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Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 12/07/2017 in all areas

  1. 8 points
    I have resolved the issue in-country. Fortunately I had a trip to China coming up anyway. I bought a Chinese phone number at the airport (needed this anyway). Went to the bank with my three passports (two old ones and the current one), my bank card and my new phone number. It took an hour and a half to change the passport, the phone number and my PIN (which I had forgotten). By that time the higher-ups in the bank were concerned it really was still me, but fortunately it was. I still have a little money in that bank account, I have another week left here to decide whether to take it out or leave it in to use on Weixin. I attached the phone number to my Weixin account. This was not difficult, but unfortunately it was not enough for real-name registration. I don't know if I did something wrong or it's just not enough. I then added my bank card to my Weixin account. This worked. I received a few text messages with codes to verify that it was really me and my phone and my bank account. Fortunately, it still was really me, and then I was a verified user and I could finally join the big group I so badly wanted to join. Writing this update in case someone else ever has the same issue. It appears that coming to China is the only real solution.
  2. 6 points
    If you are recently arrived in China, you may have discovered that the vegetable section of many restaurant menus features hearty combinations with stick-to-your-ribs portions of meat and potatoes that overshadow the lighter veggies in the dish. Furthermore, these often arrive at your table swimming in oil. If you are puzzled regarding how to get some simple fresh vegetables in a restaurant, three approaches can help you out. The first is to just order a vegetable stir-fried alone, such as 清炒菠菜。This would get you a plate of plain sautéed spinach. The waitress might ask if you wanted them to add garlic, 加蒜泥。 Another method is to order a clear soup made with a green leafy vegetable. Example of that would be 苦菜汤, the unfortunate translation of which is “bitter sow thistle.” It’s usually just the named vegetable and water, boiled till tender, with perhaps a dash of oil and a pinch of salt. The third approach is to order a 凉拌 or cold dish, made with a vegetable and an oil-vinegar dressing or sauce. Even though the name says “cold,” these are usually served at room temperature and take the place of salad in a western meal more or less. Today I’ll show you how to make one of my summer favorites: long green beans and king oyster mushrooms 四季豆杏鲍菇凉拌。Simple flavors with a pleasant crunch. I sometimes eat it by itself as a light lunch topped with a hard-boiled egg, but it can also be a side dish for your dumplings/jiaozi 饺子 and your lamb kebabs 羊肉串。 These 四季豆 beans go by several names, much as they do in English, and are easy to find in supermarkets here as well as closer to the source. They should be fairly stiff and not limp; color should be a vibrant deep green. I buy mine at the wet market, where a large bunch, enough for two generous meals, sells for 2 or 3 Yuan. They are traditionally paired with king oyster mushrooms 杏鲍菇,but if you can't find these, the dish will work with other mild-flavored mushrooms just about as well. (You can click the photos to enlarge them.) King oyster mushrooms 杏鲍菇 are on the left. They often grow on the stumps of dead hardwood trees. They have an umami note as expected and a tender texture, often compared to abalone or ... well, better yet, about like oysters. Flavor is mild, sometimes with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Cut away and discard the base of any thick, woody stems. Brush off soil with a wet paper towel. It's not necessary to scrub or soak them. Chinese chefs find their texture is best if you tear them into strips or coarse shreds with your fingers instead of chopping them with a knife. This gives a more pleasant mouth feel 口感。 Wash the beans and cut off the stem end. These are about as long as my forearm, but they aren't tough or knobby. They don't have tough "strings" or "threads" on the margin like some other varieties.The peas inside the long pods are tender and immature. I slice them into 6 or 8 inch sections, cutting on a diagonal, but you could chop them straight across to save a few seconds if necessary. I've also finely chopped three or four cloves of garlic 大蒜 and a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger 生姜。Removed some of the seeds from three hot chilies and cut them into thin strips 切丝。 Blanch 焯 the mushrooms in a pot of lightly-salted boiling water for a minute or so. Lift them out with a strainer and drain their water 捞出、流干水粉。You will use the same pot of water in a minute to boil the beans, so don't discard it. Saute the chilies, garlic and ginger in a little oil. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry quickly, adding a conservative pinch of salt. They don't need to brown; you just want the flavor of the aromatics to develop and blend with that of the mushrooms. Scoop them out into a temporary holding pan 备用。 Boil the beans for 4 or 5 minutes, testing them frequently so as to stop the process when they just barely begin to get tender. Don't overcook them; better if they are al dente. Drain them and "shock" them quickly with ice water. This stops the cooking and also improves their color. Drain them well and toss them with the cooked mushrooms 拌匀。 Sauce the combined beans and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of olive oil 橄榄油, 1 tablespoon of aged vinegar 老陈醋, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce 生抽, half a teaspoon each of salt 食用盐 and sugar 白沙糖。 MSG 味精 1/4 teaspoon if you use it. (I do.) Toss everything together and allow the flavors to blend by putting it in the fridge for 20 or 30 minutes. It doesn't need to actually get cold. Best served at cool room temperature. It's easy to find this dish or some variation of it in simple neighborhood restaurants all over China. It's also pretty straight forward to make at home. Give it a try and see what you think. This kind of food works real well when the days are warm, such as now.
