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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/15/2019 in all areas

  1. 29 points
    We got back to the UK And it was a crazy journey. First off, massive respect to the UK foreign office and local constituents for representing us, they managed to get a coach arranged only one day before the last flight out of Wuhan, which drove around 700km to pick up 4 British nationals in the far reaches of Hubei province and take us to the airport in time for the flight. I had completely given up hope, but was amazed to receive a phonecall only days ago saying there was a chance they had found a government driver that would be able to come find us. And he did. sort of. as is always the case in China, the smaller the town, the less contact with state and central government there is, and this was no different. when the coach arrived at the exit to come into our town, the police refused the driver entry point blank, saying he didn't have the right papers to enter the town. If we wanted to get on the coach, we had to come to them and walk across the ETC area by foot. okay. how do we get to him? there were three police checkpoints to get through, and the only thing the police would accept was their 枝江通行證 (turned out to be a torn in half A4 sheet with the above characters on it and a stamp…). I showed them all the embassy papers, the official notices from the provincial and city governments, but they just weren't good enough. I even called the foreign office, and was again told 'don't you have any guanxi?' In the end, it took over 2 hours, 5 pages of forms, 9 official stamps, a visit to the hospital and two government bureaus and a long argument between a yichang official and a zhijiang official who refused to stamp the final form (even though zhijiang falls under the jurisdiction of yichang). Seemed like noone wanted to be held responsible for letting us go... But more interestingly, this ordeal required us to run all across town to different departments, and it was our first time out of the house in three weeks. Cant really describe how eerie and quite frankly scary the place looked: familiar busy streets completely deserted, police cars driving around slowly, blaring messages to cover your face and stay indoors at all times, the hospital had people screaming hysterically at the entrances and (not even joking) doctors running inside with boxes with blood slopping down the side (i can only hope it was emergency blood transfusions). Nobody about except police and military, and the occasional government car. No word of a lie, it looked and felt like something straight out of I Am Legend or 28 Days Later. I really wanted to take pictures and videos, but all the police were not looking like they were in the mood for such antics. Once we finally left the city it was as expected: completely empty motorway for 3 hours. Only one month ago I day on the very same stretch of road in gridlock. Empty fields too. The whole province really is a ghost town. And it was so sad to see, because for me, Hubei is China. We made it to the airport after many police checkpoints and temperature checks, to find hundreds of passengers from a number of countries all trying to get onto three different flights leaving at the same time. It was one massive queue that lead into a single health check area. If your temperature didn't make the cut you couldn't get on the plane - found out later two of the Brits on our flight weren't allowed on and were sent back to Wuhan because their temperatures were checked five times and 1/5 times their readings were slightly above average. Terrible feeling. All in all, queued in a room full of facemasks and hazmats for about 7 hours. But thankfully for us we made it out, through the storm in the uk at the moment and landed in galeforce headwinds at a military base in the uk (scariest landing of my life). We are now in quarantine. Phew, cant believe it. As for family back in Zhijiang, we are happy we managed to get out for our own sakes, but also as it is two less mouths to feed over the next few weeks, which will make things a bit easier for the rest (still six mouths to feed all in one house now we've gone). The hoarding has already begun in many cities, and I know rations-style food distribution started in some of the 小區 near us started today. The local university has been converted into a quarantine centre, where student bunks are now hospital beds. Online classes also began today. A friend can't return home, as while they were outing buying food, someone in their building got diagnosed with the virus and now the whole block has been quarantined. People are saying infection rates are dropping, but at street level, I can say from first hand witness, the state of things near the centre of the outbreak is pretty dire to say the least… Cant believe I'm in the UK writing this right now, surreal. Just been swabbed for the virus, have to wait 48 hours for the result. Wish me luck!
  2. 24 points
    Over the last two years I have been at East China Normal University in Shanghai studying International Chinese Education. A lot of people on these forums recently have started coming with questions regarding whether or not it is worthwhile to get a master’s degree in China and what are the pros/cons. If there are any topics that you wish I'd have included, please let me know and I'll add it. I hope others will also follow suite and share their experiences of getting a master’s degree from Chinese universities. Two years is a lot of time and I’ve experienced a lot while I’ve been here. It’s not all been good but I’ve also achieve the goals I had originally set out to achieve. Before starting my degree I had one primary goal: improve my Chinese language ability. Next to that, and the reason I decided on the degree I did (汉语国际教育) is it meant staying in the field of education. I was hoping that even if I didn’t end up teaching Chinese, the knowledge I learned and the skills I gained would stick with me in teaching English. OVERVIEW The degree itself is interesting. It is not Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, but rather aims to prepare Chinese students to go to Confucius institutes and teach Chinese. As such, all of my Chinese classmates are currently working at CI’s all around the world teaching Chinese. The course work is a hybrid of language teaching and culture classes, with the idea that “International Chinese Education” (as opposed to TECL/TECL/TCSOL) has culture as a more core component. For non-Chinese people, it is a two-year (专术) degree. The first year is classes, while the second year is internship, research, and thesis writing. Chinese students and non-Chinese students are divided into separate classes, while a few (think 2 or 3) of the classes are taken together. This is in large part because the needs are very different. Many of the Chinese student’s classes focus on English language learning and understanding the process of learning Chinese whereas the non-Chinese students’ classes focus on Chinese language learning as much as language teaching. Chinese students are expected to already have a solid foundation of linguistics and Chinese language and culture knowledge before beginning. This degree is not focused on research or academics. It is a degree specifically geared toward preparing students to enter the classroom and teach Chinese. COURSEWORK Courses are all condensed into the first year. There were roughly 10 classes per semester. Each class had its homework and the whole year was very intense. The full list of courses is: 1. 论文写作 (focused on how to format a Chinese thesis as well as how to decide on a research topic) 2. 汉语国际教育导论 (nothing worthwhile to say about this one) 3. 当代中国 (Chinese language class focusing on Chinese history and news) 4. 教学设计 (how to plan a class) 5. 跨文化交际与文化传播 (how culture is disseminated) 6. 文化项目 (how to plan a cultural event and assess its success) 7. 汉语语言学 (basic linguistics with a focus on Chinese) 8. 课堂管理 (classroom management which involved a lot of case studies) 9. 跨文化交际 (theories behind cultural communication) 10. 高级汉语 (two semesters, normal Chinese class) 11. 中国民俗 (Chinese traditions and holidays and things like that) 12. 口才艺术 (pronunciation class taught by a 播音员) 13. 教学技术 (teaching skills which broke up the process of teaching a class into very clear segments and talked about how to plan a class to account for all components) 14. 汉语教学教材与资源 (how to design your own textbooks) 15. 教学要素 (looked at commonly taught things like how to teach 把字句 or stroke order) 16. 汉字文化 (the history of Chinese characters) 17. 文化课(太极拳、油画、书法、民族舞)(two semesters) Overall, I felt that a lot of the content was redundant or not well covered. The earlier problems were discussed with the teachers and they made a very strong effort to better communicate with each other and make sure classes didn’t repeat the same information. It got better and props to the department for taking the constructive criticism so well. The latter problem, with material not being covered very well, was largely a consequence of how little basic knowledge most students in the class had about teaching methodology or grammar or etc. The bar to get in was just too low in my opinion, and as a result, it felt more like a year of undergrad coursework. This was utterly disappointing to me. If you are considering this degree to better prepare you to teach Chinese, I would recommend going someplace else. At the very least, do not do this degree at ECNU but rather do the linguistics degree which will not separate out Chinese and non-Chinese students, and as a result demand much more from the students. TEACHING As for the teachers themselves. It was a mixed bag. There were no teachers that everyone was agreement as a bad teacher. So it is important to recognize the below as my opinion. Some teachers knew there content extremely well and were able to pair it up with successful teaching methods. In other words, they practiced what they preached. Unfortunately, this was the minority. I found most teachers taught in stark contrast to the dos and don’ts being taught. Some of the classes had great content but it was delivered very poorly, and I got far more from just ignoring the teaching and reading on my own. Still yet other classes were an utter waste of time. Classes were mostly taught in the teacher-speaks-you-listen way, despite a constant drilling from various classes that teaching this way is ineffective. This was paired with many homework assignments that seems to do little from an education standpoint. What I did like was that few classes used paper tests and most all required papers. This was good practice for writing a thesis and altogether I wrote something like 10 papers, each in excess of 2000 characters, some longer that 5000 characters. THESIS The most fruitful part of this whole process was writing my own thesis in Chinese. The thesis has a 30000-character requirement. Mine ended up at 35,000 which, included the appendix, graphs and everything, amounted to 80 pages. The process was: During the first semester all students determine which direction they want to study (culture or language) and were randomly assigned a thesis advisor (Not according to your area of interest, which meant even if your area of interest was exactly what one teacher is researching, you were still very unlikely to get paired. Very frustrating.). During the second semester, most thesis advisors had some way of encouraging students to deepen their understanding of their chosen direction. Some had bi-weekly study groups in which students choose papers to read and analyze together, while others require you to collect a list of all relevant papers to your topic. Each advisor had their own method, while some were completely hands-off. Those students all struggled. Some students, despite immense effort, only managed to get a few phrases of feedback during the whole one-and-a-half-year process from their “advisor.” My personal experience was that when I asked another advisor a question since a paper they wrote was part of my thesis, my thesis advisor at the time got furious (apparently she had beef with the other advisor) and demanded I change thesis advisors. It was all a very childish affair. Once your topic was clarified and before the end of the second semester, all students had to present their topic to a panel that would decide whether or not it was do-able. This involved explaining how you would go about your research and why it was of value to pursue. If your idea passed the panel, the next step was to begin research. All students were expected to find an internship for their third semester (no formal help was provided from the school in finding these internships) during which all were expected to do their research. My research focused on vocabulary acquisition and several motivational factors and their effect on vocabulary retention over several time periods. It’s worth noting that at this point, we still had no idea what the precise timeline was for when we turned in our thesis. In, roughly, late December, it was announced we needed to turn in our first full draft by the end of January. This was in stark contrast to the estimated early-March deadline. Many students resorted to less-than-kosher methods (directly paying someone to write their whole thesis, plagiarism, and what-not) to deal with the short deadline as many could not begin writing until they had collected their data from their internship or were too busy with the internship to have any time to write. I literally spent one month at my apartment writing and adopted a cat to cope with the stress. Great decision. My orange tabby Charlie is an angel. After turning in the first draft, each new deadline was announced in bit by bit: second draft with all parts completed, then a final draft which was used for the pre-defense in early March, and a week after the pre-defense all were to turn in their final draft. The final draft went through a “复制比检测” to check to make sure <10% of all content was similar to any other document in their system. It seems to work as at least one student who succumbed to easier options had a copy rate in excess of 30%. That student now has three months to re-write their thesis. Lastly, student draw lots for 盲审 in which papers are given to a blind-panel for review (though your status as an overseas student is noted). The last part, and the part I have not yet taken part in, is the proper defense of the thesis in May. However, I have been told that should the department let you pass the pre-defense, you are most likely going to pass the actual defense. My understanding is also that since our thesis is not uploaded to 知网, which is to say it is not to be seen by any outside of the school, standards are much lower than for, say, a student in the linguistics program. MISC Students in the master’s degree program stay with the other international students in the same dorms which have two students per dorm with a shared bathroom on each floor. The rooms are simple though quite big as they are designed for Chinese-style dorms with two sets of bunks per room. The services provided from the International Student Services office were top notch. Every step of the way, from registering to moving of campus, was well explained. They provided plenty of help and were always available to answer questions of WeChat. Big props to that whole team. If you like taking part in school events like fashion shows and singing competitions, they organize plenty of these as well. University life is great since ECNU is next to the biggest shopping mall in Shanghai as well as a massive park with a large pond (though many call it a lake). There is no shortage of food options with plenty of restaurants and three separate canteens on campus, which also include halal areas, western-style areas, and a slightly fancier area outside of the normal Chinese canteens. The campus itself is also comfortable (Zhongshan campus) with plenty of nature and a little steam running through the middle. CONCLUSION Simply put, if your goal is to improve your Chinese language ability, this is a really good degree to go for at ECNU. Your coursework will demand reading increasing amounts of Chinese content and climax in writing 30,000 Chinese characters. However, the burden of improving your Chinese is on you (be prepared to include 300 RMB/week for a tutor in your budget). On the other hand, if you sincerely want to become a great Chinese teacher, this program is not for you. It falls short it two major ways: 1) bar of entry is too low and as such content difficult is reduced to match the needs of most students. 2) Academic rigor is desperately lacking. Students often get away with plagiarism and very low-quality work. The result is a degree that doesn’t hold much credibility. If you are looking to teach Chinese, make sure to enroll in a program that does not separate out the international students and applies the same standards to all students. Chinese students were all held to a much high standard and I think that is better. If you do this, then make sure you are already at a “strong” HSK 6 before entering the program, otherwise you’ll be spending too much time on language learning and not enough time on mastering the content that will enable you to become a great Chinese teacher.
