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yingguoguy

Learning Chinese after Japanese

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yingguoguy

What exactly is the method used in Remebering the Kanji? I've flicked through this book a couple of times but always decided against buying it.

Unfortunately I don't think there is any standard list of hanzi like the Joyo kanji list. The Joyo list is nice because you can set yourself the goal of learning the 2000 official characters and then essentially consider yourself finished. It's also nicely splits the first 1000 into 6 bands, so you can learn the most common and simplest forms first. However here I'd echo what Roddy said, when I was learning Japanese I found easy to get to about level 4 (about 600 kanji) by just studying the lists because they all had simple meaning (sun, to eat, cloud, dog) etc. From level 5 onwards I found it very hard to study this way as you start getting a lot of repeated meanings (What's the difference between 河 and 川, 子 and 児 for example) and vague meanings. You also start to get a lot of Kanji which your probably never going to use or see very often. After that core of about 600 characters I find it's best to learn the characters as you find a need for them and you've seen sentances containing words where they're used. On the other hands, it's not a bad idea to have a master list you can go over some times and see how many characters you're comfortable with.

Sorry I realize I'm rambling about learning Japanese now, which you've obviously already worked out a system which your comfortable with. How does all this relate to Chinese?

If you've made much progress with Japanese you're going to have a huge advantage when it come's to reading Chinese. I should say understanding the meaning of written Chinese, as it's going to be no help at all in reading aloud. Sure there are going to be some characters which don't mean what you thought they meant, a lot of new ones and you're going have to learn the use of a few grammar characters. (You'll be seeing a hell of a lot more of 的 and 在 than you're used to), but compared to people who are starting from scratch, it'll seem quite easy.

Here in lies the danger. If your using a text book you are going to fly though the first 20 chapters with no problems, but all your Japanese study will have absolutely no application to the spoken language. The On readings in Japanese, despite being called Chinese readings, bear no useful relation to Mandarin. And while learning characters is probably the most difficult bit of Japanese, the most difficult bit of learning Chinese, at the beginning at least, is the pronounciation and tones. The trap that I fell into when starting to learn Chinese was focusing to much at looking at the characters and how they differed from Japanese and assuming that I'd pick up pronounciation as quickly as I did with Japanese. So I now have a large imbalance between my reading level, which is pretty good, and my speaking/listening level which after a year and a half of study, is still remedial. Letting your speaking get seriously out of whack with your reading ability is a problem, as it gave me serious confidence problems. The situation is almost exactly the same with my Chinese students who have learned much of their English by being lectured to by the teacher and studying from text books.

So my advice would be to spend as little time on learning Hanzi as possible. If you're doing a course you should be able to keep up with the rest of the class with minimal effort. If you're studying on your own, I wouldn't even look at a text book using hanzi, until you've spent a significant amout of time listening to and speaking chinese, and have a fairly solid vocabulary of words, which you think of in terms of pinyin and tones. After that it should be relatively easy to match up the words with the hanzi, who's meaning you'll mostly already know.

Don't think of pinyin as being the same as Hepburn romanization. Think of it as being the same as hiragana. You should master pinyin first before you even start to think about hanzi.

I never did much significant work direcly on my pronounciation in Japanese. Like everyone my pronounciation started off bad, but got better as a natural result of speaking and listening more. The only time I ever conciously thought about the position of my tounge in my mouth was after a couple of years when I was still having problems making 'tsu' properly, the rest just kind of happened. In Chinese I needed to spend a hell of a lot of time making the same sounds over and over again, with my tounge, teeth and lips in different positions and having a Chinese person tell me when I was getting it right (because I can't tell). It would have been far better for me had I done this at the beginning rather than a year in when I realized no-one could understand me and it only compounded the problems above. Even now I still have serious problems with 'c' and 'r's in my speach.

But anyway here's the good news.

Unlike Japanese, Chinese characters usually have only one reading, maybe a third or a fourth of them have two readings (usually sounding similar or varying only by the tone), and very few have three or more. Dictionaries are much easier to use as this means it makes sense to arrange characters in alphabetical order instead of by radical. (This seriously confused me when I went to buy my first Chinese dictionary). The phonetic part of a character in Chinese is useful for learning it (especially with simplified chars), unlike Japanese, where it's only a historical foot note. Characters that look alike often sound alike, and it's not uncommon to be able to guess the unique reading of a unknown character (if not the tone) by it's shape. So learning characters is much easier than in Japanese.

