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Showing content with the highest reputation on 02/20/2011 in all areas

  1. 3 points
    I have to say, I am with the OP on this one. I am very much a beginner with Chinese, although I have lived/worked there for almost 3 years. Due the the fact that I learnt very little Chinese in China, I enrolled on the OU course 'Beginners Chinese' last year and am about 1/3 of the way through the material. The OU material would probably fit the bill for the OP, and its very accessible and jargon free. One of the set books the OU recommend is 'Chinese - An Essential Grammar' by Yip Po Ching and Rimmington, and I agree with the OPs comments about this grammar guide. I actually complained to the OU about their recommendation, as I believe it isnt suitable for beginners. I know a previous post in this thread copied a sentence from the book, and Im not going to go back and copy it, but I do agree 100%. The problem is this. If I look for clarification or explanation on a grammar point, I am going to encounter (in Chinese), a structure I dont yet fully understand. Within that structure, the grammar book is also going to introduce a number of Chinese characters I have not yet encountered. My lack of familiarity with both the structure and the characters used to illustrate said structure makes understanding pretty difficult, and very challenging. By then adding an explanation in English that includes a number of grammatical terms or academic language that the reader may not know, the task is made much harder. The reader is challenged enough with the L2, and doesnt need the added discomfort of struggling to understand the explanation in L1. The OU course is designed for beginners to Chinese, with zero knowledge and no assumed knowledge of any language learning. On that basis, and this could also be applied to 95% of the general populace, grammatical terms such as 'adjectival predicates' are not not known or understood. Using these often in explaining structures is NOT especially helpful as it asks the reader to learn two languages; the new language and L1. I believe this is a very common habit amongst writers of reference books. I find this not only on my language learning journey, but also on my experiences in learning to teach English, where prescribed grammar guides on the English language are often not accessible to new teachers. So in summary, course material like the OU material would be perfect for the OP, or people of a similar mindset, but the major disadvantage is that this material currently comes with a £440 price tag as part of the OU course. (although books may be found through ebay, which is where my course books may end up when the course is over)
  2. 2 points
    Hello - Im a new member here and noticed the OU course has been referred to, but as someone on the course I thought I would review it, and explain it in a little more detail. The course includes; two study books, 4 CDs and two study work books. The study books contain 36 units, with each unit taking one week. These units are divided into fairly straightforward topics - ordering food in a restaurant, asking directions, talking about jobs etc. Within each unit are sections that introduce new vocabulary, translation tasks, match the sentences, dialogues, reading, grammar (which is explained in simple terms). These are backed up with the CD which has vocab lists and dialogues etc. The study work books complement the main study books, and offer tasks allowing the student to practise the new vocabulary and structures learnt each week. They also have a page with a grid for students to practise writing the new characters. Alongside this the OU have a student forum for course students to discuss their learning experience and share ideas etc. In addition, the OU homepage has a very detailed course diary page with additional resources and a comprehensive study calender showing learning outcomes per week etc. Part of this also includes online exercises based on each unit, with recordings to listen to and a recording feature where students can record themselves answering and asking questions to simple tasks. The blended part of the learning process is covered in face to face tutorials, which are offered at about 6-8 weeks apart. These are offered regionally and should cover and summarise units studied with OU tutors. Supporting this are online tutorials offered at the same intervals, but staged in-between face to face tutorials and are held on the OU software called 'elluminate'. This is a conference call type PC software with interactive white board etc. They also have their own flashcard sets for students to use online. The course is assessed on 6 assignments which can be submitted electronically. Voice recording software is used to make MP3 files for oral tasks, and there is an end of course assessment which includes 3-4 minutes of speaking. This course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Chinese, although previous experience doesnt exclude you from the course. The materials etc are quite comprehensive, and with 36 units they cover a wide range of every day topics meaning students should have some communicative ability at the end of the course. Another aim is for students to be able to write 2-300 characters, and read/recognise up