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  1. Publius

    Publius

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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/21/2019 in all areas

  1. 4 points
    Since Publius is too modest, here's a post he prepared earlier. See also another comment he made in the same thread.
  2. 4 points
    I loved this whole reply, and we've agreed with you about every aspect of this from the moment we started making this course. There are some details in your post I think are debatable, but it's not necessary, I just wanted to get this across: We make it extraordinarily clear to people throughout the course that 80% is your foundation and you have a much longer road ahead if you want to approach native fluency. Now, you might say, 'but you don't make this clear in the one-sentece marketing claim.' That's correct, and hence the free trial & 30-day money back guarantee. So far only two people have asked for their money back, and so it's fair to say that the people who didn't ask for their money back weren't under the impression that they would be nearly done after the foundation. I think the reason they stay in the course is that the following is true about pre & post-foundation building: Your State as a Learner with Zero or Little Foundation (non-exhaustive): Everything is fog. Your understanding of pronunciation isn't strong enough to be able to pick out recognizable sounds in your listening material You don't know what characters are, how you might figure out the pronunciation, or even simple components. You don't have a systematic methodology for acquiring a new character You don't know what a Chinese word is, much less how the characters within the word relate to each other You can't read anything, so there's no chance of determining a word through context. Naturally, without characters or words, you have no sense of sentence structure There is virtually no pleasure that can be derived from reading There aren't any situations where you can successfully communicate without relying entirely on body language You've not built up healthy study habits, and thus all momentum must be self-derived Unless you used it before, you are unfamiliar with how to use SRS (most people). Your State as a Learning After you Build your 80% Foundation: There's a lot of light breaking through the fog. You understand the principles of how to pronounce every Mandarin sound, thus increasing the likelihood of recognizing more of the sounds produced in the listening material. You can even start to associate purely auditory input with characters. You know hundreds of components and understand how they can have semantic or phonetic functions, therefore providing a layer of context for most unknown characters. You haven't learned every component, but you've mastered the ones you are most likely to see in a new character (Pareto principle again). You have a methodology for quickly committing a new character to memory. You know how to make an SRS flashcard out of it. The characters learned to construct the top 1000 words are the component characters in another 4000 lower frequency words. Because you have a strong sense of how the characters in compound words related to each other, there's a high probability of being able to understand those 4000 words, especially in context. There is a lot of content you can read, and the resources available for graded material are continually expanding (including the tailored content from MB). As a result, you increase the likelihood of understanding an unknown word through your keen sense of sentence structure combined with your knowledge of components and how words related to each other. Sidenote: @imron This is a refutation of your claim that someone has "no idea" what the remaining unknown 20% of the sentence is. If they know one or more of the characters in the word, some (or all) of the components, or even what part of speech it likely is based on sentence structure, that's far more knowledge than "no idea." I find this to be Chinese's primary 优势 compared to English; there's just so much more context once you have a foundation. To be clear, I'm not saying they will fully understand, but their chances of either getting the gist or entirely understanding the missing parts of the sentence are far higher than they would be in English. Not only can you derive pleasure from reading, but you start to feel how Chinese can change how you think. There are loads of situations where you can successfully communicate. If you don't know how to say something, you have the vocabulary necessary to explain what you mean. "Hey, do you guys sell those big boxes you put in the kitchen to keep things cold?" You can't communicate well in every situation, but getting by in China is far more accessible. You've already built up enough Myelin Sheaths around your neurons associated with the habit of daily study that it's not difficult to continue. The momentum is already gained, just keep going. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response @imron, and to everyone who has politely engaged in the content of the course and how we're presenting it. I'm going to keep working all day every day on it, and it's never going to be perfect, but I know that it's helping people get through the "everything is fog" phase very effectively.
  3. 3 points
    A very enjoyable way to improve your listening skills is watching Chinese movies with English subtitles. When I first started watching movies, my comprehension of movies was almost nil. However, overtime it got better & better. Also, watching them really trained my ears. When I heard a conversation I really wanted to understand, I would repeat that part multiple times. Some might argue against subtitles, but if you are new, you'll want them. As your skills improve, you can also critique whether the subtitles are good. E.g., In a movie, a young guy said to a young women "我喜欢你.", but the subtitle was "I love you." I discussed this with friends and most said they don't say "我爱你." to their wives. They say 我喜欢你, but the implication is "I love you." Without the English subtitles, I would have missed this subtlety. I would have just assumed he said "I like you." (Later, I read the book "Dreaming in Mandarin," which has a whole chapter on the phrase "I love you"). I suggest dramas or love stories because they speak more slowly and they are more likely to use words you'll find valuable (I find action movies almost worthless in this regard). In addition, movies can give you insights into Chinese culture. Yes - they're just movie representations of real life (taken with a grain of salt), but they still can show you how people interact in ways different from your own country. 3 classics I like are "The Road Home," "To live," and "Under the Hawthorne Tree." If you re-watch them over time, you can see your skills improve. Also, when the movie is very engaging, you don't even think about how much you are learning. It's very pleasurable way to learn. I used to go to a shop where the proprietor would recommend movies. She was great; 95% of her recommendations were excellent. Unfortunately, she closed her shop. Now, i find it much harder to find good movies.