  3. 18 points
    I recently completed 300 lessons on italki.com with my Chinese teacher, and it's been suggested that I write something up. I'll try to focus on lessons learned, as in: things I would do differently if starting again. Background When I started learning Chinese in Feb 2017 it was more or less from zero. I knew nihao and xiexie, and I could recognise a few Hanzi thanks to the beginner's level Japanese I've done twice in F2F evening classes. That was it. My motivation for learning was partly because I was living in Singapore at the time (and therefore seeing Chinese written on signs everywhere, so I was curious), and partly because I love learning languages, and Chinese to me always seemed like one of the great challenges to have a go at. I also had a vague idea about moving to China to work for a while, like many of us I guess. I knew I wanted to learn 1:1 online rather than having F2F classes, because I really enjoy the flexibility. I studied Hindi with a teacher on Skype when I lived in India and that had worked really well. I'd also done plenty of evening classes over the years and been dissatisfied with the rigidity of once-a-week, 10 weeks in a semester, and having to travel to a school somewhere to study after a tiring day at work. With 1:1 classes I appreciate being able to dictate my own pace, and with online I like the flexibility of being able to move classes around, re-scheduling to suit my situation when necessary. italki.com is useful like this as it basically acts a scheduling system for your lessons. I always keep going with classes even when I'm travelling or on holiday, so long as I have a decent Internet connection. Getting Started I went to italki.com, found a teacher with 5-star reviews and good qualifications, and we had a 30-minute trial lesson. It went very well, so we started having one-hour lessons once a week using Zoom or Skype... we've switched back and forth for various technical reasons over the years (and even used WeChat once I think although it doesn't support screen sharing). I like my teacher a lot — we're still together after more than 3 years — but in retrospect once a week wasn't enough to begin with, particularly in retaining vocabulary. We studied using pinyin and I made steady but slow progress for the first 6 months, using the Integrated Chinese textbooks to start with. (I was working a full-time job at this point btw.) After 6 months we decided it was time to move onto Hanzi, and shortly after that — around September — I decided to go for the December HSK 2 exam as a short-term objective. So we switched from the Integrated Chinese series to the HSK 2 Standard Course textbook and workbook, and eventually to the HSK 2 practice exams in the 3-4 weeks before the actual exam. HSK and HSKK I did the paper-based version of the HSK 2 exam in Singapore in Dec 2017. Sitting in a classroom surrounded by 10-year old schoolkids was a bit weird! My thinking was that going for Level 2 first would give me experience of the exam format, and something to aim for that wasn't too daunting. I scored 92% for listening and 99% for reading. Round about then I discovered these forums and started getting more motivated and more excited about what might lie ahead. 😎 I had lesson #65 a year to the day since I started, so that was an average of 1.25 per week in the first year, and by this point we'd done 5 lessons in the HSK 3 textbook out of a total of 20. We switched up a gear and I began having lessons 2-3 times a week, and conscientiously doing homework, both of which I found made a lot of difference with retention of material. My teacher is fond of this quote, which seems very apt: 学如逆水行舟,不进则退。 Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back. We finished the HSK 3 textbook in June 2018 and then moved onto exam preparation for HSK 3 and HSKK 初级 beginner level. I registered to do both the exams in Shanghai in July as part of a holiday in China — my first visit. (If ever you want to ruin the first few days of your holiday, just try spending them sitting in a hotel room doing mock exams!) This was also my first experience of doing the HSK on computer rather than the paper test, and I found it harder and slower to read the Hanzi as they were pretty low-resolution in a poor quality font. I wrote up the experience in detail on this thread: HSK 3 "internet-based test" — report. In the end my HSK 3 score was Listening: 88, Reading: 74, Writing: 92, total 254 (pass mark is 180, 60%). On reflection, I wish I had spent more time preparing for the reading section, because you have to be able to read very quickly, and it’s useful to have some tactics for answering certain kinds of questions, such as skimming the ones that are asking you “in general, what is this text about?”. For example I could have done more mock tests, but just the reading section against a timer. The HSKK beginner level exam was pretty painless and in fact I was the only person in the room, so it was very relaxed. I scored 78/100 (the pass mark is 60). Next we started the HSK 4 textbooks (two volumes) and I plodded along with those; meanwhile I also registered for the HSKK 中极 intermediate exam in Singapore in Dec 2018. We did some oral preparation for that in lessons in the weeks before. In the end this exam was a bit of a disaster, mainly due to the very noisy set-up in the room (as I described in another post) and I could barely hear what was going on. I only scored 53/100 for this (the pass mark again is 60). I left Singapore in Dec 2018, and 2019 was meant to be a "gap year" although it didn't really turn out that way. I continued with my online lessons though, apart from a 4-week break when I studied CELTA intensively. From May to December I ended up in Beijing teaching English to Chinese schoolkids, and obviously living in China for the first time made a big difference to my studies. Certainly by the time I was about to leave Beijing in December 2019 I felt like something was starting to "click" in terms of listening because I was just hearing Mandarin spoken a lot of the time, including from Chinese work colleagues and students. In April 2020 we finished the second HSK 4 textbook (4下) shortly after completing 300 lessons, after around 3 years and 2 months in total, and originally the aim would then have been to move into exam preparation mode. But meanwhile most of the world had become locked-down due to COVID-19 and exams were cancelled. So in the interim we've recently shifted to working on listening and speaking again, using photos as stimulus material and some bits of HSKK 中级 tests. So far this year we'd been doing 2 lessons a week as I was trying to save money, but I'm going to move it back up to 3 per week again now. I'd like to do the HSK 4 exam this year (2020) but this will probably be in China and I've no idea when I'll finally get back there. Lesson Formats Generally we follow a lesson format set by the teacher, although whenever there's something specific I want to work on, like revising certain aspects of grammar or pronunciation we'll switch to those for a while. My teacher always gives a full 60 minute lesson — no mean feat if you have back-to-back classes. We usually begin each lesson with a 5-10 minute chat about what I've been doing since the last lesson, talking about the weather or current affairs etc. I know some folk really don't like this, but I find it a good warm-up exercise... apart from anything else, I usually prepare some vocab for it which is useful since it's usually non-HSK vocab but directly relevant to my everyday life, so it fills a certain gap. After the chat we move onto the textbook or workbook. Mostly we've been working through the HSK Standard Course textbooks chapter by chapter, and each chapter has a set structure: Some new words and discussion of topic area for the chapter Dialogues and texts, with new words at the side Grammar points, examples and exercises For the dialogues and texts we'll go through the new words and then I'll try to read the text out loud. Typically then I'll read again but with the teacher reading first and me repeating, so we can focus on tones and sentence structure. Then my teacher will ask me a few questions to test comprehension, often leading into a broader discussion, asking my opinions etc., followed by some discussion of main grammar points. Finally we'll discuss any problems or questions I might have. For the grammar and exercises we'll work through the material together, skipping some stuff that's meant to be group-work. I've been pretty happy with this approach... it's good to have a structure to work with and I like the way that the new vocabulary is introduced in chunks in each chapter. We've also used the HSK Standard Course workbooks, in a fairly ad hoc way for HSK 3 but by HSK 4 we had settled on a pretty solid routine whereby after finishing each chapter in the textbook we would do the corresponding reading and writing exercises in the workbook. These are like cut-down versions of the HSK exam, but only using the vocab that has been introduced up to that point, chapter by chapter, so I've found they work very well. At HSK 3 level we did some of the listening exercises from the workbook, with the teacher reading out the text, but we didn't bother doing this for HSK 4... since the workbook comes with audio I can do this on my own when I finally start to prepare for the HSK 4 exam. The other lesson formats we've had have been preparation for the HSK or HSKK exam, which in the earlier days was going through the mock papers, but I soon moved onto doing these against the clock in my own time, and then making a note of any problems so we could discuss them in the next class. Tools and Resources I've found that the tools and resources I've used have changed over time. When I first started to learn Hanzi I began using the Skritter app and was focused on trying to learn radicals. I don't know how or where I came across this recommendation ("learn radicals first"), but in the end I decided it was pointless, especially learning their names. For me it was more important to be learning words. I ended up with a little poster stuck up in the kitchen with radicals and variants on it, and rather than trying to "learn" them I found it more useful just to browse this from time to time, while cooking for example, and to go and look at it when I noticed a certain radical was cropping up. Actually I think what made a lot more difference to me was thinking about components and how phonetic-semantic characters work. If I'm working on a laptop I often use MDBG.net or HanziCraft to look up a new character and break it down into components to help me understand what's going on, and to see if there's a pronunciation "clue" in there. I also use the ZhongWen pop-up dictionary extension for Chrome all the time, and that hooks very nicely into MDBG and Chinese Grammar Wiki. I liked Skritter — the method for learning tones is interesting — but I found that when using this app it was just taking me too long to learn the HSK vocabulary for the level I was at. Plus, my attitude to handwriting has always been that it's not essential and that I will come to it eventually. So in the end I cancelled my subscription. When I was working towards HSK 3 I was using memrise.com a lot, via the browser on my laptop rather than the app. I built my own multi-level deck for studying the vocab, organised in the order they're presented in the textbook, testing by audio. I built my own because there's one for HSK 2 which I had found useful. What eventually turned me off memrise is that it was full of mistakes and missing audio, one of the downsides of user-generated content. Plus I moved more to using apps on my phone for learning on the go, and I didn't like the memrise app. (Memrise seems to have changed a lot since then.) Eventually I moved onto using the StickyStudy app for vocab, and I hacked my own decks (available here) so I had one for each chapter in the HSK 4 textbooks. Again I found it better to break things down a bit — a single deck with 600 cards in it is harder to manage. Recently I was curious about Tofulearn after hearing good things here so I started using that as well, including using it briefly to go back to learning handwriting for HSK1 level, "for fun". Currently I'm mainly using Tofulearn on my iPad, drilling the HSK 4 vocab... it doesn't work well on my iPhone as I have the text set to be quite large (accessibility settings) and it doesn't fit on the screen properly. But on the iPad it just seems to hit the sweet spot for me. I hadn't really dug into it much until recently, but it also allows you to drill down into components, similar characters and so on. Since I've now finished the textbooks and covered all the vocab, the order of presentation doesn't matter any more — but in Tofulearn the 600 word deck is broken down into sets of 50 cards, so you can practice a smaller subset if you want. One thing I've found really useful and important with all these tools is being able to hear native-speaker audio (not synthesised text-to-speech) when I'm learning the Hanzi... this has helped me a lot with recalling tones, to the extent that I can subvocalise or "hear in my mind's ear" what many of these words sound like in the recordings. Of course there's also an enormous amount of content out there even just on youtube. I enjoyed watching the free ChinesePod videos from the "Fiona and Constance era" — I really liked the way they presented the Qing Wen series, especially when I was starting out and I needed some solid explanations of things like the differences between 的 - 得 - 地. I also found the XM Mandarin youtube channel to have a lot of useful videos relating to understanding and preparing for HSK and HSKK exams. Xiao Min's voice is very clear and well-recorded... I used some of her vocabulary playlists when I needed to revise but wanted a change or was feeling tired. Alan Davies @hskalan did some great analysis and clustering of HSK vocab along with visualisations at hskhsk.com which I've had fun with... things get a bit unwieldy at HSK 4 but looking at the common characters in HSK1-3 is really interesting and helped me consolidate my understanding quite a bit. I've tried creating my own visualisations using Gephi and the source files which is interesting but a but tricky. Finally of course there's Pleco, which I use every day. I've tried using the flashcards feature for revision but found it a bit basic compared to StickyStudy. Apart from that it's one of the best apps I've ever used for anything. Graded readers is one area I've not managed to get into properly yet... I read The Monkey's Paw last year and the story was a bit simplistic, but it's nice to be able to read an actual book. I have a graded reader sitting on Pleco too which I've not started yet (Legend of the White Snake), and again on the iPad it seems like it hits the sweet spot in terms of presentation and function, although I do find the mix of hyperlinks and underlined text too cluttered... it would be nice to be able to turn this off. Well that was a couple of hours of brain-dump on a Saturday lunchtime. I hope it's useful to someone. Edit: My teacher and I recently decided on a book we can use next to help me consolidate grammar and improve speaking/listening, given that HSK exams have been suspended during the C-19 lockdown. See this other thread.
  4. 18 points
    Hey ABC, if you don't know yet, there is a chance of snow in Dallas for the next couple of days. The TV weather report is saying travel is not recommended. (Just what you want to hear...) Yes, you are right, that's not what I was hoping to hear. Got to DFW (Dallas) last night from Los Angeles. Good flight. But this pilgrim is weary. Feels like I've been on the road forever. Lost my large checked suitcase somewhere along the way. Filed a "lost baggage" report. Chances are it's back in Hong Kong. Have rented a car, and in a couple hours will drive home. Should be able to lay my head on my own pillow tonight. A big thank you to all of you here on the forum who have been pulling for me to make it!
  5. 15 points
    It was all because I, out of curiosity, downloaded @imron's Chinese Text Analyzer. I just wanted to get a rough idea on how different Chinese writers compare with each other in terms of accessibility for foreign language learners. As a native speaker, I'm not in a good position to assess the relative ease or difficulty of a book. Of course I know 《道德经》 is more difficult than 《小布头奇遇记》. But what about normal books that normal people read? I wanted a more objective criterion. And I think I've found one – the number of unique characters in a book. (Total characters and unique words are also useful – Chinese word segmentation is not a perfect science but the number still means something when comparing different texts.) After running a dozen of .txt files through CTA, I have some interesting findings: 1) 余华 really is easy. He is like the Chinese Hemingway. You can't get any easier, really. 余华's 《活着》 is a favorite among Chinese learners for good reason. It has 1865 unique characters, significantly lower than 2619, the number of unique characters in 曹文轩's 《草房子》, a children's novel suitable for 4-6th graders. 2) For advanced readers like imron, who knows 4400 characters and has quite a few 金庸s under his belt, the Four Classic Novels or 四大名著 should be theoretically within reach. (《水浒传》 was among the first novels I read. I was in 初一 and I don't think I knew that many characters. I didn't understand everything of course, but understanding everything isn't the point.) So it was a dark and stormy night. I ran a dozen of .txt files through CTA. And the perfectionist in me wasn't happy. As anyone who has used these "free" e-books knows, they're a very mixed bag. Typos, OCR errors, bad formatting, and no way to know which version/edition they are based on. When all the texts you pull from the internet give you 身后“”的马蹄声, you know something is missing. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I bought some 300 yuan's worth of books and was proofreading e-books... That's when it struck me: We have a First Episode Project, why not a First Chapter Project? Thus here I am, presenting you with 第一弹 of the First Chapter Project! biu~biu~ The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. The reason I chose it is because: 1) It's popular. It's one of the bestselling books on JD.com, Dangdang, and Amazon.cn. 2) It's a contemporary work, not too easy, not too difficult, and rather heavy on dialogue. A major obstacle may be technical vocabulary. But the Chinese technical words are mostly compounds and relatively transparent compared to English. And you don't need to be a scientist to read science fictions. From what I gathered from JD.com reviews, children as young as 10 are able to enjoy this book. How much do you reckon they know about particle physics or radio cosmology? Not much. It's just a fun escapist adventure. Don't take it too seriously. 3) It has two different versions of the first chapter. The novel was first serialized in Science Fiction World in 2006, because the opening scene (China at the height of the Cultural Revolution) was deemed too sensitive for the year 2006 – the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the said revolution. In the book version published in 2008, the story begins instead in present-day Beijing – the original Chapter 1 was tone down a bit and became Chapter 7. The English translation from 2014, which went on to win the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, was based on the serialized version. Personally, I like the book narrative better. Science fiction with no sign of science in the first 30 pages is, frustrating. Although admittedly, had it not been for the Cultural Revolution theme, it wouldn't have won the Hugo Award and I wouldn't have read it in the first place. All right, enough third conditionals. Let's get to the main course. 《三体》,刘慈欣,重庆出版社,2008年1月第1版,2017年8月第7次印刷,ISBN 978-7-5366-9293-0 Difficulty: medium; Total characters: 162,680; Unique characters: 2,817; Unique words: 10,228 (not counting preface, epilogue and the like) First chapter (6,897 characters): (I made two corrections: 不、不→不,不 and 看去很小很小→看上去很小很小) Characters: 汪淼 Wāng Miǎo – Nanomaterials researcher (淼,大水也。 Personal names are the best opportunity to get acquainted with some rare characters, e.g., 金鑫, 牛犇, 朴文垚.) 史强 Shǐ Qiáng – Police detective and counter-terrorism specialist, nicknamed 大史 Dà Shǐ 常伟思 Cháng Wěisī – Major general of the People's Liberation Army 杨冬 Yáng Dōng – String theorist, recently committed suicide 丁仪 Dīng Yí – Theoretical physicist, Yang Dong's boyfriend 申玉菲 Shēn Yùfēi – Chinese-Japanese physicist and member of the Frontiers of Science Other names: 科学边界 Kēxué Biānjiè – Frontiers of Science, a fictional international academic group 吉普赛人 Jípǔsàirén – Gypsy 北约 Běiyuē (abbr. for 北大西洋公约组织) – NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) 中央情报局 Zhōngyāng Qíngbào Jú (中情局) – Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 罗非鱼 Luófēiyú – tilapia 良湘 Liángxiāng – Fictional place name, site of China's new high-energy particle accelerator 钱钟书 Qián Zhōngshū (1910.11.21–1998.12.19) – Chinese literary scholar and writer 白桦树 Báihuàshù – Siberian silver birch (Betula platyphylla) 联合国教科文组织 Liánhéguó Jiào Kē Wén Zǔzhī – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 三菱电机 Sānlíng Diànjī – Mitsubishi Electric 石器时代 Shíqì Shídài – Stone Age Vocabulary (explanations in Chinese, taken from 《现代汉语词典》第7版 and 教育部《重編國語辭典修訂本》): (A bit long, so I'll just fold it into a spoiler tag) ==================== P.S. If you're planning to buy the book, don't buy the hard copy, at least not until there's a revision. They made 200+ changes to the original text, ranging from unnecessary (它几乎完全被野草埋没/它几乎被野草完全埋没) to awkward (扩大搜索目标、频率及范围/扩大搜索目标和频率和范围) to stupid (夕阳、晚霞/朝阳、朝霞). The handling of 了 and measure words makes one wonder whether the editors are native speakers. And I'm not even talking about typographical errors that can throw a reader completely off the planet (一颗恒星/一个颗状星). The electronic version restored most of the original text while keeping the rearranged chapter order. It is the version I recommend.