to 500. They state this is similar to a UK GCSE qualification in terms of equivalency. There is no certificate for completing this course though, and no recognised qualification attached to it. Its a 30point course which I believe just slots in as a module within a degree. I dont think it counts for any specific qualification, although I could be wrong there. One thing that is different, is you DO NOT have to write characters to complete this course. All assignments can be typed, so this may offer a disadvtange to students who really want to learn to hand write. Whilst provision is made for writing, and it is encouraged, it isnt compulsory. Good points are definitely the material and the course structure. The learning curve is set just about right IMO, and most of the topics learnt should have some use. Grammar is explained in simple terms, and the material and OU forums also discuss elements of Chinese culture which promotes a greater understanding the country and people. The software and online facilities are also quite good, and its nice to be in constant contact with other OU students. The online conferencing software is also available for students to arrange their own online sessions for more practice. Some bad points have already been mentioned - you ddont have to write, you dont get a Chinese qualification certificate. Also, no further courses are planned at time of writing which is also pretty poor for people who wish to continue their studies. Of course the other disadvantage, which I guess is the same on all distance learning langauge courses, is the lack of oral practice. Yes, you can arrange online meetings with other student, but this can be difficult. Not all students use the online tools, and some lack the confidence to practice speaking. Students who study alone, and dont have Chinese spouses, friends or social circles are at a severe disadvantage as they will lack the speaking skills compared to their peers. In my experience so far, OU tutors tend to favour the weaker students in tutorials quite a lot, which further reduces practice. With the tutorials being so few in number, actual speaking time with a tutor is quite low IMO. I have also found (in my limited experience) that OU tutors may be native speakers/well educated/linguistic majors, but they MAY NOT be teachers of foriegn languages. This means if you have been used to language classes with able teachers who can structure activities and model them, such things may be absent with OU tutors. I teach English as a foreign language and so notice such things. An example from one physical tutorial I attended was the use of a 'find someone who' activity, which is a tried and trusted activity in an EFL classroom. My tutor tried to use it, but clearly didnt know how to set up, control and manage the task in the way an EFL instructor would do. Tutors can also take some time to return assignments. My first assignment took 18 days to come back. For a beginner this isnt great, as I think feedback on work submitted needs to come quite quickly, so faults can be addressed before they become fixed or embedded in the learner. So overall, its got some great material, but possibly due to the delivery method, it lacks a few things making it a great way to learn Chinese. At £440 its not cheap and Im not sure I would recommend it 100% to people. I am learning, I am making progress, but I pay £42 a month on an OU DD for this course...Im not sure I couldnt make the same progress quicker by following a good text book and having occasional classes and a language exchange partner/Chinese friend. Now I have written this post in a rush ... if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask them, and if I can think of anything to add Ill come back and do so later!
  3. 2 points
    I took first-year Mandarin Chinese during the 2009-2010 academic year (the last year of my graduate school career), but haven't had the opportunity to take the second-year Mandarin course sequence since I graduated. So, late last year, I decided to go through all the character/vocabulary items of NPCR 1 and 2 in Skritter, reviewing both the simplified and traditional characters (if applicable) for each item. Two or three months later, I have finally finished all 26 lessons in both books (there are a few characters that I'm still having trouble remembering even after all this time, but I'm sure I'll learn them all sooner or later!). So, moving forward from this point, here are my objectives: (1) Begin NPCR Book 3, studying both simplified and traditional characters on Skritter and grammar points in the book. Pace: 1 lesson per week (this may be too ambitious but we'll see). (2) Begin "Basic Chinese: A grammar and workbook" by Yi Po-Ching and Don Rimmington, doing all exercises in the book. (3) When I feel ready, begin "A New China" by Chou, Chiang, and Eagar. (recommended to me by my first-year Chinese class teaching assistant). At this point, I feel like I've learned all of these Chinese characters but I don't really know how to use them at all apart from very basic sentences. I may hire a Chinese language tutor or try out chineseteachers.com. We'll see how these objectives go in a month or two. I like the Chinese language, but it's hard to find the discipline to study regularly without the structure of a formal course.
