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Jackcsw

Help with better ways to study and motivation

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Jackcsw

Hello all! Once again I am posting on forms for help. So today I am here asking you a question about my studying of the language. Well first off I started Chinese In January of this year... I have seen decent improvement but I don’t think i saw the results I wanted to be at by this time... (results were that I was doing well and I would b able to speak a simple conversation with somebody in Chinese) well as you may know that didn’t go well :( I am struggling to find ways to actually focus on studying and not getting distracted... I really like Chinese as a language and just the culture in general I have had a lot of free time available and a lot of the summer to study! So my main question today is “how do I not distract and focus on the language and also what are the best ways for me to study to see good improvement!”

i know if this may sound confusing just reply and I will anwser any questions!

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Lu

What was your study method so far? Did you have a textbook? What areas did you focus on (speaking, listening, reading, writing)? Did you have a teacher, and if so how often did you meet with her? How much did you self-study/do your homework? Have you ever learned a foreign language before?

 

If, for example, you had only one class a week since January and 20 students in your class, it's not strange that you have made only a little progress. Chinese is not an easy language to learn and you need a lot of practice and repetition. And motivation too.

 

There are all kinds of tools you can use over the summer, and if you study every day, I can almost guarantee you can make good progress. For learning vocabulary, Anki or another SRS systm is helpful. For general learning the language, I've heard many good things about Pimsleur (it's expensive, but check your local library, they might have it). I hear good things about Skritter for learning to write characters well, although it's far from free. You can try finding a language partner for speaking practice, either locally or online. There is also a website where people check your writing for you (I forget the name, but someone else will probably know). I find Forvo useful for listening to pronunciation.

 

Also, try watching Chinese movies and listening to Chinese music. There is a lot out there, so search for something you enjoy.

 

As to not getting distracted, that's another kettle of fish altogether. There are about a million methods and advice websites on how to stop yourself from procrastinating, so just look around for a bit. Personally I like the pomodoro method (set an alarm for a set period of time, half an hour for example, study diligently for that period, then let yourself be distracted for a short break, and then set the timer again), but look around for something that works for you.

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mungouk

Hi @Jackcsw and welcome to the forum!

I'm very far from an expert but I've often reflected on what helped me in my first year.

 

How often are you studying?  I found moving from classes once a week to 3 times a week made an enormous difference.  If you really do have a lot of free time, can you study every day?  Do you have a teacher?  If not, how can you be sure your pronunciation is accurate?  (Re-learning proper pronunciation after spending a long time doing it wrong is going to be painful.)

 

Don't be disheartened if your listening and speaking ability appear to fall behind what you might expect based on your reading/writing skills — especially if you've already studied other languages where the 4 skills generally develop at a similar rate.  This forum is full of long and detailed threads by those of us who have felt the same, so it's pretty normal. And 5 months of study really isn't very long at all. So long as you can keep your motivation up and your expectations realistic you will be fine.  

 

As a Skritter user I concur it's great, although $$$.  If you have an Android device there's something similar and simpler but free called Inkstone

 

If you want to measure your improvement, you could sign up for the HSK exams (or TOCFL if you're learning traditional characters).  There are many apps and websites that will help you with the vocabulary acquisition. Watching your scores increase should reinforce your understanding of your progress.  I like StickyStudy for HSK vocab (yet another SRS tool, somewhat prettier than Anki) but everyone has different preferences.   For grammar, the free Chinese Grammar Wiki is very good although it talks about CEFR levels rather than HSK. (Warning: Can of worms there.)

 

You'll find that almost everyone loves the Pleco phone/tablet app (free, with some great paid add-ons), and the ZhongWhen extension for the Chrome browser is a god-send I find.  Mouse-over Chinese characters that you don't know and it will translate them... hit Alt-5 (for example) and it will send you to the right page on the MDBG online dictionary, which has several nice features including character decomposition (scissors icon).  If there's a relevant section on Chinese grammar wiki hitting 'g' will take you there.  A wonderful tool which I use every day.

 

Hope that's some help!



 

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Jackcsw

@Lu

@mungouk

Hey thanks for responding! to answer some of your questions on the specifics! So basically I have been studying more as a one on one thing every day with my chinese teacher at my high school! were going at a pretty reasonable pace, I have learned the basics of speaking and grammar through a book called Learn Chinese with me volume 1! As muchI as I like doing the book I don't think i am learning well with meaning by i am more of a visual learner. And when it comes to the summer I have a lot of time this summer to practice chinese! so yes if you guys could give me more info on the fact of what websites i should be using and what sources would really help me speed up the process thanks!  PS I forgot to mention that I dont mind price! its a matter of me just doing it and stay commited 

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mungouk

If money is not an issue then I would definitely work with your teacher every day. 

