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laurenth

Betting everything on reading, out of frustration with the rest

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@Flickserve I certainly did. You can take all the time you want, and when you don’t understand something it’s less humiliating.

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DavyJonesLocker
9 hours ago, Flickserve said:

Do people fall back on mainly reading because they have lost confidence in listening and speaking?

 

For me I'd say it's not a lack of confidence more just no progress, maintaining a poor steady state for years,  The novelty of speaking Chinese  is long gone so I wouldn't be as enthusiastic speaking Chinese as speaking English, which should be the other way round.

 

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laurenth

I just came across this Mandarin Corner video where Eileen, the anchor, explains some of the main reasons why it's so damned hard to learn to understand spoken Chinese. The video is illustrated with plenty of real life examples explained. A must. Very enlightening

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Rufus
On 4/23/2019 at 7:02 AM, imron said:
On 4/23/2019 at 12:43 AM, laurenth said:

I can read and I have read  a number of novels in Chinese. The trick is that I still have to choose them carefully, accept that there will be an initial bump (as far as vocab and style are concerned) and that I may have to put the book aside after one or two weeks of struggle to start the process again with another, easier book.

If the number of books you have read without any sort of interactive popup dictionary* is less than 10, then in my experience this is likely to be normal.

 

Until then you will need to choose books carefully and there will be an initial bump of vocabulary and there's no way to get around this without reading a dozen more books.    These are in fact the 2 main reasons I wrote Chinese Text Analyser - to make it easy to find books at an appropriate level, and to extract from those books highly relevant unknown words to get over the vocab 'bump'.

 

*I make special note to call out interactive popup dictionaries (e.g. where you mouseover/tap on a word and you get an instant definition) because although they allow you to read books beyond your level, they allow you to read books beyond your level, and you really should be reading books at your level rather than skipping ahead.  And while it can feel good to read more advanced things, doing so stops you from the developing the skills needed to read more advanced things (and yes there are popup definitions in CTA, but they were added begrudgingly :mrgreen:).

 

@laurenth I will be banging this drum till the day I die, but @imron is 100% correct and you need to read books AT YOUR LEVEL. Unless you are reading graded readers, you're reading things above your level simply because there are no native texts (even kids books) which are at your level and written for second language learners. The research behind this is just compelling: we learn best when we read at high levels of comprehension. Here is one of my seminal articles on the issue, I'd encourage you to read it: Reading Pain or Reading Gain? Reading at the Right Level. However the entire article can be boiled down to this one chart, and hint, we learn best at the extensive reading level.

ER_Chart_hi

 

 

Now I admit I am totally biased because we publish Chinese graded readers, but go and check the master list on this page of the forums and select some books that you find interesting that are at your level.

 

And p.s. extensive reading has been proven to accelerate not only your reading skills, but also your listening, speaking, and writing. Hop to it! 

 

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laurenth
On 5/29/2019 at 10:38 PM, Rufus said:

 you need to read books AT YOUR LEVEL.

 

I believe that, over the years, I've read everything in the Chinese Breeze series, levels 1, 2 and 3. As it happens, as I wanted to have a break from more demanding stuff, I am now reading all level 4 books, in which I would assess my understading level to about 98%. I've also read more readers, from Sinolingua's to DeFrancis', not to mention abridged versions of 家, and other classics, etc. Nevertheless, in my experience, no reader, even the most advanced ones, prepares you for the gap you have to close to read even the most simple "real" Chinese, eg. novels by Yu Hua. You're guaranteed to start again from the "reading pain" level with an understanding level well under 90% when you start reading 或者, even with a quantity of simplified readers under your belt.

 

The list of books at my level is almost a closed list in which I've picked many items. After that, there's the Gap. 

 

BTW, admitedly, I haven't used Mandarin Companion books because they are adapted from Western novels. In Chinese Breeze, you learn a lot of stuff *about* China. At times, the stories can be cheesy, but at least it's cheesiness with Chinese characteristics, which is interesting in itself.

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roddy
On 4/24/2019 at 5:50 PM, Flickserve said:

Do people fall back on mainly reading because they have lost confidence in listening and speaking?

Or never had it. There are good reasons for some people to focus on reading (ie, if you have to do a lot of it, and very little else), but it can also be a safer option. A book never misunderstands you and brings you duck skewers when you wanted lamb. Though that only happened once. 

