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

ZhuoMing

Effective exercises for learning with a private tutor

Recommended Posts

ZhuoMing

I just started taking classes with a private Chinese tutor. At the beginning of the first class she asked me if I had an idea for how I wanted her to help me learn. I wasn't sure, and to be honest, hadn't even thought of this, so I asked what she typically does for people around my level (HSK5 with terrible listening and speaking compared to reading), and given that I want to focus on speaking and listening. She suggested for us to listen to parts of an audio clip and then discuss it, and go over the words I don't know. 

 

We did this for the first lesson and I definitely enjoyed it and felt it was useful, but I feel like with the exception of the discussion, I could do this kind of practice on my own.  I am wondering, what other kinds of activities and exercises do you do to get the most out of a private tutor?  I'm mostly interested in listening/speaking exercises but I'd also like hear about all areas of Chinese.

  • Good question! 1

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.

889

Hard drills. Plenty of worksheets for them in DeFrancis. A good teacher will just use the worksheets as a template and expand on them.

 

If done right, this approach is exhausting for both the student and the teacher. It's really hard to find a teacher willing to do it right, especially these days when drills are out of fashion. But a great way to learn.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ZhuoMing
17 minutes ago, 889 said:

Hard drills. Plenty of worksheets for them in DeFrancis

Can you elaborate on this? I am not sure what DeFrancis is.  What kind of drills and worksheets are you talking about? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

"DeFrancis" refers to a series of old and famous Chinese textbooks by John DeFrancis filled with hundreds of pages of drills of various types. Here's a sample of one type of drill, from the beginning-level textbook. Note the drills are to be done very rapidly: you respond automatically, as in everyday speech, without mulling over the answer first. Of course you need to take a look at DeFrancis yourself and decide if you're up to that approach.

 

DF DRILL.jpg

  • Helpful 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TheBigZaboon

Probably a good idea to mention that the "DeFrancis" set of texts consists of at least a dozen or more volumes, first divided into textbooks and readers.  And then the textbooks are divided into romanized only (with the grammar explanations), and then characters only (traditional characters without grammatical explanations). I think the screen shot is from the romanized (pinyin) textbook series.

 

The texts are widely available either as new reprints or secondhand. 

 

I fully support 889's recommendation of using the DeFrancis series as a basis for drilling with a tutor. Full audio for you to practice with is available from one of the Apple websites. And you don't need the character texts to do the grammar drills, although your tutor would probably want the characters only version.

 

The screenshot is probably from Beginning Chinese, the first volume in the series. If you have any troubles finding a copy (Romanized for you, and chararacters only for your tutor) , lemme know.

TBZ

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bibu

situation dialog and the right materials by teacher.

 

You need learn some oral words and phrases, that is not a big deal for a HSK5 , you can do this by yourself.

 

The meaningful talk with a real Chinese will do two things for you:

 

1. confidence

2. Let you muscles and tongue get used to Pinyin/Mandarin , which really need practice, it takes time.

 

As a real HSK5, the student could finish a discussion or  further explanation  after reading an article.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dawei3
8 hours ago, 889 said:

series of old and famous Chinese textbooks

It was fascinating to look at the roman-only text without characters.

 

Does it use slightly non-standard Pinyin?  E.g., Zhei not zhe 这.  Also, Hangzhou & Suzhou lack the 1st tone on their 2nd syllable.  Is this an older way to romanize Chinese?   

 

It's also interesting how it splits words, i.e.,  "wudian zhong" not "wu dianzhong."  Is this to try to represent how the phrase is said?  (i.e., is it saying "say wu dian like it's one word?) 

 

How common is it to use "shang" as in the text "Wo bu shang Hangzhou"?    (I don't know if I've ever heard this usage....???) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tomsima

A disclaimer when proposing using Defrancis with a Chinese tutor: it is likely some tutors may tell you the series is outdated and noone speaks like that anymore. This is an exaggeration; while there are a number of outdated expressions in the books, I would estimate about 90% is still totally normal and applicable today, and the remaining 'outdated' 10% is still in use among the older generations so is necessary to know anyway. The pedagogy is fantastic, and also highly recommend. 

