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Flickserve
4 hours ago, amytheorangutan said:

He said my problem is that I need to build a habit of using common Chinese phrases so that I can say them automatically and give me more time to think about more complex sentences,


This is really good. 
 

Are you able to detect imperfect tones in sentences? For example, if there’s another non native speaker trying to speak mandarin, would you be able to recognise which words have the wrong tone? If you can, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to start self correcting yourself when you speak. 

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amytheorangutan
6 hours ago, Flickserve said:

Are you able to detect imperfect tones in sentences? For example, if there’s another non native speaker trying to speak mandarin, would you be able to recognise which words have the wrong tone? If you can, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to start self correcting yourself when you speak.

I haven't paid much attention to this but I think I may have difficulty recognising this in longer sentences as well. I've been doing a lot of tone pair drills, with 3 or more syllables and lots of listening and mimicking practice but at this point I still can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Is there anything else I could be doing on my own to improve? 

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Flickserve
8 hours ago, amytheorangutan said:

Is there anything else I could be doing on my own to improve? 


I can only think of recording your italki lessons or getting your tutor to record some of those common phrases so that you can practice those in your own time. 
 

 

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Flickserve
On 8/29/2020 at 8:19 PM, amytheorangutan said:

She'd let me talk/present for about 5 mins while she types what I say and then she'd ask me some questions and we both talk about the topic a little bit and then she'd correct my mistakes and makes me read a paragraph from my "presentation" and correct all my pronunciation mistakes which are mainly tone problems and makes me repeat until I get it right. 

 

 

I think this is quite interesting. I find that with online lessons, we don't really repeat enough (or I am too infrequent in lessons). Although we get corrected, it's quite hard to ingrain a good habit and I suspect it takes a lot of work, just like training an accent. I mean, it's a bit boring repeating material when we want to rush on to a new topic in our next lesson.

 

Does your teacher highlight the words in the presentation that you make tone errors? If so, then you can concentrate specifically on that word in the short phrase as part of your practice.

 

For example:

 

A) 我们可以把停在这儿吗?

 

B) 常好

 

This might be able to identify certain habits during speaking, (myself it's first tone). It might be certain words you always say the wrong tone when in a sentence and not when in a tone pair drilling exercise. If that happens, then you might need to place a bit more time on the rhythm of the sentence.

 

I then repeat the sentence and slow down to try and get the right tone - I overemphasize that tone in practice. I also need to have recording (or another person) to try and tune my voice in faster. Personally, I find there are times where i think I am saying the right tone but somebody listening says "No, it's ......". After correction, I try to speed up a bit and smoothen the delivery. For me, output at native speed isn't really a big issue. We get a lot of leeway from native Chinese speakers.

 

Caveat: I had one teacher who was too diligent and that was demoralising. Probably we tried to correct too much in the hour.

 

I think transcribing helps. You listen to a sentence many times over and that repeated listening (plus rhythm) gets somewhat ingrained into your head. If there are any words you simply cant get, you can send an audio clip back to the teacher and ask "what did you say at that point?"

 

IMO, rhythm is really important and very helpful. Getting words correct but using a wrong rhythm can also make it hard for the listener.

 

 

On 8/29/2020 at 8:19 PM, amytheorangutan said:

I also use Chinesepod's dialogue for mimicking practice in the hope that it would improve my tones.

 

Which is good if you can self-correct when you shadow incorrectly. Some people have it harder than others. You might get about 80% accuracy and then need a native speaker to help get that last 10-15% accuracy to make you sound more smooth.

 

I once had a Malaysian language exchange partner and I was trying to help him with certain sounds that all Malaysians have when speaking English. He couldn't hear the difference between British pronunciation and Malaysian pronunciation. That's hard to change. Indonesians have pretty strong accents when speaking English as well (the ones I have met.)

 

 

 

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amytheorangutan

@Flickserve Thanks so much. You make a few useful suggestions. One of my teachers put tone marks on words where I got the tone wrong a few times. I’ll record my lessons from this week and make comparisons of all the notes she made to see if there is a pattern and go from there. I realised that I make 4th tone mistakes when I speak to her but when I’m practicing myself I feel like my biggest problem is 3rd 2nd combo 🤔

4 hours ago, Flickserve said:

That's hard to change. Indonesians have pretty strong accents when speaking English as well (the ones I have met.)

😂 Yup this is me! I have crazy thick accent and I’ve been ignoring it for a long time even though I’ve lived in English speaking countries for 20 years. Mainly because of laziness. Funny you say this now because after speaking English with this crazy accent for over 2 decades I decided to try and fix it recently. I record myself speaking, it was rough listening to the recording the first few times, and then I ask my spouse to tell me the words that I often pronounce wrong. I have problems with p, th, sh, r sounds so I watched many pronunciation exercise videos and focus on those, do tongue twister exercises and then shadowing practice for 15 mins everyday while recording. It’s easier for me to do this in English at full speed using Youtube videos transcripts because unlike Chinese, I’m not working on anything else other than sounds. I use the same shadowing materials 4-5 times to get the intonation stick in my memory. 
 

 

After doing this everyday for almost 2 months and being ultra aware of my pronunciation every time I speak in normal conversation, I can hear my accent is softening bit by bit during normal conversation. I could see progress fairly fast during my shadowing practice but during normal conversation it’s still very hard to control. Since I have lots of zoom meetings nowadays, I’ve been recording myself speaking for analysis and comparison on top of recording my convos with my spouse haha it’s crazy hard work but I’ve set myself a timeline. I plan to do this until December and see if I can hear major improvements. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a lot harder and take a lot longer to fix my Chinese tones because I have many other aspects that I’m working on at the same time and my limited exposure to the language. 