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Rufus
4 hours ago, laurenth said:

I believe that, over the years, I've read everything in the Chinese Breeze series, levels 1, 2 and 3. As it happens, as I wanted to have a break from more demanding stuff, I am now reading all level 4 books, in which I would assess my understading level to about 98%. I've also read more readers, from Sinolingua's to DeFrancis', not to mention abridged versions of 家, and other classics, etc. Nevertheless, in my experience, no reader, even the most advanced ones, prepares you for the gap you have to close to read even the most simple "real" Chinese, eg. novels by Yu Hua. You're guaranteed to start again from the "reading pain" level with an understanding level well under 90% when you start reading 或者, even with a quantity of simplified readers under your belt.

 

The list of books at my level is almost a closed list in which I've picked many items. After that, there's the Gap. 

 

Hey @laurenth, I wasn't aware that your reading level was as high as it is. Yes, it is hard to bridge the gap between materials written for second language learners and those for native speakers. 

 

As for bridging the gap, there are some easier juvenile authentic texts that can serve this purpose. One I have found to be quite accessible yet still offer enough challenge is the Chinese version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid translated as 《小屁孩日记》. It's funny to read and accessible. If we want to truly bridge our reading to authentic texts, I think we can still do so but we may be reading some juvenile books for a while, which although are written for younger readers, are not entirely uninteresting to adult readers too. 

 

Overall, how would you rate you reading speed with the graded materials you've already read? If you could, see if you can gauge your words per minute on reading something at your level. This is a prominent question in my mind.

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laurenth
1 hour ago, Rufus said:

As for bridging the gap, there are some easier juvenile authentic texts that can serve this purpose.

 

In this regard, I've read several episodes of the series 笑猫日记 (Baidu) by Yang Hongying. They are fun, relatively short (~70,000 characters, as indicated on the back of the cover) and are the closest thing I've ever read that bridges the Dreaded Gap.

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Rufus

Can you give me an idea of your reading speed?

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laurenth
19 minutes ago, Rufus said:

Can you give me an idea of your reading speed?

I've just done a quick and dirty test. I tested myself during one minute while reading 两件红衬衫, which is a Chinese Breeze level 4 reader. 

I read 124 characters in 1 min.

Why are you so interested in my reading speed?

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imron
19 hours ago, laurenth said:

BTW, admitedly, I haven't used Mandarin Companion books because they are adapted from Western novels. In Chinese Breeze, you learn a lot of stuff *about* China. At times, the stories can be cheesy, but at least it's cheesiness with Chinese characteristics, which is interesting in itself.

Admittedly I haven't used Mandarin Companion books, but it's my understanding that they've not just been adapted from Western novels, but adapted and localized to capture the Chinese characteristics you are interested in - e.g. they went with "curly hair" instead of "red hair" in one of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations because you don't have native Chinese who are natural red heads, likewise all the characters have been given Chinese names rather than transliterations of western names (so 高明 rather than 福尔摩斯) and so on.  It's more than just a translation with all the difficult words replaced.

 

12 hours ago, laurenth said:

I read 124 characters in 1 min.

I'm not sure why Rufus was interested in your reading speed, but with a bit of practice you should be able to increase this speed by a non-trivial amount.  The benefits of improving your reading speed will carry through to almost all of your studies.

 

Your current speed is about half the speed that a typical native speaker talks at.  Bringing it in to line with normal speaking speed (e.g. not a fast talking tv presenter or news anchor, just a normal person) is a realistic goal because your reading speed is likely being held back by habits formed when you were still a beginner rather than any significant impediment, and if you can bring it up to 'normal speaking speed' you will have doubled your reading speed.

 

If you can double your current speed, then you'll be able to read twice as much in the same amount of time.  It will also get your brain used to processing Chinese at a faster pace, which will help with your listening which I know you've said you're going to abandon, but maybe part of the problem is that you currently process Chinese at half the speed you need to be processing it at if you want to be able to keep up with a normal speaker.

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laurenth
On 6/1/2019 at 9:25 AM, imron said:

Admittedly I haven't used Mandarin Companion books, but it's my understanding that they've not just been adapted from Western novels, but adapted and localized to capture the Chinese characteristics you are interested in

 

Oh, I didn't know that. Well, if Dickens, Vernes and Conan Doyle have been localized, then I may give Mandarin Companion a try.