 

If your teacher knows what they are doing (i.e. experienced/qualified) and you know what you want to achieve then you're probably in the best possible situation.

 

At the risk of opening another can of woms: You say you're a visual learner...  how did you decide this?  VAK is a discredited theory of learning, and speaking/listening are definitely the most challenging part of learning a language like Mandarin. 

 

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NinjaTurtle

Jack,

Here is how to learn Chinese.

Learn Pinyin, with all of its subtle nuances. For example, there is a last name in Chinese that is pronounced like the English name “Joe”. You might think it is written in Pinyin as “Jo” or “Jou”. It is not. It is written as “Zhou”. There are things like the difference between “xin” and “shin”. You may think the English name "Don" rhymes with the Chinese word "yan" but it does not. You need to have all of these differences down cold. You need to practice “taking dictation”, where you hear Chinese and then write it in Pinyin. (In the beginning, this is a lot harder than you might think.) Feel free to ask where you can find simple spoken Chinese files on the Internet that you can practice listening to and writing down in Pinyin.

Get through your elementary Chinese textbook from cover to cover. There is no getting around this. Work on getting through the intermediate textbook too. Learn what Chinese people use for present tense, past tense, future tense, present perfect, the three ways to say “can” in Chinese, how to say “when”, how to say “if”, etc. (Many teachers do not emphasize grammar, but I do.)

I break the study of Chinese into three areas: proper spoken Chinese, conversational Chinese, and learning Chinese characters. (You would be surprised at the differences between proper Chinese and how Chinese is actually spoken on the street.) Do not mix these up. (Your Chinese may be at the beginning level, so perhaps you do not need to distinguish between proper Chinese and conversational Chinese at this time.) Take time to study each of the three areas. Before you sit down to study Chinese, decided which of these areas you will study at that time. (Many people spend too much time or not enough time learning Chinese characters. You need to make sure you are getting the right balance.)

Language is mainly a spoken activity. Therefore, most of your time should be spent speaking in Chinese with another person. (Do not spend most of your time listening to a lecture. Do not spend most of your time memorizing vocabulary or grammar rules.) Failing to do this is a big mistake.

You need to take charge and start writing very simple dialogues in English. Then, have them translated into Chinese by your Chinese teacher. (Or use Google Translate.) Start with greetings.

Hello. 你好。 Ní hăo.
How are you? 你好吗? Ní hăo ma?
I’m fine. 我很好。 Wǒ hěn hăo.
Thank you. 谢谢。 Xìe xie.
And you? 你呢? Ní ne?
I’m fine too. 我也很好。 Wǒ yě hěn hăo.

Then start with the verb to be.

Is this a pen? 这是笔吗? Zhè shì bǐ ma?
Yes, it is. 是的。 Shì de.
Is this a pen? 这是笔吗? Zhè shì bǐ ma?
No, it isn’t. 不是。 Bú shì.
What’s this? 这是什么? Zhè shì shénme?
It’s an eraser. 是橡皮。 Shì xiàngpí.

Then start with verbs.

Do you study? 你学习吗? Ní xuéxí ma?
Yes, I do. 是的,我学习。 Shì de, wǒ xuéxí.
No, I don’t 不,我不学习。 Bù, wǒ bù xuéxí.
Do you walk? 你走路吗? Ní zǒulù ma?
Yes, I do. 是的,我走路。 Shì de, wǒ zǒulù.
No, I don’t 不,我不走路。 Bù, wǒ bù zǒulù.
Do you run? 你跑步吗? Nǐ pǎobù ma?
Yes, I do. 是的,我跑步。 Shì de, wǒ pǎobù.
No, I don’t 不,我不跑步。 Bù, wǒ bù pǎobù.
Do you teach? 你教吗? Nǐ jiào ma?
Do you cook? 你烹饪吗? Nǐ pēngrèn ma?
Do you smoke? 你抽烟吗? Nǐ chōuyān ma?

Add direct objects.

Do you eat vegetables? 你吃蔬菜吗? Nǐ chī shūcài ma?
Yes, I do. 是的,我吃蔬菜 。 Shì de, wǒ chī shūcài.
Do you eat cabbage? 你吃卷心菜吗? Nǐ chī juǎnxīncài ma?
Yes, I do. 是的,我吃卷心菜。 Shì de, wǒ chī juǎnxīncài.
Do you eat spinach? 你吃菠菜吗? Nǐ chī bōcài ma?
No, I don’t. 不,我不吃菠菜。 Bù, wǒ bù chī bōcài.
What kind of vegetables do you eat? 你吃什么种类的蔬菜? Nǐ chī shénme zhǒnglèi de shūcài?
I eat lettuce, cabbage, and celery. 我吃卷心菜,卷心菜和芹菜。
Wǒ chī juǎnxīncài, juǎnxīncài hé qíncài.