Another suggestion for private study with a Chinese tutor: use it as an opportunity to be accountable to somebody. I did one weekly class with a teacher, where I would learn a dialogue by heart, then recite it to them at the beginning of next weeks class. Then we would go through pronounciation mistakes, areas I didn't fully understand, areas of interest which would be allowed to develop into discussion for speaking practice. Rinse and repeat for as long as you want/need. I learnt the whole of this textbook by heart in this way. I am a big fan of rote learning, but if you prefer more interactive styles, the defrancis method above may be more palatable.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TheBigZaboon

Double your pleasure, double your fun...

 

Rote learning AND DeFrancis...

 

Like make love AND war, Western chengyu...

 

TBZ

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
On 4/23/2019 at 5:26 AM, Tomsima said:

I am a big fan of rote learning,

Me too.  I never used to be, but then I tried it and had really positive results from it.  It's boring, but it makes reactions automatic, freeing brain power for other things.

 

On 4/23/2019 at 3:04 AM, Dawei3 said:

Zhei not zhe 这

zhei is an alternative reading, quite common in northern China.

 

On 4/23/2019 at 3:04 AM, Dawei3 said:

"wudian zhong" not "wu dianzhong."  Is this to try to represent how the phrase is said?  (i.e., is it saying "say wu dian like it's one word?) 

This is probably how I would have split it too because when I say 五点钟 conceptually I think 五点  钟, not  五  点钟。

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yadang
On 4/22/2019 at 1:26 PM, Tomsima said:

I learnt the whole of this textbook by heart in this way.

 

Would love to hear what you thought of this textbook in terms of usefulness, how often you see the idioms cropping up, etc. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

Can't help noticing it's xing1qi1 rather than xing1qi2 in DeFrancis. So, it's mainland Mandarin but in traditional script. How old exactly is the series?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TheBigZaboon

I think design and testing started in the 1950's, and the version usually available (second revised) is dated 1964.

 

At that time, I think it would be too early to speak of the Taiwanese Mandarin we talk about today, as the two million or so mainlanders said to have fled to Taiwan would have been a mix of Nationalists from all over. They would have gone about setting up a standardized education system with their eventual return to the mainland in mind.  That would gradually produce the 国语 we find in Taiwan today.

 

I would guess that the people who aided the author in producing the series were Mainland academics who had been in the US after (maybe even during) the war against Japan and the subsequent civil war. So my personal feeling is that any "Taiwanese" influence is nonexistent. But that myth is reinforced today by the use of traditional characters, even though DeFrancis championed the use of pinyin over the rival Wade-Giles and Yale systems. I think pretty much the same can be said about the development of the Yale series, which I think was a product of the wartime effort against Japan.

 

Just my opinion based on conversations I had with people in the late 1960's.

 

TBZ

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

No need to guess who helped DeFrancis. Here's the acknowledgments page from Beginning Chinese (Second Revised Edition, 1976).

 

DF ACK.jpg

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dawei3
On 4/23/2019 at 8:35 PM, imron said:

zhei is an alternative reading, quite common in northern China.

Thanks.  I knew that 这 is said in 2 ways, but I didn't realize that both were represented with pinyin.  Tonight, I asked a friend from 唐山 about zhei versus zhe and she immediately laughed.  She suggested zhei was 方言.  However, it seems more common than that.  

 

To me, it's a little like "a" in English, sometimes people say it with a short "a" and sometimes with a long "a"  depending on the usage.  

 

On 4/23/2019 at 8:35 PM, imron said:

say 五点钟 conceptually I think 五点  钟, not  五  点钟。

 

When i say  五点钟, I think there is a slight pause between 点 and 钟 and no pause with 五点, so I understand the representation, I just hadn't seen it this way.  

 

The idea of "what constitutes a word?" is interesting in a character-based language.  In a book on translation called "Is that a fish in your ear,"  the author illustrates how difficult it can be to say what constitutes a word, even in English.  As examples, he offers:  "Did you remember to take out the trash."  "I promised to take my daughter out to see a film."  (is "to take out" one word or 2 or 3 words?).  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
2 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

The idea of "what constitutes a word?" is interesting in a character-based language. 

Chinese is still a word-based language, it's just written in characters and doesn't (usually) show spaces between words.

