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

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Tomsima

The 2019 Aims and Objectives Progress Topic

Recommended Posts

imron
23 minutes ago, milkmints said:

金庸's work is on my "one day I'll get there!"

For a rough idea of when "one day" might be, I had to put about 10 full novels between when I first attempted to read 金庸 (but then put it aside due to the large amount of new words per page), and when I could read it without too much hassle.   I still had to look up words, but the amount was no longer a significant impediment to reading.

 

That took about 9 months, reading a little over a book a month, and those in-between novels probably grew my vocab by about 3,000 words and greatly improved my skills in the non-vocab related aspects of reading (identifying word boundaries, processing grammar patterns, stamina for reading over long periods ( > 30 min) etc).

 

The best thing you can do for this is develop a reading habit, and make sure you are doing at least 30 mins of long-form reading a day.  That 30 mins should only count actual reading time and not include any time spent looking up/learning new words.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

murrayjames
5 hours ago, imron said:

I'd be interested to hear if 锄头 comes up any time during your 1,000,000 character project :mrgreen:

 

It already has! A few times. The related word 锄地 has come up too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LunaMelodi

Goal 1: Finish Heisig

Goal 2: Get through HSK 5 material

Goal 3: Read a novel or several short stories

  • Like 3

Share this post


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

Regarding my first bullet point @imron would you recommend me to try to learn all of the unknown vocab I come across when reading, or just to skip past stuff I don't understand, as long as I'm getting the general gist of the story?

No.  I would not recommend learning all the unknown words.  You don't know which ones are useful and which ones aren't, and there will be a non-trivial percentage of not-so-useful ones that will suck time away from learning more useful ones.  The way to find out which ones are useful is to keep reading and see which ones reappear on another day and learn them then.

 

Set a daily quota of say 10 new words a day (or some other comfortable amount).  10 a day might not seem like much, but I've found it to be a good amount to prevent you from being overwhelmed by reviews a month or two in.  You can look up words after this 10, but only commit to properly learning those 10.

 

Don't worry about missing out on useful words.  The useful words will reappear soon enough, and if they don't, then by definition they are not useful.

 

If there are too many new words, then I would recommend trying to find something easier to read.  In my experience, you're better off reading a couple of easier things to build up your vocabularly and reading skills and then coming back to the book and being able to read it easily too, than you are slogging through a book that is beyond your level.

 

19 minutes ago, Beelzebro said:

using pleco to give a popup definition for words I don't know,

I would recommend against using popup definitions - if there are too many new words you'll more-or-less just end up reading a poorly translated English version of the text.  I'm also of the opinion that popups are generally detrimental to learning, because there is little/no friction to using them and so it makes things quick to understand and quick to forget.  They aid short-term understanding rather than long-term learning.  Learning happens when you need to overcome some sort of friction so I would use a reader other than Pleco for reading, and then use Pleco to look up the words you don't know individually (friction that your brain will want to overcome).  Then tell your brain it'd better remember this word because you don't want to have to look it up again, and then tap '+' to add it to your Pleco flashcards.

 

If your brain knows that it can just outsource the remembering to the quick popup definitions, then it will do that, and it will affect your confidence in knowing the meaning of the word when you come across it 'in the wild'.  Remember, it's not just enough to know the meaning and the pronunciation - you also need to be confident that you know the meaning and the pronunciation without checking it in a dictionary.

 

22 minutes ago, Beelzebro said:

Within Pleco there are 2000, 2500 and 3000 word graded readers, maybe I should work through those in order first?

I would try this first.  活着 will still be there when you finish, and the vocabulary and reading experience you pick up from the graded readers will make reading 活着 that much more enjoyable.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

For sentences you can't figure out, consider making a thread and asking there. That generally gets very useful advice and insight.

