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Moving forward by moving backwards?


PerpetualChange
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I'm about 10 years into my study, with some pretty significant gaps in my writing and pronunciation, which lags waaaay behind my reading, and listening. For example, If I speak a sentence into Hellotalk and leave no text for them to look at, often people won't understand me because of my poor pronunciation. Recently, I said,

         外面越来越冷了。树叶从树上掉下来

...and very few people could understand what I was saying. 

 

I had the idea, recently, of "moving forward by going back", maybe working through some old materials I have (integrated Chinese textbooks and tapes) which are way below my level, and not allowing myself to move on until I am really "perfect", maybe even finding a tutor and just focusing on pronunciation. 

 

Anyone have any thoughts on this strategy? Anyone ever do something similar? 

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On 10/24/2022 at 5:00 PM, PerpetualChange said:

Anyone have any thoughts on this strategy? Anyone ever do something similar?

 

Oh absolutely!

The best piece of advice I ever got here was from Imron: he said you should forget about "levels" and spend more time on easier materials rather than try to rush to "advanced texts".

 

I frequently listen to "beginner" Youtube content even though, according to Lingq, I "should" know over 15K words in Chinese by now....

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On 10/24/2022 at 5:00 PM, PerpetualChange said:

focusing on pronunciation

check out ritachinese.com , it's very good for pronunciation. Even if my pronunciation is not bad, I subscribed to the course and I'm really liking it.

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I chose to go with mainland China mandarin for pronunciation rather than Taiwanese mandarin. My reason may be a little controversial. It was partly because the pronunciation is ‘harder’ compared to the softer style of Taiwanese speakers.

 

 I felt that whoever I learn from, I would never get a great pronunciation due to learning mandarin late in life. If I learnt pronunciation from the standard mandarin speakers, then I might get to 80% accuracy for my pronunciation. On the other hand, if I learnt Taiwanese mandarin, I would get to 50 or 60% accuracy.

 

 

When it comes to talking in mandarin to people on Hellotalk, I am significantly less inclined to contact Cantonese speakers and Taiwanese. One of the ways I try to remember the correct tone is by referencing from the person who I am speaking to. If that person hasn’t got a clear pronunciation or lazy with their tones, I am rather worried about those traits working into my less than stellar speaking.

 

I found this article very helpful 

 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285234145_Quality_Practise_Pronunciation_With_Audacity_-_The_Best_Method

 

The most important thing I learnt was good pronunciation doesn’t come after only twenty attempts. It may take two hundred or more attempts. Somehow, I had the misconception that learning good pronunciation is much easier and quicker than other motor skills. 

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Abroad they usually teach pinyin in 3-4 lessons and that's it. I heard that in China, elementary school students practise pinyin for months and they are even young and fully immersed in a Chinese environment. No wonder many foreigners have to go back and forth to studying pinyin even after years of study because somewhat there is something wrong in their pronunciation. There are problems at different levels: we often practise initials and finals even before mastering tones. Tones can be practised by using humming sounds even before pronouncing vowels and consonants, that is an extra layer of difficulty. Then there are tone pairs, tone sandhi. Then we need to find our own vocal range rather than blindly imitating others. Like a singer singing a song, every note has a certain pitch, so are tones in Chinese. Every person has a different vocal range that needs to be tested and once you find it, you need to use THAT. You as a male for example don't imitate a female teacher voice while practising a 1st tone, it would be like a male singer singing in falsetto. Some people when practising a tone pair may start with the second sound from where they stopped while pronouncing the first sound, but that may be wrong, you always need to reset at the right pitch every single time. It may start higher or lower. Then there are some difficult sounds that may not to exist in your language. You need to practise initials, finals. Some sounds are voiced, some are not, in some your tongue vibrates, in some it doesn't, you may have to keep your tongue flat and down or up to your hard palate or your teeth. You may have to keep your mouth open or round and closed. Then about tones, they must be distinguished clearly, but you mustn't sound like a robot, sounds need to be connected. After you master the pronunciation of a word, you need to master the rhythm in a sentence. It takes months of intensive work for noticing a great improvement and probably years of work for getting closer to a native speaker.

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On 10/25/2022 at 1:20 AM, Flickserve said:

I chose to go with mainland China mandarin for pronunciation rather than Taiwanese mandarin

well, it makes sense and I would do it too, but there isn't right or wrong. I would like to have a standard mandarin pronunciation in order to be understood by anyone. If I wanted to learn taiwanese or live in Taiwan it wouldn't be wrong to learn their way of pronouncing things. Then in mainland China there are a lot of dialects. I stick to mandarin for my study, I just know a little bit of another dialect because my gf is from Chongqing.

If I were to study Chinese in China I would go to the mainland for practising mandarin and for the simplified characters in writing, but it's a preference.

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On 10/25/2022 at 7:59 AM, fabiothebest said:

If I wanted to learn taiwanese or live in Taiwan it wouldn't be wrong to learn their way of pronouncing things.


Definitely not a problem. I first learnt Cantonese because it was more useful in daily life around Hong Kong. It really affects my mandarin pronunciation to the point that mandarin speakers think I am a Hong Kong person learning mandarin - my native language is English. 

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@Flickserve, I spent 2 years in Hong Kong, which is the bulk of my China experience. My Chinese improved dramatically there, but I am absolutely sure that it wasn't the best thing ever for my tones. lol. 

 

Would like to share an update on this a few hours last night checking out different apps and resources as a way of "moving backwards". One app I found is DailyChinese. It's basically just a sleek SRS/flashcard system, but what I really found interesting was a deck they've got on Kangxi radicals. So I started there, with 5 per day. If I ever studied radicals in my 10 years of Chinese study, it was very early, and very brief. Learning them seems like a good way to plug an important gap that could make both pronunciation and understanding unknown characters easier down the stretch.  "Plugging gaps" is exactly what I mean by "Moving Forward by Moving Back". Here, in a few hours, I found something new to work on, something that is actually pretty basic and fundamental. 

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For improving pronunciation I would consider a few things:

 

- Is your listening good? Do you hear the tones and different sounds correctly? If not, spend time with these exercises first.

- Record yourself and listen, you can probably catch some mistakes. 
- Listen and repeat audio sentences. 
- Work with a tutor who can correct your pronunciation. 

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On 10/27/2022 at 2:26 AM, xuefang said:

For improving pronunciation I would consider a few things:

 

- Is your listening good? Do you hear the tones and different sounds correctly? If not, spend time with these exercises first.

- Record yourself and listen, you can probably catch some mistakes. 
- Listen and repeat audio sentences. 
- Work with a tutor who can correct your pronunciation. 

 

 

Yes, this is the kind of thing in the article that flickserve posted. I've confused my own topic a bit by starting things off my talking about my poor pronunciation, and then following up with a statement on how I'm learning Kangxi Radicals. I realize that this doesn't really make a lot of sense. It is interesting, though, how many of those radicals which are basic words that I don't pronounce correctly. Numbers, etc. I have just gone so long ignoring pronunciation that it almost feels like I can pick up from anything, anywhere, and start practicing that way. 

 

I did also download HelloChinese, and have been spending a few minutes per day going through their modules and just policing myself 100% on  pronunciation (I have turned Pinyin off, also). It's a pretty low-effort way of going over basics again, without having to dust off my 2nd Edition Integrated Chinese textooks and somehow find access to the audio components. 

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