 

Like "to take out" there are edge cases that knowledgable people disagree and debate about.  Most corpora have clear definitions for those edge cases within the corpus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AdamD

And ‘to take out’ operates a bit like a Chinese separable word in that context, because the phrase remains intact when you split it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NinjaTurtle
On 4/22/2019 at 1:10 AM, ZhuoMing said:

I asked what she typically does for people around my level (HSK5 with terrible listening and speaking compared to reading), and given that I want to focus on speaking and listening.

 

 

Zhuoming,

 

I am a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and I have found the best way to teach/learn a foreign language is though meaningful dialogs.

Here is an example of what I do with beginning students of English.

 

Eating Vegetables

 

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.

 

Here is an example of what I do with intermediate students of English.

 

Sports

 

[x] Do you like sports?         你喜欢运动吗?        Nǐ xǐhuan yùndòng ma?
Do you mean play sports or watch sports?        你意思是做运动或是观看运动项目?
Nǐ yìsi shì zuò yùndòng huò shì guānkàn yùndòng xiàngmù?
I mean play sports. Do you like to play sports?    我意思是做运动。你喜欢做运动吗?
        Wǒ yìsi shì zuò yùndòng. Nǐ xǐhuān zuò yùndòng ma?
Yes, I do.             是的,我喜欢做运动。    Shì de, wǒ xǐhuān zuò yùndòng.
I’m too old to play sports.         我太老了,不能体育运动。  Wǒ tài lǎo le, bùnéng tǐyù yùndòng.    
I have a physical limitation.    我是生理缺陷。        Wǒ shì shēnglǐ quēxiàn.

~~~

I like to go jogging.         我喜欢慢跑。        Wǒ xǐhuān mànpǎo.
I go running.            我跑步。        Wǒ pǎobù.
Who do you go running with?    你和谁一起跑步?    Nǐ hé shéi yīqǐ pǎobù?
I go running by myself.         我独自跑步。         Wǒ dúzì pǎobù.
Do you go running when you have a cold?   你感冒的时候跑步吗?   Nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu pǎobù ma?
No, I don’t.         不,我你感冒的时候不跑步。     Bù, wǒ nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu bù pǎobù.
不,我你感冒的时候没有跑步。    Bù, wǒ nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu méiyǒu pǎobù.
Why not?        为什么不?            Wèi shéme bù?
(Why don’t you go running when you have a cold?)        为什么你感冒的时候不跑步?
Wèishéme nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu bù pǎobù?
You shouldn’t exercise when you are sick.            你不应该在生病的时候锻炼。
Nǐ bù yìnggāi zài shēngbìng de shíhòu duànliàn.
Because you shouldn’t exercise when you are sick.    因为你不应该在生病的时候锻炼。        
Yīnwèi nǐ bù yìnggāi zài shēngbìng de shíhòu duànliàn.

 

At the lower intermediate level, the student can also start doing short, two-minute speeches. Start with the topic Self-Introduction. All 'speeches' are followed with a question-and-answer period which hopefully can be expanded into a discussion. The teacher can also make such speeches, which makes for good listening practice for the student.

 

Feel free to ask for a list of topics.

 

-----

 

Methodology

 

The methodology is simple. First a yes/no question is asked, then a Wh- question (who, what, where, etc.) is asked. The student answers the question, then asks the same question back to the teacher.

 

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve

Because of the strong recommendations in this thread, I downloaded the whole DeFrancis series via iTunes.

 

I started from the beginner number 3 just listening and seeing how it goes. Trying to test my listening and seeing if I can work things out. I don't have any of the books but it seems a library near my place has them.

 

 

 

I had a great time with "你有钟吗?“ It's a sentence I have not come across before and from the context, guessed it means what is the time. I put the phrase on to a wechat group with native speaking Chinese just to check if my guess was right. Some didn't know what it meant because we are now in the day and age of mobile phones. I tend to like older material because of the slight difference which makes things more interesting and one sometimes does hear the old stuff which can potentially throw you off track.

 

Now up to beginner 6. The word replacement exercises are very nice. What's really good is the amount of English is limited to a few terse instructions - you don't have to endure a prattle of English to get into the nitty gritty of learning and shadowing. I use it with an MP 3 player on my Android phone that can skip back five seconds which is good if you want to just check a sentence- even though the sentence may come up again later.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dawei3
3 hours ago, Flickserve said:

whole DeFrancis series via iTunes.

Thanks.  I didn't realize iTunes would have it.  And it's free!  

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...