  3. 6 points
    Great perspective, important to remember this. About 6 months ago I went to the tiny airport just outside my city to pick up my best friend who was visiting me here in China from the UK. His luggage got sent to Amsterdam, and it was up to me and the non-english-speaking airport staff to get it sorted out. I remember all communication was done clearly, no repetitions. The bag arrived on the same day that evening. The airport called me to pick it up. Once I had the bag in my hand at the airport, it was like getting my graduation certificate. I called a didi and actually cried out of happiness as I waited at the arrivals entrance. That was a great moment in my life. Congratulations on passing the test today @abcdefg
  4. 5 points
    If anyone's interested, I just came across a massive selection of Chinese fonts: https://chinesefontdesign.com/
  5. 5 points
    The translator James Legge came up on a question a few days ago, made me realise that I knew very little about him. I had the man completely wrong. This lecture by another great sinologist and translator, John Minford, changed my view (and will change yours if you have access to You Tube and a couple of hours to spare). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2snVo3FVhXI&feature=youtu.be (Tip: if you watch the videos having logged in to your Google account, it will bookmark the videos where you let off, so you can watch them in parts.) And then you'll probably want to know more about those classical translators and see more lectures by John Minford. This page will take you there: Other Lectures & articles on translation by and about John Minford http://chinaheritage.net/journal/encore-john-minford-on-change/ The lecture series on translators is 1/4th of the way down the page: A Lineage of Light — Four Translators (James Legge, Herbert Giles, Arthur Waley and David Hawkes)
  6. 5 points
    You can adjust speaking speed a few different ways: 1) If you're playing a digital file, your digital file player might have the ability to slow down the speed of the file. 2) Pick a speaker or genre who speaks more slowly. Newscasters always speak really fast, for example. They would be a bad choice. Shadowing also shouldn't be done with new material all the time. Shadowing material you're extremely familiar with is beneficial, because you can then work on what you actually want to improve. Working with material you're unfamiliar with means that you're never sure what the speaker is saying next, so you're expending more brain-effort/energy trying to guess what comes next. Working with material you're familiar with means that you can anticipate what the speaker is going to say next, so you can spend more effort focusing on whatever it is you are trying to correct (e.g. saying your 3rd tones, collocation, etc). When I was shadowing I would spend one whole week working only one 30 minute speech. In some practice sessions, I would only be working on 5 minutes of the speech on repeat. You don't need a large quantity of new material to do shadowing. You just really need about 1-2 hours of appropriate material, and just keep using it on repeat. I've spent an entire hour-long practice session just working on a 1-2 minute segment of the speech, because it contained certain things that were particularly problematic for me. So I isolated that section, and just shadowed it on repeat while recording myself, and then listened to the recording, noticed what I did badly in comparison, and then repeating the process all over again. For speeches where the speaker was way the hell too fast for me to shadow word-for-word, I would practice the following things: summarizing the meaning of what they said in Chinese (probably only useful if you are learning interpreting, like I was) only picking out word collocations or grammatical connectors. e.g. which words go together. So I wouldn't necessarily shadow the whole speech, but rather speech structures or parts of speech. For example, 因为……,但是…… (cause-effect, grammar);奠定……基础 (verb-noun collocation)...... the choices are endless. When you're working on #2, it's really difficult to do with brand new content, because you have no way to anticipate what the speaker is saying. It's better to do that with an audio or video file that you are familiar with. Also, it's better to just work on a small section of audio or video at a time. In this case, quality of study is definitely prioritized over quantity and variety of material.