  6. 15 points
    As promised, here is the second installment of my blog following the second term of teaching in a one year Masters program in interpreting and translation at Bath University in the UK. The structure and content of teaching in the second term has been very different to the first term, so if you are interested in comparing, please take a look at my first blog entry. The second term put A LOT more emphasis on live interpreting practice, pressure has been a lot higher, and the requirements for specialized vocabulary has been noticeably greater than the first term. I will break down the different classes over a few blog entries, in the hope its more palatable for reading. I will assess my own performance vs my Chinese classmates, as well as reflect on Chinese-English interpreting from a native English speakers perspective whenever it might be useful. Firstly I’ll start with Simultaneous Interpreting. Simultaneous Interpreting and using Glossaries So, our SI (Simultaneous Interpreting) class has been every Monday at 11:15. The course works both directions C-E and E-C, and we have alternated direction from week to week. We mostly work inside professional interpreting booths for the first hour, doing live interpreting of videos that vary from 10 mins in length to half an hour using headphones and microphones that record live. The second hour is largely dedicated to feedback and guidance for improvement. We are told the broad topic of the class via email around Thursday the week before, for example, “next weeks SI will be on ‘fracking’” and that’s it. We are then expected to prepare a glossary of specialized terms, usually that can fit on one A4 page, which we can then bring to class and place next to our microphones as we interpret, for reference. The point of this is not to actually collect huge lists of words (although this inevitably happens), but rather, read widely and educate ourselves on different subjects in both English and Chinese, as well as learn how to ‘prep’ for real life interpreting jobs. Many students seemed to have no issue with this set up, as many already have rich active vocabularies and encyclopedic knowledge. (side note: Seriously, I have never met such widely read people in my life. And that really goes for every single one of my classmates; they can talk through macro and microeconomics with ease, go to a doctors ward and discuss the treatment regimen for obscure diseases, explain in depth how neural networking is changing media reporting; all in both Chinese AND English. Quite amazing and very motivating for study). One downside of this set up for me has been that I have spent almost all my free time building glossaries and learning vocabulary, whereas my classmates have had time to practice the actual skill of interpreting in out-of-class hours. That being said, if I had known this before starting the course I probably would have been scared away and never even started. It is an inevitability for many of us coming from a background of only starting learning Chinese at university, there is simply not enough time to consolidate the vast amounts of knowledge required for professional level interpreting. Getting back on topic: everyone seemed to have their own method to putting together specialized glossaries, for SI classes some even came with entire prepared folders with concise glossaries on pretty much every entry to an encyclopedia (I later learnt that in some cases these glossaries had already been used for many years and were very familiar to their users). I have spent the better part of every week this year picking out key terminology for Monday’s SI class (and Thursday’s Consecutive Interpreting class), that is, terms that would require thinking time over and above the constraints of simultaneous interpreting. The reaction time to a speaker usually needs to be kept within 2 seconds; if terminology comes up that is not in your active vocabulary, it will almost certainly stretch you to around 5-10 seconds before you get it out in the target language, by which time the entire thread of the speakers argument has been missed. Evidently, glossaries are incredibly important to successful simultaneous interpreting. In almost all cases I short-term memorised every item on each glossary; heres a look at my anki: Vocabulary requirements In the last 3 months alone I have accumulated 1610 specialised vocabulary terms in my anki. This in fact EXCLUDES my cards from Supermemo (another well-know srs system which I both love and hate at the same time) which has another 2733 cards added since early March (see attached images). I use Supermemo for reading, so many of these cards aren’t vocabulary items, but clozed passages from Wikipedia/academic articles. Nonetheless, the mental strain for getting up to the standard required for SI is frankly unhealthy: it is simply not doable in the time frame that the course allows. Many of my classmates have already taken courses in interpreting prior to this course, and so managed to keep up with the pace, but lets just say there were tears in class from some a number of times. Left: Anki deck specifically for interpreting glossaries. Right: excel files for glossaries Regarding the workload and how I coped. I estimate (stressing estimate, based on a pleco deck I have added to over the last five years to track my vocab progress) my passive vocabulary is now around 15-20,000, but active is to be honest probably only around 10-15,000 (again, hard to really know). Which is certainly not good enough to do professional interpreting with. For anyone considering doing a course like this, you should know that you are aiming for ‘near-native’ level size of active vocabulary, what I have been working with seemed like an impressive vocabulary size when I started the course, but now it seems laughable. Some of my classmates are far better read than me in English, 30k+ I reckon. a deck I have added any word I think 'useful' to over the years. I review these words in anki. an example of what my supermemo decks for reading Chinese/English articles looks like. As you can see, the requirements for vocabulary appear very scary. That being said, to someone that has learnt Chinese or English seriously for 10+ years, this is quite reasonable and achievable. I first went to China in 2008, and didn’t properly start learning until 2013/14, so I still have many years to go! I’m sure some of the longer-standing members of these forums must be nodding with a wry smile right now - been there done that! That’s it for now, next entry I’ll go through my thoughts on the CI class. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, very hard to try and structure all that has happened over the last few months.
  7. 14 points
    Hello, I created a podcast series aimed at intermediate to advanced learners who want to listen to more spoken Chinese to improve or become more used to pronunciation and sentence structures. Along with each podcast episode, I also set out the script (in simplified Chinese and pinyin) for that episode on my website (https://chinesecolloquialised.com/). The podcast episodes are under the name "Chinese Colloquialised", which can be found on most major podcast platforms (e.g. Apple Podcast / Google Podcast / Spotify / Overcast/ etc). If there are any intermediate to advanced learners, I would be keen to hear your thoughts on the podcast. Particularly: Is it helpful? Is it too easy or too difficult? Do you find the episodes interesting? Any other thoughts, whether it's positive compliments or constructive criticism. Thank you and best wishes, Kaycee
  8. 14 points
    update from quarantine here: - first lab test results are back, and the whole group has tested negative, which is obviously great news. - were going to be tested again this saturday, then again two days before the 14 day period is up, because apparently some symptomless carriers don't show up on early tests. - i am closing in on completing my written memorisation of 千字文, I have written it out so much now I am starting to really hate it…which is always a good sign, shows I'm definitely reciting it enough - hit the 30 mark for classical poems learnt by heart… - so bored ive ordered a neo geo to the quarantine centre so i can play metal slug. I literally never get bored of studying, but damnit if my brain doesn't need to unwind sometimes
  9. 14 points
    Im certainly no expert, but seeing as the title reads "what do you believe", I will share my opinion based on what I saw in Hubei in the last few days. Ive never seen anything like the level to which the cities have been locked down before, it was very extreme to the point where I was wondering, why are there so many roadblocks everywhere, when nobody even wants to go outside? People have been saying a lot about how the amount of flu deaths far exceeds this virus, even if it is super contagious, no need to panic blah blah. But we all know the Chinese govt puts economic development before pretty much everything, so shutting down a whole province all the way down to the movement of people out of their neighbourhood streets onto the main streets, which will inevitably have a deep impact on the economy long term, surely indicates that this is not only a serious problem, but the govt knows just how much more serious it might become if it doesn't put measures in place. But they can't really state this outright, otherwise the whole place will go into panic mode. So yes, I personally think numbers are being underreported and downplayed, judging from the actions bring taken at street level, and to me it makes logical sense as to why.
  10. 14 points
    I’m bailing out. Bought a ticket late last night that has me leaving this Friday, 31 Jan. Will fly via Hong Kong. Flights via Beijing and Shanghai are subject to long delays or cancellations. "Hub" traffic jammed up, especially in Beijing, where they are “breaking in” a new airport. In Hong Kong I will remain air-side if possible. I will have completed exit formalities at passport control prior to boarding in Kunming. I should be in Dallas by the afternoon of Saturday 1 Feb. Lock-downs and travel bans are becoming more widespread. Inter-city bus routes have been suspended, as has all group holiday touring. Most points of interest all over China are closed. The government has officially extended the holiday, so people don't need to be in a panic to get back home to their place of employment. Once people reach their actual homes, where they have jobs, I wouldn't be surprised if all (or most) domestic travel is halted. When no one is sure how much is enough, official over-reaction becomes the norm. Schools are suspended, all gathering places are sealed. Even the movie theaters have shut down. People are stockpiling groceries, especially non-perishables like rice and cooking oil. Canned goods were flying off the shelves when I was at WalMart this morning. If I were not to act now, I would face a real risk of being stranded here 3 or 4 more months before being allowed to exit the country. At least that is my main concern. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. A second concern is that even though I am healthy, were I to get a benign ten-cent winter cold, the cough, runny nose, and slight fever from that would wind me up in some mandatory locked isolation ward, shoulder to shoulder with people who are "really" sick. I see that as a recipe for disaster; my policy is to stay far away from hospitals at times like this unless I’m on the caregiver end of the equation. So it's bye bye Kunming. I will definitely miss you. Promise to return as soon as it's safe.
  11. 14 points
    This is my last entry for this blog now that my course has finished (for those asking how the second year is going, it is only a one-year MA at Bath). I’ve been meaning to update for a while, just not had the time to sit down and write. Anyway, here it is: last thoughts on exams, dissertation, outcomes and achievements and of course what the future holds: Final exams As said in previous blog entries, translation and interpretation are totally different in terms of the skillset and workload requirements, and the same was true during exams. I got fairly good marks in my translation exams, which took the form of two unseen English articles to be translated into Chinese, and vice versa. The content for the E-C was fairly technical stuff on windfarms and medicine, the C-E was a clinical trial and an art exhibition (I’m working on some pretty hazy memory tbh, it might have been slightly different, but roughly in these areas). In E-C the biggest challenge was trying to keep up pace with the writing speed of my Chinese classmates. I didn’t finish the exam as a result, I translated the first article in full, but only 80% of the second (bad exam tactic: I drafted my translation in Chinese then wrote out in full in clear kaishu…then ran out of time…yeah). The C-E was a different story, I finished the paper with an hour to spare and walked out just after the amazing Taiwanese/American guy, which was a massive feeling of accomplishment for me. The mark I got was better than I had hoped for too, so that was a big plus. Interpretation was of course another story. Consecutive exams went okayish, I scraped through and got mediocre marks. My simultaneous exams all went terrible, I got so nervous I just froze up and stopped speaking in some of them, it really was awful. My marks were naturally very bad, surely the worst in the class I would imagine. Thankfully my average dragged me up overall, and all that really came of the experience was a harsh reminder that I am not able (nor do I ever hope to) do interpreting professionally. My own personal opinion is that interpreting really is for people who have lived in a bilingual environment for at least 10 years from a young age (starting from teen years at the very latest). I first started dabbling in Chinese when I was 20, and I think I am borderline. I believe I would be able to get to a professional level if I put in another 5-10 years from now (I am 31 as of writing). And I don’t really think I’m willing or able to give that time unfortunately. Dissertation I managed to make contact with a famous Taiwanese author and got the translation copyright for a final dissertation translation of a book on the history of Chinese calligraphy. It was an amazing project to work on, I learned a lot of in depth specialist knowledge, and has given me a lot of ideas for the future. I am very happy to say I got a distinction for the translation, and hope to get an English translation of the full book published at some point in the future. The future If I learned from my exams that interpreting wasn’t for me, I learned from my dissertation that translation…is! That being said, while the money is fairly decent, the way in which projects come at you randomly as a freelancer is not so much fun (sure many here can relate). As a result, I’m hoping to now go into education as a Chinese teacher here in the UK, with translation as a supporting income. The dissertation project has also thrown me in a new direction, with a current cooperative currently being set up with a group of fantastic artists and calligraphers I know from Hubei. I’m sure there will be more to come from this in the coming years too. Final thoughts For me – this was the hardest, most challenging year of my life. Regarding the change in my Chinese abilities over the last year: Pros - Speaking has become a lot more formal and adult like, less ‘cute’ and childlike. - Writing has become a lot quicker and again more formal in style, less ‘wechatty’ - Reading is rapid, I can now do sentence reading in 2-3 chunks rather than word by word now, and reading out loud with proper emphasis is much, much better now. Cons - Listening has become more difficult, as my brain gets frustrated when I am not 100% about every single word, tone, sentence level implication, etc. Although this might be a good thing in the long run. - I hesitate and stutter a lot more when speaking, as I am so much more aware of when word order/grammar/word choice is slightly off during the mental preparation of a sentence. I have learned too many new words over the last year, and not absorbed deep enough – as a result it causes me to stop for recall quite a lot now. If you are a native English speaker interested in doing a Chinese/English interpreting-translation qualification, I say be sure you know why you want to do the course. I was very clear that I wanted to do the course to see whether or not becoming an ‘English’ Chinese interpreter was possible for me or not. I found out it was not. But I met a few people along the way for whom it was, and that’s great! However, some people were doing the course to improve their language skills, and this kind of course will not necessarily do that – in fact it will require you to sacrifice language ability for codeswitching ability, particularly in the case of interpreting. Codeswitching is a skill that requires you to rewire the way in which your brain wants to access information – great for being ‘in the booth’, but not so much for playing mah-jong and general chitchat over some baijiu. I think quite a few students struggled to come to terms with the fact that they were being outperformed by students with worse English but better T/I skills. But as long as you are clear what your goals are before you start, a course like this can only be an asset to your Chinese in the long term. It will weed out every single one of your weaknesses and cracks in your knowledge and remind you of them all day every day until you tackle them. Its been a painful medicine to take, but I certainly don't regret it at all. Good luck to future translators and interpreters reading this!