Sorry this has been a long post, and not really what you were asking for, but it's something that I've been thinking about a lot recently. I moved to China about 4 months ago, and have had to spend that time putting right basic problems that meant I could hardly communicate at all in Mandarin. When I started studying Japanese, even though I did most of it from a book and did little listening, when I started speaking Japanese to Japanese people I was easily understood and hence recieved a lot of positive feedback and gained confidence. I expected the same to happen with Mandarin, and unfortunately the fact it has not been so easy seriously affected my self confidence to the point where I don't look forward to practising with other people.

I guess in closing my final point would be that Mandarin and Japanese are very different. Don't assume that the methods that worked in learning Japanese are going to be useful in Mandarin. Don't assume that knowing Japanese is going help with your Mandarin, and especially don't assume that knowing lots of characters means your Mandarin is any good. I would say from my own personal experience that Mandarin is harder than Japanese. As I tend be be good and grammar, but have no ear for pronounication, it's been much harder, and in some ways knowing Japanese has made it more not less difficult.

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roddy

Split from here, as it was drifting off-topic, and far too good to delete.

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Ferno

Hmm... could you give a rough % estimate as to how much the On readings correspond (roughly) to Mandarin? ie 愛 Mandarin ai4 ; japanese on-reading "ai"..三 Mandarin "san1" japanese on-reading "san"... so there must be some..

and which readings are used more often for the core 600 characters? On or Kun?

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yingguoguy

I'm not sure I can give a percentage anwser to that. Lots of the characters are roughly similar, but the problem is that since Japanese has a different and more limited set of sounds, you loose information:

So 三 is SAN in Japanese, but then so is 山, and 算 (shan,suan respectively)

Similarly 子,四,式 (zi,si,shi) are all SHI in Japanese.

天 is TEN and 田 is DEN (both tian).

There are 64 characters with a reading of Shou in the official list of 2000 alone.

Lots of characters have more than one ON reading as different compound words were introduced to Japan at different times and from different dialects.

I'm sure there was a list on the site somewhere of the sound shifts between Old Chinese and Japanese, and Old Chinese and Modern Chinese, but I can't seem to find it at the moment.

Old Chinese also had constants at the end of syllables so 七 changed to qi in Mandarin and SHICHI in Japanese (presumably from something like qik in old chinese).

The rules are definately present, but it's impossible to infer from the Japanese what the Old Chinese was, let alone the Mandarin. Even ignoring the huge exceptions 文 as wen and BUN, I think any attempt to learn pinyin readings based on ON characters is only going to result in more confusion. Native Japanese might have more luck trying it this way and may have more 'instinct' for the shifts, but I'm not convinced.

KUN readings are used more often for the base 600 characters as these generally tend to be fundamental things which the Japanese would already have had a word for before the kanji arrived. Also there tend to be more of the purely pictographic/ideographic or meaning-meaning characters in this set as opposed to phonetic compounds.

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Quest
Unfortunately I don't think there is any standard list of hanzi like the Joyo kanji list. The Joyo list is nice because you can set yourself the goal of learning the 2000 official characters and then essentially consider yourself finished.

There's a list somewhere for the commonly used characters and less commonly used characters in Chinese. Search the forums, or somone help?

Old Chinese also had constants at the end of syllables so 七 changed to qi in Mandarin and SHICHI in Japanese (presumably from something like qik in old chinese).

it's a "t". "chi" endings usually correspond to "t" in old Chinese, and "ku" to "k".

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atitarev

Take a look at this topic I started about differences/similarities between Chinese (simplified/traditional) and Japanese characters, the way the Japanese simplified their characters was sometimes different, I am still interested in enhancing the list, you'll find some interesting examples there.

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/6977-japanese-fonts-or-specific-japanese-characters-different-from-chinese

We didn't go into pronunciation differences (ON-yomi - modern Mandarin or any other dialect).

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leosmith

Thanks for all the great responses and suggestions. I’m sure some of those resources will be very useful to me. Allow me to answer some of your concerns. I’ll answer them in the order I read them, so sorry for the mess.

“As for how many characters to study - I realise you might be aware of this from Japanese (not sure how Japanese works to be honest) - but I really think you are better off studying words, not characters.”

In Japanese, while it’s certainly necessary, at some point, to study compounds (multi-character words), it is very helpful to have spent the time to learn the basic meanings and writings of the characters. Many have accomplished this in 3 months or less. I took 7 months. The difference between learning a word without knowing anything about it, and learning a word which you know the meanings and writings, is huge. One of the RTK theories is that it is actually faster to learn this stuff up front.

