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dakonglong
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I don't use LingQ anymore but I do have something similar. I use Chinese Text Analyzer to mark know words that I can read (i.e. I know the pronunciation for all characters, I don't care if I know the meaning or not) and I run a script I wrote for adding pinyin after all the words I can't read. Then while reading I mark the words known as I find I don't need pinyin for them anymore and in the next chapter they are going to be missing the pinyin. I check meanings only if a word peaks my interest for any reason and other than that I just let them seep into my vocabulary through repeated exposure.

 

This is pretty much the same way I learned my English when I was a kid, but this time the characters require a little tinkering around while reading books I've already read in English before facilitates the process.

 

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On 1/13/2022 at 7:50 PM, alantin said:

I use Chinese Text Analyzer to mark know words that I can read (i.e. I know the pronunciation for all characters, I don't care if I know the meaning or not) and I run a script I wrote for adding pinyin after all the words I can't read.

 

This is an unusual but interesting approach.

 

The downside of using CTA and marking the words as "known" is that (in my experience) known words are not static or permanent. They can become unknown again. For instance, I may have "known" a words 4 months ago, maybe because I happened to read lots on a certain topic, but now, I do not know them anymore. With Lingq, I can easily click on them and they become yellow again.

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On 1/13/2022 at 9:58 PM, Jan Finster said:

With Lingq, I can easily click on them and they become yellow again.

 

You can mark a word unknown in CTA with a double click too.

I quite like my setup. Once I finish a chapter, I just record the values from CTA to my excel sheet, run the script to create a pinyined version of the next chapter, and keep going. I usually read either in CTA or Pleco.

I won't be able to conjure up the dictionary definitions right away for the words I know, but I never need to do that anyway. Also characters and the context often give you a very good idea of what word means. I just now saw "大拇指(dà mu zhǐ)". I knew two of the characters already, though the middle one was new, but it doesn't really take a genius to guess what the word means even without the context and I doubt I'll have trouble remembering the middle character either, so I just marked it as known. Not all words are like this of-course, but a fair share of them.

I also find that there not many red words that I don't understand in the context while still being able to read them aloud. Some, but not many. If I encounter a word I can't read out loud, I'll just check it and it'll turn red and come around with the pinyin next time.
 

Screenshot 2022-01-13 at 22.37.34.png

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On 1/13/2022 at 9:38 PM, alantin said:

I quite like my setup. Once I finish a chapter, I just record the values from CTA to my excel sheet, run the script to create a pinyined version of the next chapter, and keep going. I usually read either in CTA or Pleco.

 

This looks like a nice DIY setup. You could consider selling it 😉

I wonder why you made your script only translate the unknown words to pinyin and not also translate them into English. If you did, then you could at least "hope" to learn the meaning just by coming across that word again and again.

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On 1/14/2022 at 10:00 AM, Jan Finster said:

I wonder why you made your script only translate the unknown words to pinyin and not also translate them into English. If you did, then you could at least "hope" to learn the meaning just by coming across that word again and again.

 

English is a crutch (just like pinyin is too) and the English translation is not the meaning of the word. It is the English translation of the meaning of the word. If you have the crutch there, it will draw your attention and give your brain the signal that the brain can just rely on the translation and the new unknown information is unnecessary. In most cases the context and the characters are more than enough to give the brain enough material to figure it out if you come across the word again and again and figuring out meaning while discarding all superfluous information is exactly what the brain is meant to do.

 

I do fall back to English sometimes, but it has to require effort/initial resistance so that it is easier to just figure the meaning out from the context and just keep going instead of getting mired in reading English definitions. Ideally the use of English (or any another language) should only be used as the last resort for the words or characters that go over that initial resistance. I think relying on English translations is also an unnatural way to learn a language and it unnecessarily keeps you in a "translation mode" instead of just using the language directly. Also what do I do if I don't know the English word the dictionary suggests? Go read an English explanation of the English word while my goal is to learn Chinese?

I'm waveringly walking forward with the goal to learn to run. I don't need any more crutches hindering me and I'm slowly but steadily shedding the crutches (pinyin) that I still do need.

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On 1/14/2022 at 4:00 PM, Jan Finster said:

This looks like a nice DIY setup. You could consider selling it 😉

 

It is a nice setup @alantin!

 

I'm also a fan of "Using the Force" as much as possible rather than relying on crutches.  Or at least make it a little harder for yourself to reach for the crutch.  Your brain is so good at avoiding work that if you make it just a little harder, it might decide to learn the darn thing instead.