  4. 2 points
    I liked 大笑江湖, but it is so heavily based on Jin Yong references and in jokes that if you haven't read quite a bit of his stuff (or watched the TV adaptations) a lot of the movie is not going to make any sense and if you didn't really get into it a lot of the movie is going to seem pretty stupid. I think most Jin Yong tragics would enjoy the movie. I know I didn't get a lot of the jokes (I was really feeling my ignorance of 笑傲江湖 and 鹿鼎记 in particular), but I struggled through book or TV versions of four of his other novels and I thought the jokes based on them were both funny and clever. In particular, I thought the final scene was brilliant. You need to have read or watched 神雕侠侣 to get the point (and you probably need to have enjoyed it to find the final scene funny). The reference is a bit oblique, so I sat thinking through the credits for a couple of minutes before bursting out into laughter. Renzhe have you watched this? I think your attitude to Jin Yong is comparable to mine.
  5. 1 point
    Actually, the OP said the "epistemology" sentence was from Yip & Rimmington's Comprehensive rather than their Essential grammar, but never mind, Nick! On page 2 the OP mentioned "the bizarro word 'tone sandhi'". Now I know I've looked this word up before, but I can't quite remember what its meaning or etymology was (something in Sanskrit about Yak milking? ), and I resolutely refuse to use Google, Wiki, dictionaries etc anymore. But then it occured to me to use the surrounding context, and I think that all they were really trying to say therefore was 'tone changes'.
  6. 1 point
    The course aims state students should be able to read/recognise 400-500 and be able to write 200-300. However, the writing part is not compulsory so some students may not be able to write nearly as many characters as stated. I am one of these as I am not even attempting to write characters. Maybe thats a topic for another thread, but I believe that most of my interactions in Chinese will involve speech or email, so at this stage I am concentrating my efforts on recognition and rather than writing. Tutorials are regional, and the face to face ones have the tutor and as many OU students from the region who a) wish to attend (they arent compulsory) and B) are able to attend. In my OU experience, this is anything between 3-10 students. Tutorials are normally up to 2 hours in duration, and are a time to review some course material, discuss problems, and discuss upcoming assignments. The online tutorials are similar in timeframe, similar in content, although the delivery method is different. All courses with the OU offer tutorials like this, but this is probably more focus on tutorials in language courses for obvious reasons. They describe these as blended learning, but in honesty, I think all the OU courses work in the same manner. (This is my 6th OU course BTW)
  7. 1 point
  8. 1 point
    the way one feels when one witnesses a fail? Ooh! I know! Facepalm!
  9. 1 point
    I'm a beginner and I'm wondering which one I should get. I've been leaning towards IC, but as a set (textbook + workbook + audio CDs) it's much more expensive (over $100 on Amazon) compared to the new second edition of NPCR ($35.90). Is IC really worth buying considering it's three times as expensive as NPCR? Sorry for bringing up a very old thread.
  10. 1 point
    Thanks JenniferW. :-) Study routine totally exploded. Flashcards felt useless, couldn't speak. Dumped everything, flashcards, children's books. Switched to all-audio, all-conversation, completely different set of resources (which fortunately I already possessed). I hope I've worked around a brick wall and I'm pressing forward again. This is the best I can do. From the inert mass of Chinese information in my mind, if I can convert about a thousand words into real language by the end of this year, I'll be quite relieved. That's my new goal. See you later.
  11. 1 point
    I've finished the second season, and it's roughly at the same level as the first one. 美嘉 is missing, but the three new characters are not worse than the three that left overall. 悠悠 and 张伟 are quite funny as the kind-hearted failed actress and the chronically jinxed lawyer-in-training. Wanyu and Zhanbo were the weakest characters in the last season anyway. Overall, the second season is a bit more consistent, and less reliant on culturally-loaded references, at least I found it easier to follow. I also had the feeling that characters were defined a bit better this time, and that the actors felt more comfortable with their roles than in the first episodes of the last season. Overall, easy viewing for upper-intermediate and advanced crowd that's entertaining and doesn't require taking notes like most Wuxia shows. There is also an intermediate season consisting of very short episodes, called 爱情公寓外传. Anyone seen them? They seem to be glorified commercials, between 5 and 10 minutes in length.
  12. 1 point
    That is really helpful!! Thank you very much!! Well, same as you, we are also required to repeat the English passages exactly on classes which I think is useless. I just do it the same as you as my English skill now is better than the most students at my age. Anyway thanks a lot!
