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DISCUSS! A systematic self-learning path for online learners of Chinese


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肖理石

 

Hello everyone!

I’m trying to design a systematic self-learning path for online learners of Chinese as a foreign language based on the connectivism. Welcome to express your views here.

First of all, please tell me whether you are a Chinese teacher or a learner. If you are a learner, what is your Chinese proficiency level? Do you look up the words you saw in Chinese learning APPs and discuss its usage with other learners?

The following is a set of web-based Chinese self-learning methods that I find helpful.(picture 1)

First, take mini-courses in Chinese learning APP (for example, “Super Chinese” and “Hello Chinese”). Then, look up unknown words in“Pleco”, and then go to “Chinese-Forum” or “Hi Native”to think about the word’s meaning in context, learn how to use the word, and find relevant word. After that, turn to a language communication software such as “Pop On” or their language partners to practice the usage of these words.

So that’s it, I don't know how does everyone feel about this set of methods? Do you have any similar learning/teaching path, and what is the experience after following this kind of learning/teaching path?

If not, what are the reasons for not doing so? And why? (make your choice from the options down below)

A. Too troublesome

B. Feel that the learning effect is not good

C. I think I will be too tired to study in this way.

D. Other ________________

 

Do you have a set of learning methods or paths that you recommend?

未命名文件(56).jpg

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Moshen

One thing I have learned here on this forum is that different people have very different preferred methods of learning.  Furthermore, the methods of learning may change drastically as their language level or lifestyle changes.

 

So I do not understand what your purpose is.  Are you hoping to corral all learners into one learning path, and if so, why?

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alantin

I agree with @Moshen. This seems too vocabulary driven for me, but it may be suitable for someone else.
I'm at around HSK5 and my main goal currently is to enlarge my vocabulary, but I don't do any flashcard reviews etc. anymore. I only read books and have LTL FlexiClass lessons and iTalki freetalk lessons with Chinese teachers to practice discussing in Chinese. So my method is basically to get words into my passive vocabulary through osmosis while reading and then activate these words while talking with people. The important words will surface while not so important ones will not. It's working really well for me and a vocabulary driven approach like yours would kill the fun in it for me.

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肖理石
3 hours ago, Moshen said:

One thing I have learned here on this forum is that different people have very different preferred methods of learning.  Furthermore, the methods of learning may change drastically as their language level or lifestyle changes.

 

So I do not understand what your purpose is.  Are you hoping to corral all learners into one learning path, and if so, why?

Hello, thank you for your comments. I quite agree with your point of view, "different people have different learning methods”. I think I am an introversive language learner, but I didn't find out until recently how effective it was to learn a foreign language by communicating with others. Inspired by this change of point of view, I am thinking about whether I could make greater progress if I use the words I've learnt more often. hence, i create this method for learners like me. I don't mean to advocate this set of learning paths, but I do want to see what do the learners think of this methods. I hope your point of views will open my eyesight.

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肖理石
3 hours ago, alantin said:

I agree with @Moshen. This seems too vocabulary driven for me, but it may be suitable for someone else.
I'm at around HSK5 and my main goal currently is to enlarge my vocabulary, but I don't do any flashcard reviews etc. anymore. I only read books and have LTL FlexiClass lessons and iTalki freetalk lessons with Chinese teachers to practice discussing in Chinese. So my method is basically to get words into my passive vocabulary through osmosis while reading and then activate these words while talking with people. The important words will surface while not so important ones will not. It's working really well for me and a vocabulary driven approach like yours would kill the fun in it for me.

Hello, thank you for your answer. I understand that you are driven by your own interests and the need for language expression. Although from the perspective of native speaker, the words in the textbook are indeed high-frequency words in daily life, perhaps you have not involved relevant usages in your daily expressions.
I deliberately use newly learned words when communicating in a foreign language. I look at the feedback from native speakers to see if I'm using the word correctly.
Perhaps this word-driven approach works better for me.

Now I can't help but wonder if today's advanced learners have really expanded their vocabulary. Or will they stop making progress after forming their own fixed mode of expression, like they just describe new thing by using words they've already known?