 

As to words... As you can imagine, some are very useful in general (如同,茶水), some are very useful in reading Yu Hua (田埂,锄头) and some are not that useful at this level of Chinese (民谣,茶垢). And you won't know for sure which are which until you have learned them all and read the book. There may be more scientific ways to resolve this, but what I would do is: learn the word if it comes back several times; learn the word if you think it might be useful to you (or if you just like it for whatever reason); don't learn the word today if you have already learned enough new words today. If you encounter it again, you can always learn it then.

 

Oh and 知了 is a tricky one, it doesn't mean 'now I know it', it means 'cicada'.

 

From the unknown words you post, I think you are ready to read 活着 and not another graded reader. I'm not a teacher or expert, but do try it.

 

Good luck with all your plans!

  • Like 3
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
3 minutes ago, Lu said:

From the unknown words you post, I think you are ready to read 活着 and not another graded reader.

Context is important.  All those new words come from just the first paragraph of 活着, and to me, that's too high a percentage of unknown words.

 

Yes, you could struggle through it, but you'd be better off not struggling through the first graded reader, and then not struggling through the second graded reader, and then not struggling through the third graded reader and then not struggling through 活着.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beelzebro

Really helpful responses from both of you, much appreciated! I think I'll try the highest level graded reader (3k words) first, to see how much easier it is than 活着. If the frequency of unknown words in the first few pages is still high I'll move down and go through the lower level ones first. Up until now all of my reading has been using the Du Chinese app (where I can get through even the Advanced/Master level articles fairly easily), wechat, and reading 知乎 threads and random blog posts, so I guess it's only to be expected that my exposure to "novel vocabulary" is lacking.

 

I haven't purchased CTA yet but it might actually be handy for me here, I could compare the vocabulary in the graded readers to that in 活着 and see how much of an overlap there is. Will look into it later :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve
7 hours ago, AdamD said:

 

2019 goal: find a way to get back on the horse

 

 

Take it easy and for fun. 

  • Like 2
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sekkar

2019 goal:

  • Pass HSK 6 this summer
  • Be more diligent in reading novels. It's too easy for me to waste time with games/reddit/Youtube, so from now on I will at least spend 30 minutes a day reading.
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tomsima
1 hour ago, Lu said:

知了 is a tricky one

Yeah this has caught me out once or twice from memory, one of those times you wish everyone just used the more complex forms of the characters, 蜘蟟, for sake of simplicity…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius
3 hours ago, Tomsima said:

知了

It's called jìniǎor where I grew up and it took me some time to make the connection between the spoken and the written.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
12 hours ago, Beelzebro said:

If the frequency of unknown words in the first few pages is still high I'll move down and go through the lower level ones first

Personally, I'd still look to do the easier levels first - especially if you don't have much experience reading long-form texts.  There is more to reading than just vocabulary - there are a host of other skills required such as identifying word boundaries, processing the words you have read and applying context to understand what it going on, doing it at a speed conducive to reading (rather than stop.start.stop.start), and then having the stamina to keep doing that over a prolonged period of time.

 

Going for the easier levels first you can remove vocabulary acquisition from the equation and instead focus on building up those other skills.

 

12 hours ago, Beelzebro said:

using the Du Chinese app (where I can get through even the Advanced/Master level articles fairly easily)

I've not used Du Chinese and don't know if it has popup definitions, but when you say 'fairly easily' how often would you check the definitions of words, even if 'just to check'?

 

Missed this comment from your earlier post:

12 hours ago, Beelzebro said:

I've found that 99% of what she says is completely understandable to me in terms of vocab and grammar, I just can't mentally process it at the speed she speaks,

I made comments about this sort of thing here. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yadang
14 hours ago, Beelzebro said:

would you recommend me to try to learn all of the unknown vocab I come across when reading,

Just something to consider, 活着 has 3756 unique words, but only 914 of those show up more than once. That means that if you learned all the words in the novel, 2842 would only appear once in the whole novel.