  13. 1 point
    Knickherboots: My post was in response to the original poster's post about character recognition. Aside from that, I see nothing wrong in starting character recognition at an early age. Chinese characters are meant to be memorized. That really is the main way to learn them. Also, it serves as a memory exercise. The characters have actually coaxed him into talking a little more. He only says "ba, ma, a, da, and wa" So when I say he doesn't talk, I really meant he talks very very little. For ex. Upon seeing the character for 'big' my son will go "da" and open his arms to mimic the character. When reading Chinese story books, he will read some of the characters when I point to them. When hearing grandma's voice over the phone, he runs to grab the grandma card on his own accord and then pairs it up with the correct grandpa card. Now, if you are going to give me the argument that it will affect his talking, then I suggest you read into the whole sign language debate. Most importantly, my son enjoys learning them. He has fun. The phrase "I stole the idea" means I took the idea from someone. I am sure you understood that. It is a pretty general saying in the US. No negativity or competitiveness was implied.
  14. 1 point
    Actually, no. I can sort of speak some Chinese and can read around 500 characters. Martin Symonds said it best: "What type of student did the authors of these textbook series have in mind when they designed their textbooks? It would be interesting to hear from the authors of NPCR as to whom they had in mind." Obviously they didn't imagine a student like me. I know I'm not alone, tons of foreigners in my town are in the same boat. Hence the original question. I wish I could remember the book I was talking about. I was on a layover at Narita and got engrossed in it for about an hour. It was amazing. Concepts which were always troublesome to me suddenly became clear. The book was written in an accessible, breezy style with lots of colors, sidebars, and cartoon characters. Even places where I knew they "should" have used a technical term, they avoided it and instead explained the concept in a different way which the non-technical reader could understand. The author was a foreigner who clearly knew what he was talking about. It was unlike any other language book I had seen until that time. There were a couple others like it in the rack, but for Japanese speakers to learn English. I'm off to find Chinese Made Easy, thanks for the advice, helpful people! And no thanks to anyone who took the opportunity to act condescending
  15. 1 point
    Yeah, this is exactly the insulated attitude I'm talking about. "It's obvious to me, therefore it's obvious to everyone!" The style of writing is very non-accessible to outsiders like me. However, I'm sure it gets good marks in the university. Huh? Wait, how'd you get there? The best textbooks are those designed for novices. Something like 95% of the learners of Mandarin Chinese never make it past beginner level, however the textbooks pretend otherwise either out of genuine ignorance or laziness. This isn't surprising if you consider the narrow audience that a linguistics Ph.D is familiar with. Native speakers don't viscerally understand how to teach their own language. Ever see a typical English teacher at work? Aw, jeez louise. This book is the poster child for the ancient style of learning Chinese. The entire first book does not contain the phrase, "where's the bathroom". I'm serious, I went through it page by page. The word "toilet" is mentioned in passing, near the end. Lesson 3 tosses out the bizarro word "sandhi" without ever bothering to explain what this is. Of course, a linguistics major knows, so no explanation is necessary. Duh! Volume 1 openly admits that it is meant to be used as part of a three-year course, and thus teaches you crap that will not pay off until later - much later. It implicitly assumes that the learner's goal is full literacy, after which the learner will obviously want pass the HSK and then graduate to the study of classical Chinese. What the heck do I care that Ding Libo is the son of Gubo and Ding Yun? All I have to say is that every Chinese book I've used reminds me of the horrid old Japanese book that I struggled with, only to find that the problem wasn't me. Looking back, the problem was that the book was written by insulated professionals for people like themselves instead of a general audience (like me). From what it sounds like, my mythical friendly Chinese book designed for mere mortals doesn't exist. Such books certainly exist for other languages. PS what the heck is autodidact? I'm guessing it's linguistics jargon?
