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Practical "Environment Mining" -- Riding the metro


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When I'm out and about I always engage in some degree of "environment mining" to review  practical, daily-life (written) vocabulary by simply looking at signs. Often find simple things I'd forgotten or didn't know. Yesterday I rode the subway/MTR/地铁 here in Kunming and took some phone snapshots to show you one easy way to re-enforce or expand your vocabulary at a beginner or intermediate level. The context helps understanding and makes things "stick" better.


I do this this with many activities and in many places. For example, I nearly always do this with restaurant menus while I'm waiting for my food to arrive. Also, if possible, I take a copy home to deconstruct and study at my leisure, looking up terms I don't understand. Usually I make flashcards of interesting terms to review.


Here's a look at some "Riding the metro" vocabulary from yesterday's trip.





Words to know: (click the "reveal hidden contents" button after you have tried to read the picture of the actual sign.) 






















Words to know: 乘车。(The English translation isn't literal, as is often the case.)















Words to know:























Words to know:










Words to know: (Some less common words from the 公安局。)









Words to know:












Words to know:







Didn't photograph the ticket vending machines or the security checkpoints. You could add those when you next explore the subway where you live. Every outing can be a learning experience with a very small investment of time and effort.

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2 hours ago, 889 said:

So if you're the sort that always picks up the ketchup bottle and starts reading it while waiting for your meal to arrive, then you're the right sort to study Chinese.


Busted! Afraid that's the sort of thing I tend to do. (In addition to listening to music.)

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14 hours ago, 889 said:

So if you're the sort that always picks up the ketchup bottle and starts reading it while waiting for your meal to arrive, then you're the right sort to study Chinese.

It all becomes clear now. Chinese always was my destiny.

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16 hours ago, edelweis said:

public toilet mining thread.


We already have one of those, albeit a short one. 


https://www.chinese-forums.com/blogs/blog/2-signese/?page=2  ("Toilet Instructions" from 18 October.) 


"Mining" anything that catches your interest is a solid, low-tech way to learn some practical Chinese. Vocabulary doesn't have to miraculously arrive on your computer in a pre-fabricated Anki deck. It can be dug out the old fashioned way as well. For me, the process of acquiring words "organically" this way makes them easier to retain.  


Lots of small neighborhood restaurants have pictures of their featured dishes pasted on the wall outside, mainly as a way to lure in customers. I always pause at those and have a read, then snap some photos with my phone to study later.


When apartment hunting, I've found it useful to linger outside the small neighborhood realty offices that have apartments for sale and rent posted in the window. Studying these a while is an easy way to review apartment leasing nomenclature. And it's especially useful in seeing what abbreviations are commonly used; these can otherwise be baffling. 


There is always more than one way to skin a cat. This method is not the only one by far. But I personally have found it useful as well as sort of fun. One seizes opportunity and every small outing becomes a "treasure hunt."


When considering the "benefits of immersion" in a new culture, this is one of the facets of that process which should not be overlooked if you really want to maximize the return on your investment of time and money. Don't want to come off sounding like some kind of evangelist, just wanted to shine some light on what can be a useful learning technique. 

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