 

It's embarrassing how many times I sat down to learn 许三观卖血记 and thought "well, I want to know all these words some day, so might as well learn them now" and due to the shear amount of words, never ended up learning the words, or reading the book. I think the first time I tried was back in 2013 or 2014. But I kept getting discouraged (I think I've tried to read it about 4-5 times). Finally, last summer,  I realized that this was a bad approach (Thanks Imron and others). I had previously read through chap 9 (71 pages in), but it was so demotivating to think that I'd have to go back to the beginning, and learn (re-learn) all of those words again. So I didn't. I learned the amount of words to get me to 95% comprehension for the rest of the book, which turned out to be merely 668 words. Fast forward 6 months later and I've now learned the words to read 兄弟(上) at 95% comprehension and around 1/3 of the words to read 活着 at 95% comprehension. I also have only 2 chapters left in 许三观卖血记 and will finish it in a couple of days. But even all the words I've learned to read 许三观卖血记, 兄弟(上), and 活着 don't add up to the number of words I would have had to learn to read 许三观卖血记 if I had wanted to learn every unknown word I came across. 

 

This is all to say that learning all of the unknown words in a novel not only is not necessary, but it's really quite counter-productive. Even if you don't end up getting discouraged like I did, and you power through, it's still not an efficient use of your time, I think.

 

13 hours ago, imron said:
13 hours ago, Lu said:

From the unknown words you post, I think you are ready to read 活着 and not another graded reader.

Context is important.  All those new words come from just the first paragraph of 活着, and to me, that's too high a percentage of unknown words.

 

Yes, you could struggle through it, but you'd be better off not struggling through the first graded reader, and then not struggling through the second graded reader, and then not struggling through the third graded reader and then not struggling through 活着.

 

Both Lu and Imron know far more and are far more experienced than I am. The only thing I'll add is to point out that you also have to consider your own motivation. Reading graded readers is great - but only if you can get yourself to actually read them. For myself, when I had picked up 许三观卖血记 several times and failed, I also tried several times also to pick up some graded readers. I also failed. They were at my level, but they were so boring that it was demotivating. I would get through my flashcards, only to be "rewarded" with a very un-enjoyable reading experience. So periods of study would be followed by long periods of doing nothing, because I really had no interest in actually reading the graded readers. In the end, I'm glad I took the plunge and just started reading native stuff. Now, I get through my flashcards and actually enjoy the reading. It's much more motivating and rewarding.

 

13 hours ago, Beelzebro said:

I haven't purchased CTA yet but it might actually be handy for me here, I could compare the vocabulary in the graded readers to that in 活着 and see how much of an overlap there is. Will look into it later

 

You really should. It's no overstatement to say I wouldn't be reading native material now, nor for a very long time (or have a goal to read 12 novels this year) if it weren't for CTA. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
艾墨本
14 minutes ago, Yadang said:

But even all the words I've learned to read 许三观卖血记, 兄弟(上), and 活着 don't add up to the number of words I would have had to learn to read 许三观卖血记 if I had wanted to learn every unknown word I came across. 

 

I don’t know why so many language learners adopt this attitude at some point in there learning. It’s quite strange considering you are never at this level in your native language. For a humbling experience, native English speakers should go and pick up Wuthering Heights, but maintain your “I’m learning a language” mindset when you look at words. You’ll realize how many words you don’t fully know (say you recognize a prefix but aren’t sure) and many others you definitely don’t know, but how it barely even registers when reading. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tomsima

A suggestion for some: I read through all of the defrancis readers (thats a total of around 800,000 words I think) in the course of around 3 months last year. It was an exercise not to learn vocabulary, as I already knew all the words, but to practice speed, word splitting and comprehension at speed. The content was often boring and repetitive, and the thing that got me through was reading out loud. Whenever things got boring I made my outloud reading into a game of practicing tones and accents. In the end, I read Intermediate II and Advanced out loud in their entirety. It was way more fun, and my mandarin appears to have got a lot more standard because of it. Just a suggestion for anyone finding graded readers boring. Now my reading speed is probably around twice as fast as before I began.

