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PerpetualChange

How do you know a book is "at your level"?

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Jan Finster
On 11/30/2019 at 9:30 AM, murrayjames said:

If you frequently refer to dictionaries when reading Chinese, try using a Chinese-Chinese dictionary. Stay in L2. You’ll learn to think about Chinese vocabulary in Chinese, and may pick up—or strengthen your command of—other useful Chinese words in the process.

At what stage of your Chinese language learning did you start with a Chinese-Chinese dictionary? I remember when I learnt English as a second language in high school we were told to use an English-English dictionary at an intermediate stage. Is there a particular ZH-ZH dictionary you recommend?

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imron

I'm a fan of Steve Kaufman and his learning philosophy.  I don't agree with him on everything.

 

Likewise, many members here don't agree with me on everything either, and it wouldn't be much a discussion site if everyone here only agreed with me.

 

For the record, I'm not against the concept and philosophy of Lingq (strongly or otherwise), and in fact here is a post where I even point someone towards using it.

 

I do believe using a popup dictionary for Chinese is detrimental to long-term learning goals unless you are also spending time separately revising the words you've looked up.  Lingq is far more than just a popup dictionary however.

 

I suspect the forum is so comparatively silent about Lingq is because people don't use it, not because of anything the admins believe.

 

49 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

At what stage of your Chinese language learning did you start with a Chinese-Chinese dictionary?

My second year of learning.

 

50 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

Is there a particular ZH-ZH dictionary you recommend?

The Guifan C-C dictionary that you can get for Pleco.

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Shelley

Talking about reading and understanding without referring to a dictionary, I have discovered that I come across characters that I know the meaning but can't remember the pronunciation.

I don't look them up at the time of reading becuase it doesn't spoil my comprehension and it won't ruin the flow. I look them up later.

 

What is this about? I can't imagine in English having this situation - understanding a word but not knowing its sound.

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imron
1 hour ago, Shelley said:

I can't imagine in English having this situation - understanding a word but not knowing its sound.

It happens quite a lot now with the ever increasing use of emojis.

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Shelley
54 minutes ago, imron said:

It happens quite a lot now with the ever increasing use of emojis.

 

This is true and I hadn't thought about it quite like that. I knew the original emoji was a "smiley"  never thought about what the others were called.

 

I just wondered how this rates on the scale of you don't really know that character,  somehow it seems better than not knowing it at all, but at the same time worse.

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murrayjames
14 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

At what stage of your Chinese language learning did you start with a Chinese-Chinese dictionary?

 

At the intermediate stage, after a few years of study.

 

14 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

Is there a particular ZH-ZH dictionary you recommend?

 

The C-C dictionaries on Pleco are excellent. Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian is the obvious first choice for contemporary Chinese. Other Pleco C-C- dictionaries (Hanyu Da Cidian, Longman, etc.) are very good for less recent or Chengyu-heavy literature.

 

dict.baidu.com is good for quick searches.

 

For paper dictionaries, buy the inexpensive ubiquitous red one, 现代汉语词典. I keep one in my office and love flipping through its pages.

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imron
1 hour ago, murrayjames said:

For paper dictionaries, buy the inexpensive ubiquitous red one, 现代汉语词典. I keep one in my office and love flipping through its pages.

This is the aforementioned paper dictionary of mine that I am fond of but no longer use :mrgreen: Mine's beige though rather than red.

 

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DeanaZimmerman

On reading the first several rows. If they are OK, I continue doing it.

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PerpetualChange

I have download the CTA, and it is quite a nice tool. I imported only HSK1-3 (to be on the safe side) and so there are a lot of "dud" unknown words so far, but it's really convenient that I can just mark them as known with one hit of the spacebar. It's nice to see my progress - I have probably quite a few "dud" unknown words to mark off but so far my number of known words is a lot higher than I expected and that is very reassuring for those times when I self-consciously wonder if my Chinese abilities might just be more acting skills than attained knowledge. 

 

Interestingly, the vast majority of my unknown words are either HSK5, 6, or (in most cases) * tier. I had no idea that the HSK was so limited. 