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Moshen
Quote

Now I can't help but wonder if today's advanced learners have really expanded their vocabulary. Or will they stop making progress after forming their own fixed mode of expression, like they just describe new thing by using words they've already known?

 

I can't help but wonder what kind of world you live in!

 

Even in English, I am constantly expanding my vocabulary as I encounter new real-life situations or read materials written by people from different backgrounds. 

 

In another language, you also can't help learning new words if you put yourself into new situations or try to read or listen to different kinds of material.  For instance, on my last trip to China, I learned the words for "tunnel," "scan a QR code," "drivers license" and many others because of circumstances I kept running into.  This can and does happen without any kind of master plan for learning, and I don't see how it could be avoided except in the most regimented or constrained type of use of a foreign language.

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realmayo

Learning a language without spending time worrying over vocabulary lists is I think quite radical? But of course there's bound to be some people who can easily do without them.

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alantin

Having labored over word lists in the past first studying Japanese and now Chinese, I find that the most progress and also most efficient progress that I have ever made vocabulary vise has always been incidentally through exposure of massive amounts of mainly written content and then just talking with people.

 

I leaned English this way to a high lever long before Anki was invented and I never used any flashcards for learning English. Only for getting through English vocabulary tests in school. Then Anki came along when I had studied Japanese for a couple of years and I used it to varying success for some time but my Japanese only really took of after I began talking with people. Now I've reached a level in Chinese where I can read books with aid from a dictionary app I have stopped doing any SRS:ing or flashcards with Chinese.

 

@肖理石 you seem to misunderstand. I don't mean text books. I dislike those too. I read novels. I first began with graded readers and now I'm a couple hundred pages into a novel translated from English into Chinese and I also began reading 三体 in Chinese on the side. I've also seen research that shows that extensive reading correlates with large vocabulary, corroborating my own experience, so if you talk to someone with a large active vocabulary in a second language, believing that they've read a lot is a much safer bet than that they've done lot's of flashcards.

In your process, I really like the consistency of it and the way it incorporates examples and trying out the new words "in the wild", but I don't think it is necessary anymore around or after HSK4 level.

 

So to answer your poll I think for me A, B, and C all apply and D) I don't think it's necessary to make it so formal since just picking up a book every day and talking with people is much easier. It is also more natural since a human brain is wired to learn the stuff that it sees often in different contexts and therefore finds it useful. Feeding the brain artificially with word lists in my experience leads to superficial results. Seeing words in isolation or in example sentences, instead of in real content and picking them up naturally, more easily leads to unnatural usage or otherwise inaccurate idea of what the words mean and how they are used. There is also the question of how to pick the words for your lists. How do you make sure the words are actually something you need and avoid ending up cramming the same difficult words, that you don't actually need anyway (i.e. "encounter in your normal interactions and reading"), over and over and over again. Yeah. There are frequency lists and resources for example sentences etc. but I don't study Chinese for studying example sentences. I study it so I can use it to read books and talk to people and the only way to get good at those is to actually do them and discard any crutches as soon as possible.

 

In my own experience, word lists and SRS are great crutches for beginners to get started or if you need to cram something for a test for example. As such your system does look very similar to something that I did in the beginning of my Chinese studies, but once you can read books, every hour doing flash cards is an hour you could instead be reading and really holistically deepening your understanding and grasp of the language. Also, instead of cramming technical terms, at a more advanced level, if I want to learn some specialized terminology, instead of doing flashcards, I'd read a journal, some articles, or a book on the subject and just check the unfamiliar words as they come up.

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肖理石
11 hours ago, Moshen said:

In another language, you also can't help learning new words if you put yourself into new situations or try to read or listen to different kinds of material.  For instance, on my last trip to China, I learned the words for "tunnel," "scan a QR code," "drivers license" and many others because of circumstances I kept running into.  This can and does happen without any kind of master plan for learning, and I don't see how it could be avoided except in the most regimented or constrained type of use of a foreign language.

I may understand the reason why I lack motivation in vocabulary expansion, especially on the Internet. I rely on translation software very much, and I am too lazy to travel abroad, or not willing to spend money to go abroad, so I lack the conditions to practice foreign language.
And now I don't have a lot of need to use English, even if writing English articles, I also think the translation software is much better than my level.

