, start reading, and then make sure you are learning 10 new words a day.  Every day.  For a year.  You can still look up other words, but don't put any effort in to learning them (or adding them to a flashcard program).  Don't learn more than 10 words a day because then it will start to take up too much time, which will take away from reading.

 

Make sure that you always have a couple of books ready to go, so that when you finish one you can go straight on to the next one without any time spent figuring out what to read next.  Don't be afraid to put down something that is too difficult or too boring and come back to it later (maybe even a year later).

 

Over the course of a year, that'll be 3,650 new words - all learnt from context, and all relevant and specific to what you are interested in reading.  On top of your existing vocabulary, this is probably enough to be reading and understanding native content, though still with quite a bit of help from a dictionary.  For reference, a novel like《活着》has about 4,000 unique words.

 

It's a grind to do this initially, but doing that grind is really the only way to reach that level. 

 

A year might seem like a long time, but it'll be over before you know it, and if you don't do it, then a year from now you'll still be just as far away as you are now.

 

8 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

I'm jealous.

只要功夫深,铁杵磨成针

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

@imron Thanks! Yeah I already have plenty of readers lined up after the DeFrancis readers. I also bought the Mandarin Companion readers, they are quite easy for me to read so that's encouraging :-).

Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
16 minutes ago, wibr said:

I checked the Chinese Breeze series and the level 3 is just 750 words, so there is sitll a huge gap to native texts... I assume?

The first chapter of 鬼吹灯 has 636 unique words.

 

The first two chapters have 1,074 unique words

 

The first three chapters have 2,003 unique words.

 

The first ten chapters have ~5,000 unique words, but if you knew all the words from the first 9 chapters, you'd have a comprehension rate of 99%.

 

That makes chapter 1 and 2 quite accessible, and if you are learning as you go, then each chapter will make the subsequent chapters more accessible.  How large is your current vocabulary?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent write-up! It's funny to see how many of the things you mention I've also read. Some of them because they were promoted in the forums (圈子圈套) and some quite coincidenally (像我這樣的一個女子). 《炊烟》  is indeed horrible and very good.

Link to post
Share on other sites
laurenth
4 hours ago, wibr said:

- How did you learn grammar patterns etc.? Textbooks?

 

Yes, before I started reading readers  (Chinese Breeze, specifically), I'd used Bellassen's Méthode d'initiation à la langue et à l'écriture chinoises. At various times, I also used New Practical Chinese Reader and Chinese Made Easier.  

 

But I started Chinese Reader, if I remember correctly, after only a few months of studying. Reading level 1 readers was hard, but I still remember how exstatic I felt when I finished my first Chinese Breeze reader. The stories in this series may be a bit cheesy, but they are extremely well thought out: good gradation, no pinyin, mp3s and, though that's not advertised, I've often had the impression that each book in the series contained lots of sentences illustrating two or three specific syntactic features of Chinese. For instance, just when I was wondering how you could say things like: "Nobody does this... There aren't anywhere..." in Chinese, I read a Chinese Breeze book which contained many examples of that pattern. I underlined them and tried to understand how it worked.

 

4 hours ago, wibr said:

- Any readers that you think were particularly helpful as preparation for native content? I checked the Chinese Breeze series and the level 3 is just 750 words, so there is sitll a huge gap to native texts... I assume?

 

Yes the gap is still there and I've long had a hard time finding books that help bridge the gap. It remains a problem to this day: I can't read anything I want. As mentioned in my first post, the first few novels I read required a lot of patience and lookups. But, in hindsight, I still feel that the progression textbooks > readers > abridged versions/translations etc. > native content is the best way.

 

4 hours ago, wibr said:

- Now that we have the long list of readers, would you still try to read as many as possible or do you think your level was the right one to make the jump?

 

As for readers, the more the better, in my opinion.

 

As for the timing, I probably made the jump a bit too soon, not only because I was impatient, but also because I couldn't find more readers.

Likewise, if I could have found more books such as the abridged versions of 家、春、围城, I would  have read them. Unfortunately, I could find none.

 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
character
On 6/30/2017 at 4:36 PM, laurenth said:

I could probably use Imron's CTA, which was designed  from the ground up to avoid that. In fact I probably *should* be using CTA. Unfortunately, most of my reading happens during commuting or at lunch time, i.e. away from my computer. I can only use my phone, so CTA is mostly out of the picture.

Great post @laurenth!  Depending on your situation, a Windows tablet might be a good investment.

Link to post
Share on other sites
laurenth
13 hours ago, character said:

Depending on your situation, a Windows tablet might be a good investment.

 

The next time I need an excuse to purchase yet another toy useful device, I'll remember your suggestion :P Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Yadang
On 6/30/2017 at 2:36 PM, laurenth said:

I could probably use Imron's CTA, which was designed  from the ground up to avoid that. In fact I probably *should* be using CTA. Unfortunately, most of my reading happens during commuting or at lunch time, i.e. away from my computer. I can only use my phone, so CTA is mostly out of the picture.

 

The genius of Imron's CTA is that it allows you to "pre-study". So you could very quickly* use CTA to give you a list of words to study (from the next chapter or whatever), then import them into pleco and study them on your phone, as well as do the actual reading on your phone after pre-studying. This way, most of your time would still be using your phone.

 

 

*after it learns what words you know. That part takes some time, but is sped up a lot by importing lists (from flashcards, HSK, etc.)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...