“For my money, you're better off primarily learning new words, and learning new characters when you come across them in those words, than learning characters and then trying to learn how they fit together to make words.”

I think this method will work very well, but won’t be as fast for me. Another advantage to learning the RTK way is the writing of the characters will stick in your mind, and you will never forget it. The mnemonics one is required to create ensure this.

“Well, I'm currently learning Japanese language as well. And in my opinion, the only similarity between the 2 is some of the kanji/hanzi Other than that, grammer and vocab is different. So you might want to take previous posts' suggestions and learn words instead of just characters.”

Wow, are you really learning 2 languages at once? Kudos. I realize the only useful similarity between the languages is the Chinese characters, but thanks anyway for pointing it out.

“What exactly is the method used in Remebering the Kanji? I've flicked through this book a couple of times but always decided against buying it.”

[Here’s a link:

u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/Remembering_the_Kanji_1.htm [/size]

“On the other hands, it's not a bad idea to have a master list you can go over some times and see how many characters you're comfortable with.”

Agreed. Do you have such a list for Chinese? I like to put mine in supermemo, but that’s another story…….

“Sorry I realize I'm rambling about learning Japanese now, which you've obviously already worked out a system which your comfortable with. How does all this relate to Chinese?”

RTK is only involved with learning the characters. I’ll have a lot of other questions, regarding other aspects, later. I’m glad I found you guys.

“If you've made much progress with Japanese you're going to have a huge advantage when it come's to reading Chinese. I should say understanding the meaning of written Chinese, as it's going to be no help at all in reading aloud. Sure there are going to be some characters which don't mean what you thought they meant, a lot of new ones and you're going have to learn the use of a few grammar characters. (You'll be seeing a hell of a lot more of 的 and 在 than you're used to), but compared to people who are starting from scratch, it'll seem quite easy.”

This is what I suspected. Thanks for finally confirming it. There aren’t very many folks who know Japanese and Chinese, are there?

“Here in lies the danger. If your using a text book you are going to fly though the first 20 chapters with no problems”

Nowayman. Grammar is the bane of my existence.

“but all your Japanese study will have absolutely no application to the spoken language. The On readings in Japanese, despite being called Chinese readings, bear no useful relation to Mandarin. And while learning characters is probably the most difficult bit of Japanese, the most difficult bit of learning Chinese, at the beginning at least, is the pronounciation and tones. The trap that I fell into when starting to learn Chinese was focusing to much at looking at the characters and how they differed from Japanese and assuming that I'd pick up pronounciation as quickly as I did with Japanese. So I now have a large imbalance between my reading level, which is pretty good, and my speaking/listening level which after a year and a half of study, is still remedial. Letting your speaking get seriously out of whack with your reading ability is a problem, as it gave me serious confidence problems.

Excellent point. Fortunately, I already know a tonal language. I fell into the same trap, and learned the same lesson as you. For anyone following this post, believe what has been said. Any other Thai speakers out there?

“Think of it as being the same as hiragana. You should master pinyin first before you even start to think about hanzi.”

Really? I’ve heard this before, "you have to learn pinyin", but it sounds like a waste of time. Convince me, but please keep in mind my specific situation first. Before I even crack a textbook

1. I will have learned the 2000 most common characters and their pronunciations.

2. I will have completed pimsleur, and perfected my tones with a tutor

3. I’m a self learner, not in China.

4. I’ve studied 2000 Japanese kanji extensively

5. I already speak Thai, a 5-tone tonal language

“Unlike Japanese, Chinese characters usually have only one reading, maybe a third or a fourth of them have two readings (usually sounding similar or varying only by the tone), and very few have three or more.”

Thanks again for the confirmation. This is why some consider Japanese more difficult than Chinese to fully acquire.

“Dictionaries are much easier to use as this means it makes sense to arrange characters in alphabetical order instead of by radical.”

Can someone confirm this? I have read that it is much better to memorize the radicals and their approximate order so that one can use any dictionary.

“The phonetic part of a character in Chinese is useful for learning it (especially with simplified chars), unlike Japanese, where it's only a historical foot note. Characters that look alike often sound alike, and it's not uncommon to be able to guess the unique reading of a unknown character (if not the tone) by it's shape. So learning characters is much easier than in Japanese.”

I’ve heard that about 25% can be read by “signal primitive”. I studied this in RTK book 2, and found it to be very useful. (If anyone would like a spreadsheet of the Joyo kanji, sorted by pronunciation, where characters read by signal primitive are colored, drop me a note) But as you pointed out, 25% of the Chinese readings only gives you about 12.5% of the total readings in Japanese, so it’s less of an advantage. But more than a historical footnote.

