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100 novels in 2022


Johnny-5
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@Johnny-5, That's an interesting experience reading along listening. I've tried this at some point but not anywhere as extensively!

 

Though my own experience is that this feels a lot more like listening while looking at the text. I'm really curious about how this has improved your reading while not listening to it at the same time. Could you describe your improvement in this regard a bit more? You mentioned that you can read things that you couldn't a year ago, but can you now enjoy a Agatha Christie without sound, just slower, or do you hit walls with characters while doing it?

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On 1/5/2023 at 9:39 PM, alantin said:

You mentioned that you can read things that you couldn't a year ago

I haven't really tried, I just notice as that I'm more able to read stuff I see in daily life.

I find that most of the time what trips me up reading Christie specifically without the TTS is the names of people or places. Because they tend to use phonetic Chinese characters that are less common and the people's names or places in England are harder to look up in the dictionary. Hearing those words makes it much easier because they usually sound like an English name. Of course it doesn't help when she gives her characters silly names like Lucy Eyelesbarrow.

 

But to answer your question more directly, I just opened up the latest Christie book I'm reading and I can read through the page no problem, except for tripping over a few names.

On 1/5/2023 at 9:39 PM, alantin said:

Though my own experience is that this feels a lot more like listening while looking at the text.

I'm not sure what you'd call it, but it seems fairly effective. I understand better when I'm looking at the characters than if I were just listening.

The papers I've looked at (like Paul Nation) seem to suggest that more words are better as long as you're around the 98% comprehension point. In my opinion reading at 2-3 pages per minute with audio is just more enjoyable than reading 1 page/minute on my own. 

 

At the end of the day learning a language is about acquiring vocabulary. There are two levers you can pull, one is "acquire more words per hour" and the other is "spend more hours". I find that what I have been doing maximizes the hours I can spend (because I can listen when I can't sit down and read) as well as the hours I want to spend. It also seems to me that encountering more words per hour (especially at 98% comprehension level because you're encountering fairly few unknown words) is going to help with acquiring more words per hour.

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Nation, the researcher that you mention, has also said in a lecture that when using your method, you have to encounter words at least 17 times before you acquire them, which is way more than with other methods. But as you say, if it means double the amount of pages as if you're reading without audio, it might not be that big of a difference in the end. Perhaps someone knows more.

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On 1/5/2023 at 5:18 PM, Johnny-5 said:

I'm not sure what you'd call it, but it seems fairly effective. I understand better when I'm looking at the characters than if I were just listening.

The papers I've looked at (like Paul Nation) seem to suggest that more words are better as long as you're around the 98% comprehension point. In my opinion reading at 2-3 pages per minute with audio is just more enjoyable than reading 1 page/minute on my own. 

 

I definitely know what you mean about understanding more when you can see the characters. I notice this with television shows where Chinese subtitles help a lot. And I have also tried following a text while listening to it but gave up because it "didn't feel like reading". This is why your experience is interesting to me! I didn't know that it was so effective!

 

I think I'll give this another a try!

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On 1/5/2023 at 11:56 PM, Insectosaurus said:

which is way more than with other methods.

What are these methods that require fewer encounters to learn a word? 

I'm familiar with Anki, but I've never actually seen any estimates of how many times you need to encounter a word before you've learned it.

 

Anyhow my assumption has been that it all comes out in the wash. I may not learn a specific word as quickly, but if I'm encountering words 2-3 times as fast then it shouldn't matter. 

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On 1/5/2023 at 5:31 PM, Johnny-5 said:

What are these methods that require fewer encounters to learn a word? 

 

Reading and looking up takes about seven times, if I recall correctly. Even more effective is to combine that with flashcards.

 

  

On 1/5/2023 at 5:31 PM, Johnny-5 said:

Anyhow my assumption has been that it all comes out in the wash. I may not learn a specific word as quickly, but if I'm encountering words 2-3 times as fast then it shouldn't matter. 

 

Which was my point. I did not at all intend to suggest that it was a pointless exercise.

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On 1/6/2023 at 12:10 AM, alantin said:

"didn't feel like reading". This is why your experience is interesting to me! I didn't know that it was so effective!

I wouldn't jump on it as "super duper most effective thing ever" after all I don't really know. :lol:

 

I have been looking for some sort of test that could help me guesstimate the number of words I know so that I could see what gains I'm making, but I haven't really found anything good.

 

Really the hardest part for me is the motivation, and I'm at the point where anything I do makes only the tiniest and most gradual changes in my overall Chinese competence. I could find a magical method that helped me learn 100 new words an hour and that'd still only be 1-2% gains. That's why I try depending not on the motivation to "learn Chinese" but on the motivation to know what happens in the story.

I was observing that I could easily listen to 10 hours of English language podcasts a week, part of my motivation here was to shift that listening time over to Chinese, but audiobooks weren't working because I'd zone out too easily. 