  12. 14 points
    A few days ago, I finished reading the short story collection 《樱海集》 by 老舍. This brought my reading total above one million characters, completing my goal for the year. 《樱海集》 was first published in 1935. The collection contains a funny and self-effacing preface plus ten short stories of varying lengths (from six to forty-two pages). The stories deal with classical human failings—hypocrisy, pride, envy, bitterness, cowardice, lust, revenge, greed, anger—and the consequences that arise from such failings. Though the stories are thematically related, they differ considerably in their characters, plots, point of views, and settings. Below is a brief synopsis of each story, along with some amplifying details and concluding thoughts. The first story in the collection, 《上任》, is about a recently promoted government official named 尤老二 and the opium-smoking thugs he employs. Much of the story is concerned with 尤老二’s inability to pay for his thugs, who show up at odd times asking for money for travel and other expenses. This story was difficult for me to get into. I found the details of the plot hard to follow and the language more challenging than any other story in the collection. 《牺牲》 is a character sketch of 毛博士, a bizarre 崇洋媚外 teacher educated in the United States. 《柳屯的》 is about a small village, a powerful Christian family, and an unrestrained woman who tries to take over them both. 《末一块钱》 is about a young dissatisfied college student who yearns for the kind of life enjoyed by his more affluent classmates. 《老年的浪漫》 is about an old man who, cursed with greedy former colleagues and a foolish son, decides to settle old scores. 《毛毛虫》 is a very short story that asks the question: What does a community think about that unenviable husband and wife who live down the street, and that husband’s former wife, and their new children? 《善人》 is about a well-to-do woman who sees herself as generous but is oblivious to the suffering of those around her. This story was my favorite story of the collection. 《邻居们》 is about the tensions that flare up between two neighboring families after one receives the other’s mail by mistake. The 明 family and the 杨 family are neighbors. 明家 is selfish and uncivilized. 杨家 is altruistic and lettered. The husband and father in the 杨 family, 杨先生, is described as a “最新式的中国人.” One day, 杨先生 receives a letter addressed to 明先生. 杨太太 attempts to deliver the letter, but 明太太 misunderstands her neighbor’s intentions and rebuffs her. 杨先生 then writes his own letter explaining the situation. 明太太 refuses this letter, too. Tensions between the two families escalate. 杨先生 believes that he and 明先生 can resolve their differences like rational gentlemen, and continues to write his neighbor letters. 明先生 sees 杨先生 as a weak man and despises him for his bookishness and inaction. Eventually… 《月牙儿》 is a longer story about a girl and her hard life after her father dies and her mother is forced out of exigence into prostitution. 《阳光》 is about the life of a beautiful, proud, and dissolute woman from a rich family. Her eventual arranged marriage to a prominent morality-promoting Daoist is comfortable, but stifling. 《樱海集》 is the second work I’ve read by 老舍; the first was his delightful science fiction satire 《猫城记》. There is something irreverent about 老舍’s style in these two works. 老舍’s stories foreground the character defects of early 20th-century Chinese people, whatever their station in life. Opioid-addicted menial laborers, wives of rich businessmen, the orphaned, the educated, the religious and the ideologically possessed—none are spared. By pointing out character defects in such a wide-ranging way, 老舍 advances a kind of criticism of the Chinese society of his day. But 《樱海集》 is not a “critical” work, at least not in the sense that modern people use the term. It isn’t a systematic, theory-driven critique of Chinese society; nor is it especially tragic or concerned with issues of justice. Rather, 《樱海集》 is a moral work. The stories in 《樱海集》 are cautionary tales filled with negative moral examples. They are the modern literary equivalents of fables. The stories paint a pessimistic and probably unbalanced picture of Chinese life. Readers interested in positive moral examples—the righteous government official or revolutionary, the loving and longsuffering mother, the diligent young student who succeeds in life despite enormous opposition—will not find them here. Some of 老舍’s negative moral examples are also offensive to contemporary Western sensibilities. His portraits of women are pretty unflattering. 老舍’s women are ostentatious, stubborn, and quick to anger. (To be fair, the men don’t come off much better. Most of 老舍’s male protagonists are feckless hypocrites.) Others will find 老舍’s portrayal of poor people unsympathetic. The peasants in 《樱海集》 are lazy and spend what little money they find on drugs: It is interesting to consider 老舍’s portrayals of Chinese people in 《樱海集》 in light of then-upcoming theories about politics and art in China. In his lectures at Yan'an in 1942, Mao advocated a new pro-proletariat literature and denounced “petit bourgeois writers” that write “pessimistic literature” and “harm the people.” Were 老舍’s mid-1930’s stories compatible with the new Chinese literature Mao would soon advocate? Was 老舍’s literature “pessimistic”? [For the curious, I blogged about Mao’s Yan'an literature lectures in an earlier post on this blog.] The Chinese language in 《樱海集》 is not especially difficult. The vocabulary is more challenging than contemporary Chinese fiction writers like 余华 and 韩寒, but far easier than writers like 张爱玲 and 莫言. 老舍’s word choices are frequently different from those found in contemporary fiction. This may confuse language learners unfamiliar with early 20th-century Chinese literature. For the uninitiated, try reading other authors from the same period. (I read short stories by 丁玲, 沈从文, and 施蛰存 before. That helped.) My new year’s resolution was to read one million characters in books and articles in 2019. I have now reached that goal with a little over a month to spare. This year I read mostly fiction. I also read Mao’s literature lectures, an article by IBM, a undergraduate thesis on the music of American saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and a third of the Bible. It’s been a great and rewarding experience. From time to time, people ask about the value of studying Chinese language given recent political and economic changes in China. It’s a fair question; there are many reasons to study Chinese and people differ in their motivations and goals. For me, the desire to engage in the cultural and literary traditions of a large and important foreign world was and is a main driver of my Chinese study. This desire was sustained and strengthened this year. I intend to keep reading in Chinese, both fiction and non-fiction. For literature, my near-term goals for the next couple years are to continue with works at or slightly above my current reading level; to move on to major works by 张爱玲, 莫言, and 阎连科; and to tackle tougher early 20th-century works by authors like 鲁迅. I’d like to wade into 文言 someday too, though that day is still a long way off. I had a lot of fun writing these posts and interacting with all of you. In the future, I may continue writing posts here. For now, however, because of many pressing demands on my time, I will put this blog on hiatus and return to posting intermittently in the excellent and underutilized “What are you reading?” thread. Thank you to everyone who read or commented on this blog this year. Link to《樱海集》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/117/117466/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 1,000,931 Characters left to read this year: 0 Percent of goal completed: 100% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters) 《圣经》 (新译本) (1,055,606 characters; 315,144 read in 2019) 《樱海集》 by 老舍 (83,649 characters)
  13. 13 points
    This resource is probably more intended for intermediate to advanced learners. I've personally been studying for about 9 years and work in translation full-time now, and I've always used Zhihu as a tool for studying Chinese and staying abreast of the current Chinese zeitgeist. On Zhihu Digest, each week I take a look at the top 10 questions and analyze the language involved (from a Chinese learner's perspective) as well as any relevant cultural aspects. Some of the interesting tidbits from this week include what exactly it means for a person to 废掉, different ways of talking about steroids, and what grade levels 中小学 comprises. https://www.zhihudigest.com/ All feedback, whether regarding content or the site itself, is welcome. Cheers.
  14. 13 points
    Graded Watching is a website I've created to make watching Chinese TV series more approachable for Chinese learners. It offers mainly two things: a ranking based on the number of words, to find TV series at your level a list of words for each show that you can import into Pleco for studying Currently there are around 60 shows listed. I hope I can add more shows in the future, but since the analysis is done based on soft subs the selection is limited. I selected two easier shows for myself to start with, "On Children", a show on Netflix which reminds me of Black Mirror, and "Memory Love", which I use for practicing listening comprehension together with the Chrome extension Language Learning with Netflix. It will stop after each subtitle and I can check whether I understood everything. Before watching an episode I study all the words using Pleco flashcards, so I hardly need to look up anything while watching, which is very motivating. If you have soft subs for more shows I'd be happy to include them.
  15. 13 points
    Haha, with families and couples suddenly forced to spend a lot more time together than they are used to, I'm sure China will see a spike in both births and divorces in the coming months (just a general comment, not talking about your personal situation) The situation in Harbin escalated a notch overnight, and I'd say we're at DEFCON 3 now. Apparently, there have been a few infections around my area (within 1-2 km), so the situation feels a lot closer to home, rather than just being something on the news. It also seems that many residential apartment complexes have begun requiring permission slips in order to leave, including mine: I used one of the three slips issued to me for this week to go to the local supermarket to stock up. I pretty much bought a weeks worth of supplies, so I suppose I could now sell the other two slips on the (probably already thriving) exit slip black market. Surprisingly, the two guys who run a nut and seed street stall just outside the supermarket decided to open today. Just as I was walking past and thinking about whether or not to buy something, one of the men let out a massive sneeze. While I appreciated the effort he made to turn his head to face slightly back over his shoulder as he did it, it was far from the recommended "sneeze into the inner elbow" technique, and I decided to carry on walking. At the entrance to the shopping mall was a man taking everyone's temperature. He said something to me as he was aiming the small thermometer gun at my wrist, but I was daydreaming and didn't hear what he said, so I just smiled and asked ”正常吗?“, to which he replied ”零“ and showed me the result. He had a slightly confused look on his face, as if unsure as to whether those strange 老外 just naturally had a much lower body temperature to normal folk, and that maybe he should just let me pass anyway. Fortunately, I already had already experienced this issue a couple of days before and therefore knew what to do. I said to him “零?怎么可能, 我还没死呢!” and pulled my jumper and jacket down a bit from my neck so that he could take the measure again, this time around my collar bone area. This time I got a ”正常“ reading, and could continue on downstairs to the supermarket. Everyone seems pretty calm around here, in spite of the new measures. Even the people taking temperatures and controlling the flow of people are generally in good humour. The only nervousness I've encountered was when I was walking around my 小区 a little earlier today. My apartment area is criss-crossed with walking paths, and as I was walking towards a small crossroads, a woman a little ahead and to my right suddenly shouted “别动!”. As I looked to my left I could see who she was telling to stop - a 10/11 year old boy who had seemingly fallen behind his parents at the other side. The boy stood perfectly still with a scared expression on his face, as if he had just been told by Dr Grant to freeze so that a nearby T-Rex wouldn't be able to see him. I carried on walking and the boy ran to join his parents as soon as I had passed the little cross-section. This afternoon I decided to take a leaf out of @abcdefg's book and actually try my hand at making some Chinese food. I generally like cooking, but the food is so cheap that I tend to eat out most days, and when I do cook at home I usually make western food. I decided to make a Dongbei favourite of mine, 锅包肉, but realised when I go home that I had forgotten to buy any Chinese onion. It's at this point that I had to decide whether or not buying it would be worth using one of my two remaining exit permission slips for (#justcoronavirusthings, as @vellocet might say). I decided that I could make do with the western onion already in my fridge instead. The dish turned out ok, but I couldn't quite get the water to 淀粉 ratio right, so the batter didn't turn out as well as it could have. I was satisfied how the sauce turned out though (a delicate balance between the sugar, vinegar, ginger and onion). Oh well, I'm going to have plenty of time to perfect the recipe over the coming days anyway.
  16. 13 points
    http://www.bilibili.com/video/av85901845?share_medium=android&share_source=more&bbid=XYFB5CAF698EEE335B6147082A959F8C857D9&ts=1580454870665 started a video diary for anyone thats interested in getting a realistic perspective of what things are like here at the moment. as you can see, things are calm and quiet. the sun is out, everyone is going about on the street as normal, feeling happy. but tbh it does feel like a calm before the storm kind of atmosphere here, little bit eerie, this street is usually buzzing with neighbours washing clothes, smoking meat, chatting and playing cards and chess
  17. 13 points
    Hey guys, I can comment on this because I know a lot of people who have been in the China Horizons program and I am familiar with the program over my time in China. They are unaffiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints although they are members of the church and primarily recruit students from BYU. Basically, they have been breaking the law in China for a decade or so. They are being accused of human trafficking which, while I think does not exactly capture what has happened, does have a case as a legal charge. Here is what CH has been doing. They offer a program to primarily undergraduate students to go to China to teach English for 2-3 month stints. The students pay CH a fee to go to China and the students pay for their own flights to China. The students are placed in a small town with largely private English schools in the area, primarily teaching young kids. The students go to China on a tourist visa. During their time in China, the school provides accommodations and a small stipend of around 500 RMB per month. The students then return back to America after their time is up. There are legal problems with this situation as well as some ethical issues I have always had with it. First, the students are working in China illegally. To legally work, in China, you must have a work permit. It's a lengthy and sometimes costly process which would not justify just a 2-3 month employment. The students largely would be unqualified to receive work permits anyways because they do not have a college degree. China Horizons is "double dipping" on both sides: they receive a payment from the students AND they receive money from the school employing the students. This seems supremely unfair the first time I ever heard of it and I've always felt the students are being taken advantage of it. The students have no idea how much of a risky situation they have been placed into. With the stricter enforcement that the Chinese government has enacted over the last few years, they could easily be jailed and deported if they were found to be working without proper documentation. I've heard a lot of people rally for Jacob Harlan and his associates indicating that they are victims of Chinese government oppression, but this is just not the case. While I feel for Jacob and his family (his family being the real victims of his crimes), he has been breaking the law and arguably exploiting students for a very long time and the chickens have proverbially come home to roost. I have been in touch with some of the representatives about this and I have expressed my opinion about all of this but they didn't seem to want any of this information spread around because it is damaging to his case. However, it is my prediction that he will not be coming home till he finishes a jail sentence complete with an apology and possibly fine. I will say that despite what I have said, I have known a number of the students who went through the CH program and had a very good experience and some even went back to China under more legitimate circumstances. I am really happy for them and I am glad that they did have this experience. However, I have always harbored big reservations about the CH program and it appears that things have finally caught up to them. I hope this sheds some light on the issue for anyone interested.
