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Moshen

Cultural barriers in taking Chinese courses

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Balthazar
7 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

I'd say the number one mistake I made in the first year  learning Chinese was not getting out of the text books early on.  

 

Off topic, but I strongly disagree. For me the textbooks provided invaluable structure and a good mixture of practice in reading/listening/speaking. I don't think I'd progress nearly as fast without them as a beginner (where suitable learning material is really limited).

 

As for the heavy emphasis of culture, it did annoy me at times, but then again it's useful stuff to know for most people who sutdy Chinese.

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Shelley

I have no idea what the content of English textbooks for TEFL are. Is it similar to NPCR in that they have scenarios with "typical" English students. Do Chinese students screw their faces up at the things that happen in their English language textbooks?  Do they also have to learn most of their english after they have completed their course.

 

Is this just an effect of who writes the book and level they are writing at. Its hard to write interesting stories with limited vocabulary. Dr. Seuss used 50 words to write the first book as a bet that you couldn't write an engaging story for kids with 50 words. Well its engaging if you are 5, but if you are even only 5 years older its "baby stuff" 

 

I think they actually do a pretty good job of having fairly interesting dialogue considering what they have to work with. And anyway thats not the important part, you need to learn the grammar, syntax and understand whats going on. I think these textbooks do a pretty good job. The story is not important the information is.

 

Its very much like when I learnt to drive, I learnt to pass the test and then went out into the real world and then learnt how to drive. 

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mkmyers45
8 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

4 days holidays but that means Thursday to Sunday. Students would be "well that's two, weekends don't count" 

 

 

Just this past new year (Dec 30-2nd January) we got into this exact same squibble with our chinese teacher because she was counting weekend 😀

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Shelley

If I was told you have 4 days holiday starting on Thursday, I would expect to be back at my desk on Monday.  I think its the use of the word holiday that is wrong.

 

Saturday and Sunday are days off not holidays. Holidays are things like Xmas, New Year etc. Just a couple of extra days off before the weekend is not a holiday, its days off.

 

We have Bank Holidays here in the UK usually on a Monday , we will say oh good its a 3 day weekend or a long weekend. At Easter we have the Friday and the Monday off, its still a long weekend. 

 

It also sounds good to say its 4 days holiday instead of 2 days off, and your regular weekend.

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Publius

Technically, spring doesn't begin with the Spring Festival. It begins on 立春 (which in 2019 falls on 除夕 the day before 春節). 立 has an obscure ancient meaning of "to manifest" therefore "the beginning". This sense is preserved in Japanese words like 日立 Hitachi (named after a city, itself named after a mountain facing the Pacific Ocean) and the first day of the month 一日 tsuitachi < tsuchi (月) + tachi (立).

 

The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar. Seasons are defined by 24 solar terms which divide up a solar year evenly therefore are (almost) fixed. This is necessary for agriculture. Lunar calendar fluctuates too much. The fist month may have 29 days one year and 30 days the next. Not to mention the leap month to keep lunar year aligned with solar year.

 

So spring officially begins on 立春 (Feb 4, the midpoint between winter solstice and vernal equinox -- because in Chinese culture, the solstice, which marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, is taken as mid-season). Meanwhile the first day of the lunar year was called 元旦. It wasn't until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1912 that the term 元旦 began to be applied to January 1st. Traditionally 春節 was the same thing as 立春. But then in 1914, 袁世凱 decreed that the Chinese New Year be called 春節 henceforward. And now here we are. Spring Festival is no longer the beginning of the spring season.

 

To help memorize the 24 solar terms, we Chinese use the 二十四節氣歌:

春雨驚春清穀天(立春、雨水、驚蟄、春分、清明、穀雨)
夏滿芒夏暑相連(立夏、小滿、芒種、夏至、小暑、大暑)
秋處露秋寒霜降(立秋、處暑、白露、秋分、寒露、霜降)
冬雪雪冬小大寒(立冬、小雪、大雪、冬至、小寒、大寒)

 

People in the north have another way called 數九 to count the days since the winter solstice. If you read wuxia novels, the phrase 冬練三九、夏練三伏 probably would pop up quite frequently. 三九 (Jan 9 - Jan 17) is considered the coldest in China. And today is 六九第七天.

 

The 12 animals of the Earthly Branches are:

子鼠丑牛、寅虎卯兔、辰龍巳蛇、午馬未羊、申猴酉雞、戌狗亥豬

Create your own mnemonic and it shouldn't be any harder than 12 zodiac signs.

 

The 10 Heavenly Stems are better memorized along with Wu Xing:

東方甲乙木、南方丙丁火、西方庚辛金、北方壬癸水、中央戊己土

It got repeated so many times in 評書 it's hard for me to not remember them.

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DavyJonesLocker
12 hours ago, Balthazar said:

Off topic, but I strongly disagree. For me the textbooks provided invaluable structure and a good mixture of practice in reading/listening/speaking. I don't think I'd progress nearly as fast without them as a beginner (where suitable learning material is really limited).

 

As for the heavy emphasis of culture, it did annoy me at times, but then again it's useful stuff to know for most people who sutdy Chinese.

 

What  I mean is that my learning shouldn't only have be confined to textbooks. Yes it should  form the foundation and essence of learning but it's essential to get out there, mingle , looks at street signs, read we chat moments, have conversions on wechat. 