  4. 2 points
    Yes. Try Speechling. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/57634-speechling-20-discount-off-for-new-customers/
  5. 2 points
    Here's the cake. It was a hit. Thanks to one and all for the sage advice. They had numbers you could stick into the top of the cake after you got it home if desired. I told the clerk I didn't want them. She understood and smiled. ¥68 well spent.
  6. 2 points
    I think transcription exercises are a big step up. I remember being in the same position as the OP and the problem of transcription at the time was that I felt intimidated by my own lack of vocabulary. A step that I found useful was to match sentences of MP3 to its subtitles. It was part of the process of making anki cards. I was using workaudio book app to subtitle MP3s from a transcript. I ripped the MP3 from the “growing up in China” series. The dialogue is quite short which makes it manageable but the natural speed of dialogue also means you have to concentrate quite hard. The transcript was from the pdf that I found from the cctv website. I did about 40 episodes over two months. Because I had to match the times up carefully, it meant I would repeatedly listen to a sentence and read the words many times to be accurate. I found listening had improved. I didn’t practice any speaking with tutors in those two months but when I came back to lessons , a few of the online tutors commented my speaking had improved. I myself felt no different but they (so more than one) noticed something different. Maybe I had been unconsciously shadowing some of the simpler sentences during the act of subtitling. A wechat friend also said that my expression in writing sentences had become more chinese like in my messages.
  7. 2 points
    Here is the first installment of my blog on doing a Masters course in Translation and Interpretation (Chinese) at Bath University in the UK. Seeing as it is reading week, I've found I finally have time to do an update on how things are going, I guess I will probably do the next update when we break up for Christmas in December. There's really no time to do anything else except study and class prep in normal term time. Well I've been on the course for six weeks now, and it has been as intense as expected. Despite being at a UK university, I am the only westerner on the course, with 23 students, mainly mainland, but also a few Taiwanese and HK too. There is actually a Taiwanese American student who has taken English as his mother tongue (with all due right), but having been bilingual and living in Taiwan for the last 20 or so years, I feel like we're not really in the same boat. I am clearly bottom of the class in terms of relative language ability, as expected. Being surrounded by people who have studied English for decades, my 5/6 years of Mandarin stands out as particularly bad. I am so used to speaking Chinese colloquially, I am frequently lost for words when asked to interpret English speeches into Chinese using the right register. Anyway, onto the course content. All parts of the course have a two hour class slot that meets once a week: Simultaneous interpreting: we have a dedicated lab with fully equiped professional booths that all face into a bigger room with a conference table in the middle. The set up accurately mimics a real simultaneous interpreting situation, and the tech available is fantastic. Classes are very active, with every student having a chance to practice every class at least twice (practicing skills taught by the teacher in the lesson). I was placed on an internship at a UN week-long environmental protection meeting two weeks ago in London, to get in some valuable practice time. We used the real booths used by the pros for a week (with our mics switched off of course). We did shadowing and interpreting (almost exclusively from English into Chinese) for around 8 hours a day for a week. After this week something clicked in my brain, and now I can keep up with my peers in this class now. Not only that, but my professional Chinese has improved a lot as a result of the E-C direction. I have also discovered that in many cases working from English into Chinese is more often than not EASIER than Chinese to English. Why? I personally feel like the sparsity of phrases 'like' 成語 in English, plus the terseness of professional Chinese means you've always got enough time to think and interpret. Chinese to English is so much harder than I expected, to put it lightly. For example, 授人以魚不如授人以漁 was said in a speech during class a few weeks ago; not only had I not heard the phrase before, but I had no time to guess the meaning (多音字嘛 I thought the person had said the same thing twice by a mistake...), and by the time it was already too late the interpreting student had already interpreted it into "better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish". I mean, that makes more sense than what I was able to offer (which was just silence). So, simultaneous as a skill, I can do. But the sheer amount of knowledge you need at your fingertips is insane, and I am still far from being at a professional level yet. Consecutive interpreting: This class is largely centred around memory skills and note taking. Most of my peers have already studied interpreting in some form or another before starting this course, and many are already able to acurately remember speeches of five or more minutes long using some quite fantastic symbol-based systems. The teacher does not teach us a system, but rather teaches us how to build our own personal system effectively. I have found that using English keywords and acronyms has helped a lot, but really don't get too much of a kick out of arrows going everywhere and houses with dollar signs on them etc. As a little side hobby, I've taken up learning Pitman shorthand (new era) mainly for fun, but also with the hope that /some/ of it may come in handy with consec. note taking at some point in the future. This class is by