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Larry Language Lover

Question for Very Advanced Chinese Learners

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Larry Language Lover

Those of you who can hold long conversations in Chinese, who can understand what people say on the streets, and understand Chinese radio and TV,     how many years average would you say it takes to get to such a level?

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889

If you're in a Chinese environment, around four to six years, I suppose.

 

Pretty hard to get there if you're not in a Chinese environment, especially understanding informal as-it's-spoken-on-the-street Chinese. Not to say impossible. I suppose.

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DavyJonesLocker

I  find the standard distribution (Bell curve) is very wide. I know several learners10+ years and despite continual learning really have a very moderate level (can't understand TV etc) Others adopted a street style learning and achieved a good level very quickly, however character recognition is almost non existent.

 

Lots of factors involved and even if you take  a group of learners with an identical study pattern, the variation amongst individuals to learn the language varies greatly  depending on age, previous experience, general ability to learn languages etc

 

I was clearly the worst in my class (even my teachers noted it ) despite doing my far  the most work. My modest improvements only came through shear effort. No magic formula despite what technique falls in and out of fashion. 

 

One thing I believe vital to effective study is to find your own path. Sure you should consider what others have you say but don't take any thing as the optimal way. Good example is rote learning, flash cards. Some people are dead set against it. For me it's s vital component (as long as it's in conjunction with others learning ), other highly disagree. It's clearly the right choice for me personally .

 

Others suggest  speed reading as a good technique. I think it's  bad technique and actually counterproductive. However I would never suggest anyone to not at least try it. 

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Larry Language Lover
12 hours ago, 889 said:

If you're in a Chinese environment, around four to six years, I suppose.

 

I was really surprised by your answer.  I'm already prepared with the mentality that it is going to take a long time, and that I'm in it for the long haul and that I'm not going to give up and I'm determined not to be part of the huge statistic of people who started learning Chinese and gave up early.

Of course I understand you are saying such a time frame is attainable IF one is in a Chinese environment (which I am not) but it is still encouraging.   I have heard of so many people taking  about friends who have studied Chinese for years and can't really form a sentence.

I don't know if a Chinese environment will ever be possible for me, but I can create it a bit with online Chinese TV, Youtube, and Chinese radio.

My biggest obstacle is that I am a total language nut, passionate about languages and I divide my learning time with other languages.    I try to work on 4 every day.  Two are learning (Mandarin and Italian) and the other two are maintenance  (French and German).   Of course the other three are easy-peasy compared to Chinese!

I guess in my case I have to reconcile myself with the fact that in my case and as a result of my choices, it's going to take a long time.   Difficult to accept because every day that goes by it seems I am more obsessed with Chinese.

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Flickserve
9 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Others adopted a street style learning and achieved a good level very quickly, however character recognition is almost non existent.

 

This is how I try to approach it. I do know quite a few characters just by visual recognition and exposure rather than actively committing to memory.

 

Around six years for news if in immersive environment but there's a lot of variation.

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889

"I don't know if a Chinese environment will ever be possible for me, but I can create it a bit with online Chinese TV, Youtube, and Chinese radio."

 

As I've said here before, the overwhelming obstacle learning Chinese is speaking so that you are understood. (This includes tones, but a lot more.) The only way to overcome this obstacle is to speak and speak a lot with Chinese people. Many students of Chinese don't have that opportunity, which is why it isn't unusual at all to find people who've studied Chinese for years yet still draw a polite but blank look when they stop someone on the street in Beijing and ask directions.

 

Further, when you study by yourself without substantial tutoring, it's very easy to adopt bad speech habits which can be near impossible to break. This is why investment in a language partner from Day One is important.

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david387

I'm at 5 years. I can:

  1. Read and write (perhaps 2800 characters I can recognize, so some content still requires a number of lookups.
  2. Watch TV and understand, but really helps if there are Chinese subtitles. Sometimes I may need to rewind and watch again, but not too often.
  3. Have one on one conversations on a wide variety of subjects. It still feels clumsy at times
  4. Sing lots of Chinese songs
  5. I often teach dance class using Chinese 

I find conversing in a group setting the most difficult, especially if there are speakers who have an accent. For example, I have a friend from Shenyang whose Chinese is not very standard, plus she speaks fast. And there can be people from Southern China who are mostly standard except maybe their "sh" sounds like "s", or their "n" sounds like "l", and a word I totally should know slips by because it sounded  a little different. 

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, david387 said:

Read and write (perhaps 2800 characters I can recognize, so some content still requires a number of lookups.

 

That's very good. I seem to got stuck on being able to write 1200  characters   I write everyday and limit myself to 100 reviews but they just fall out of my head too fast so can't add any more in without number of reviews becoming unwieldy.

What technique do you use?

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abcdefg
On 11/2/2019 at 6:37 AM, Larry Language Lover said:

Those of you who can hold long conversations in Chinese, who can understand what people say on the streets, and understand Chinese radio and TV,     how many years average would you say it takes to get to such a level?

 

I would not call myself a "very advanced learner." But things such as those in the above question come and go for me. My level is not constant. One day I'm patting myself on the back after a long exchange that went without a hitch, then the next day it's like my brain switched off and I stumble and stutter terribly. Feel and look foolish. 

 

As to the number of years it took to get to such a place, not sure any answer I could give would be meaningful because the amount of effort invested in studying has not been level throughout. At first it was an obsession, the most important thing in my life. Gradually it became less so. Now it's just incidental to doing other things. Now I don't really worry about it much. If my Chinese improves, that's great. If it doesn't, that's OK too. 

 

On 11/2/2019 at 8:18 PM, Larry Language Lover said:

My biggest obstacle is that I am a total language nut, passionate about languages...

 

That's not me. If deficient language skills prevent me from doing something I want to do, then I get busy and patch them up. But it's a focused, temporary effort. 

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