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肖理石
9 hours ago, alantin said:

you seem to misunderstand. I don't mean text books. I dislike those too. I read novels. I first began with graded readers and now I'm a couple hundred pages into a novel translated from English into Chinese and I also began reading 三体 in Chinese on the side. I've also seen research that shows that extensive reading correlates with large vocabulary, corroborating my own experience, so if you talk to someone with a large active vocabulary in a second language, believing that they've read a lot is a much safer bet than that they've done lot's of flashcards.

You are really good at reading such a long novel. When I was in high school, I felt a headache when I saw a classmate reading the Lord of the Rings, because there were so many new words that I could never recognize. Maybe you would like the way to learn vocabulary by combining Chinese history. After all, there are many stories about Chinese history.

 

9 hours ago, alantin said:

In your process, I really like the consistency of it and the way it incorporates examples and trying out the new words "in the wild", but I don't think it is necessary anymore around or after HSK4 level.

 

So to answer your poll I think for me A, B, and C all apply and D) I don't think it's necessary to make it so formal since just picking up a book every day and talking with people is much easier. It is also more natural since a human brain is wired to learn the stuff that it sees often in different contexts and therefore finds it useful. Feeding the brain artificially with word lists in my experience leads to superficial results. Seeing words in isolation or in example sentences, instead of in real content and picking them up naturally, more easily leads to unnatural usage or otherwise inaccurate idea of what the words mean and how they are used. There is also the question of how to pick the words for your lists. How do you make sure the words are actually something you need and avoid ending up cramming the same difficult words, that you don't actually need anyway (i.e. "encounter in your normal interactions and reading"), over and over and over again. Yeah. There are frequency lists and resources for example sentences etc. but I don't study Chinese for studying example sentences. I study it so I can use it to read books and talk to people and the only way to get good at those is to actually do them and discard any crutches as soon as possible.

 

Thank you for your feedback, which makes me think that my thinking is meaningful. You mentioned the vocabulary that you want to filter out, but I found that in this forum's vocabulary sector, there are a lot of vocabulary that everyone is very unfamiliar, and the source is China's ancient books. Is everyone doing this for fun?

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Sreeni
On 4/26/2021 at 1:35 PM, 肖理石 said:

I’m trying to design a systematic self-learning path for online learners of Chinese as a foreign language based on the connectivism.

 

are you a native chinese speaker?  what motivates you to design self learning path?

 

I am chinese learner and I know around 600~800 words.

 

my aim is to comprehend better the secondary school comprehensions from examination papers. I practiced from hello chinese app, that is very good one. at this moment I am working on retention of learnt vocabulary and expanding. I will use vocabulary from textbook, workbook and past examination papers, not random lists

 

my approach towards chinese learning is break down the word into smaller components, understand them and build back that word.  (some times few components might not help in adding up to the meaning of original word, then do not concentrate on those and keep going). 

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mungouk
On 4/26/2021 at 1:35 PM, 肖理石 said:

systematic self-learning path for online learners of Chinese as a foreign language

 

Leaving aside "the connectivism",  how about a system for all learners of Chinese as a foreign language to create their own learning path according to their own learning preferences?

 

I'm a strong believer in technology-enhanced language learning, and I've done a lot of it myself.  I think the revolutionary part will be when learners can build the learning tools that they themselves find most effective. 

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realmayo
On 4/26/2021 at 6:28 PM, alantin said:

Having labored over word lists in the past first studying Japanese and now Chinese, I find that the most progress and also most efficient progress that I have ever made vocabulary vise has always been incidentally through exposure of massive amounts of mainly written content and then just talking with people

Plus the Japanese will help a lot with Chinese vocabulary. So unlike most language learners - especially of relatively or wholly unfamiliar languages - you don't seem to need the boost provided by a bit of focus on vocabulary. Note, though, that studying vocabulary doesn't have to involve Anki, doesn't have to involve flashcards at all. In the past, most people who studied languages to a high level just wrote out lists and rechecked them a few times. As for reading, the most I managed was four hours of novels a day, but I only sustained that for a few weeks, three hours daily is my target now. For me, just looking up an unknown - or unlearned - word isn't usually enough for me to feel I've learned and will remember it but, again, if the vocabulary is related to Japanese words then it should be easy for you.