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On 1/6/2023 at 12:45 AM, Insectosaurus said:

 

Reading and looking up takes about seven times, if I recall correctly.

Makes me think of all the times I looked up the word and promptly forgot it when I got back to the text. :lol:

 

There was a time in 2021 when I was reading the Hal & Roger books where I kept looking up 仿佛 and everytime I looked it up I was like "why am I looking this up again?" but I also didn't remember what it meant :wall . Flashcards probably would have helped that, but I got over it eventually 8)

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On 1/5/2023 at 9:34 AM, Johnny-5 said:

So I got through about 100 books this year.

That sounds almost too good to be true. Even in my native language I could not possibly read all those books in a year. Do you even have a job? 😉

 

Anyway, very well done!

 

You may know that Lingq has been updated and is now much better than before. It is really awesome IMO in the current version. On Lingq there are quite a lot of successful learners, who follow the listen while reading approach and they do seem to progress very fast. However, it does feel like a clutch in my experience. Yes, I can more easily recognise characters and spoken words, but when I have to read alone or listen alone, I notice my actual abilities are much worse. So, maybe it is a bit of a clutch like reading characters with Pinyin on top !? 

Personally, I would find listening to TTS all day very boring, but anyway, may I ask what App reads you an entire book in TTS? Is it Microsoft Edge?

 

Also, do you mind sharing where you got all the Agatha Cristie books in Chinese from? (legally or illegally, no one is judging)

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That sounds almost too good to be true. Even in my native language I could not possibly read all those books in a year. Do you even have a job?

 

I read at least 150 books a year in my native language, at least one-third for work and the rest for pleasure.  That's around 3 books a week.

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On 1/6/2023 at 2:18 AM, Johnny-5 said:

seem to suggest that more words are better as long as you're around the 98% comprehension point.

while i think this is great as a beginner and lower-intermediate, I've gotten pretty skeptical of this philosophy. Its just not possible when you jump levels. Or when you engage in a new content area (e.g cooking vidoes, economics, photography etc)

My new criteria for content is just going to be enjoyment. If I can enjoy watching/reading/listening to it, it means I am getting the gist of it. or at least i am filling in the gaps in my head in an entertaining manner. 

btw I haven't come across any distinction between tv/manhua/books/audio when it comes to the 98% "rule". whats the concensus on that? 

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Hey,OP, how about a little technical background on the source of the books you use for the tts operation, and the actual tts app you  prefer for extensive reading. I tried to start a thread on this a coupla years ago, but it went nowhere.       

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On 1/6/2023 at 4:00 AM, Johnny-5 said:

have been looking for some sort of test that could help me guesstimate the number of words I know so that I could see what gains I'm making, but I haven't really found anything good

Load the text files in Chinese Text Analyser and mark the top 95% of vocabulary as known. 
 

Do it one by one in the order you read them and you should end up with a decent approximation and also an idea of how vocabulary size increased with each book. 

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On 1/6/2023 at 3:09 AM, Jan Finster said:

may I ask what App reads you an entire book in TTS? Is it Microsoft Edge?

 

Also, do you mind sharing where you got all the Agatha Cristie books in Chinese from? (legally or illegally, no one is judging)

 

On 1/6/2023 at 6:10 PM, TheBigZaboon said:

Hey,OP, how about a little technical background on the source of the books you use for the tts operation, and the actual tts app you  prefer for extensive reading. I tried to start a thread on this a coupla years ago, but it went nowhere.       

 

Well these questions all kind of coincide with eachother. The basic answer is I use my Kindle Paperwhite, but recommend the wechat reading app "微信读书“ instead. There are a few more details to that answer :lol:

 

The problem with most TTS is that it sounds bad, robotic, and not easy or pleasurable to listen to.

 

I've owned and used Kindles for years. I have an old Kindle 3 (from 2010) with a headphone jack and as I recall it did English TTS and after installing a Chinese firmware called "Duokan" it was able to do Chinese TTS (but it sounds horrible)

 

I forget the exact progression, but I've tried lots of ways to do more reading. I found a font that has pinyin baked in and installed that on my Kindle to read with, and newer kindles have a pinyin function built in. 

 

I got a 2018 Kindle paperwhite and started buying some books from amazon.cn and realized it had the ability to do text to speech and it was very listenable. unfortunately this functionality isn't available for Kindles not registered to amazon.cn or for books sideloaded onto the Kindle... and rights holders can disable this functionality, which I realized later when I wanted to re-read the Harry Potter series. 

 

So because the Kindle couldn't do TTS on sideloaded books I looked for another solution because I have a large collection of Chinese books I downloaded from a torrent some years ago... I tried LingQ but it was kind of slow and clunky to do TTS, then I found a nice iOS app called "speech central" that uses the iPhones' built in TTS. I used that for a while, but the TTS voices are not very good quality and I found myself getting distracted by other things on my phone.