 

Although I did end up using a light-weight pop-over translator for Chinese wikipedia.  I surrendered, and now wikipedia is now usable. 

 

Your set-up reminds me of the transcrobe inline translations from @AntonOfTheWoods in the other thread.  That seems like it would be pretty useful, but I'm scared off from installing a heavy browser extension.  Plus in-lining reduces even the 1 second of work required for popping-over an unfamiliar word -- which might be too much a crutch.

 

wiki.thumb.png.a4d6cc7ddab8f9058d25062a35dc536e.png

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On 1/14/2022 at 10:00 AM, Jan Finster said:

This looks like a nice DIY setup. You could consider selling it 😉

 

It's a very small tweak to one of the CTA example scripts by Imron and it requires CTA to work. Sadly I'm not a programmer and I have no idea how much work it would require to make this into a standalone product.

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On 1/14/2022 at 11:07 AM, alantin said:

In most cases the context and the characters are more than enough to give the brain enough material to figure it out if you come across the word again and again and figuring out meaning while discarding all superfluous information is exactly what the brain is meant to do.

 

You certainly have high standards and I am glad it works for you. I believe learning from context works well if you focus on one topic (e.g. baking) and watch 20 videos on Youtube. Then of course you will pick up what "flour" etc means. However, I read a variety of sources, so to me, at my current level, this is totally unrealistic since I may re-encounter the unknown word only after several weeks or even months. By that time I would not even know I have encountered that word before unless I use LingQ and it shows me the yellow highlight (indicating I have encountered it before). To be honest I do not even remember the unknown words I have read 2 hours ago.... 😉

 

I have read hundreds of books in English and worked in the UK for several years. However, even in English, there are occasional words that I would not easily have learned from context. One example is the word "lugubrious", which I did not know. Let us imagine you encounter the following sentences:

  • All we can see now is a lugubrious old man
  • I feel the lugubrious ascent of disgrace
  • The screenplay and direction are lugubrious
  • His face looked even more lugubrious than usual

(all sentences are from example sentences found online)

Now, can you pinpoint the exact meaning of "lugubrious" or do you just have a vague gut feeling what it could mean (positive, negative, etc)? (of course I use Eng-Eng dictionaries)

 

On 1/14/2022 at 11:07 AM, alantin said:

Also what do I do if I don't know the English word the dictionary suggests? Go read an English explanation of the English word while my goal is to learn Chinese?

 

I do and I have actually learned some useful English vocabulary, because I am studying Chinese (I only use ZH-Eng, and not Zh-German). 

 

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On 1/14/2022 at 6:18 PM, phills said:

Your set-up reminds me of the transcrobe inline translations from @AntonOfTheWoods in the other thread. 

@phills, my philosophy is definitely "the learner is always right". You give the learner options (from non-segmented, right through to English + Pinyin) and let them decide. Then you do stats on all your learners, and say things like "it looks like those learners who use X mode learn vocab 18% faster, maybe give that a try, it might be useful to you also!" But at the end of the day, the learner should always be the master. I hope to be able to create an entire suite of tools that are all connected and allow learners to choose exactly what is best for them, including giving them detailed analysis of how the system sees their progress.

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On 1/14/2022 at 12:58 PM, Jan Finster said:

You certainly have high standards and I am glad it works for you.

 

Or I'm lax and lazy. 😅

 

 

On 1/14/2022 at 12:58 PM, Jan Finster said:

I have read hundreds of books in English and worked in the UK for several years. However, even in English, there are occasional words that I would not easily have learned from context. One example is the word "lugubrious", which I did not know. Let us imagine you encounter the following sentences:

  • All we can see now is a lugubrious old man
  • I feel the lugubrious ascent of disgrace
  • The screenplay and direction are lugubrious
  • His face looked even more lugubrious than usual

(all sentences are from example sentences found online)

Now, can you pinpoint the exact meaning of "lugubrious" or do you just have a vague gut feeling what it could mean (positive, negative, etc)?

 

I claim that I've never seen that word in my life and I'm unsure how to pronounce it, but I'm going to wing it and guess it means something like "unkempt", "disgraceful", "sloppy", etc. I most likely wouldn't look it up. I don't think I would ever need an exact meaning for this word, but it may very well pop up in my mind later when writing something and I'll go "I'd like to try to use that word, what was it again.." and I'll then type something as close as I can get to it in google and see what definitions it brings up. They are usually pretty close to what I expected, but sometimes there are surprises.