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alantin
1 hour ago, realmayo said:

Plus the Japanese will help a lot with Chinese vocabulary. So unlike most language learners - especially of relatively or wholly unfamiliar languages - you don't seem to need the boost provided by a bit of focus on vocabulary.



This is true. Just hearing a new Chinese word usually, but once I see the characters, they usually make a lot of sense. A good example comes from last week. I was in a class with one other student who had Chinese longer than me, and the teacher began talking about some sort of a recent problem with Japan, but we both couldn't understand what she was talking about. Then she wrote what she had said in characters and they read something like "nuclear power polluted water" and "Fukushima", so it was very clear right away. The other student however didn't seem to know the characters and was still confused. In other instances the characters don't make sense (like with many 成语) in which case they may sometimes be even more memorable once you know the idea behind them. I also find reading Chinese a lot easier than Japanese since only about 20% of the characters are 多音字 as opposed to practically every character in Japanese. But I'm also not a stranger to word lists and flashcards. I actually spent half a year in the beginning of my studies mostly focusing on the 1600 most used characters with Anki to get familiar with the Chinese pronunciations of the characters. I don't remember them all impeccably yet, but I think reading provides enough review for those too.

 

1 hour ago, realmayo said:

In the past, most people who studied languages to a high level just wrote out lists and rechecked them a few times.


This is actually something I've read about too and I've considered doing this. My tutors write words for me during our conversations, so I think I'm going to make it into a list of some kind that I could update couple of times a week and place it next to bed. Then just read it once right before bed and right after waking up. That way it wouldn't be too cumbersome.

 

But the main difference I think with the OP is that the words need to be somehow relevant to me already. They need to come up in a discussion first or in a book many times enough for them to start bugging me. In other words, they need to be already familiar at some level for them to be worth the effort of any kind of review. Discussion is best, because then it will have been a word that I needed to express something and the tutor had to give it to me. Words from books are more difficult, because reading is a passive exercise, so I would require the word to have come up multiple times already without me having being able to pick it up, but on the other hand if it comes up so often, then it would most likely come up in the future too often enough for it to stick eventually. So maybe I'll just stick with the words provided by the tutors.

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Sreeni
2 hours ago, alantin said:

But I'm also not a stranger to word lists and flashcards. I actually spent half a year in the beginning of my studies mostly focusing on the 1600 most used characters with Anki to get familiar with the Chinese pronunciations of the characters.

 

For beginners the words list a must. even the new babies were taught vocabulary initially.

 

Does anyone has any alternative approach without building vocabulary bank initially? ( the numbers may differs for each individuals based on their own style..

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realmayo
8 hours ago, alantin said:

Then just read it once right before bed and right after waking up. That way it wouldn't be too cumbersome.

 

Yes, when I mentioned word lists I didn't necessarily mean working off a list of words made by someone else that were all new to you, but rather, writing down words that you've recently come across and want to remember, and then looking at them a few times (and perhaps testing yourself on memory recall) over a few days.

 

I believe this process is referred to as "deliberate learning", as opposed to picking up and remembering vocab as you're exposed to it in real life. According to a book about learning vocabulary by Paul Nation, recommended somewhere on these forums, consensus is that it takes about seven repetitions to remember most words (that is, associate a written word in L2 with a given meaning). And spacing is better - but not necessarily at increased intervals: sometimes I think SRS should be "ISRS" or something, to indicate that the intervals, in e.g. Anki, increase. More simple spacing might be to run though a list of words twice a day, like what you were suggesting, but for three days in a row.

 

And then if you're exposed to enough language through reading etc, you can rely on that exposure to stop you forgetting words that you've learned through deliberate learning.

 

Basically, I think there's a really sensible middle ground between assuming you'll remember vocab without any deliberate learning, and relying on a massive SRS desk to do all the work for you.

 

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