  18. 13 points
    Just a small reflection I wanted to share here on my improvements with tv comprehension. I can vividly remember feeling so frustratated with how impossible and stressful watching the 'fun' Chinese tv recommended here on the forums used to be. But now watching tv is so easy and fun, I wanted to share my 'yeah you can do it' moment So, I watched 琅琊榜 when it came out, which was what about 3-4 years ago now. I loved it, but it was such hard work, I remember spending about a week working through the first episode alone. The visual aids made it watcheable and fun, but I was well aware of the fact that I was only really able to grasp the bare bones of the plot, and struggled a lot with even trying to pick out names from regular vocabulary. After that, I watched similar kinds of tv shows non stop, for years, with depressingly low success rates. But it did seem to be getting easier. Just that progress was painfully slow. But I figured, what else was I going to do with my evenings? So I kept watching, and pausing, and then watching...and then pausing...etc Flash forward to earlier this year, I finished the fantastic 武林外传 (highly recommended), but after having such an annoying time with what you might call 方言-interference in my everyday Chinese tones (from the non-standard accents in the show), I then switched to something more 'clear' - the classic 甄嬛传 (avoided for years because sadly I thought it was too 'girly' - imo this show is actually a legit classic and must watch for intermediate-advanced Chinese learners). It was still pretty tough going, but by the end I would say I felt 'relaxed' and enjoyed it without any language stress - ie. minimal pausing, I would guess maybe around 98^% listening comprehension. Recently I took a break to read 左傳 in the evening instead of TV. This evening I sat down feeling pretty tired (dissertation translation submitted...finally!) and thought, hey, why not give 琅琊榜 a try again, would be good to rewatch it. I was shocked to find I could understand everything, the plot, the subplot, insinuations, jokes, you name it. Must have been 99.5^% comprehension or something. I just sat and watched five episodes straight without a hitch. In fact the language is actually easier than 甄嬛传, and obviously way way way easier than 左傳. I almost cried it felt so good. So thats all I really wanted to say really, in a really long-winded way... Hopefully some will read this and remember what the struggle was like, others might realise, it will come, don't give up.
  19. 13 points
    Recently I did an interview with @Phil Crimmins, the co-founder of Mandarin Blueprint. Phil is an old friend and drummer I used to perform with around Sichuan. He invited me on his podcast to speak about my experience learning Mandarin and making music in China. The podcast covers many topics, including: definitions of language fluency and proficiency; reasons to learn (and not to learn) a foreign language; similarities between language and music; the benefits of patience; moving past the “intermediate plateau”; immersion/environmental factors; language learning and empathy; my experience teaching at a Chinese music conservatory; aural reading and reading speed; reading Chinese literature; concision as an indicator of language ability; my upcoming role at NYU Shanghai; and more. Chinese Forums gets mentioned a few times as well! The podcast can be watched/listened to on the Mandarin Blueprint website: https://www.mandarinblueprint.com/podcast/35-mastering-mandarin-music-with-murray-james/ It’s also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0mg2sBhEtA
  20. 12 points
    Update: Made it as far as Hong Kong. Flew out of Kunming yesterday afternoon (Friday 31 Jan.) It was an on-time departure with arrival in Hong Kong about 6 pm. Good flight, even had food and beverage service. As you know, China is taking this epidemic very seriously. Everyone wearing a face mask, wiping down surfaces, using hand sanitizer and such. Compliance was 100% at the airport, complete with temperature checks. Still, I was not prepared for lots of passengers on my flight to be wearing those cheap plastic raincoats with hoods. They had the peaked tops pulled up over their heads in addition to face masks. Odd sight. Reminiscent of a KKK rally, since most were light colors, pastels and off-white. (I have only seen these in movies.) The young lady sitting next to me was additionally decked out with disposable vinyl gloves and eye goggles as though she was preparing to do battle in the ICU. She was exquisitely well informed on the subject of this health crisis, and in fact would not shut up about it. My flight out to the US, scheduled for this afternoon (Saturday 1 Feb) was delayed a couple times and ultimately cancelled. Am now re-booked on another flight leaving Monday 3 Feb. Nothing was available tomorrow. The flight from Kunming to Hong Kong was on Cathay Pacific, but now I am at the mercy of American Airlines, and they are a less stable player. I've read that their pilot's union is suing the carrier over assorted grievances, real and imagined and this has further compromised their performance, their ability to deliver the goods, which is getting passengers and freight from point A to point B. I don't really know or care whether their cause is just. I just want them to take me home. Not a big deal. I'm in a good hotel, healthy, well fed and watered, and was able to simply extend my stay by two nights. Have adjusted reservations on the Dallas end of the trip and notified friends and family. Beats the hell out of being locked up in some quarantine gymnasium or warehouse, eating instant noodles 方便面 and sleeping on a straw mat.
  21. 12 points
    This entry has been delayed a bit for a variety of reasons, mainly due to lack of time, as I've got so much to say on this topic, but also because this is my most dreaded class. For more context on what I'm talking about, skip back and check earlier entries. For clarity, I am a native English speaker that is on the Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating masters course at Bath University, UK. We work in both directions, and I am the only 'foreigner' on the course. This last point is of crucial importance, as it has naturally set me apart from everyone else on the course. Just not always in the ways I was expecting before beginning this process. One of the most noticeable areas in which my background, different from my Chinese peers, impacted my performance was in the consecutive interpreting class. Unlike translating, which can be done at the safety of your own home, or simultaneous interpreting (aka 'SI') where mistakes can be forgiven due to time constraints and the high-pressure environment, consecutive interpreting (CI) is the most unforgiving and most difficult part of the job, as it requires high quality intepreting of complex topics. This of course runs counter to what most people believe, and when one of the course instructors said this at the beginning of the course, I found it difficult to believe him. But he was right. And there are two main reasons: 1. You must understand everything. 1-2% non-comprehension is natural, 3-5% is acceptable, 5-10% is just about workable, but anything more and you lose the ability to accurately infer (yes these are arbritrary numbers, but I'm basing such estimates off my own experience this year). If you don't understand, you can ask the speaker. But 9/10 they will just repeat the phrase you didnt understand word for word, or if they are kind enough to rephrase, the chance you will still not understand a concept you don't even know in your native tongue is 'too damn high'. And I'm the kind of person that goes red in the face when they dont get it. The speaker will also think that your job is easy, as they have to stop for you and 'wait' for you to catch up. As a result, the speaker often speaks much quicker than normal, use more complex terms, and will sometimes even forget to stop for you in the bits they consider 'easy'. 2. You must use a notetaking system. If someone says you dont need symbols or shorthand, just write down the main details and youll be fine...you know they are almost certainly a bad consecutive interpreter. There are simply too many details to remember in a live speech. You must find a way to take down more information than you can possibly remember. In our final exam this was 8 minutes of speech without any break. We then had to deliver the speech in the target language, hoping to also reach an ideal length of 7-8 minutes in our own delivery. This skill was the largest hurdle for me to get over (and I still havent to be honest), and it was the biggest difference between me and my peers. Nearly all the other students were coming into the course with a knowledge of a notetaking system, having taken courses in it back in China in order to prepare for the MA in Bath, or having previous undergrad experience in interpreting. Either way, from day one the teachers were calling us up to the whiteboard to 'show off' our own personalised notetaking (with each student having their own unique ways of taking down 5 solid minutes of statistics speeches, or symbols for taking notes on sustainable energy sources...). Consequently, I never had the chance to formally study this skill on the course, and this is the only area where I felt short-changed in my training on this MA. The first point was manageable, I just had to improve my listening comprehension. I have watched A LOT of news and public speeches in the last year to improve this. While I am watching, I actively ask my brain at the end of each sentence 'can you repeat that sentence back in Chinese? Are you hypothetically able to tell the person next to you what it means in English?' If the answer was 'yes' or 'pretty much' then I keep watching, keep listening. If the answer is no, I pause, search and take down all the words, listen again, add the words to a 'new words' deck in anki, then continue. Rinse and repeat for the rest of eternity. But the second point has been so difficult to deal with. While I was able to understand 99% of an English speech, there was too much information and too little time to write everything down. And yet, the person next to me was drawing pictures of little people and arrows everywhere, intermixed with shorthand chinese characters all over the place, then would stand up and deliver a near identical speech in English, far better than my own English! What do you do in a situation like that? Well I sat down with a friend and we ran through a basic set of maybe 150 or so 'concepts' that could be given symbols (see below), and began to learn them by heart. Gradually my notetaking did get better. But then I came across an additional third reason for why CI is so difficult: 3. Our course is bidirectional, so I was not only required to interpret from Chinese into English (based on scruffy, incomplete notes), but also from English into Chinese. It was at this point where I realised why symbols were so useful. They sit in between the solid words and grammar of language, they represent the ideas and concepts that have yet to be given body by a particular language. So you can use one system to take notes from two (or more) different source languages. For example, if I write the words 'your country' down, when it comes to referring to my notes during speech delivery, I will naturally look down at this and blurt out '你的國家‘. But what if it should have been '貴國'? What if the original English sentence was 'the development of your country is important for the global economy' and thus the use of 'your' in the Chinese is totally redundant? Using notetaking, you dont need to worry about the difference between expression in different languages. You can take the concept of 國/country and write it as 囗 (a commonly used shorthand symbol in notetaking). Once conceptualised, you can look at it and express the idea naturally and uninhibited in either language. A symbol's usage can be expanded across your whole system, eg. I can write the phrase "the development of your country" as "囗'dev". By extension, the whole sentence becomes something like: "囗'dev=!>O" (where ! is important, > is 'to, affect, influence' and O represents global, all over the world). 囗 can be used not just for country, but also - 囗° =...國人(°=person), 囗al (national), 囗ty (nationality), 囗z (nationalize). etc. To get a real flavour of what CI notetaking looks like, I've posted some pics of my own (bad examples) below. In this way, you can write down more information at higher speeds, with higher clarity and accuracy, all while avoiding 'Chinglish' (or 'Englese'...?) pitfalls. So, now we know that notetaking systems can dramatically increase the amount and the accuracy of information one can take down at the speed of natural speech delivery. And we also know that it can reduce the amount of Chinglish one might otherwise say when reading notes written in longhand in the source language. And so that leads me to my last area I wanted to mention. The required quality of output in the target language. Unlike SI, the quality of CI sits closer to written translation in terms of quality. One must be able to understand the original speakers intentions, 'translate' it into notes, then produce a coherent stream of thoughts and ideas based on the notes, where the original speech is often reordered and reworded (like in written translation) in order to better mimick the ways of speaking in the target language. Some students were AMAZING at this. In fact I was in awe on an almost daily basis. That being said, I don't believe the ability to do this is something 'innate'. It obviously requires significant cognizant ability, but these skills have clearly been trained for years and years...and years. Although I am still yet to be able to perform at a professional ability in this area, I have seen myself make positive progress and believe if I really dedicated maybe another 5 years to this I could reach a very high standard. That being said. As it stands, my ability in notetaking is still rudimentary. In the end, it didnt matter how good my comprehension was, or even how good my actual oral language abilities were, the notation 'filter' in the middle of the CI process consistently stopped me from producing good output language. I mean, I've never heard myself speak such strange English before! We're talking saying things like 'this food good eat' if I wasnt paying 100% attention to the notes I was reading. And at this point I would like to say, I strongly, strongly recommend the course at Bath, as the course instructors are fantastic, and surely among the highest qualified in the world to teach such skills. A caveat should be noted for native English speakers: a prerequisite for the course should be a prep course in notetaking for native English speakers, and this should be explicitly stated on all interpreting course details (as all the Chinese speakers had all done this in China, without me knowning until after the course had started...). The course instructor of the MATBI course, Miguel Fialho, has absolutely blown everyone on the course away. His 普通話 is phenomenal, perfect tones, better spoken than any of the Chinese students in the class, and most importantly he is incredibly humble and understanding. You will see him on CCTV whenever there are meetings between the Chinese and Portuguese governments (he is half British, half Portuguese, and also does Chinese-Portuguese interpreting......). He. Knows. Everything. Pretty sure he has learnt an entire encyclopedia off by heart in three different languages. Jane is his equivalent for the Chinese students, and her English is far more eloquent than my, often ending up in me taking notes on how to speak better English after listening to her speeches! Dr Kumar is highly knowledgeable in economics and politics, is ultimately responsible for the excellent course structure and content, and most importantly, is really funny, so that really made things a lot easier when you're in high stress environments. what my notes at the beginning of the year looked like. I was using a pencil, writing everything down longhand, and getting totally confused. I often ended up giving up and just trying to recite everything I'd just heard in one language in the other. What my notes looked like by the end. You can see that for complex terminology, you can write down the word, assign it a number, then just write the number when the term is used. The red is for marking mistakes when going back and comparing notes to the original speech. Practicing symbols. good god. OK I'm done for today, next blog entry will probably be more geared towards some thoughts on written translation. I'm just beginning to write my dissertation, which is a written translation, so will share anything interesting I come across.
  22. 12 points
    Half year update time for me too: Goal 1: Watch 新聞聯播 every single day of 2019. To date, 100% on this goal, but I after day 74 of 新聞聯播 I was really not learning much beyond 一帶一路 every. single. day. So I switched to 國際財經報道 (also part of CCTV news), the content is much more varied and more importantly faaar more interesting. I've been watching this every day for the last few months. Listening ability has improved massively. Very happy! Goal 2: 30 mins Chinese cursive practice every day. Also 100%. But 30 mins has turned into a good 1 1/2 hours every evening before bed now. This has unexpectedly become my obsessive hobby, love it so much. I've learnt so much in researching and compiling information, images, books, databases, you name it. I can now read a lot of inscriptions on painting, and can now read pretty much the whole of 書譜 in its original form. Again, really happy! (stats from my anki deck for learning 草書, it says 60 hours, 24.5mins/day, but thats a bit of an understatement, as it sits on the edit screen for another additional hour or so as I edit each entry. Im using the Heisig order for learning characters, as it nicely builds up your knowledge of shortcuts, so that by the time you reach complex characters, 7 or 8 times out of 10 you can guess how to write it correctly even if you've never seen the supercursive form before) (^ regular handwriting, speed fairly average, this is a page of me writing out an essay from 思想與社會 that I've learnt by heart. Not pretty, just trying to build speed.) (^ what learning how to write looks like, slow speed, again, very ugly to look at, but its not about looks, its about getting that muscle memory drilled in) (^ the latest entry from today. You can see in the middle some Hiragana. Yes, Im finally beginning to learn some basic Japanese in order to access some great resources on 草書 and 書法 in general. Luckily the Hiragana forms are proving pretty easy to learn, as theyre all based on 草書 anyway. Thanks to @Gharial for recommending some great books on this!) All in all, my two goals have served me well. Cant wait for what the next six months may bring!
  23. 11 points
    Hi Guys, I just got my HSK 4 and 5 exam results back results posted to HSK results thread here The 2019 thread and previous threads have been a source of inspiration for me and I hope no one minds that I get the 2020 thread started a little early. While I failed HSK5 fairly hard, I was happy that I did most of what I had set out to do in 2019 with massive amounts of listening practise and watching of TV shows - I saw a big improvement in general communication. 2020 I'd like to pass HSK5 with a 200+ Get into structured classes again. At some point during 2020 - turn off the subtitles on the tv shows. Thanks !