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DavyJonesLocker
20 hours ago, laurenth said:

Oh, I didn't know that. Well, if Dickens, Vernes and Conan Doyle have been localized, then I may give Mandarin Companion a try.

 

 I rate Mandarin companion as the most interesting graded readers around . Mind you the selection of interesting stuff is pretty bad in my opinion. Others may disagree .

I was pretty sick of the graded reader series by the 3000 word. Far too much propaganda and wallowing in self pity. "Yeah you were poor , life is hard, we get it , now change the violin strings"😏

 

And despite what the publishers like to categorise a level at, they are all around the beginner , lower intermediate stage. 3000 graded word readers are not "advanced" by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I know we all like to discuss the benefits  of " reading at your level" but  it's a very flawed argument and too theoretical in my view. I definitely agree on principle but I think it's just a concept banded around without much thought given to the practically of it. 

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laurenth
1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Oh, I didn't know that. Well, if Dickens, Vernes and Conan Doyle have been localized, then I may give Mandarin Companion a try.

 

Yesterday, out of curiosity, I bought 盲人国 for my kindle. I read it in one sitting as it was an interesting story (I had never read the original story it's based on) and perfectly localized too. Cherry on the cake: it was the first time I could read a story with a virtually 100% understanding rate 🙂  Morality: I'll certainly purchase more Mandarin Companion books.

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Publius

《义务教育常用词表(草案)》 was just published. Compiled by the Ministry of Education, it contains 15114 words. That's the number of words you're expected to know after 9 years of formal education.

By my estimation, HSK 6 vocabulary (5000 words, 2663 characters) is around the level of native 4-5th graders. So of course there is a gap.

For graded reader publishers, HSK 5-6 is simply too advanced and not profitable.

For native content publishers, 2000 characters is the minimal. Below that, you're illiterate and should be reading picture books.

 

I see you've mentioned 杨红樱. I've never read her books so can't comment. But if you ever grow tired of talking animals, try 曹文轩. He's still relatively simple, but more mature.

By the way, wasn't it you who was reading 古龙's 《流星·蝴蝶·剑》? Graded readers seem a huge step back.

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mkmyers45
1 hour ago, Publius said:

《义务教育常用词表(草案)》 was just published. Compiled by the Ministry of Education, it contains 15114 words. That's the number of words you're expected to know after 9 years of formal education.

 

Hey Publius

 

Have any idea when this book will be available online for purchase? btw i am in china.

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imron
4 hours ago, laurenth said:

Cherry on the cake: it was the first time I could read a story with a virtually 100% understanding rate

When you read something with this degree of understanding it can give you a huge ego boost, because it really feels like you're reading in Chinese, rather than just deciphering it.  This is why I continually drum on about finding things at the right level - it makes reading enjoyable rather than a chore, and that creates a virtuous cycle (you read more because you enjoy it, which builds your vocabulary and your ability to read, so you read more because you enjoy it, which builds your vocabulary and your ability to read, and so on).

 

@Rufus, I know you guys recently released a 'breakthrough' level with only 150 characters, but it seems there's definitely also a market for more advanced level readers - do you have any word on when higher level readers will be released?

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laurenth
2 hours ago, Publius said:

By the way, wasn't it you who was reading 古龙's 《流星·蝴蝶·剑》? Graded readers seem a huge step back.

 

Yes it's me, and, with some degree of difficulty, I did read a dozen other more advanced novels too. It's just that I really felt the need to read some really easy stuff at a time of great discouragement, in order not to stop altogether.

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, laurenth said:

 

Yes it's me, and, with some degree of difficulty, I did read a dozen other more advanced novels too. It's just that I really felt the need to read some really easy stuff at a time of great discouragement, in order not to stop altogether.

 

What was your experience of that?

 

Did you feel your Chinese improved?

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Wurstmann

For those looking for books that are not too hard I can recommend 胰脏物语. It's the translation of a famous Japanese book. There's also a movie.

The first page:

IMG_20190603_160220.thumb.jpg.c98e1dac1e6f6d18f3f9700f2c7ef0d9.jpg

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