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How To Become Fluent In Chinese Quickly?

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studychinese

"Polyglots" can do whatever they like, but I wonder what it is like to do the meet and greet in scores of languages, and not truly know any of them.

 

https://youtu.be/8CPwDec0MQc

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Well as an older monolingual English speaker I am impressed by anyone that comes from a similar background that has learnt another language, even to just a conversational level. I'm impressed because I know that achieving this requires more work than the majority of "us" are willing to put in. People like "us" who actually become completely fluent in a non-English language are, I believe, neurologically extraordinary - not in terms of intellect, but perhaps something even more important and rare, namely, discipline. Because the failure rates are so incredibly high (for a variety of social and cultural reasons) I have a fairly low bar for what I deem impressive. I personally would be happy if I could have a free flowing conversation in Mandarin like Steve Kauffman can. I like watching other native English speakers speak better Chinese than me because it inspires both my admiration and competitive desire to get better.

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somethingfunny

I think the cultural aspect is important.  I'm always impressed by the basic level of English most Chinese high school graduates in big cities can piece together.  Sure, it might not be much, but it's usually enough to take an order off a 老外 in Starbucks.  In the UK we have minimum five years compulsory second language education (at least we did when I was at school), and people here generally can't speak a second language at all.  What's going on there then?  As Shelley points out, people in the UK just don't give a damn about foreign languages.  But, to be fair, why should they?

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realmayo

A theory I remember about the truly truly gifted language learners is that they possess an exceptional auditory memory: they don't just remember roughly what a word sounds like, they remember it immediately, without any effort, just by hearing it; and, very fine details such as pitch, intonation, stress (all the things that make natural speech 'natural' rather than robotic) are part of what they remember. That means that, after they've got some feedback on their pronunciation for a while, they are quickly able to produce these sounds accurately too.

 

So an auditory memory rather than a photographic memory.

 

There may be another reason they're so good, of course. But whatever the reason, if there is something which gives certain people an advantage, I sometimes feel a bit sorry for them (only a bit!) because it must be so frustrating for them to see others struggling through more traditional or time-consuming methods of learning. Those gifted language learners try to persuade the others to stop using textbooks and instead switch to their own methods. I think they genuinely believe their methods will work for everyone. But, I don't think they work well for most people. So, frustration on both sides.

 

Someone who has reproduced multiple times would be better placed to judge this than me but perhaps learning a foreign language is like having children: raising the first an infinite stretch of newness and unknowing and learning; the second one way easier.

 

I now think learning a new language is extremely simple, it just requires time and commitment and some basic technique ... and the results follow naturally, as if by magic.

 

But I wouldn't have known that, nor had the confidence that the results would follow naturally, magically, unless I'd gone through the process of learning the first one.

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Wippen (inactive)
39 minutes ago, realmayo said:

theory I remember about the truly truly gifted language learners is that they possess an exceptional auditory memory: they don't just remember roughly what a word sounds like, they remember it immediately, without any effort, just by hearing it; and, very fine details such as pitch, intonation, stress (all the things that make natural speech 'natural' rather than robotic) are part of what they remember. That means that, after they've got some feedback on their pronunciation for a while, they are quickly able to produce these sounds accurately too.

 

So an auditory memory rather than a photographic memory

I agree with this. And in turn, probably it is unlikely that the same individual will possess a photographic memory. But we appear to be more impressed with the person who can sound native straightaway. Knowing correct grammar at an instant can also be a skill (or talent) for example or being able to write accurately. A polyglot as we term it here may impress with his wpeed of thought and ability to recall the sounds and reproduce them accurately, but the same individual I think will be unlikely to be good at all other aspects of the language. It is just the "spoken" aspect they master well and that makes people immediately impressed.

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abcdefg

I taught surgical procedures to medical students and doctors in training for many years. Some could master a process quickly, the proverbial "watch one, do one, teach one" model. Others struggled for several days or weeks, then forgot it after finally reaching mastery if not given frequent recall exercises. 

 

Some years ago, I had friends who were professional dancers, jazz, ballet and ballroom. An instructor could show them a new step done to music one time and they could reproduce it almost exactly. Other, less kinesthetically gifted individuals such as myself, had to break the steps down into components and study them over and over. And my result never really looked too good. 

 

Similar experience in recent years trying to learn Tai Chi. I was always the klutz who moved his right foot instead of his left when the rest of the class was smooth and together. They were trying to get a wrist angle more graceful, while I was just trying not to stumble and fall on my rear. 

 

Ditto for singers. Some people can get the whole song right after one hearing, words, rhythm and melody. They are talented. Others can't without lots of practice; some others never can, even in a hundred years. 

 

I think language works like these other things. Not really very surprising. Some people progress easier and faster than others. That's one of the reasons I preferred one-to-one teaching whenever I could afford it. Could move at my own speed, not at the speed of my classmates. Teacher could help me more with the aspects of learning that I found most difficult. 

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Wippen (inactive)
On ‎23‎.‎02‎.‎2018 at 2:22 AM, studychinese said:

Got any links of them actually speaking East Asian languages (preferably unscripted, but also scripted if that is all there is). I don't accept any claims by "polyglots" on faith. I'm sure you understand why.

I could not find the Robert Bigler video but I found Vladmir Skultety. His is fluent in Chinese. I can judge that his pronunciation and prosody  of Spanish and German are very good, a lot better than some people who have been living there for years. And if I heard him speak like that, I would presume he had been living there.

He speaks the following languages in the video. As far as I know Vladmir Skultety is also a Linguist. I think his talent is quite convincing here.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrDPjGHAuk0

 

0:06 English
0:30 Slovak
0:57 Hungarian
1:40 Czech
2:11 Mandarin Chinese
3:00 Russian
4:00 German
4:48 Italian
5:29 French
6:20 Spanish
6:42 Serbian
7:47 Farsi
8:37 Polish
9:30 Portuguese
10:33 Romanian
11:20 Dutch
12:23 Taiwanese
13:17 Japanese
14:07 Cantonese

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