  16. 1 point
    Please point me to the linguistics jargon in that sentence. :rolleyes: Epistemology refers the study of knowledge, or how we know what we know. It is only tangentially related to linguistics, and has more to do with that Philosophy 101 course I'm sure you paid attention to. You said you don't want a textbook. So people assume you want a grammar. But what you're really looking for is a textbook, whether you agree or disagree with the term. Just not necessarily one that's designed for a college course. Well, the best textbooks are going to be those designed for serious students, and therefore those designed for college courses. However, not all of them must be used in a college course, regardless of their authors' intentions. Also, I really don't see what the nationality of the author has to do with anything; if a textbook is good, then it's good. New Practical Chinese Reader is the standard beginning textbook for college students and autodidacts alike. It's older incarnation, Practical Chinese Reader, is another good choice. For more nontraditional courses, there are two that are better than the rest, IMO. ChinesePod (if you don't mind shelling out money every month for a subscription), and Assimil Chinese With Ease (which will run you about $70 for the whole course). ChinesePod is not a structured course, meaning you pick and choose lessons that you want to listen to in your level, and you move to the next level when they get too easy. For some people that's a great thing, and some people prefer a more linear course. Assimil is more structured, and there's a decent amount of discussion online about adapting the course to make it more effective (I personally find the standard Assimil method just about perfect). And it starts with: A:你好 B:你好 A:你饿吗? B:我不饿。 A:你累吗? B:我不累。 A:好!走! B:走! Of course, by the end of the course, the language becomes more advanced. Lesson 103 (out of 105 total), for example, talks about solar energy and such.
  17. 1 point
    I found Basic Chinese by Yip and Rimmington to be pretty good. OK, Yip is Chinese, but he worked at a UK university. Anyway, that book is fairly accessible to non-linguists, and the vocabulary builds up throughout the book.
  18. 1 point
    If anyone is looking for a download option - I grabbed a torrent for season 2 here. It is only moderately well-seeded and the quality of the download is not great. Hopefully a better download option comes along. I am being spoiled by the high quality download of the first season that is available, which you can still get from emule if you search (the one marked uncut), but it doesn't look like there is much for the second season. I'm still on season one, up through episode 14. I think my favorite thus far is the epsiode where they are caught in traffic (epsidoe 9, I think). The random characters were great and the 关谷 ending was almost Kramer-like. Thanks for all the word lists, renzhe.
  19. 1 point
    Sorry I overlooked your question, JenniferW. I'm back in Kunming at a private language school doing one-to-one again. I don't think I will ever enroll in a university class because I have been spoiled now beyond repair by several years of one-to-one. Also I don't need a degree program such as a university could supply. It's difficult to say much about my longer-term goals though conversation is still much easier for me than reading, so I'm now concentrating on improving my reading level. Writing is a distant third and frankly I barely care if I ever learn good penmanship or not. I no longer aspire to a balanced skill set and never plan to take the HSK or similar exam.
  20. 1 point
    SPOILERS (but I'm assuming given earlier posts that anyone reading here is prepared for spoilers) OK, finished this today. Definitely glad I watched it. Doesn't exactly end happily for too many of them though does it? Couldn't work out at the end if the older sister uses the money from SONG to set up her school, or returns it to the government. Whatever, the school is bound to fail: the bearded American, who admittedly has excellent listening abilities, did not improve his spoken Chinese one jot despite months (years?) of one-on-one tuition with her. Still, he gets a pretty girl at the end I suppose. Had no idea until I read it that 小贝 is played by the same actor who starred in the last Chinese TV series I watched, 《奋斗》. I'll put that down to his excellent acting... I don't know if anyone who's watched 《蜗居》 remembers, but there's these very ominous two notes, the second lower than the first, played on the piano when anything bad is just about to happen, which is pretty much a constant the final few episodes. So I think I need some sappy Taiwan drama next as an antidote: perhaps I'll take in 《不良笑花》 again, and then put it up as a First Episode: it's a glaring omission on Renzhe's otherwise excellent list.
  21. 1 point
    The Song Siming character is based on a real life Shanghai party boss who went to jail for corruption, Chen Liangyu. Chen Liangyu was a protege of Jiang Zemin and a key member of the Shanghai clique. It is generally thought that the reason he was jailed for corruption was that he posed a real political threat to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. He was corrupt of course, but that wasn't the problem in and of itself. This context would have been very much on the minds of the author of the book, the producers of the TV show, the politically sophisticated viewers of the TV show and the censors. So the TV show has to take the position that the people investigating Song Siming are staunchly upright moral heroes who live only to serve the people and have a zero-tolerance attitude to corruption of all kinds, no matter what. Have a look at Chen Liangyu's wikipedia entry, although don't assume that things will end in the TV show in the same way as they did in real life.
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