“Sorry this has been a long post, and not really what you were asking for, but it's something that I've been thinking about a lot recently.”

Iie, iie (not at all). This is one of the most useful posts I’ve ever read. And you can bet others will benefit from it. Be sure to save a copy.

“I moved to China about 4 months ago, and have had to spend that time putting right basic problems that meant I could hardly communicate at all in Mandarin. When I started studying Japanese, even though I did most of it from a book and did little listening, when I started speaking Japanese to Japanese people I was easily understood and hence recieved a lot of positive feedback and gained confidence. I expected the same to happen with Mandarin, and unfortunately the fact it has not been so easy seriously affected my self confidence to the point where I don't look forward to practising with other people.”

Yeah, the same thing happened to me when I learned Thai. It just kills the enthusiasm when the words you know aren’t understood. The cool thing was, when I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem, and started working specifically on pronunciation, it took less than 10 hours of hard work, spread out over 2 weeks, to fix.

“I guess in closing my final point would be that Mandarin and Japanese are very different. Don't assume that the methods that worked in learning Japanese are going to be useful in Mandarin. Don't assume that knowing Japanese is going help with your Mandarin, and especially don't assume that knowing lots of characters means your Mandarin is any good. I would say from my own personal experience that Mandarin is harder than Japanese. As I tend be be good and grammar, but have no ear for pronounication, it's been much harder, and in some ways knowing Japanese has made it more not less difficult.”

Thanks for the warnings, but for the reasons stated above, I still think my best first step is to learn the characters. A few month of pain sets up a couple years of low-hanging fruit (vocabulary), so the returns are well worth it.

“My observation is that out 2,500 most common Japanese characters those with deviations - about 30% (most common) match the Chinese simplified and about 70% match the Chinese traditional charcters. I haven't completed my analysis, I just do it in order not to forget Japanese, while learning Chinese and trying to map what I learned in both languages, so that I know the meanings, writing (modern Japanese, simplified and traditional) and different readings (Japanese ON and KUN and Mandarin Chinese).”

Very interesting stats. I just love language stats – they really help me make study plan decisions. Do you have a list that you’d be willing to share?Whew………

Leo

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yingguoguy

Wow, if you already speak Thai and Japanese you may be the one foreigner who finds Chinese a doddle. :mrgreen:

I'm afraid your link is broken, it seems to have got mangled somehow.

Really? I’ve heard this before, "you have to learn pinyin", but it sounds like a waste of time.

You will have to learn pinyin in any case as you will need it to know how to pronounce words you look up in a dictionary. (Okay you could learn Wade-Giles or Bopomofo instead if you really wanted to make life difficult) My point about it being more like hiragana is that it is a phonetic system designed to tell Chinese how to read a character, not a system for making Chinese easy to read for foreigners. Hence there it has some strange features, for example there are two u sounds in Chinese and the use of the umlaut over them is inconsistant (lu and mu both without an umlaut are the same sound, lu with and ju without are the other sound). Similiarly syllables without a consonant are often marked with a y, so ye is the same sound as jie but without the j and not the same as he. Tutors and textbooks don't always draw this to the learners attention as much as theshould do. It's a good idea at the start to spend sometime so you can transcribe any sound you hear into the pinyin, and similarly that you can read aloud correctly from pinyin. Trying to associate a sound with a character before you can do this is going to cause problems.

I was suggesting learning entirely from pinyin and tapes before looking at characters as a way of focusing on pronounciation over characters. If you do an entirely audio course like Pimsleur first, and work with a tutor this should have the same effect. I need to see things written down in order to learn new words though.

I have read that it is much better to memorize the radicals and their approximate order so that one can use any dictionary.

Maybe. I prefer working with alphabetical order and radical index, but I guess a power-user with a radical index would probably beat me in a contest. In Japanese I work with a character dictionary (with either SKIP or radicals) and a smaller English-Japanese,Japanese-English alphabetica dictionary (for kana words and words I hear in conversation). In Chinese the character dictionary is sorted by alphabetical order so it's possible to get a bidirectional English-Chinese,Chinese-English dictionary which is feasable to use as a character dictionary as well. You have more of a choice with Chinese anyway. When I started looking for a Chinese dictionary I couldn't find a radical one and didn't realize that an alphabetical one would be perfectly servicable.