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imron
32 minutes ago, PerpetualChange said:

I had no idea that the HSK was so limited. 

The HSK is general and aims for breadth rather than depth.  It contains a bit of this and a bit of that across a broad range of topics, authors, writing styles and genres.  It also stops at upper intermediate.

 

Contrast this with reading some piece of Chinese content, which is typically specific to a certain topic, author, writing style and genre, and that has a significant impact on the relative frequencies of the words you encounter.

 

I've written about both of these topics separately, here and here.

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DavyJonesLocker
6 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Interestingly, the vast majority of my unknown words are either HSK5, 6, or (in most cases) * tier. I had no idea that the HSK was so limited. 

 

Just checked my anki deck (which gets imported from an excel spreadsheet) only 56% of words come from hsk 1to 6.

 

Words added in over the years from ordinary books, textbooks, we chat messages, general chit chat or basically anything I thought was useful at the time. In fact I am really having trouble with HSK 6 words as I don't see them anywhere else apart from the HSK textbook

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PerpetualChange

Figured I would report back since I opened this thread a month ago and am now on the reader's path. 

 

This month I've stayed away from my textbook and focused full-bore on reading. I started with a Chinese translation of "The Little Prince", found myself looking up probably 1-2 words per long sentence. I got through it in about 10 hours I'd say which is about 9 hours more than it would take someone fully fluent to read that book 😂.

 

After that I purchased and downloaded the @imron Chinese Text Analyzer, and started working my way through a webnovel (one of the school romance types), switching between that and the more respectable 活著. When I load most chapters in I usually have somewhere around 70% known, with a lot of low-frequency, unique words that are mostly not covered under the HSK. Bizarrely, I think the teen romance novel is harder than 活著, just because there is a good amount of (what I assume to be) slang and colorful adjectives and adverbs. Yu Hua is fairly dry by comparison. Going back toward children's novels and such doesn't necessary up the "known" percentage, either, because the words that children know and use seem to be skipped over a fair amount in the guided learning you get as a foreigner. 

 

At first I was overwhelmed, every time I opened a chapter of book, CTA generated at least a hundred new words for me to look at. How could I ever put some focus around studying all of these? But I tried to persevere and put more structure around my reading. Depending on how much time I have, I basically try and look at the 5-10 most important words from the CTA generated list (giving priority to word frequency first, HSK or TOCFL second) and practice them by looking them up in the Chinese-Chinese and Chinese-English PLECO dictionaries and looking at the example sentences and typing a few out in a running vocab list I have. I do keep these in a PLECO deck as well but I've found flashcard study is redundant once I have done this.

 

Then, for better or worse, and as long as I feel relatively confident that I understand the main idea of the story, I move on - letting myself more forward in the story instead of forcing myself to understand everything I've just read. Every few days I open up previous chapters and skim through the content and word lists again to see if anything has sunken in. 

 

So far, very impressed with CTA, which has become indispensable to my practice flow in just a short amount of time. After importing HSK1-3, my word list quickly went up to 3000 known words and continues to climb albeit more and more slowly as I teach it what I know. I may go back to textbooks and graded readers for a bit, I may not... I like where things are going, but I do feel like my vocabulary could still benefit a bit from book learning, depending on the book, which would make future reading even easier...

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imron
On 12/31/2019 at 2:18 PM, PerpetualChange said:

but I've found flashcard study is redundant once I have done this.

This is what I've been trying to tell people for years :mrgreen:  Use flashcards for short term drilling, and regular reading for 'review' of that vocab.

 

On 12/31/2019 at 2:18 PM, PerpetualChange said:

very impressed with CTA, which has become indispensable to my practice flow in just a short amount of time

Glad to hear it!

 

It's sounds to me like you've got a good routine going - regular reading, learning a small amount of relevant vocab each day, moving on rather than focusing on understanding every single thing, reviewing previous chapters, and reading a broad range of different things (Yu Hua vs school romance novels).

 

The most important thing is to keep doing a little bit every day, and over time you'll make good progress.

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