  24. 11 points
    Disclaimer: This write up is not a guide on how to type using Cangjie, check out the wiki page for a basic intro if you're interested. This is aimed at anyone who simply wants to know whether learning a new input method is or is not worth the time investment. 2020 has been a very strange year for me, as I'm sure it has for most of us. With all the extra time, I decided to get down to some things that I've wanted to do for a while but...just never had the time. One of those things was learning to type Cangjie both fast enough that I can use it for live conversation on Wechat, and for practicing my character retention abilities. There are a number of shape-based input methods for Chinese out there, the most famous being Cangjie (倉頡), Dayi (大易) and Zhengma (鄭碼) for traditional, and Wubi (五笔) for simplified. I chose to learn Cangjie as it is well suited for typing both traditional and simplified, which can't be said of most other shape-based methods (most are now able to some extent, but mainly rely on 'conversion' rather than directly typing in the specific character according to its structure). Thats not to say Cangjie is 'the best' of these systems, its just the one that suited my needs the most. Other benefits of Cangjie are that it is widely available and license-free, so no worries that it will suddenly disappear or require some payment to use. It also uses a lot less keys than methods such as Dayi, so less finger stretching. Regardless, I believe Cangjie is an incredibly well-designed system, a real work of genius that functions to break down computer-font characters in the same way stroke order helps with handwriting characters. After 6 months of practice I have racked up just close to 100 hours of typing practice on anki (typing out sentences from memory based on prompts). I can now reach around 25-30cpm. I type at around 60-70wpm in English, so I've still got a long way to go, but I'm happy with my progress as it stands. Here's what I've found is important on my journey: 1. Your keyboard keys affect how a shape-based input method helps with character retention I originally set out using normal keys with alphanumeric symbols. I learned to touch type fairly quickly in Cangjie, but found that I began to see characters as strings of English letters in my head, a little like how when you're typing in pinyin you often think of the romanised version of what you're writing before the image of the character floats into your mind. This became quite annoying and counterconstructive, so I got some Cangjie stickers from ebay and stuck them on blank keycaps to see what difference there might be. The difference was noticeable immediately, as I began to associate the keys with Chinese characters much quicker. However, I still found that with some of the more difficult keys (where the character and the element it could represent are connected in a fairly abstract way), my brain would start remembering the string of keys for the character instead of properly decomposing it into its elements. The brain always chooses the easiest option I guess. A good example of this would be 麼, where 戈 represents both 广 and 丶 in the decomposition, with 女 also representing the stroke 𡿨, it was just easier to remember 麼=戈木女戈, or even just the shape the keys made on the keyboard. So I decided to make a set of keys similar to the ones you see for 五笔, where every single symbol is listed on the keycaps (ive seen them for 鄭碼 too, probably because the amount you need to remember for it is too much of a burden on the brain). I should emphasise, I decided to use this keyboard specifically for the purposes of character retention. If I wanted raw speed I would just use blank keycaps and rely on muscle memory. This keyboard has had a massive effect on how Cangjie has helped with remembering character writing, and if anyone is interested I'll be happy to send on the inkscape file. Now when I look at my keyboard to type 麼 I can actually look for 广 - 木 (-木) -𡿨-厶 instead of remembering some arbitrary code or pattern. Think that looks scary? Its not, it is very intuitive and can be learnt in half an hour of typing I would estimate. Check out 徐碼 for a typing system that has a single code for every single character you could possibly type. Bet you like the look of that Cangjie keyboard now: 2. Cangjie 5 is a massive improvement on Cangjie 3. Microsoft Cangjie is riddled with errors. I first set out using Cangjie probably around 2 years ago, but it was only really out of curiousity and I only used it on my phone. I didnt realise it at the time but I was using the 3rd generation of the system (for reference, 1 and 2 were largely just glorified betas). Then when I moved onto using cangjie on my laptop (ms surface), I discovered that many of the codes were different, despite it still being classed as Cangjie 3. Thankfully I came across this fantastic wikibook which not only explained the errors that MS has made in its own hacky version of Cangjie (after parting ways with the creator of Cangjie), but also showed how the 5th generation of Cangjie had corrected all the weird decomposition errors and inconsistencies in Cangjie 3. I immediately switched to Cangjie 5 and have not looked back, it is internally consistent and logical throughout. I strongly recommend any future students of Cangjie to use Cangjie 5, it is a pleasure to type with and really feels like you're writing characters, just like that feeling you get when you type English and your thoughts seem to just 'appear' on the screen - there is no feeling of detachment. Here are some notes I made when I first made the switch from MS Cangjie 3 to Cangjie 5 (using 倉頡平台) Correction of character selection order based on frequency. Eg 致 before 玫,知 before 佑. Damn that ms input was annoying, always having to add in '2' after so many common characters. recognition of 尸 as representative of the double dot, eg 假 人口尸水 應:戈人土心 this is fantastic, finally the parts are separated properly! 篼 has been corrected to 竹竹女山 (instead of 竹竹尸弓, which breaks away from the treatment of 兜 as a single unit (both in 3 and 5) 撐 and 撑 have their own unique codes (another MS error, typing 牙 here gives you 手...) 木廿 来 大木 东 etc the list goes on... I encourage anyone thats interested in comparing the differences between CJ 3 and 5 to have a look at this list. In fact, browse through the whole book, its incredibly well written. (Written by the 'boss'? of 倉頡之友, a forum without which I would never have found any success in learning 倉頡). 3. Cangjie is really fun to type with If you've ever felt the frustration of having to cycle through pages of characters to find the one you want, hate typing out whole words then delete the parts you don't want, or if you just can't stand 联系and 练习 causing all your friends to question what on earth you've been doing with all those hours of Chinese study, then Cangjie is defintely worth a try (or any other shape-based input method for that matter). Once you get used to typing using a shape-based method, you realise just how annoying typing phonetically is. Yes, I get it, its very, very, very easy to learn, and it means you don't have to remember how to write characters, only recognise them. But if you are at all interested in writing Chinese, then try Cangjie (or Wubi if you're simplified only gang) and I'm sure you'll never look back. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing an obscure character and being able to check it instantaneously in your dictionary. I still remember the first time I saw 鑾 and realised it was just three keys right next to each other (女火金), the pure satisfaction... Here is an update video of me typing from today:https://youtu.be/DaZ9QRSKTbc I drafted a short paragraph then recorded myself typing it back out. There are errors, and its pretty slow going, but still, shows where I am honestly at after 6 months. Hope some of this helps, and if you've got any questions let me know and I'll try and help out
  25. 11 points
    This is an Unfinished List (will update later as per contributions) This list of resources is meant for anyone that aims to improve their Chinese proficiency past the HSK benchmark. While the obvious course would be to consume whatever Chinese media you can get your hands on, I still believe that having a few resources on hand to kick-start the process can't hurt. Heck, it might even provide some well-needed structure. 📱 Pleco 🆓 (Apple / Google / APK) [forums] ↓*↓ • Most comprehensive database of Chinese dictionaries. • Flashcard system optimized with dictionary entries. • OCR (Optical Character Recognition). • Native pronunciation to a range of words. ... 📱 有道语文达人 💯(Xiaomi) • Lightweight Chinese to Chinese dictionary. • Shows synonyms and antonyms. ... 📱 微信读书 👥🆓(Apple / Google / Xiaomi) • Most popular reading app in China. • Contents far-ranging. ... 📱 天天作文精选💯(Xiaomi) • Reading materials sorted by Chinese school grade all the way to 高考. • Short stories from 200 characters to 2000 characters. ... 📱 观止 💯(Apple / Xiaomi) • Don’t like the abundance of choice? Here is one short-story per day. • Short stories by critically acclaimed writers (cross-strait) • Want to read more? Randomly receive any of the previously posted stories. ... 📱🔗人民日标 👥 (Apple / Xiaomi)[Website Version] • “The Party’s Daily” ... 📱🔗纽约时报(Apple / Google)[Website Version] • NYTimes – Chinese Edition ... 📱 喜马拉雅FM 🆓(Apple / Xiaomi / APK)↓*↓ • Large collection of podcasts, comedy, eBooks, history and more. • Largest broadcasting “network” on the web. ... 📱 每天读点故事 ⚡👥 (Apple / Xiaomi / APK) • Stories by (I assume) amateur writers. • Spoken in by storytellers with the original text available • Non-Audio stories also available. ... 📱 得到 ⚡👥🈸 (Apple / Xiaomi / APK) • Collection of University level “classes” or rather thought provoking discussions. • Listen to books. ... 📱 普通话学习 📞⚡(Apple / Xiaomi) • 15k+ words, tongue twisters, and more with standard pronunciation. • Ability to test your own pronunciation, graded by PC. • Personal tutors available. • [More information in another thread + translated word sheets] ... 🔗 普通话学习网 💯 [website address] • Similar and sometimes overlapping content with above, but free. • Audio fragments downloadable • Want to learn 儿化音? Here is all the 儿化! ... 🔗 范文等等 [Many Links > Here is one (Just Google 范文大全 or similar) • These are model essays, speeches, letters, and above all CONTRACTS. • Want to avoid getting scammed in a contract? Why not read some examples beforehand? • Need some flowery language for a love-letter? Here are 1000 examples. • Do you want to join the Communist Party? ... Probably not, but reading other model essays won’t hurt! ... 🔗 草书字体转换器 [Placeholder Website] • Website that allows you to type in text and get it in cursive. • Though only a placeholder, I wish I could find a teaching resource for 草书 ... 🔗📱 📚 "国考" China's Civil Service Exam Study Materials [LINK TO THREAD] • A myriad of topis/questions that test whether the examinee's reading comprehension is up to standard. • Tests whether the examinee's language logic and if they can make direct connections between words and definitions. • Dubbed "HSK's Reading Exam on STEROIDS" ... I really can't recommend it often enough. [... I will keep updating this post in the foreseeable future. Please share anything you have. ..] → Pleco: By now you should have gotten used to using CN-CN dictionaries. Pleco offers both “Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian” ($50) and “Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian” ($20). Also, as a bonus, there is the “Duogongneng Chengyu Cidian” ($20) which offers a wealth of knowledge on Chinese idioms. → 喜马拉雅 FM: “Free” is only true for parts of certain broadcasts. While you don’t need to register, you will still need a Chinese phone number to buy courses and even link your WeChat to the app. 【Meaning behind the emoticons】 ↓*↓ Check bottom of post for extra comments. 📱 App on phone. 📚 Physical book. 📺 Television series. 🔗 Website address. 📞 Registering requires Chinese phone number. 👥 Registering requires WeChat authentication 🈸 Registering is possible with just an e-mail. ❔ [IF BLANK] Then just downloading is enough. 🔒 Region-Locked to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. 💯 Even if you wanted to pay they wouldn’t let you. 🆓 Standard (functional) version is free. Buying more content is optional. ⚡ Some free. You can slowly unlock content through use, but prohibitive. 💲 Requires an up-front purchase or monthly fee. Sometimes a demo is available. 🌄 Traditional Characters only AKA Taiwan or Hong Kong based.
  26. 11 points
    I'll save you the work. I got impatient and ended up hiring a freelancer in China to buy the 2010 book and do the data entry. If anybody wants the list, please feel free to send me a direct message.
  27. 11 points
    Right, we had about 50 hours of being offline there, possibly the longest in 17 years? Server got choked up (basically, it got full), I thought I was going to have to shift to a back-up server, had the domain redirected (which takes time to propagate) and database back-up in place (we'd have lost 24 hours of content, so annoying rather than catastrophic). Then server came back up but software wasn't working, so shifted domain back again (again, takes time), back and forth with software support, escalated, might have to wait, managed to figure out what the problem was (corrupt cache file in a folder I didn't realise had them) and.. back! Let me know if you see anything glitchy. Currently I know the front page is missing, hopefully sort that out soonish [sorted]. But have work and lunch to do. Anything emailed to [email protected] over the weekend may or may not have gone missing - I'm not sure. Maybe nobody emailed me. Need to ponder hosting options a bit. The current one is sold as fully managed, but... well. And I could do with being a bit more savvy on server admin. Anyway, that's for another topic. We should, now, be strong and stable. I'll be keeping a close eye on things.
