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Grammar problems that slow me down / won't go away


suMMit
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I feel like my weakest area is being able to quickly use various grammar patterns. For example, when using:

 

除了⋯⋯ (以外), 都⋯⋯ "except" OR  除了⋯⋯ (以外), 也/还⋯⋯"in addition" - 

I find myself thinking "am I using 都 or 还 in this sentence?" This of course slows me down. Similarly with 不管.  Another one, and this is embarrassing because its so basic and constantly comes up, but I have not been able to make it automatic:  不 / 没. For example my teacher (in chinese obv) asked me "Do left handed people use  the same hand to hold their fork as right handed people?" I answered 我也不知道,这个问题我不注意   . Afterwards, she corrected me that it should have been 没注意. I constantly use the wrong one, not ALL the time, but a lot! So sometimes I kind of think about it as I'm saying it to try and get it right. 

 

My grammar is more accurate and I use a wider variety when I write, because I have time to think about it.

 

What could I do to make grammar patters more automatic when speaking? 

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I still remember, at an earlier stage than you, really struggling with complements of direction. In the end I gave up trying to grasp them conceptually, and just memorised a few simple sentences that used them correctly and naturally. I think as adults there are ways we can use our brains to learn faster than how children learn languages, but where that doesn't seem to be working, then instead just repeat and repeat until it's internalised. So I'd suggest you work with your teacher to construct a very small handful of simple sentences that include the grammar point you're struggling with - sentences where the context (e.g. forks/left handed!) is real and makes complete sense to you. Then just repeat them a few times every day for a couple of weeks.

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On 5/7/2022 at 11:27 PM, suMMit said:

What could I do to make grammar patters more automatic when speaking? 

 

I do something similar to what @realmayosuggests: 

Quote

I think as adults there are ways we can use our brains to learn faster than how children learn languages, but where that doesn't seem to be working, then instead just repeat and repeat until it's internalised.

 

Second comment has to do with the way you think about these things. Instead of this current formulation: "Grammar problems that slow me down / won't go away" I would rephrase it as "Grammar problems that have not gone away yet."

 

Third thing is that I go out of my way to use these "problematic constructions" as many times as possible throughout the day. I work them into the conversation even when some other way of saying things might be simpler and more natural. I use them, use them, use them until they finally seep into my thick skull and they become second nature. 

 

My friends now realize what I'm up to and sometimes laugh. "Oh, I get it. That must the 'phrase du jour' and you are stretching to use it a lot." 

 

Another thing I do is not sweat it as much as I used to. Many of my Chinese friends sometimes make grammar mistakes even though they are native speakers.

 

Beyond that, some of the people I interact with every day are actually speaking Chinese Putonghua 普通话 for my benefit. It is a second language for them, a local dialect 方言 being their actual mother tongue. 

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On 5/8/2022 at 9:45 PM, abcdefg said:

Second comment has to do with the way you think about these things. Instead of this current formulation: "Grammar problems that slow me down / won't go away" I would rephrase it as "Grammar problems that have not gone away yet."

I think you're right. I was a probably a bit hard on myself about 不/没 because I noticed I didn't really make any mistakes with that this whole week. 

 

On 5/8/2022 at 2:20 PM, realmayo said:

construct a very small handful of simple sentences that include the grammar point you're struggling with - sentences where the context (e.g. forks/left handed!) is real and makes complete sense to you. Then just repeat them a few times every day for a couple of weeks.

I started every morning this week doing this with 除了⋯⋯ (以外), 都⋯⋯  and  除了⋯⋯ (以外), 也/还⋯⋯ as well as 不管⋯⋯ .

 

On 5/8/2022 at 9:45 PM, abcdefg said:

Third thing is that I go out of my way to use these "problematic constructions" as many times as possible throughout the day.

Also consciously did this all week.

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Good work! I'll bet this batch of grammar issues will soon be past history.

 

Don't worry, there's always a new batch of similar challenges waiting to take their place. The main difference between the new problems and the old problems is that will progressively become errors that even educated Chinese often make. 

 

Beyond a certain point it boils down, I think, mainly to who you hang out with. If you hang out with farmers and laborers, your speech will level out in one form, a rougher form. If you mainly hang out with university professors, your speech will adopt some of their refinements.

 

At least that's the way it worked for me because I was never a voracious reader of Chinese literature and just reading newspapers was not the same. 

 

Also, at some point along the way, one chooses who he wants to sound like, chooses language role models. My language role models for Chinese were not genius polyglots or CCTV anchors. They were more likely to be "ordinary people." I didn't really care if I made a few mistakes. The God I worshipped was clarity. 

 

In speech, that manifested as just having to say a thing once instead of needing to rephrase it to be understood. In written speech it meant leaving as little room as possible for misunderstanding and miscommunication. 

 

 

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