I haven't looked that word up yet. I'll go do that after clicking "Submit". 😂

I have a question for you. I gather your native language is German? When you encounter unknown German words, do you look them up in German too or do you go by your gut?

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On 1/14/2022 at 1:15 PM, alantin said:

I'm going to wing it and guess it means something like "unkempt", "disgraceful", "sloppy", etc.


Interesting. This seems to be one of the surprises. I didn't guess it referred to emotions but rather a manner of doing something.


Definition of lugubrious

1 : mournful especially : exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful
2 : dismal (a lugubrious landscape; lugubrious cello music)

 


But you do get closer to the real meaning the more you encounter the word in _different_ contexts.


And like I said, I don't have high standards. I'm lazy and while reading I don't care about exact nuances as much as the overall message. Writing is a different story. There I do get particular about nuance and that's when I usually learn the exact meanings and differences between words.

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On 1/14/2022 at 12:15 PM, alantin said:

something like "unkempt, disgraceful, sloppy, etc.

 

It means something like mournful, gloomy, sad, unhappy, doleful. But more nuanced: " exaggeratedly mournful". 

 

I only remember this word, because it would occur at least 4-5 times in several books I read over the past 3 months and I made a point of saving unknown new words in an Excel sheet (in order to further build up my English vocabulary).

 

 

 

On 1/14/2022 at 12:15 PM, alantin said:

I gather your native language is German? When you encounter unknown German words, do you look them up in German too or do you go by your gut?

 

It depends on the context and mostly on how lazy I am 😉 If I feel it is just an adjective, maybe I just go by my gut, but if it is important (like some technical term) or if read challenging texts and want to expand my vocabulary, then I do.

We just posted at the same time :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

New article below:

 

https://selfstudymandarin.com/having-trouble-with-tones-try-this-method/

 

Having trouble with tones? Try this method

 

One of the most difficult features of Mandarin Chinese is its tonal nature. Along with Chinese characters, tones are one of the key obstacles that scare people off from attempting to learn the language. I would love to tell you that the difficulty of tones is overblown, but they do represent a unique challenge in the language. That does not mean that they are impossible to learn though!

 

You just need to find a method that works for you. Here is what worked for me.

 

Like many students, when I first started learning Chinese, I used pinyin as a proxy for pronunciation. Specifically, I would learn new words using flashcards. These flashcards had the Chinese characters on the front, and the English definition plus the pinyin with tone marks on the back. The English translation would represent the meaning of the word and the pinyin would represent its pronunciation. If I knew both, I knew the word.

 

This seemed like a great method until I realized I couldn’t actually translate the pinyin into the sounds they were supposed to represent. This is probably because I associated the pronunciation with the written pinyin, which I would then try to “read” in my head to produce the sound. Instead, I should have been associating the characters directly with the actual sound of the word.

 

So, I could take a character and translate it into the correct pinyin, but the sounds that came out of my mouth rarely equaled the correct pronunciation of the character (or the pinyin).

 

Furthermore, even if I could occasionally translate the Chinese characters to the pinyin and then to the correct pronunciation, I could never do it quickly enough to read a book out loud, for example. Even years into my study, this was a continual problem.

 

Eventually, I came to realize that a reverse approach is what actually worked for me.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

Instead, I memorize the sound of a whole word or phrase and tie it back to the individual characters that compose it.

 

For example, I remember the pronunciation of 好久不见 as one chunk of sound, and then associate that back to the characters, instead of memorizing and then trying to “read” four separate pinyin components in my head. With practice, I found that I could do it quickly in both directions, which allowed me to read out loud at much more rapid speed.

 

So, if you find you are having trouble with the tones, try memorizing the sound of a word, instead of its pinyin and tones.

 

You may find it easier. I certainly did.

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What problem exactly did you have with pinyin?

 

Pinyin represents the different sounds of Mandarin Chinese and it extremely consistent (compared to English for example). If you look at word written in pinyin and can't produce the sound, I would say you don't know pinyin and you are probably trying to read it using the rules of your native language alphabet or trying to use some creative mapping of pinyin to words in your native language (reading "nǐ" as the English word "knee" for example) which will produce equally odd results. Also if you can't produce the sounds, that also means you don' know them. Any other kind of trick is therefore also unlikely to be fruitful.