If anyone would like a spreadsheet of the Joyo kanji, sorted by pronunciation, where characters read by signal primitive are colored, drop me a note

Yes please. If you're happy to make it public, you could post it as a link on this thread.

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leosmith

Thanks for the info on pinyin yingguoguy. Here's the file. And let me try with the RTK link again:

http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/Remembering_the_Kanji_1.htm

Incidently, I just found out that James Heisig, the author, will have a "Remembering the Hanzi" book available by the end of the year, so I probably won't have to finish my list.

Leo

japanese kanjitown template 04.xls

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atitarev
mrtoga

Hi Yingguo guy I am also in a similar situation to you having come to China after a long time in Japan where I was interpreting and translating. I think you are being too hard on yourself expecting that your speaking and listening will keep pace with your character recognition in Chinese. When I was learning Japanese it took me a year to figure out the rhythm and the balance of the language, another year to be able to construct sentences fairly smoothly and another year to learn more advanced sentence patterns. I am expecting the same here in China - just look at how the Japanese students struggle with the speaking and listening!

However I would not recommend focusing entirely on the listening and speaking if I was you. Yes you may be able to understand your teacher and people you know just fine, but listen to the news or some TV programme, they are using lots of vocabulary that you do not use in day-to-day life. You could listen to that kind of stuff a hundred times and be none the wiser. I think you have to read, read, read. Studying characters is not so important once you get past 1000 or so - you find one you don't know, look it up, put it in context and then carry on reading. As long as you are speaking and listening every day as well this aspect will catch up at its own pace, and you will recognise a lot of words that you have been reading.

When you reach fluency in one foreign language to start again at the bottom in another one is a little disheartening - you are always finding things that you have no idea how to say in the new language. But sometimes I surprise myself with the things I can say - have to be optimistic.

Finally a tip - I bought a Canon Wordtank when I started learning Chinese. I can write in the Chinese characters and the explanations come up in Japanese. It also links to all the words that begin with that particular character and you can save words that you don't know in banks for further study. Much better than a Palm Pilot and keeps my Japanese level reasonable too. Suggest you buy one - they must be really cheap by now!

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yingguoguy

At the risk of being vastly oversimplistic, I think there's two stages to learning a language. The first is getting used to the sounds and grammar of the language, up to the point where you can have reasonable face to face conversations with people, and if you don't know a word, explain it by using words you do. This usually only takes a year or two of serious study with most languages. The second and much longer part is getting all the complex vocabulary and idioms down, this can take a lifetime. I guess in my post I'm really talking far more about the first stage where you wouldn't expect to be able to understand the news or read a newspaper. Certainly there comes a point where you have to start cramming in vocab by reading lots.

The problem with both Japanese and Chinese is how divorced the writing system is from the spoken language. I've done evening classes in both languages, but the bulk of my study has been on my own, and this naturally forces one to focus more on reading. The problem I've ended up with is that in both languages I can read, as in comprehend the English meaning, a lot of characters and compounds which I have no idea how to pronounce. I tend not to remember the pronunciation of a word until I've heard someone else say it.

I didn't really expect Chinese to be easy, but I expected to progress at rate similar to Japanese, and I've found my speaking has developed far slower in Chinese. This despite studying Chinese in China, instead of Japanese in England. I agree that any language it takes a long time to get used to the 'flow' of the language, but I'd still maintain that this is far more difficult in Chinese than in Japanese, enough to frustrate that learner who is progressing much slower than they did in Japanese. This is less to do with forming sentances (admittedly tricker in Japanese) than individual words. I still have to repeat myself a lot when asking a taxi driver to take me to the 'houchezhan', or ordering 'pijiu' or even 'keka-kela', even after a year of study. Most tourists would be okay reading 'eki' or 'beeru' in Japan straight from the guide-book. While I can hold a simple converstation in both Japanese and Chinese, I get the impression that I'm always going to have to repeat individual words far more in Chinese than in Japanese however good I get.

However I would not recommend focusing entirely on the listening and speaking if I was you.

I guess my point is that you are going to have to do significantly more speaking and listening to get to the same level and you should factor this into your study plan. At the moment I'm doing a lot of exercises focusing specifically on pronunciation and sound/tone discrimination of individual words rather than listening to a whole passage. And as you already know lots of characters you're going to have to do significantly less work on the composition of individual characters (as opposed to reading a passage, which I agree is still useful). So I'd say concentrate 80/20 percent on listening until you can hear as many words as you can read character (compounds), then move to 50/50 or even swing further towards reading to cram vocab.