  7. 5 points
    I saw the water-boiling analogy the other day in an article about piano practice. It said that, in order to master a difficult passage, you can't simply do it a little bit each day and hope to some day get it right... Their advice was to sit down and focus completely on getting it right. And it said not to stop the first time you get it right, but instead it said you should get it right 4 times in a row before moving along. It even suggested to place 4 pencils on one side of the piano and moving one pencil each time you get it right, until all four are on the other side. It's like boiling water: You can't heat it a little bit each day and hope it will boil some day: You must keep adding lots of heat until it boils. This left me thinking if the same advice could be applied to some areas of language learning. We usually hear the advice to study just a little bit each day, so as not to get overwhelmed, especially if you use SRS. But I guess for some things, "keep adding heat until it reaches boiling point" could be a better advice. This is similar to the concept of something reaching "critical mass". For example: The din in the head Krashen mentioned that the "din in the head", the inner voice that starts speaking in L2, only appears after several hours of intensive listening. In his experience, this happened after sitting for several hours to listen to a lecture in German that mentioned him personally. He was obviously very invested in knowing what the lecturer was saying. In another instance, an art restoration professional working in Russia had to listen to Russian all day long in order to get her work done. In both cases, the "din in the head" appeared. I guess this does not happen to those who just schedule two italki lessons per week... You need several works of intensive L2 listening for it to appear. Hanzi I believe that trying to learn the hanzi over the course of several years is not too useful: 500 is not enough for reading, neither 1,000, nor 1,500: You need around 3,000 and a several-thousand word vocabulary in order for the hanzi to actually be useful. If you do this over several years, you'll spend way more time reviewing (or re-learning) than actually reaping the benefits. I believe you need to sit down and do an extra effort over a short period of time in order to "bring water to boiling point". So, what do you guys think? Are there any areas in your studies where you have noticed that turning up the flames until the water boils is a better strategy?
  8. 5 points
    Me too, but unfortunately I'd have neither the patience nor discipline to handle that kind of training. I think the post touches on something that only now I'm becoming very cognisant of. That's the fact that intense drilling is perhaps not only beneficial but almost necessarily to make substantive progress learning a language. Somewhat related to the conversation above, last week I happened to read the introduction to the 1967 FSI Vietnamese course. The main point it made was that students need to learn to produce parts of speech spontaneously and that this requires extensive drilling. Such a method reminds me of the famous Tamu post on independent learning. While I don't know much about the latest trends or research in pedagogy, in my experience this kind of painful approach to language learning does appear to have a very successful track record for those who can commit to it. And it appeals to my intuitive belief that lots of language learning approaches now appeal to our laziness. Accordingly, over the last few weeks I've substantially changed the way I study Chinese when on my own. Before I had become lazy, merely moving on from a recorded sentence if I could understand it or, at most, repeat it in my head. This was a form of laziness that wasn't very helpful for developing an automaticity when using the language. Now when I do something like sentence flashcards I not only listen, but record every single sentence multiple times until I am satisfied I can produce it aloud with sufficient speed, accurate tones, and reasonable intonation. The one unexpected benefit I have found from this exercise is that the words and structures become deeply ingrained, even though I am focusing on the sounds rather than content of what I'm saying.
  9. 5 points
    This article from the state sponsored "The World of Chinese" magazine talks about something a cultural rennaissance in Chinese TV. I'm not sure that's true, cultural content and quality of dramas and documentaries has plummeted compared to those in the 2000-2010 period. http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2017/12/tvs-cultural-revolution/ The article mentions 3 interesting programs. Here are the links to their respective CCTV web pages where there is a helpful introduction to each program (at least in the Poetry series) and a full archive of past offerings. All these programs now have clear Chinese subtitles. The Chinese Poetry Competition《中国诗词大会》 I would need many long hours to get through the subs and unravel the very basics of what goes on in each program, but the short introduction in the web site is very helpful to get an idea of what is going on. The subs are very helpful! http://tv.cctv.com/2017/01/22/VIDAQoJpwyHDfoVTAuFqjrFd170122.shtml There already is a thread about the program in this Forum: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51296-classical-poetry-quiz-show/?tab=comments#comment-393164 Reading Aloud 《朗读者》 I've watched a few. Some readers are very good and some of the texts are interesting, but why is it that women guest readers feel they must read in a faltering voice while shedding glycerine tears? http://tv.cctv.com/lm/ldz/ National Treasure 《国家宝藏》 http://tv.cctv.com/2017/11/29/VIDAjmY28VSqK4hfQtHw0yJE171129.shtml Looks promising and there may be English subs coming up in the CCTV/ CNTV 4 version.
  10. 4 points
    Yes having the same problem. I currently spend a daily minimum of 30 mins on workaudiobook doing shadowing, 30 mins repeating out chengyu. I've hit every day this year and it has made a HUGE difference to my speaking
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