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dizzle

learning chinese for ABCs

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dizzle

Hi Guys,

I am sure that this situation is quite common for a lot of members on this forum so I would like some discussion on my situation.

Basically, I was born in China and emigrated to Australia when I was young(8 years), unlike most emigrating chinese, I am not from a cantonese background, actually hailing from the city of Hangzhou, where most of my relatives still reside.

Now I have the opportunity to go to beijing for at least a year, and one of my goals is to become fluent in chinese during this time. MY background is that in terms of pronunciation and tonality, my mandarin is perfect, native standard, what i am lacking is the reading, writing(i.e. character knowledge), i am functionality illiterate, and also more complicated vocabulary knowledge that would allow me to hold more in depth chinese conversations, making jokes etc...

Obviously, I can take the normal classes and I would progress this way, but I would really like to make the best use of my time, it seems that the best option might be for me to go to some of the private schools and discuss with them for a program centred around my needs.

I would love everyone's comments on what the best option would be, I am arriving in beijing in march and would be staying at least a year.

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mind_wander

I am unsure, it seems you have some qualities of ABC's like me, but it seems you are more FOB not ABC. Since, you have some difficulties with Chinese reading/writing, same goes for me. For the time being I try to watch alot of chinese mandarin tv series and consistenly looking at subtitles and match it with pronounications.

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muldersgun

hehehe, nah you can be almost abc if you immigrated early. I came to australia when i was 6, currently 20 i'm really no different to your normal abc etc.

fob is like if came after at least 5-6 years of school in china and still retain that chineseness e.g. reading/writing, if that makes sense, or else you're an international student.

course in china? i wouldn't really know, maybe you could try 1 year courses offered by some of the big unis? like beida? or leech off your cousins? offer to teach them english and then rip off all their old school books from them.

i'm currently learning how to read/write using some primary school books from the mainland with a bit of help from my mum. I gotta say some of the stuff in the books ...:wall

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gato

If you know pinyin and have a basic conversational vocabulary, I would recommend that you go through 500-1000 most frequently used Chinese characters and memorize as much as you can. This would be a most productive use of your time. Most of these characters you should already recognize by sound, though maybe not by sight. After you learn these, it'll be much easier to learn the next 1000 characters. See attachment for a list of 2200 characters with pinyin and definitions (in UTF-8 encoding).

You can also practice with these China Radio International instructional materials:

http://en1.chinabroadcast.cn/2432/more/2406/2406more_5.htm

You can even use them through the online annotator popjisyo

http://www.popjisyo.com/WebHint/AddHint.aspx?d=8&e=GB2312&r=e&s=0&du=http%253a%252f%252fwww.m-w.com%252fcgi-bin%252fdictionary%253fbook%253dDictionary%2526va%253d&u=http%253a%252f%252fen1.chinabroadcast.cn%252f2432%252fmore%252f2406%252f2406more_5.htm

As for picking a school, from what I've read, the advantage of a private school seems to be flexibility in scheduling and smaller class size. A smaller class size would be better for developing one's conversational skills, but since you say that you can already speak Mandarin, you might do equally well with one of those university programs, which tend to focus on reading and writing. Since you are from Hangzhou, you might also consider a school in Hangzhou (Zhejiang Uni.) or Shanghai (Fudan or Jiaotong). Either of those cities would be a more pleasant place to live than Beijing, in my opinion.

MostFrequent2200.txt

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dizzle

Gato,

Wow, I never thought of it that way, that the advantage of small classes is mostly on the conversational side of the language, and university courses are mostly on the reading/writing side, it makes sense.

Having travelled quite a bit in china and being to beijing before, it really is not my favourite place, but I don't really have choice in the matter, my girlfriend is working there so to be with her, I am putting up with the duststorms and the crappy food:help

great resources, I am bookmarking them now and will review.

I guess the reason I am scared of the uni courses, is that I don't really want to get stuck in a course that I find is a bit useless to me, or not making full use of my time, which would happen if I am in a class that is focused on conversation/pronunciation, whereas with private courses, I can negotiate more with the teachers.

muldersgun, mind_wanderer,

I am about 3 years too early to be a fob, mandarin tv series would be a good idea, except I can't stand those 40 episode melodramas, they drive me to tears:D

thanks for the great responses

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gato

In your case, I think the best bet is to choose some reading/writing-oriented university classes, maybe two to four hours per day. You can then spend the afternoons doing homework and reading and have the rest of the time with your girlfriend. To improve your reading and writing, it's crucial that you practice as much as you can outside the classroom. A good teacher can help discipline you, but if you're not self-motivated, he or she won't be able to help you much.

