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how much time do I have to remain at china in order to learn/understand polyfony?


inv
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hi,

I am planning to visit china for some aims. 

one of those aims is really to effectively and correctly understand how polyfony happens.

I know basics for chinese language , but unfortunately as of I realised that I had to correctly use polyfony (i.e. tones) ,I interrupted all works and passed to some other works. 

anyway, could someone honestly express how much time do I have to remain in china in order to learn /understand the tones correctly & effectively ? (only mandarin is implied)

 

note please: I apparently and already inform that I do not aim to learn the language itself there. (I may try but not required) My exact purpose is just learning tones correctly.

 

thanks 

 

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Depending on your aptitude, one day to one week with a good teacher. Tones are not what is difficult about Chinese. In fact, you don't need to go to China to learn tones: find a good teacher near you (or online) and you can get started today.

 

Although I wonder what use learning the tones is if you don't learn the actual language. What are you going to use the tones for?

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On 9/11/2021 at 12:44 PM, Lu said:

Depending on your aptitude, one day to one week with a good teacher. Tones are not what is difficult about Chinese. In fact, you don't need to go to China to learn tones: find a good teacher near you (or online) and you can get started today.

 

Although I wonder what use learning the tones is if you don't learn the actual language. What are you going to use the tones for?

well, I have no problem with working hard. 

But I am sure on two things:

 

1) tones are the most important part for learning this language. (That is also why because I do not have this knowlegde correctly in the curent position)

2) I am also sure that learning this skill will be the best if I select a chinese.

 

in fact, I had had some chinese friends in the past. 

here ,I would also underline that I would learn the tones well (perfectly). 

 

I do not think that one day would be sufficient. But one or two weeks might be good for me. 

I had learnt some chinese caharacters (around 100-200) but as it expressed, as of I had seen that tonality was important and I have not known that,I left all works. 

 

summary:

 

I can work hard. I also enjoy drawing chinese characters. But without correct tonality,I believe I won't have a good langauge skil in use. 

I believe I can better learn from native chinese. 

I also know that some sources are not sufficiently qualified,  and to me, these are coming by non native chinese speakers. 

 

 

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What exactly about tones do you want to learn? How do you intend to learn about tones if you do not intend to learn the language?

 

Basically, there are four tones used in standard Mandarin. This is something you can learn online in a matter of minutes. You could take this to the next level and learn about the neutral tone and tone sandhi. However, it will be difficult to appreciate this without integrating it into a broader knowledge of the language. And at the advanced level, tones are also influenced by other factors such as stress and emphasis in a sentence, regional variations and influence of local dialects and so on.

 

Most Chinese people who have not studied teaching Chinese to foreigners have very little awareness of tones, so you really need a qualified teacher if you want to go beyond the basics. And even then, it will be difficult to find someone to teach tones independently of the language. I actually think you'd find a lot of resources on this forum, but as an insufficiently-qualified non-native speaker, I shall not be making any further contribution.

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On 9/11/2021 at 2:55 PM, anonymoose said:

What exactly about tones do you want to learn? How do you intend to learn about tones if you do not intend to learn the language?

 

Basically, there are four tones used in standard Mandarin

hi,

I know that basically there were four tones. 

simply, I would learn how to pronunciate the tones correcty whenever  I come across them respectively. maybe this can be called/named with "ear education"

On 9/11/2021 at 2:55 PM, anonymoose said:

I actually think you'd find a lot of resources on this forum, but as an insufficiently-qualified non-native speaker, I shall not be making any further contribution.

actually ,I do not intend to offense anyone. But I will expect understanding regarding the case. I am multilingual and I experienced that the strategy you use was also highly effective.Normally none will be willing to waste time. Here, I point out to the work you deal with itself,not really to personalities.

 

I also know that learning language is time consuming , but I think it worth. 

Thank you very much participating this thread ,sharing your opinion & experiences. 

(I think for some events ,I will have a chance to visit china , so that might open a door for me to learn how to pronunce tones correctly)

 

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I'm inclined to agree with Lu that a day to a week (with a good teacher but without requiring immersion) is sufficient for learning and internalizing the rules. That doesn't mean you'll be able to produce perfectly natural sounding tones in every context, nor does it mean you'll never miss-hear tones. It will, however, give you enough of a foundation that you won't need to spend more dedicated time on it.

 

As a case study, my friend has been learning Chinese for a long time and always had pretty bad tones, until recently when he spent some dedicated time to learn them, with feedback from a helpful native speaker. The improvement in his speaking was instantly noticeable. He still makes a few mistakes, I guess with words that he internalized with wrong tones before he started spending time on them, but overall it's a massive improvement. And now he can hear if he's saying a word differently from a native speaker, allowing him to self-correct, which he couldn't do reliably before.