 

So I really wanted the superior TTS of the Kindle, so took another crack at figuring out how the TTS on the kindle works. Long story short, you need a program called Calibre, and the KFX format tools from Amazon, and then you can copy over an identifying code (mobi-asin) from a book purchased on that Kindle to another book and make sure you convert that book to the KFX format, and finally you can send that to your Kindle over USB and it will allow you to read it with TTS...

 

I would not reccomend this path unless you currently own a Kindle. A much better path is the Wechat reading app "微信读书“.  Which has some pretty good TTS and a huge selection of books (that you can read for "free"? I don't really know they make money, haven't charged me anything yet...). Obviously you can use that app on your phone or tablet, but if you want the advantages of an e-ink device then the "BOOX Poke 4S" is only 699 RMB and unlike the Kindle it can run Android apps. So you could just install the wechat reading app and read and listen to books to your heart's content.

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I'd love to know more about how you find the time to do this.

 

Not being sarcastic here... I'm 30% through a book that I've been reading since October 2022. I can't imagine I'll finish it before March or April. 

Even in my native language, I spend 1-2 months reading a book. Depending on the style, I take about 5-10 minutes to read a page.

 

Granted... I only spend 1-2 hours per day reading, if that. Many days, it is much less. 

 

So... what's it look like?  As a guy with a wife, kid, fulltime job, other commitments/hobbies. Spell it out for me. What's a day in the life look like? 

 

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@Johnny-5Thanks for answering. Sounds like you're in China. Probably makes things a bit different.

 

Outside of China, I found that Amazon Kindle books via Amazon US, UK, or Japan gave me access to plenty of Chinese books. I don't read a lot of fiction, but if you structure your searches right, any Amazon store in the world should give access to plenty of Chinese content of any sort. Without going into all the effort you expended, the Amazon Kindle app on an Android phone or tablet would only let me copy a chapter or so of content from any book (Kindle claims that the copyright owner decides how much can be cut and pasted at any one time, but I find this a bit dubious). My Kindle Fire, as it is outside of China, has access to any Android app in existence, and sideloading is easy.  I then copied the chapter into @Voice, which allows me to use almost any Chinese speaker's voice available on the Internet.

 

As none of this requires any formatting changes, nor any other elaborate preparation, the only time spent doing anything other than listening is copying the chapters to the clipboard, and then dropping them into, say, Google docs, and saving them with, for example, a docx extension. I feel that this is a fair trade off for the ability to listen to my books on whatever nonfiction subject in Chinese that interests me.

 

The only other issue, then, is the obvious 700 pound canary in the room: voice quality (intonation, rhythm) and a natural-sounding sentence delivery. When I was trying to make a decision on this, I was reading/listening to an English-language podcast on political problems when the “guy” doing the voice-over said “W, W, eye, eye...” (WW II...). Suddenly it struck me that the narration wasn't a narration at all, but a tts voice-over. I had never experienced this before. I always thought I could tell the real from the mock. I looked into it and found that training departments in a lot of the major corporations absolutely depend on tts for quick and constant updates to training materials. It's certainly reasonable that one would have to treat fiction differently from nonfiction, but for my purposes I decided that the quality level was sufficient, even in Chinese, until I find out otherwise. So far, I'm very satisfied.

 

I'm very interested in the experience of others with regard to tts and Chinese, even if your primary reading material is fiction.

 

TBZ

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On 1/6/2023 at 6:26 PM, imron said:

Load the text files in Chinese Text Analyser and mark the top 95% of vocabulary as known. 
 

Do it one by one in the order you read them and you should end up with a decent approximation and also an idea of how vocabulary size increased with each book. 

Very interesting program... Im thinking if we assume that Paul Nation is more or less right about 17 occurences that makring anything with 17 or above occurences would produce a somewhat more reliable figure.

 

Anyhow, interesting thing I learned from your program "资产阶级"(bourgeoisie) occurs 89 times in Les Miserables... and I certainly knew that word by the end of the book :lol:... and Napoleon 231 times, which is no surprise if you've ever read Les Mis :wall

 

Ok, so I went through and started with 95% and then shifted to the 17 words cutoff point. So Now Les Mis shows 92% known, an Agatha Christie novel shows 95% and "Journey to the West" and "Water Margin" both show 78% known... and "hong lou meng" is 84% and "The Bourne Identity" which I tried reading over a year ago, but gave up on, is 91%. No doubt it was under 90% a year ago, so no wonder I found it frustrating.

 

Thanks for the suggestion, I think your program might turn out to be a helpful tool in sorting out books that are in the right zone. :clap

 

Edit: I think I might put together a script to go through all the books I have and make a list from easiest to hardest for me... This is soo cool  8)

Edit:Edit: Wow, see you already did that here https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/53065-lua-script-and-chinese-text-analyser/page/3/ 

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