Do try to learn as much written Chinese as you can before you arrive in Beijing so that you won't be stuck in classes that are too easy for you when they give the assessment test.

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mr. fanglang

Not sure about those big university programs. If you're talking about likes of BLCU etc, they're filled with Korean/Japanese students who need to improve their speaking skills much more than their reading skills, as they already can read many chinese characters.

I had a similar background as you. If you're forced to go to beijing, i would suggest a small program or individual tutor. it will require much discipline and you need to just do as much chinese reading as you possibly can in and outside the classroom. that's what i did over the last 18 months and now my reading skills and knowledge of advanced vocab/cheng yu are almost as good as native.

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deezy
duststorms and the crappy food

Lol, soo true. I am not a big fan of their bland wheat flour-based dumpling "cuisine." Give me some spicy SW stir-fried rice, instead!

Well, does anyone recommend any other good schools to learn Chinese at? In Nanjing, other cities, elsewhere? I've initially picked Beijing because it'd be easy to get to with their international airport (PEK), seeing as I only have about a month of vacation time to spare.

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psychopyko

hi there!

I think I'm pretty much the same as everyone here - born in Taiwan, moved to Australia when I was 2. Can converse in chinese (mandarin) well enough, but reading and writing is very limited.

I would say that if you are living in China for more than a year, then you should be able to pick up the language easily - as long as you mingle with the people, talk, read etc. Going to a school/tutorial would help greatly I would think, but the best way to learn would be from the natives (I'm presuming ppl who attend the lessons would be learning chinese as well, and the danger is they might speak english to you...which is not good)

But yeah, my plan is to learn chinese as well :D (reading/writing). Though quite hard as I'm still in Uni and I'm very disorganised!

Good luck with your quest on learning chinese!

pyko

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Nova96

Hi everyone - I am in the same boat. I grew up in the US and am pretty fluent in Mandarin, though it's more on a conversational level (like a child). I have no problems carrying out an everyday conversation in Chinese. My pronunciation is fine and but I only know about 100-150 characters. I will have the summer off before work and am looking for a 6-8 week program in Beijing.

After much research on this site, I think I've narrowed it down to UIR, BNU and BLCU. The typical student profile at BLCU is the opposite of what I need (Korean/Japanese students who know a lot of characters but can not speak). Any recommendations out there on whether UIR or BNU would be better, or anything else? Or is it even worth it?

Thank you!

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Pravit

I would think that since you already have the most difficult part down(speaking and listening) you really don't need to take any classes. Since you already know most of the words you will be reading, the Chinese writing system was basically designed for you. Once you learn the basic phonetic components, it will be easy for you to guess which words are which because you already know what they sound like. For example, if you knew that this character 方 has a "fang" noise, you could easily guess the meaning of 访问, 国防, 模仿, 房子 without having to actually look up any of them(presuming those words were in your spoken vocab already).

Of course, writing might require you to learn characters a bit better, but in this age of Pinyin IMEs(which even include features to account for speakers who can't differentiate sh and s), sometimes you wonder if it's even worth learning to handwrite characters anymore.

I've never been in your situation, but I think you don't really need classes to learn characters; you could start by simply reading simple textbooks and once you can read most of the purely pictographic characters, you could move up to more interesting reading matter. Getting one of those books that explains the story behind each character would also be a big help; I think those are always fun to read or browse around in.

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calibre2001

I might be too late to chip in but here are my 2cents:-

1) Learn how to use a dictionary (i.e. search by radicals/component). Its an extremely helpful tool in picking up words and how to write characters)

2) Get some friends/parents to help with basic strokes like left to right and up to down

3) Read loads of chinese literature first esp easy ones like gossip magazines to motivate yourself. Its easy to spot repeated stock phrases, words, characters. Always keep a dictionary nearby

4) Karaoke. I use Youtube to watch plenty of mando pop. It really makes word acquisition a fun and painless process

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