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zhouhaochen

A comprehensible explanation how to learn 了?

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zhouhaochen

So when I studied Mandarin back then at BLCU our grammar teacher went through the rules of how to use 了 in our grammar book and nobody in the class could understand them. In the end his advice was "Just say it like Chinese people do" which is what we ended up trying and works, but I do not think is the most efficient way to understand how 了 is used.

 

The rules are complex, but the main difficulty I find is that every explanation that I can find uses words that students simply do not know.

 

I am currently trying to create an infographic for the grammar rules for 了 and am struggling to put the explanations into words that normal people understand. I want to avoid using terms like "Determined Object Compliment", "Adverbial Adjunct" etc.

 

Does anyone know a resource or has a way to explain 了 in words that someone who is not familiar with specialized Chinese grammatical words can also understand?

 

As it is a very complex topic, currently I am planning to split it over two infographics, Aspectual 了 and Modal 了 (any suggestions on how to use words that are easier to comprehend instead of aspectual and modal are very welcome). Any feedback or advice on this split is also welcome. The infographics should look similar in design as the HSK and how to learn Tones infographics (scroll down to the bottom of the pages to see them).

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mackie1402

Aren't you a Chinese language school? Surely a teacher there has experience teaching '了‘ to people. 

 

Nonetheless, I do agree that a lot of the grammar books speak in pretty complex terms. It'd be nice to have a simpler explanation. I'm looking forward to a nice infographic, and in the mean time if I can find any resources to help I'll post a reply!

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zhouhaochen

I work at a Chinese language school, but I am not a school myself :P

 

I am talking to teachers of course, but I always find the best materials are created by a combination of the knowledge of people who know hot teach Mandarin (teachers) and those who have experience in learning it (advanced learners of Mandarin).

 

The current plan is to go away completely from the grammar explanations usually offered by books and just focus on the most common situations one uses 了 in to express something. That is how most teachers explain it. However, I would still be very interested in finding a way to explain the grammar of 了 without using all these horribly difficult grammar words nobody understands.

 

Thanks if you see anything good let me know. Maybe some of the advanced learners on here also have some thoughts to share. I will post the graphic here once done (not easy this whole thing though, so it might be a while ...)

 

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roddy

Seems like a fool's errand, but good luck with the background reading. You'll print it out and put it up and you'll still get 'but what about...' questions. 

 

Introduce level-appropriate uses at the appropriate level. Discourage classroom discussion of other uses, as it's a waste of valuable classroom time. If you want a poster, rob the explanations from each level of a set of textbooks, there's no point re-inventing the wheel. 

 

I think there's a common classroom error of teachers thinking "Oh, they don't understand everything, I have to explain more." rather than "They've understood what they need for now, time to move on." And also a reluctance to admit uncertainty - "Yeah, it could be that. Or it might be this. It's hard to tell and there's not much point taking the time, unless you want to spend your weekend reading grammar books" is a perfectly valid approach. Instead people tie themselves in knots trying to explain things that nobody understands.

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Jim

 

1 hour ago, roddy said:

I think there's a common classroom error of teachers thinking "Oh, they don't understand everything, I have to explain more." rather than "They've understood what they need for now, time to move on." And also a reluctance to admit uncertainty - "Yeah, it could be that. Or it might be this. It's hard to tell and there's not much point taking the time, unless you want to spend your weekend reading grammar books" is a perfectly valid approach. Instead people tie themselves in knots trying to explain things that nobody understands.

Yes, this. I'm trying to remember what we were told because in all honesty it's one of the few aspects of Chinese I've never struggled with and seemed to come quite naturally - which is not to claim I've got it right every time but I've never really got it so wrong it was an issue either. That was achieved by just getting on with it - something about completed action is about all that springs to mind now.

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Shelley
17 hours ago, zhouhaochen said:

"Determined Object Compliment", "Adverbial Adjunct"

I suggest you copy as roddy suggests but that you "translate" these and other words like this. Look up in the dictionary the definitions of these words, consult a thesaurus and come up with a simple version of these phrases/words.

 

I did this when I learnt computer programming and other technical terms I had to learn, it can give you a really big clue as to what's going on and de mystifies it all. It is not a 100% correct, sometimes it has had its meaning used for something else, but its a good start.

 

I am not saying explain the grammatical meaning , but use the actual meaning of the words.

 

 

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ChTTay

Integrated Chinese beginner 1 and 2 has good explanations in for this. That’s where I first got to grips with it. 

 

 

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zhouhaochen

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Trying to not cover every single exception there might be sounds like a very good idea. For grammar explanations from text book, all I have so far seen has been incomprehensible and useless unless a teacher actually explained it. But there might be more out there and I am sure we have copies of the Integrated Chinese series at school and I will check them. Finding easier terms for Chinese grammar words in English sounds like the most difficult part, but I will try.

 

In Japan next week, but will get on it once back straight away. Thanks for the help!

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zhouhaochen

Quick follow up - so we created an Infographic for "Le". It does not aim to explain every single possible use and rule of 了, but to drill it down to the main usages that a learner of Mandarin might encounter and use during daily life. All (constructive) feedback most welcome.

We have it on our how to learn Chinese page (have to scroll down all the way to the bottom) and attached to this post.

 

LTL Mandarin School LE-infographic.jpg

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mungouk

What's going on in this second example?  Explanation says 了 shouldn't be used when a time is given, but then the example uses it twice.  Including once in the pinyin but as a Hanzi.

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 11.08.46.png

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Beelzebro

Isn't that incorrect anyway? For example "today for breakfast I ate a bowl of cereal" - I'd say 今天早上我吃了一碗麦片. It feels weird without the 了.

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li3wei1

I would say 'after the verb' instead of 'behind the verb'.

 

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Shelley

Also in the example "He looked at me, but didn't speak anything", I think it should be say not speak. It sounds more natural.

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