 

The culture aspect is not just defined to traditional Chinese culture handed down over the generations. Many everyday behaviour is hard to comprend in textbooks only 

For example:

What to do on a date, meet people etc

who pays when you go for dinner

Meeting older people

Talk about politics or negative aspects with Chinese society? Possible or not?

What actual oral language you should use . E.g 啥 doesn't come up until hsk 6 yet the vast majority of people   I know uses it instead on 为什么 Same with 散步。 I almost never hear that. It's always 溜达溜达, 走一走, 遛弯 etc

Language considered non PC (what isn't now) can be perfectly fine in China.

Gift giving,

Dinner where to sit, how to drink (I.e  at the same time , lower your glass when clinking it together as a sign of respect, don't sit facing the door at a round table. Don't just dive into your food, don't use your chopsticks poking too much at shared dishes

Don't finish your plate clean.

etc

So I'd say aspects like the above is wrapped up in modern everyday culture. 

 

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Balthazar

Alright, I read "getting out of text books" as a suggestion to ditch them altogether. Definitely agree that it's useful to supplement study with "real life" stuff.

 

As for your list of suggested topics, some of them are included in NCPR. As far as I remember, "negative aspects of society" is not covered (except, indirectly, in one chapter regarding environment protection). Nor is dating advice. I don't know if I would be interested in dating advice from the people who typically write these textbooks. I agree that there could be an even more detailed introduction to "modern culture", but the question then becomes which of the topics currently covered you would suggest axing. Some of these things, especislly etiquette where there may be local differences throughout the country, are better learned through real practice than through textbooks anyway, IMO.

 

My wife has been learning Norwegian for some years, and I've been surprised to see that there's quite the overlap with my Chinese textbooks in terms of topics, so I think it's a general thing not limited to Chinese learning material. I'm guessing here, but I think they're going for topics that are more or less timeless (i.e. no need  to  revise  the textbooks  every five  years), safe, and relevant for learners from all over the world and of (more or less) all ages.

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Publius
49 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

E.g 啥 doesn't come up until hsk 6 yet the vast majority of people   I know uses it instead on 为什么 Same with 散步。 I almost never hear that. It's always 溜达溜达, 走一走, 遛弯 etc

That really depends on where you live. Most textbooks only teach you the standard term/pronunciation that is understood everywhere. How the language is actually used on the street can be quite different.

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DavyJonesLocker
57 minutes ago, Publius said:

That really depends on where you live. Most textbooks only teach you the standard term/pronunciation that is understood everywhere. How the language is actually used on the street can be quite different.

 

 

Good point. As with @Balthazar comments above I see that text books do have to go with the lowest common denominator and cover all ages, all parts of the country. I used to have these discussions with my language school. I would argue it from a business and logical point of view. People of all walks of life come to China and learn Chinese. They pay money to a school to achieve a goal and that goal always includes effective communication. What they learn must in part reflect in part what actually goes on outside the walls of the classroom. If a student can't understand basic everyday speak, read everyday written language on social media , media, we chat , websites , printed material, understand locals talk, ... well in my view the school had failed to achieve it's goal . One complaint  which often is not valid by students " well I'll never use that word, idiom or I don't care about this part of Chinese culture such as might be experienced in NPCR" however is only when you integrate more into chinese culture do you realise some of these texts are pretty spot on! 

 

There was a stark contrast between traditional teaching styles and that of Chinese pod . There is a middle ground for learning and perhaps the school's could have extra additional material to prepare the student for life in China . If you don't live in China then it's perhaps not as important. 

 

Balthazar , having lived in London for many years and rented my flat out to foreign students I used to see their English text books. Pretty much the same as you mentioned. Many flatmates  who came to my  appartment where pretty disappointed about their language detachment from everyday like. It's amazing what inviting  them to the pub or socialise can do for their language and more importantly motivation to learn!

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Wurstmann

So what do you all think about the MIA approach to language learning? (see here and here) That should take care of a lot of cultural aspects upfront.

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Shelley

@WurstmannWas there one specific video you thought would be beneficial in your first link? I browsed the titles but couldn't decide if there was one particular one you had in mind.

 

Also not sure what you were trying to share in your second link, it looks like a study plan/ learning schedule. 

 

Now it maybe just me being unfamiliar with MIA and therefore the whole thing just went over my head or have I missed something?

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ChTTay

@Shelley I mean, the website’s (second link) name is mass immersion approach. It just outlines what the MIA study schedule/method is and the steps. 

 

I assume the videos are from the guy who made the website and all relate to that. It seems that’s the case. 

 

@Wurstmann is this your stuff? 

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liuhuan

your topic is very interesting , to be honest I was laugh when I saw your topic. forgive me. 

I  think the spring festival is obviously in winter too, because January and February's weather is to cold for me when we go back to SICHUAN to celebrate the Spring Festival.

I asked this of my friends who live in GUANGZHOU, they said the season of the Spring Festival for GUANGZHOU people is summer, because this years GUANGZHOU is too hot in the Spring Festival. 😂😂

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Shelley

Thanks @ChTTay I figured out what MIA stands for. I was expecting some examples of the dialogue/story lines as the earlier discussion was about Chinese culture in textbooks,  or an explanation of whether Spring festival was in the spring or winter.

 

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