  28. 11 points
    Platform(s): PC / Mac OS X Price: £7.19 (regional pricing may apply) Where to buy: here System Requirements: OS: XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, Processor: Intel Pentium III 800 MHz+, Memory: 2 GB RAM, Graphics: 1024x768 High Color +, DirectX: Version 9.0, Storage: 500 MB available space Release Date: 29 Sept 2018 Languages: Chinese only (just text, no audio) UPDATE: English available from 20th June 2019 Chinese Level Required: HSK4 + (this is very subjective of course. The game is text based, and most screens only move on when you click, so it is potentially accessible to anyone with enough patience to look up unknown vocab) Proportion of play time where you'll be using Chinese: 90% (mostly text based, so you'll be immersed in Chinese for a large proportion of the game) Specific/specialised Vocab Learned: Childhood (toys, games), school (academic subjects, activities) This game has been very popular since it was released on Steam last year, with over a million copies sold. You take control of a Chinese baby, and are responsible for raising him or her all the way to the all important 高考 (college entrance exam). Getting the highest exam score possible is the basic aim of the game. Along the way you'll have to make choices of how to spend your time (studying maths or playing computer games), which friends to hang out with, what to spend your pocket money on, and how to resolve moral dilemmas (do you let that classmate copy your homework or not?). You'll need to balance you parents' expectations with your own happiness. It's a turn based game, so you'll make all your choices and then the computer will scroll through various events and take you to the next turn (see the tutorial below for a deeper look at the gameplay). There are also various mini-games throughout the game. For example, every now and again someone (usually a neighbour or relative) will challenge your mother to a 面子 battle (battle of "face" or pride). The person will make caustic remarks in order to make your mum "lose face", and you'll have to counter with remarks of your own (usually by choosing to boast about any particular talent your child has). The more cutting the remark, the more HP the other side loses. It's fun to read the dialogue, and it was probably my favourite of the mini games. Pros - mostly text-based, so you'll be practising Chinese pretty much the whole time you're playing it - addictive light-puzzle elements - a fun and satirical, but affectionate, look at Chinese childhood. You'll learn a lot about Chinese attitudes to school and parenting along the way. - cheap (a paid as much for my most recent textbook) Cons - can get repetitive as you play through the game a 2nd and 3rd time as each new generation is born (the same events, classmates etc tend to turn up game after game). On the bright side, this repetition could be good from a Chinese-learning perspective (helping with memorising new vocab) - text-based/puzzle games might not be your cup of tea, but you're playing to learn Chinese, not to have fun, right? - no audio (text only) Basic Tutorial Although it's a simple game once you get going, the first playthrough can be intimidating (I stopped my first one 5 minutes in and didn't come back to it until a few weeks later). I'm not going to cover everything, but I'll explain the most important mechanics, which will be enough to get you going. I'll be happy to answer any questions later if anyone gets stuck. This is the main screen of the game: Being a turn based game, there are a number of tasks you need to complete before moving on to the next turn. In general, the first thing you want to do each turn is to click on the little thought bubble appearing above your character. This will open up the following screen: You can think of the little coloured "gems" as brain cells. Each time you click on one, it will develop a corresponding attribute, which you can see listed on the left hand side of the screen. The attributes are as follows: 智商 - intelligence 情商 - emotional intelligence 体魄 - physique 记忆力 - memory 想象力 - imagination 魅力 - charm/charisma You'll notice that, apart from the coloured "brain cell" coloured gems, there are also other little cards to choose from. I'll let everyone discover the function of most of these for themselves, but I'll briefly describe the two most important. Firstly, clicking on the orange light bulb symbols will increase what the game calls your 悟性点数 (power of understanding/comprehension points). You can see how many of these you have accumulated by looking at the bulb symbol in the top right hand corner of the screen. You'll need these in order to learn new abilities (which I'll cover in the next screen), so I tend to prioritise the light bulb symbols over the coloured attributes. The second most important one is the symbol which looks like an old telephone with an arrow pointing at it. Clicking on this will take you to a new board, where each of the attributes/lightbulb symbols will be worth more points than before. It will also replenish 50 of your move points. In most circumstances you are going to want to click on this as soon as you discover it. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a game if there wasn't some kind of limit on your "moves" to force you into making choices. The number of "brain cells" you can choose per term is stated under the bolt of lightening symbol (行动力点) in the top right hand corner of the screen. Once this reaches zero, you can't click on any more attributes and it's time to move on to the next screen. You will notice 4 buttons in the lower right hand side of the screen. The most important is the 学习 tab. Here you will be able to "purchase" new skills using your 醒悟/lightbulb points. To begin with these will be very simple skills (learning to walk, learning to talk etc), but later you will get the opportunity to learn more advanced subjects (algebra, piano, coding etc). Now, although the 醒悟/lightbulb points are needed to directly purchase these skills, the cost will depend on the level of each of your attributes. For example, the higher your 体魄/physicality attribute, the less the physical skills (such as walking, swimming, basketball) will cost in terms of 醒悟/lightbulb points, which is why it's important to choose carefully when doing the brain cell exercise in the previous screen. That being done, it's time to move on the the final major screen, 安排 (on the far left of the screen). You have six time slots to fill with either studying (学习) or leisure (娱乐). At the top of the screen are two bars, 父母的满意度 (parents' level of satisfaction) and 我的压力 (pressure/stress). Too much studying will cause the stress bar to increase, and will eventually lead to a nervous breakdown. On the other hand, if your parents' level of satisfaction gets too low (by doing too many leisure activities), then they will admonish you. Because of this, it's a good idea to maintain a healthy balance of the two. Each activity will also have an effect on your attributes (intelligence etc). Once you've chosen, it's time to move on to the next turn by clicking the green 下一回 button in the lower right. This is what the end turn screen looks like. It will cycle between 9 screens. 6 of these will just be the skills you chose to practise, and the remaining 3 will be various random events (you fall out with a friend, you get caught playing games in an internet cafe, you lose your homework etc). Once all 9 screens have been cycled through, the game will return to the main screen for your next turn. That's basically the meat of the game. You'll continue cycling through turns all the way to the 高考 (college entrance exam). After that, you'll get a couple more screens where you'll go to college and then get choose a husband/wife, whereupon the next generation will be born and you can start the whole process all over. You always seem to start off as a working class family, so don't expect t be able to get into Qinghua or Peking University until at least the 3rd or 4th gen. Edit: If anyone is looking for a deeper tutorial, here is a detailed analysis of the how the game mechanics work (in Chinese): https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1620393135
  29. 11 points
    Hi everyone, As we begin a new month I have decided to share some words of encouragement to all who are awaiting response of their scholarship application. Without this forum I myself don't know how I would have kept sane. Regardless of the outcome ,I wish you all the best in whatever path you may choose to embark on. “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”
  30. 11 points
    I will get round to writing part 2 of my write up of the university course: in the meantime heres a brief thought I ended up writing out in full. Would be interested to hear others thoughts: Recently I have noticed I am stuttering a lot more when just regularly chatting to friends in Chinese; my brain appears to constantly be asking itself, 'is this really the most appropriate word?' Perhaps this is a result of moving back to the UK and being away from the total immersion of China, but I feel like its more likely a result of learning how to work between two languages when on the mic in interpreting situations... Take the various concepts of 'collapse' in Chinese as an example. There's 垮, it denotes the idea of collapsing inwards on itself. then there's 崩潰, the idea of something or someone collapsing from the cause of not being able to bear a load. what about 瓦解, collapse due to internal disintegration, figuratively as well as literally, or even 塌縮, the idea of, say, a star collapsing inwards on itself to eventually become a black hole. All these different concepts of collapsing will almost always be translated into English simply as 'collapse'. Whilst this makes for very easy interpreting, it actually makes your Chinese worse, as you are constantly drawing together these distinct meanings into one basket named 'collapse', not allowing your brain to understand the finesse in their differences. What one is constantly striving towards in learning another language is to rewire the brain in order to divide and distinguish concepts that are different from one's mother tongue. Not only does learning the skill of interpreting not tolerate such rewiring, it actually bundles all the wires together in a big tangled mess. The brain is told to forget the small but important differences between words and instead group words into easy to manage target language categories. As a result, I find I question my word choice a lot more often than I once did. I find I can no longer simply rely on feeling, or make choices as easily simply based on a gut feeling. So it would seem, while my Chinese has improved a lot in the last year, learning to interpret has perhaps had a negative effect on my "語感", or my ability to simply 'feel' what the right word should be. Hopefully this is just temporary.
  31. 11 points
    I wonder if any of the people who posted in this originally are still active in the forum? I completely forgot I had an account here, then re-signed up and found my old account history. Thought it would be interesting to give a catch up to what happened to the eager 16 year old that posted on here all this time ago back in 2007! Well turns out most of the advice was the perfect advice to give! I took a break from my school but still became a professional dancer, now at the age of 27 I finally started to achieve my dream of getting a degree in Chinese, however I decided to be 'sensible' and enrolled in a uk university at the age of 25 in a Chinese and business management degree programme. I got a 1:1 in each year and am now about to go on my 'official year abroad' to China! Thought it might be a fun post to show that even though it may take years, some things can finally happen!
  32. 11 points
    Going through the same "what are you reading" thread (but over a longer period of time), below is my list from when I started making a conscious effort to do more reading. The list is in the order that I read them, and I read them one after the other (sometimes finishing one and straight away picking up the next). Like I mentioned to Mark, it's always a good idea to have your next book ready to go before you finish your current one to prevent any break or lull in reading. Like Lu, I could read quite well when I first starting doing this and regularly read newspaper articles and such, but other than a couple of half-hearted attempts, I had only previously finished 1 or 2 novels, and didn't do any sort of regular long form reading. Also worth noting is that when I decided to do more reading the first book I chose was actually《书剑恩仇录》. However due to it having too many new words/characters a page I put that aside and came back to it a dozen books later which made it much easier to read (an experience I wrote about here). This was a good decision. I've since come to the opinion that you are better off reading a bunch of easier novels than struggling through a more difficult one - especially when you are just starting out. If the more difficult book is one you really want to read, you can always come back to it later (like I did) and it will be much more enjoyable. In the list, I've highlighted the books I think are suitable for beginners in blue, and the books I'd avoid entirely in red. The reason I'd avoid them is not because the language used is unsuitable, but rather because I didn't like the book. I've also thrown in a couple of oranges, which are books I didn't like, but that are part of a set so it may be worth reading them if you are interested in being able to say you've read the set. Finally, you'll see a couple of green ones, which are my favourites out of all the books listed here. 《平凡的世界》in particular is one of my favourite books I've read in any language (I've written about it here). Although it's quite accessible in terms of language, it's really long, which is I why I don't recommend it as a first book because you'll want to build up your reading stamina before tackling it. 《汉语与文化交际》 《家》 《春》 《秋》 《活着》 《许三观卖血记》 《记忆的微风》 《天下无贼》 《中国式离婚》 《兄弟》(上) 《兄弟》(下) 《书剑恩仇录》(上) 《书剑恩仇录》(下) 《碧血剑》(上) 《碧血剑》(下) 《圈子圈套1》 《圈子圈套2》 《圈子圈套3》 《射雕英雄传》(1) 《射雕英雄传》(2) 《射雕英雄传》(3) 《射雕英雄传》(4) 《狼图腾》 《在细雨中呼喊》 《平凡的世界》(1) 《平凡的世界》(2) 《平凡的世界》(3) 《色,戒》 《神雕侠侣》(1) 《神雕侠侣》(2) 《神雕侠侣》(3) 《神雕侠侣》(4) 《夜谭十计》 (includes the short story that《让子弹飞》was based off) 《人生》which is by the same author as 《平凡的世界》 《雪山飞狐》 《杜拉拉升职记》 《杜拉拉华年似水》 《杜拉拉3:我在这战斗的一年里》 《裸婚》 《蛙》 《飞狐外传》 《北京记者》 《黄金时代》 If I was doing it again I'd definitely change up the order of things. I was smart enough to put aside《书剑恩仇录》until I was a better reader, but was still stuck in the trap of wanting to read "great literature/notable books", hence 《家》《春》and《秋》. Those books are worthy of reading for the insight they give you in to China during that period of time, but in hindsight, I would have been better off reading them later. I had to force myself to finish 《春》because it was boring me to tears. 《家》and 《秋》were much better in that regard but still contained enough archaic and old-fashioned language that I wouldn't recommend them as first books (I know others disagree with this). Of the blue books, 《活着》is the one I'd recommend first, although《许三观卖血记》is at around the same level and is also a good choice (I put 《活着》first because I prefer the story). 余华 is a very accessible author for learners because the language he uses isn't too complicated, the only thing is, he tends to write about the same sort of things, and so if you've read a couple of his books and want a break from that genre, you'll have to go to another author. Here's how I would break down the genres of the other blue books Rural China/Cultural Revolution and Beyond 《活着》 《许三观卖血记》 《人生》(same author as 《平凡的世界》) Modern China - Business Intrigue 《圈子圈套1》 《圈子圈套2》 《圈子圈套3》 Modern China - Relationship Drama 《中国式离婚》 《裸婚》 Reading things in the same genre will have the benefit of having similar vocabulary, but mixing things up can keep things interesting. It comes down to personal preference as to what works better for you. If you look at the main list, you'll see I tended to read a few books in one genre and then switch up to another genre, and then go back to the original genre and so on. I think that approach worked quite well. Once you've read all those blue books, you can probably start venturing out in to longer and/or more difficult works. 《兄弟》is good if you like 余华, although the second half is much better than the first. If you're looking at getting in to 武侠 novels 《雪山飞狐》is one of 金庸's more accessible stories, and《流星•蝴蝶•剑》by Gu Long is also apparently quite accessible (but I haven't read it). 《鬼吹灯 》also comes recommended (but again I've not read it so can't comment more on it). Once you're comfortable reading longer texts then《平凡的世界》might be a good choice, or perhaps some of the other 金庸 novels -《碧血剑》is a favourite of mine. Regarding advice for book selection, I think for the first 10-20 books, I'd really focus on pulpy, easy read books just to build up reading stamina and other reading skills (not to mention incidental vocabulary). With handful of exceptions, the way I chose books was just to walk in to one of the giant bookstores (北京图书大厦 is 西单 is a favourite) and have a browse around to see if any of the promoted books looked interesting or if any of the authors I knew had other books available, and then purchase 10-15 books at a time (this also solved the problem mentioned above about always having the next book ready). I agree with Lu that you need to enjoy the book you are reading, but I'd hold off on more difficult books that you want to read until after you have acquired decent reading experience and ability - that way they'll be that much more enjoyable. Once you've got 10-20 books under your belt you can then start to branch out in to more serious literature. The only other thing I'd add is the importance of doing daily reading, even if it's only a page, or half a page. Once you stop, it's easy to stay stopped - and somewhat ironically, that's the position I find myself in at the moment, as I haven't done much long-form Chinese reading for a number of months. I could blame an international move, or life getting in the way, but there are always excuses if you want to make them. Making sure you do a little bit of reading every day helps keep the momentum going.
  33. 11 points
    Ready for more good audio? The “Chinese Language and Literature Demonstration Library” (中小学语文示范诵读库) is a joint project by China's Department of Education and Central Radio and TV. The aim is to produce a high-standard, high-quality language audio teaching resource for primary and secondary schools. So far, grades 1, 2, 7 and 8 have been completed and released. More on the project on these sites: http://m.news.cctv.com/2018/05/18/ARTI7HhSM5j32FR1JQVhJSM9180518.shtml http://news.cctv.com/special/zxxywsfk/index.shtml http://www.moe.gov.cn/s78/A18/moe_807/201812/t20181224_364534.html The audios are perfectly clear Mandarin readings by very pleasant voices. The choice of texts is varied, the language is generally easy, many are short or very short, and there are even some 文言文 texts in the higher grades. Since the project also aims at promoting 'core values', some texts are rather too patriotic and/or slushy, but still good learning material. The audios can now be found in Ximalaya and other sites (iTunes, You Tube, bilibili, sukou, CNR/CNTV sites, etc. etc.) Search for: 小学语文示范诵读库 There are also some video productions (still frames with text). This, for instance from the Grade 1 and 2 set (click on the side links for more rabbits, if so inclined): https://www.bilibili.com/video/av23701129/ This 179 audio series in Ximalaya starts with Primary school Grades 1 and 2 (in Page 1) but soon gets rid of the white rabbits and baby tadpoles, and jumps to Grades 7 and 8 (in pages 2-6). All the readings in this set have transcripts. https://www.ximalaya.com/jiaoyu/17003729/ It looks like iTunes has the whole set too, but maybe not the transcripts. Search for: 中小学语文示范诵读库 (By 中国广播Radio.cn)
  34. 11 points
    Hello, I'm the one who did a one year intensive Chinese course (level zero to HSK 4) and then 4 years Bachelor in Chemical Engineering taught in Chinese. First of all, it was not a bad experience at all, on the contrary, I'd recommend it but it depends on what you want. In my first year, we had comprehensive Chinese, listening, writing and all those classes, but the major difference was that there was only two of us students for nearly all classes, so we made rapid progress and reached HSK4 within 8 months when HSK 3 was min requirement back then. My first year in BEng was tough, I was the only foreigner in my class, and had to digest all the new vocabulary and grammar on my own. I went to Math class without even knowing words like addition, substraction...I admit I should have set up a better study plan for technical vocabulary, but it went fine, just needed to catch up and keep the pace with Chinese students. I'd say that with A levels in Chemistry, Physics and Math, the content itself is not difficult, and the good thing is that there's less language compared to humanities, you can easily figure out the numbers and work out the problems. Another bonus about learning Beng in a small uni is that your listening will get used to accents, and your handwritten Chinese reading skills will get a boost. During my last year, our supervisor had a buddy program, so I had a senior to guide me with the laboratory work, thesis writing, data analysis etc. Overall, my Beng was ok, my chinese reached HSK 6 within 5 years with strong focus on technical language. Here's a few words of advice: Learn the Periodic table, organic and inorganic nomenclature in Chinese. Check my zhihu answer. Get your hands on secondary school science textbooks in Chinese, technical English books for uni students like 化工专业英语 Start reading academic papers in Chinese. Watch Open courses in Chinese 公开课 Get to know Chinese friends, esp in Science field Get ready for the challenge, and get plenty of perseverance.