 

I would recommend first drilling the sounds with a pinyin chart (listen to a sound, write it out in pinyin, and check if you got it right) until you can consistently get the whole pinyin right for each sound (initial, final, and tone) and then finding a tutor with knowledge on how to tutor pronunciation specifically and drill pronouncing the different sounds with them until they say you're good to go. That's a sure way to get it right.

 

Then the next step is to slowly get to remember the pronunciation of each character and word without relying on pinyin. That's how the Chinese read characters and they don't think in pinyin since they already know the words and how they sound like and only then learn the character. If they need the pinyin, they'll sound the character or word out and work out the pinyin from there. But for most foreigners, pinyin is an essential step, since we don't know the words already and need a way to record how they sound like before learning the characters.

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On 1/24/2022 at 6:28 AM, dakonglong said:

I would learn new words using flashcards. These flashcards had the Chinese characters on the front, and the English definition plus the pinyin with tone marks on the back. The English translation would represent the meaning of the word and the pinyin would represent its pronunciation. If I knew both, I knew the word.

 

This seemed like a great method until I realized I couldn’t actually translate the pinyin into the sounds they were supposed to represent. This is probably because I associated the pronunciation with the written pinyin, which I would then try to “read” in my head to produce the sound. Instead, I should have been associating the characters directly with the actual sound of the word.

I think a good way to mitigate this is by not just picturing the pinyin in your head, but actually saying it out loud, and even having a recording of the pronunciation on the back of the card (if you're computer-savvy enough to make such a thing).

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On 1/24/2022 at 11:51 AM, Lu said:
On 1/24/2022 at 7:28 AM, dakonglong said:

I would learn new words using flashcards. These flashcards had the Chinese characters on the front, and the English definition plus the pinyin with tone marks on the back. The English translation would represent the meaning of the word and the pinyin would represent its pronunciation. If I knew both, I knew the word.

 

This seemed like a great method until I realized I couldn’t actually translate the pinyin into the sounds they were supposed to represent. This is probably because I associated the pronunciation with the written pinyin, which I would then try to “read” in my head to produce the sound. Instead, I should have been associating the characters directly with the actual sound of the word.

I think a good way to mitigate this is by not just picturing the pinyin in your head, but actually saying it out loud, and even having a recording of the pronunciation on the back of the card (if you're computer-savvy enough to make such a thing).

 

What I did in the beginning, was having a complete sentence in Chinese characters on the front and I would see if I could read it. Then on the back of the card I had the pinyin below the hanzi and a recording of the sentence. I would create these sentences with a tutor and have them record them for me one to three times a week. In the meantime I would drill the sentences with Anki and also take a sentence every day one at a time and do shadowing on it like a maniac until I could follow the recording exactly.

 

I also didn't trust my reading of the pinyin in the beginning. But later it is going to be essential to be able to learn new characters and words. Listening can only take you so far if your native language is not a tonal language. There is an immense temptation to just ignore the tones and actually it can be extremely difficult to even hear them if your ear isn't trained for them. I for one couldn't tell the difference between má, mǎ, and mà in the beginning. The only one I recognized was different from the others was mā.

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On 1/24/2022 at 6:37 PM, alantin said:

What I did in the beginning, was having a complete sentence in Chinese characters on the front and I would see if I could read it. Then on the back of the card I had the pinyin below the hanzi and a recording of the sentence.

Very sensible approach. Also exactly what Japanese Core 2000/6000 Anki deck does - always learn a word in a sentence with audio. I used it to build initial vocabulary necessary for reading native literature. And I loved it.

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On 1/24/2022 at 1:58 AM, YuhanHelan said:

Learning sounds and tones in a new language works in my experience best by only listening and NOT reading. Reading distracts and worst case my lead to pronouncing as if read in ones native language.

 

I think this is actually pretty close to the point I was trying to make.

 

Perhaps this only worked because I studied primarily outside of China, and I could spend a few years being "unproductive" with the language, but I basically learned meaning through reading and pronunciation through listening.

 

My pronunciation was pretty bad until I made it a habit to watch Chinese television. After 1,000 hours of watching different shows from different regions with different context I was able to directly link the pronunciation with the daily use words I needed. After hearing 没有 500 times you just know how it sounds and can replicate that sound. Additionally, I can now recognize the non-standard pronunciations, and when it's spoken quickly, slurred, etc.

 

I have confirmed with multiple tutors and Chinese friends that my pronunciation is ok, so this does seem to work.

 

I don't mean to imply that anyone should learn this way, necessarily. I just think that different people learn better using different methods, and this is the one that worked best for me, so I thought I would share it.

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