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Lately me and my partner have been using this method to try and improve our fluency / increase our active vocabulary:

 

Using paragraphs from the reading section of HSK 4 or HSK 5, we read (silently) through it as quickly as possible, then we just explain the content to the other to the best of our abilities. 

We then read the questions and have to reply to them based on the explanation.

 

It's not boring and it seems to be working quite well, however we are almost out of HSK sample tests so we are looking for an alternative source of material. 

Ideally, I would like to try and use audio bits rather than a written text as a base, so to be able to improve the quality of the pronunciation as well. 

Something like spoonfed, but with much longer sentences and possibly a bit more interesting.

 

Anyone has ideas on where to find bite-sized, not-too hard audio recordings I could use for that?

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  • 1 month later...
amytheorangutan

@Flickserve I can notice very small improvement but I’m still not happy. When I speak normally, if I put extra mental effort to carefully think about my pronunciation I can notice slightly better improvements but I often forget to do it unless it’s something planned in advance like a meeting or something. I’m still doing some daily mimicking 10-15 mins everyday. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Flickserve

I have been doing quite a lot of shadowing practice for Mandarin in the past month. Working by myself, I can get close to 80-90% accuracy. My speech is easily understandable by Mandarin native speakers. 

 

I am still quite unstable at times. The tones bother me more. I will lose one or two tones in a sentence and that needs a native speaker to help me identify exactly where I am unconsciously going wrong. For example, 八点 I am saying 点 with 2nd tone. It doesn't register as wrong to me because I use a rising tone in Cantonese. 

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amytheorangutan

Wow @Flickserve sounds like you're making really good progress with your shadowing. May I know what material you use for shadowing? Also if you don't mind sharing on the HSK or Beginner to Beyond Advance scale approximately where are you currently?

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Flickserve

@amytheorangutan
 

My level is around HSK 3-4 just by looking at the word list but I know other words which are not on the lists. 
 

I am using glossika material (old mp3 and pdf)  but using them atypically. I put them into anki looking at the English Sentence and then trying to translate into Chinese. Anki has been customised so that when the answer comes, the audio of the chinese sentence will also come up ten times automatically which I shadow.
 

if I am not happy with the shadowing , then Anki has a setting to replay the audio. 
 

if I am happy, e.g. 是黑色的 is pretty easy, then I press the button quickly go to the next sentence. 

 

Most times you hear about people using anki to learn vocabulary. With the auto repeat of the sentence ten times (Which can be increased conveniently), that helps practicing shadowing become a little more efficient. 
 

I did put a lot of work into pronunciation at the early stages of learning mandarin. That Has helped a lot. 

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  • 2 months later...
alantin

Hi all,

 

I just registered wanting to comment on this thread!

 

I've been studying Chinese for about two and half years now. I have mainly done what interested me at any given time, beginning with focusing on pronunciation and tones for a long time, then simple stuff with various apps, took a couple of courses at a local university to get some basics down, used about a year focusing very heavily on the characters and vocabulary lists with Anki, and so on.

 

One thing that I have done for about 1 and half years now is having one or two free talk sessions with italki teachers each week. I'm quite independent and dislike someone else imposing a study program on me so free talk sessions have been perfect for me. From the beginning I have requested the teaches to avoid speaking English to me and I actually prefer it if the teachers English isn't that good.

 

In the beginning I could hardly speak any Chinese and so I requested the teachers to type sentences out for me in hanzi as we came up with them during the lessons and then I requested them to record those sentences for me so I could make Anki decks which I would then review constantly and often shadow sentences until I could keep up with the audio. After a few months I stopped doing that and instead focused on just free talk and trying to reduce the amount of Engish I used during the lessons. This is quite hard since I still struggle with active vocabulary even though my listening comprehension is quite good. Nowadays my speaking comes and goes and also depends heavily on the tutor and the topic. There are few people who I talk to regularly of whom two stand out.

 

The first is a professional teacher who will very quickly tell me to say the same thing in Chinese if I switch to English. The topics are every day and the teacher speaks a little bit slowly and simply to me. Lately I have had some success holding whole one hour sessions in Chinese with her and she is very good at throwing topics at me and pulling Chinese out of me while giving instant correction. The topics aren't very engaging though...

 

The other one is a PhD student, who speaks 100% Chinese to me and the topics very easily jump to things like the Opium Wars, the development of China in the last 100 years, Belt and Road initiative and Chinese investments abroad, the elections and recent unrest in the US, etc. The topics are very interesting and the lessons are one hour long sessions of her launching a deluge of Chinese at me at a rapid pace which I'm frankly amazed I can usually understand enough of. I probably speak only about 20% Chinese and 80% English during those sessions due to my lack of active vocabulary but these half Chinese half English discussions are very good for my listening comprehension and train me to hear more normal Chinese speech.

 

Lately I began reading my first Chinese book, which is a translation of one of my favorites, and I've asked my teachers to record them reading a couple of pages of it for me, which I have then used for shadowing. I'm currently easing into extensive reading, which I expect to help me broaden my vocabulary, and I think I'm already seeing some improvement in my italki sessions.

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