I'll lookout for the Canon Wordtank the next time I go to Beijing, though I suspect that if you've been interpreting your Japanese level is far higher than mine.

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atitarev

I agree with Yingguoguy that Chinese is much more challenging to master than Japanese but I can't explain why. Complex and confusing grammar and syntax doesn't scare me that much (maybe because I am Russian and we have much more complex grammar) but the tones in a sentence. Well, the more challenging, the more interesting.

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mrtoga

I would say there is a big gap between the Chinese we learn in classes and the Chinese spoken on the streets and on TV. This makes the language appear harder. I can understand 99% of what my teachers say in class, but that is because they know the words and sentence patterns that students learn and use. Out on the street there is a lot of slang. People are not used to conversing with foreigners and often it is hard to predict what they will ask about. Sometimes it takes a while for me to figure out the context of a conversation, which was rarely a problem in Japan.

I think this is because the cultural gap is larger between Europe and China than between Europe and Japan. The only way of bridging this gap is to go out of the secure university environment and meet Chinese people in their world. You can only learn so much by analyzing a language from a distance,

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leosmith

Complex and confusing grammar and syntax doesn't scare me that much

Wow, we're the exact opposite. As far as I know, I can adapt to just about any pronunciation difficultes. But even moderate grammar totally disables me. I really have to work at it. From reading about the languages I can speak, Japanese has the toughest grammar, but it only rates moderate. OMG, how will I ever learn Russian atitarev?

The only way of bridging this gap is to go out of the secure university environment and meet Chinese people in their world. You can only learn so much by analyzing a language from a distance.

When learning Thai, I discovered another way that helped me immensly. I hired a tutor for conversation only. Since I was paying the bill, I got to dictate what we would do in class. The tutor was not a teacher (this method may not work with a teacher, because teachers may prefer to teach their way).

We would to speak in Thai for 1 hour, 5 days per week. In the beginning, she was only allowed to stop me if she didn't understand. That was key. We talked about everything. It was a lot of fun. I stopped her and wrote down vocabulary like mad. After the lessons, I studied the vocabulary (although, not as hard as I should have), and tried to use it in class. We had several lessons where she drilled me and critiqued my tones. After 8 weeks, I was quite comfortable speaking and listening, so we ended our classes. I went for a vacation in Thailand, and just blew people away. This was definitely my silver bullet.

This is not to say my Thai is great. I lack the vocabulary to understand broadcasts, and I stopped my reading/writing to study Japanese. But I would definitely use this method again. You can pick up about 100 words per week this way, and they'll be common words.

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atitarev

To Leosmith

From reading about the languages I can speak, Japanese has the toughest grammar, but it only rates moderate. OMG, how will I ever learn Russian atitarev?

Grammar is logic - I have a programmer's mind I think, and it's easier for me to focus on logic than on the tones or on the look of characters - sorry, I don't find characters logical and intuitive enough to remember them easily. Some people I know can memorise characters better but have trouble understanding and using grammar. I reckon, if I learned Chinese as my first foreign language I would have a better visual memory and a better for ear for tones but I would struggle understanding complex grammatical cases and tenses as in e.g. German (my knowledge of German is advanced). Learning Chinese is also learning new skills compared to other languages - visual memorisation and training your ear to tone changes.

Complex grammar shouldn't take years but months to master, anyway.

What's OMG?

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leosmith

What's OMG?

Oh My God. Silly thing to say since I'm not religious. It was popularized by valley (California) girls, which is another reason it was silly.

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atitarev

Thanks, Leosmith. I like your method of learning Thai. In Russia, students pick up Russian girlfriends (boyfriends) and speak pretty fluently in a few months' time.

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snarfer
In Russia, students pick up Russian girlfriends (boyfriends) and speak pretty fluently in a few months' time.

Seems to be a pretty effective technique for just about any language, as long as you can find someone who doesn't want to speak English! It certainly helped my Chinese.

This is interesting about the relationship between learning Thai and Chinese. I find that my knowledge of Chinese tones has actually made learning Thai tones more confusing, because now I try to use the Chinese tones when speaking Thai.

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leosmith

In Russia, students pick up Russian girlfriends (boyfriends) and speak pretty fluently in a few months' time.

Hey, maybe that will solve my grammar issues:mrgreen:

I find that my knowledge of Chinese tones has actually made learning Thai tones more confusing, because now I try to use the Chinese tones when speaking Thai.

You're scaring me now, because I speak Thai, but I want to learn Chinese (haven't started yet). But answer me this - is Thai your 3rd language by any chance?

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