far the hardest, and the teacher seems to enjoy choosing incredibly difficult speeches from people with non-standard accents. Very difficult, very embarassing for me, as most students have no issues in this class. What can you do when you didn't understand, or have forgotten what was said, and have no way to ask the speaker to repeat/clarify? This class makes me so nervous. Liaison interpreting: We have a mock conference/meeting every friday and are expected to prepare for it in the preceding week. The class is split into two groups: Chinese side, English side, and interpreters. The two sides discuss a topic for 2-3 hours whilst the interpreters take it in turns to sit one-by-one in between the two groups and act as a liaison interpreter. The pressure is noticeable, as the whole course is there watching you, and everyone is able to discern how good or bad your interpreting ability is (unlike when you're in the sim. interpreting booths, secluded and safe). Again, note taking is a skill that many of the students here employ. I would say to any westerner thinking about taking on a course like this, aside from having a very, very strong and well-rounded ability in Chinese, you should almost certainly also be practicing note-taking on speeches both in English and Chinese BEFORE starting a course (evidently with Chinese students in particular it would seem). I regret being under the impression I was going to learn note taking skills ON this course; I now know this of course is not the case, as pretty much everyone is already able to do this. Translation: We have both 'Chinese to English' and 'English to Chinese' classes. This needs no real explanation, its pretty much exactly what you would expect: teacher teaches theory, sets translation piece for homework, you translate it, get feedback, rinse and repeat. C-E very relaxing, the teacher seems to enjoy literary translation (lately lots of 紅樓夢 talk), E-C also ok but a much slower translation process for me. The translation process is private, however, so there's no real embarrassment to be had on this part of the course (so far...) All in all? I am loving the course, my classmates are fantastic people, very intelligent, hard working, inclusive, not 'immaturely' competitive if you understand what I mean, and importantly, very supportive as a community. Nobody treats me like a foreigner at all, I'm just another student. In that respect, theres not much leeway given, and as a result I feel like I'm ALWAYS being pushed to get up to their standard rather than being forgiven for being a 'foreigner'. Teaching is top notch, facilities are fantastic. And the fact that the course DOES have English-Chinese direction (as well as C-E) is a massive bonus if you ask me. My Chinese has improved rapidly, I can now read news probably 2-3 times faster than when I started the course. Why? Because I now read (mostly outloud, under my breath) for about 4-5 hours a day (as opposed to about 1 hour before the course). As you may be able to tell, I now live, breath and sleep in a world of studying speeches. I would not recommend this course for anyone who 'wants a life'. I feel obliged to say "sorry for the wall of text" - see you all in December.
  8. 1 point
    Not that I'm aware of, but i am no expert on Taobao. What are you searching for 西葫芦 , 黄葫芦? It comes up with a long list vegtables when i search. One thing i find lacking in Chinese shopping apps is that there never seems to a "breadcrumb trail", so you can trace backwards, e.g. zucchinni -> vegetables -> fruit and veg -> fresh produce and so on. It seems pretty sloppy at best . I find especially on Taobao often there is no sensible 分类 category. I much prefer to stick to Jing Dong, its seems better laid out and more standardized. On JD I see you can sort 葫芦 by 蔬菜,种子,etc in the 全部分类 part I run into too many problems with Taobao. 1 out of 3 times I have issues with them. An item listed but out of stock and they don't tell you, is the most common.
  9. 1 point
    The new semester started a week ago, and it's been a great first week. As far as my goals for this year, I've basically failed them all already! I wanted to read a lot more, but over the break I went home for the first time in a couple of years, and so unfortunately my Chinese took a back seat. However, I did get through one and a half books. Now being back I feel like I have so much more to focus on, and I'd rather do a good job of covering all my class materials well than spreading myself too thin by plodding through a book. Hopefully I can change this up when the books are a bit easier to read, and don't require constant stopping and note making. Rather than dwelling on my failure here, I am trying to put it behind me and go all in with everything else! This semester we have two different classes. Our 中国概况 and 汉字学 classes are over, and in their place we have 中国文化 and 语法学。 I really like 语法学 and find it to be incredibly useful. The books we are using are fantastic, and basically contain answers to many questions that keep coming up for me. 中国文化 seems to be fairly interesting, and we have a new teacher for this class. She's very friendly and asks a lot of questions. Although our class consists of 40+ students, there's only a few of us that don't sit on our phones and actually participate in the class, so I really appreciate an interactive setting. On that note, our speaking class has changed slightly. For some reason all of our exams are now going to be written exams (how someone's speaking can be tested with a written exam is beyond me, but it's out of the teacher's control). So in light of this our teacher has said he will just teach one of our classes each week, and the other one will be dedicated to us speaking (presentations/reports/skits etc.). All in all, I'm really excited about this semester!
  10. 1 point
    Sounds like you are learning lots. Hope this semester is similarly fruitful.
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