 

Now I'm back to reading interesting books and articles and am consuming things with much less stress, higher comprehension, and my inner reading voice is very clear. I still read out loud whenever theres noone around to annoy. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
25 minutes ago, Yadang said:

"well, I want to know all these words some day, so might as well learn them now"

Yep.  Things get much easier when you adopt the mindset that useful words will appear again soon enough and you can learn them later.

 

17 minutes ago, Yadang said:

it's still not an efficient use of your time, I think.

This is really the main thing.  Learning Chinese is a zero-sum game in that on any given day you only have a fixed amount of time to spend learning Chinese (maybe 1 hour, maybe 5 hours, but each day only has a finite amount of time in it).  This means that time spent on one activity takes away from time you can spend on another activity.

 

Once you already have a medium sized vocabulary (> 5,000-6,000 words), time spent on learning new vocabulary is only going to give you relatively small gains in understanding.  Therefore your time will be better spent a) improving other skills and b) prioritising for useful vocab rather than random/not-so-useful vocab.

 

It's possible to slog through novels.  It's possible to prelearn large amounts of vocab.  Neither of them are particularly efficient use of your limited study time at that stage.

 

29 minutes ago, Yadang said:

The only thing I'll add is to point out that you also have to consider your own motivation.

This is true, and the counter to that is that habit beats motivation, and you should try to develop a reading habit.  When I first started doing this, the first books I read were the 《家》trilogy (《家》《春》《秋》).  《春》in particular bored me to tears, but I'd already built up the habit from the first novel in the series (家) that I was able to keep going, forcing myself to read a few pages every day.   Things picked up again in《秋》, so it was somewhat of a relief, but what kept me going was habit rather than motivation, and the first few novels you read are going to be a slog even if you know enough vocabulary, because you'll be developing the other skills required for reading also.

 

10 minutes ago, Tomsima said:

but to practice speed, word splitting and comprehension at speed

These are aspects of reading that are important, but often overlooked.  They can also only be learned through actual reading rather than through flashcards (or similar).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley
1 hour ago, 艾墨本 said:

You’ll realize how many words you don’t fully know (say you recognize a prefix but aren’t sure) and many others you definitely don’t know, but how it barely even registers when reading

Yes and you extrapolate a meaning from context or just ignore it and hope it becomes clearer later, which it often does.

 

When reading Chinese I will do this too if I am reading for pleasure and not for an exam or similar. If it really impacts my understanding I will look it up or if it appears more than twice or so because then it may be more important than I first realised.

 

There are many books in English I wouldn't have read if I had stopped to look up every word I didn't know. There may be one or 2 words I may eventually look up just out of interest or because I think I should.

 

This is similar to when I gave up "translating" some of you may remember my post about it. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/50055-preserving-word-order/?tab=comments#comment-383691

 

I now just read and not try to squeeze it all into english, I read, take the information, process it and understand it without going through English as much as possible. It has sped up my reading and made it so much more enjoyable.  

 

When you read a book in English you never have 100% retention when you finish, you remember the gist of the story and paraphrase it as you remember it, the same with Chinese as long as the story makes sense and you enjoyed it, 100% knowledge of all the words is not necessary. 

 

In time you will learn and remember more, it is an ever changing thing.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yadang
2 hours ago, imron said:

This is true, and the counter to that is that habit beats motivation, and you should try to develop a reading habit.

 

Certainly. And doing flashcards to pre-study words requires developing a habit for me (it's not the most fun way to spend one's time), but still, I am only able to develop the habit when I have a motivating (and close enough in time that I can look forward to it) goal in mind: reading an Chinese book written by a Chinese person for Chinese people. When the goal was just to read a graded reader, I couldn't even develop a habit.

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


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...