The best way to do this is to write the English, then the Chinese characters, then the Pinyin. If you can’t write the Chinese characters, don’t worry about it, just write the Pinyin. (Google Translate will write both the Chinese characters and Pinyin for you, which is a big help!)

Slowly add dialogs with indirect objects, prepositional phrases, multiple prepositional phrases, it-for-to sentences, present perfect, subjunctive mood, on and on, until ending up with very complicated questions and answers.

***

I have more ideas, but tell me what you think of these first.
 

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Lu
14 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

Hello. 你好。 Ní hăo.
How are you? 你好吗? Ní hăo ma?

But please write it correctly as Nǐ hǎo. Sorry for the nitpick.

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NinjaTurtle
8 hours ago, Lu said:

But please write it correctly as Nǐ hǎo.

 

Thanks for pointing that out.

 

8 hours ago, Lu said:

Sorry for the nitpick.

 

On the contrary, it helps make things correct. (And we shouldn't let our egos get in the way as we strive for perfection.) I find tones to be particularly difficult.

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Tomsima
22 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

Nǐ jiào ma?

 

may also be helpful to point this out, unless you just typoed, 教 as a standalone verb is almost always pronounced as a first tone, whereas in 'compounds' it will be pronounced fourth tone.

eg. 教課 is a verb + noun, so it is jiāo kè

but

教室 is a compound word, and so is pronounced jiàoshì

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NinjaTurtle

No, it is not a typo. Thanks for pointing that out. Thanks for helping to improve my Chinese!

 

(I swear, Chinese tones are going to be the death of me...)

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Shelley

@Jackcsw NinjaTurtle makes some good points but I would not rely on Google translate. I would highly recomend getting Pleco on a tablet or smart phone. This a dictinary platform and flashcard app. You can find out more on the website here https://www.pleco.com/

 

Having a one on one tutor is excellent, how often do you have lessons?

 

Chinese is really a visual language when you onsider the characters contain so much information.

 

There is also a great app called HelloChinese, this is very visual and also very good with speech, listening reading and writing skills.  http://www.hellochinese.cc/

 

My bog (link below) has more information about other study methods and study materials that I use.

 

Remeber motivation comes from within, it needs to something that you want to do. Personally I am fasinated and intigued by the Chinese language so my passion drives me to learn.

 

 

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RjMaan

Well, first of all let me make you clear that learning new language is not an easy task but still you can do it if you want it as bad as you want to breath.

You can improve your Chinese by watching Chinese movies, songs, conversation with some Chinese friends and it is basically hit and trial bases. You can also ask question is you have any query on Qanda and have proper answers there.

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Jackcsw

@NinjaTurtle hey I really thank you a lot it’s just that I am supper nervous due to the fact I’m going to China this week for like 2-3 weeks and I am just afraid that I won’t be able to talk to anybody and actually handle it my self. My number one big promblem is confidence lmao but I really like the tips! (I’m about to make another post!) after word i plan on studying allot in the summer do any of you guys do tutoring? Or recommend any books? @RjMaan @Shelley @Lu @Tomsima

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NinjaTurtle
1 minute ago, Jackcsw said:

I’m going to China this week for like 2-3 weeks

What part of China will you be visiting?

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NinjaTurtle
Just now, Jackcsw said:

I mainly will be in Xiamen but will be visiting bejjing! 

You know about avoiding the scams near Tienanmen Square, right?

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Lu
4 minutes ago, Jackcsw said:

hey I really thank you a lot. It’s just that I am super nervous due to the fact I’m going to China this week for like 2-3 weeks and I am just afraid that I won’t be able to talk to anybody and actually handle it myself.

Yeah, that's pretty likely. You've only been studying for some 6 months, that means you know the basics and that's it. You will be confused at times and things will be difficult to handle all by yourself. I assume you won't be entirely on your own? There will be some kind of program or tour for you?

 

What you can do when you're there: just listen to a lot of Chinese, try to understand bits and pieces where you can and enjoy understanding those; same with characters: look for characters or words you recognise. Try making simple conversation. People will compliment you, enjoy that! For the rest, just look around, eat great food, make friends if you can, and get a taste of the country.

 

Here is an informative thread on scams. In short: don't trust people who come up to you in touristy areas, speaking excellent English. Violence is pretty rare in China, scamming is not.

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NinjaTurtle

Jack, most important, don't let a pretty Chinese girl talk you into stopping by at a coffee shop for some tea.

 

You should watch the following video and several others linked videos shown on the page:

 

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

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Jackcsw

@Lu @NinjaTurtle thanks for the warning! And no I did forget that I am going with a small group of kids with a Chinese teacher and stuff! So not all is lost!

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