 

Taking myself as another case study, back when I first started learning Chinese almost a decade ago, I spent a good few hours just listening carefully and repeating some basic syllables and tone combinations. Ever since, I've never once had significant problems hearing or producing tones. Those few hours of dedicated work early on definitely paid off.

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I'll disagree and disagree strongly.

 

To listen to normal Chinese speech and identify tones correctly: two years, and that's being optimistic.

 

To speak normally with correct tones, not like a foreign robot using exaggerated tones and pronunciation: same two years, again optimistically.

 

Further I'd say two weeks spent "learning" tones is a waste. You'll forget it all a month or two later.

 

Tones like pronunciation have to somehow change your brain. That takes time and consistent practice.

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On 9/11/2021 at 2:04 AM, inv said:

note please: I apparently and already inform that I do not aim to learn the language itself there. (I may try but not required) My exact purpose is just learning tones correctly.

 

Learning the tones, how to correctly hear them and how to correctly produce them, is part and parcel of learning the language. Tones are an element of speech. It isn't practical to just try to learn the tones alone as some sort of musical abstraction. 

 

Your project does not make sense to me. 

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On 9/11/2021 at 5:40 PM, 889 said:

Tones like pronunciation have to somehow change your brain. That takes time and consistent practice.

 

Actually, I've read some research that seems to show that the required time is not even nearly as long as you think. Apparently it is possible for a speaker of non-tonal language to learn to accurately hear and produce Mandarin tones in a matter of weeks. I haven't been able to find that research paper after I first read it, but if I remember correctly, someone tested this in England by giving two groups of learners, with no prior knowledge in Chinese, two weeks of classes. One groups was given extensive instruction and practice on recognizing the tones and for the control group the were not emphasized that much. Their tonal "ability" was then tested after two weeks by having them pronounce Chinese words to a group of native Chinese judges, who reported what they heard and I think they also rated how clear the tones where, that they were hearing. I think they also recorded brain activity to show how new activity regarding the tones was present after only two weeks of this training. The most noteworthy finding in my opinion was that the the recognition of a tone seems to be a skill that carries over to being able to pronounce it too. None of the students in the study group or the control group were given any extensive training on producing the tones.

 

If someone finds this paper, please let me know!

 

After reading this I personally put a lot of effort in learning to recognize the tones and I have asked my tutors to rate my tones every now and again, since I feel very self conscious of them. They usually tell me that my tones are better than average and I should concentrate more on pronouncing the initials correctly.

 

The best way to learn the tones, in my opinion, is thus to first drill listening and recognizing the syllables (a syllable is a combination of initial, final, and tone) as long as you can recognize each one correctly at least 90% of the time. Then do the same with all possible tone pairs with different syllables, and then get an online teacher to practice your pronunciation with and fix any problems. Also pay attention to the correct tongue positions and also on the correct mouth form for the initials and the finals. There are lots of great material online for this. However trying to drill pronouncing the sounds before you can actually hear them is putting the cart before the horse.

I personally did this by finding native audio for each syllable online and then I created an Anki deck that first played the sound, then required me to type the pinyin, and finally compared my answer to the correct syllable. I practiced with the deck every evening for a couple of weeks and I haven't needed it after that.


Also, there is no need to go to China for this. I have actually met a person in China who had lived there for years and spoke passable, toneless, Mandarin, but who claimed that even Chinese people themselves didn't use the tones, so he had never seen any reason to study them. He was completely "deaf" to the tones proving that even living in China and studying the language won't make you just naturally pick up the tones if you don't put some effort into them.


Edit:

My pronunciation and tones are far from perfect however, but it isn't that hard to get from zero to 80%. The next 10% will likely take years and I doubt that even Chinese television announcers ever get to 100% (though I understand 97% is required). However, the required time will be different depending on what you need to do. Do you just want people to understand you or do you need to score 1-A on Putonghua Proficiency Test (普通话水平测试).
 

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On 9/11/2021 at 5:40 PM, 889 said:

 

Tones like pronunciation have to somehow change your brain. That takes time and consistent practice.

This might be correct. Because I (also) remember a paper published by scientific reports (npg) and was sggesting such contexts with their proof and figures..

an explanation: I see someone(s) are confusing something, I meant that my goal was not learning language fully there. Just a piece of it.

but two years or longer time might be required for something else , for instance to internalize the language.This is my personal opinion. 

 

 

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