  35. 11 points
    Well, it seems about time to lay out my 2019 aims and objectives. I delayed this since I wanted to start my new year goals in February after turning in the first draft of my thesis (though the editing process that I am now in is just as burdensome). Last year was pretty much filled with successes and I hope I can make some obtainable goals again this year. My life will be changing a lot with being a full-time student coming to an end. So I will be setting more modest goals to allow for time to transition. The theme of this year, from a Chinese language perspective, is pronunciation and reading. My grammar and writing have gotten to a comfortable point as a natural result of writing a thesis in Chinese. That was exciting to realize. Woohoo! So the goals: 1) Finish one Chinese book every month. With a stretch goal: put the top 300 most common unknown words into a Pleco deck and learn them (10 new words a day, 3600 new words by the end of the year). 2) Pick one phrase that I am struggling on the pronunciation with per day and put it on a note card in a sentence. Have a Chinese friend record themselves saying it and work on imitating them. And that's it. I do want to say more about what books I'll read. I asked my middle school students which books they actually enjoyed reading during class, today. One is a series called 皮皮鲁和鲁西西 that according to reviews is a difficult book for first graders. I'm so down for this. They also recommended translations of the Japanese author 东野圭吴's books, one of which I already bought. Outside of fiction, having previously enjoyed 费孝通《乡土中国》 I've also picked up his 江村经济. I also put the first 204 words (all words that I don't know and appear >5 times) from《看见》into Pleco and started working on those. I hope that by the end of the year I can pick up 三体 or 欢乐颂, both of which are books I want to read but still require too much dictionary work. I'm doing this alongside diving back into reading English classics in preparation of teaching English lit. It was so exciting to pick up a novel and finish it in three days. I forgot how easy it is to read when it's my native language... So, really, my first goal is two books per month, one English and one Chinese.
  36. 10 points
    According to this page the HSK exam will be changed to offer nine levels: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/48yDq48T_WzCjfD9uT4laA I don't know if this is (a) fake news (I don't see a source for the information) or (b) new news (maybe everyone knew this already) The link suggests there'll be nine levels, not six. Reading through - not very well - I'm not sure the text explicitly says this will replace the previous HSK regime. I certainly don't see any date for it doing so. Old timers will remember that the 'original' HSK co-existed for a while with the "new" HSK that is the current standard one now. Or is it that the Confucius Institute organisation has put together a 《汉语水平等级标准》 and it expects that HSK people (assuming they are different or even rival organisations) will at some point in the future modify the exam to match those standards? Anyway, a good day for publishers of textbooks!
  37. 10 points
    we're basically screwed - FCO called this morning to say last flight out is this Sunday, again from Wuhan. Again, no way for us to get to the plane. There are no cars to rent, or buy, yet to find a driver willing to do a 500k round trip to the centre of the epidemic. FCO are not able to guarantee the driver will be able to return after dropping us at the airport. Helpless, govt telling us to get out asap, but when I asked how, I was told, you should use your 'connections'. I dont live in China anymore, and even when I did I didnt live here, and the people here are old just old farmer folk, what connections are we meant to have? Currently speaking with a bbc reporter, see if they can put some pressure on, raise some awareness… At least im in a great place with great family.
  38. 10 points
    Things are fine here in Harbin. The streets are a lot quieter, there are very few cars driving about and many shops are closed, but the supermarkets and 便利店s are all open and full of food, and the air is clear and the sky is blue (probably due in no small part to the lack of traffic). I managed to buy three tubs of fresh fruit for just 10 yuan this afternoon. I've just come off a 3 and a half day water fast, so I dread to think what all that fruit will do to my digestive system! We had our first lesson today via wechat. Luckily there are only 3 students in our class, so we can make it work. All things considered life is pretty good here at the moment - it's all quiet on the Dongbei front. Now I have to send an email to my family to stop them from panicking (I hate the sensationalist news sometimes)
  39. 10 points
    Just got my HSK 6 test results back. Up to 248 from 212 the first time I took it one year ago. Pretty proud since I spent close to zero time preparing for the test itself which surprising shows non-test language learning does transfer over to the test. Good to know. My writing was the lowest at 72, which, while disappointing, isn't much of a surprise. I don't use a lot of "fancy" chengyus and the like that tend to bump up the score. Mostly just happy I got a 90 on the listening which was previously a weaker skill for me. My reading of 86 is hard to assess because I never do the bingju and don't know how many I randomly got right. Still would rather invest time in consuming native content rather than just studying test content, however, I do think I would benefit from a more structured course in writing in Chinese for a variety of different specific situation and practicing adjusting tone/formality to the occasion.
  40. 10 points
    I just wanted to chime in and say good job with the product. The more resources there are the better! I don't understand why there's so much much flak when you're just announcing your product. You've not once said it's the only way to successfully learn Chinese, but it's another method people can use to learn. I've just subscribed to the YouTube channel and really enjoy the videos. It's great to have some good video production for a change. My feedback regarding the product is 1. the price and 2. the need to submit card details to get the free trial. I'd be more than willing to try if there was say a 7 day free trial without needing to submit card details, then it just expired after 7 days. If I was interested, I could then pay for the subscription. Regarding the price, with websites like Lynda.com being just £15 a month which has hundreds of different courses, it tough to spend $30 a month on just a Chinese course. I know there's the biannual option, but personally I don't purchase long subscriptions until I've used the product a while. Nonetheless, keep up the work. Take some of the comments with a pinch of salt, as some people seem to spend much more time criticising studying techniques than actually studying themselves.
  41. 10 points
    hi Phil, just looked at your website out of curiosity. You seem like genuinely a solid guy and best of luck with your website. From my perspective and I certainly have no axe to grind and wouldn't sign up as it only covers the basics but my initial impressions is 1. Its flashy, looks nice to use, ..... but its quite off putting in my view and too salesman like, for example you say on the web page "80% of Chinese in 3 months" That right, there is a big nono! It's just blatantly misleading. To anyone reading this, the claim in the youtube video (24mins in) knowing 600 characters and 1000 words does not allow you to understand 80%-90% Chinese nor anywhere near it! Its highly misleading. You will at the very best be trying to stumbling through a basic conversation in China, and will have no chance of picking up even the gist of native material. One will be mislead into thinking "oh I learned 80% in 3 months surely (t 3 hours a day) i can get an 15% in another 9 months and be near fluent." Not a chance! Comprehension, grammer, accents, speed of language, exposure and yes, passage of time (years) is vital to learn Chinese. The reason why thousands upon thousands of people have struggle for many years just to reach an acceptable level is not due to the fact that they used a bad technique, it is mostly due to that Chinese in reality takes that long and is a hard slog. That is the cold hard fact, there is no magic bullet. 2. The claim in your youtube video it's the "best way learn" and you have the science to prove it. It's a claim you cannot make chaps. For example, how do you actually know its the "best"? Ignoring the fact that people have different learning styles, you have no evidence to compare people who studied at university, mandarin pod, pimsleur, rosetta stone, self study, private teachers etc. You simply have no way of know as you don't have the data to analyse. Further by the very nature that your (excellent) website is just starting it is that you do not have this information to make such a claim 3. the idea that you can learn hundreds of characters in days or weeks is a claim made by so many people before you guys. The problem is, what about a year later, two years later. Also learning a hundred characters quickly cannot be linearly scalable to the sheer amount of words required to learn Chinese to an advanced level. These memory techniques may work well at the start but I do not believe they will work in the long term, especially with the actual amount of characters and words that are required. Maybe they do? The chap from Burma that learnt 105 characters in two days. He is the tale end of the distribution, mother language i presume Burmese which is closer to chinese than English, already speaks english and most importantly how many of these 105 will he know in a month? Again potentially misleading. 4. I think the reviewers posted here are genuine and very enthusiastic, posted in good faith, but how long are they studying chinese? Everyone is super enthusiastic at the start but will these be so glowing a year, two years later . It reminds me of reviews on amazon or taobao when people review a product a day after they bought it and gives it 5 stars. It's the review years later after the product has been tried and tested it are the vital ones 5. They say the have all bases covered and when talking about price they ditch the ideas of using tutors,. Well that comparison that cannot be made. Their software will not talk back to, correct your errors, speech, have a conversation with you etc I think over all, despite my reservations above there certainly is no harm trying it and just see how it goes. I think it's worth a shot at least. They offer a money back feature which is good to see. The course seems to be quite motivating to learners which is a big aspect Again its just one persons opinion on first look
  42. 10 points
    Dear Mr. Howell, My name is Ash Henson. I am the paleographic team for Outlier. OneEye is my friend and colleague. I have asked OneEye in the past not to call people out specifically like you were. The main reason for that is that I would much rather be doing anything productive than getting involved in online debates. I would also like to state my intentions from the get go. I'm not here to get into a long drawn out discussion. I'm going to answer your initial issue and then go back to doing productive work that needs to be done. There is no need for the aggressive tone. Let's keep to the facts. Having said all of that. Let's discuss the claim that you are clearly upset about, namely that your work is “fairly controversial.” Why is that not a fair claim? Are you saying that the majority of the scholars in the field accept your work? If they don't, then “controversial” isn't an unfair claim. OneEye even softened the claim by adding “fairly” to “controversial.” I'm not sure where the unfairness lies. Uncontroversial ideas: words or groups of words in Old Chinese seem to have both related sounds and meanings Even the most traditional scholars seem to admit that there are groups of words that are related both by meaning and phonology, e.g. pair of words that differing in the voicing of the initial, but have a slightly different meaning or differ in tone and have a slightly different meaning. Newer, more controversial ideas: there was affixation in Old Chinese. these suffixes, prefixes and possibly infixes bear meanings there are word groups based around a root word These ideas are accepted more readily by Western scholars and are rejected by most traditional minded Chinese scholars. See: Schuessler's Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese; Sagart's 1999 book “The Roots of Old Chinese”, 金理新2002《上古漢語音系 》&2005《上古漢語形態研究 》 2014 Baxter and Sagart book “Old Chinese: a New Reconstruction” Personally, I think there is a lot of evidence to support these ideas. I did a systematic study of the “state of the art” back in 2007 using the above mentioned books and some academic papers. However, this type of research is in it's early stages and though there is consensus on some of these affixes, there are a lot of different ideas floating around. Very controversial: I call it “very” because very few scholars accept these ideas and incorporate them into their work. all sound components in Chinese characters carry a meaning that there are phonesthemic tendencies in Old Chinese If you're claiming that phonesthemic tendencies in OC is uncontroversial, that is simply false. Having one scholar in 2007 mention that (and not make systematic use of it in his work) is not an indication of it being accepted by the scholarly world. Acceptance by the scholarly world would indicate that lots of mainstream scholars incorporate these ideas into their work. One person is not consensus. And, that one person is not making anywhere near as strong of a claim as you are. In fact, he said, "Occasionally, certain meanings were associated to certain sounds." That is a very weak claim. I would also to address a few claims made in this thread and why I think they are very likely to be spurious: In the process of making the Outlier dictionary, I've done a lot of analyses related to meaning. Due to the sparse evidence that you have deal with, I always find very specific claims to be doubtful. What do I mean by that? Take this claim from the current thread: CLAIM: in the dual-element characters 穴 兌 㡀 分, 八 conveys the concept “split right and left.” So, are there other words for “split top to bottom”? What about “split at a right angle?” Splitting can happen in any direction. What evidence are you basing this “right and left” claim on? Paleographically, there are issues here as well. 1. The 八 in 穴 is not “eight” or the form used to write “eight.” The original form differs graphically from what came to be 八. 2. 㡀 did not appear as an independent form until very late. The earliest forms of it appear in 敝. 八 does not appear in the earliest forms of 敝. 3. 分 actually does mean “split”, but where does the evidence for “right and left” come from? Does that mean that 分 cannot be used to indicate a top to bottom split? The ability of a theory to reject false positives is just as important as its ability to accept true positives. CLAIM: 氐 (originally signifying “press the low point or foundation of an object”) That definition doesn't make sense to me. There is a specific word for “pressing the low point of an object”? Really? Where does this come from? It's obviously over specified. According to 季旭昇, 氏 is a depiction of a mallet. 氐 is a related character, depicting a mallet striking something. It's very easy for me to believe that there was a word for “mallet” or “striking with a mallet”. It's very difficult for me to believe that there is a word for “press the low point or foundation of an object.” Maybe if I saw the evidence, it would be easier to believe. People inventing characters were trying to solve a simple, real-word problem. That is, coming up with a way to write a spoken word. And yes, sometimes these things are related. But, the claim that sound components are always meaning bearing or that there are phonesthemic tendencies in OC is a much stronger, more difficult to prove claim. If you are claiming that, then the burden of proof lies on you. The point of my response, however, is that the claim that your ideas are controversial is a true claim. In fact, they are much more controversial than OneEye said they were. If you are claiming that your work isn't controversial, please post a list of mainstream scholars making active use of your ideas or at the very least, supporting them. Schuessler doesn't count here either. He did not make the strong claims you are making nor did he systematically incorporate them into his work.
  43. 10 points
    Found one. It turns out breaking the chain was the best thing I’ve done in years. Keeping a chain was great for maybe the first year (2015), but it quickly became a chore. In the end I was keeping it up because I had to, not because I wanted to. This is not to say chains are bad — they’re not bad at all, if you respond to that type of motivation — but I was already motivated enough without building structural guilt into my study routine. I kept it up until it hit 1,500 days, just for the milestone, then shut it down and did no Chinese at all over the Christmas break. After a month I was ready to jump back in, and have been loving the hell out of it ever since. So now I’m focusing on what I like most: reading, character learning, grammar and online chats. I’ll get to listening and speaking later when I find my mojo. I’ve also booked a flight back to Taiwan, but this time I’ll put a lot less pressure on myself, and will take a completely different approach to language exchange. Last year’s visit was incredibly stressful, mainly due to the expectations I put on myself.
  44. 10 points
    That is beautiful. Not quite true. ;) Close, and an easy mistake to make! That part is 父作寳...用享. Here's the full transcription: 曼龏父作寶 盨用享孝宗 室用丐眉壽 子子孫孫永寶用 Note that I'm using characters readable to modern readers. If I were doing this for paleographers it would be a bit different (曼龏父乍寶盨用亯孝宗室用匄眉壽子々孫々永寶用). Translation: "Man Gong Fu made this Xu as an offering to ancestors and to pray for longevity. May my progeny treasure and use it forever." Some additional information: This is a very common, formulaic type of inscription for a Zhou era bronze vessel. These vessels were often made to commemorate something good or auspicious that happened, and/or (as in this case), to offer to their ancestors for good fortune, long life, etc. A Xu (盨) is a type of bronze vessel. But what you have isn't a Xu. It's a Ding (鼎) of some sort (another type of bronze vessel). It may be a Fangding (方鼎) as you said, but I'm not an expert on bronze vessels (my specialty is ancient scripts, not the artifacts themselves). This also isn't a Zhou bronze vessel. If it has genuinely been in your family for a hundred years as you say, it's most likely from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). The decoration looks Qing-ish to me, but again I'm not a specialist. So it's probably a Qing copy of a Zhou-era style of bronze vessel with contemporary (Qing) decorations added, or it's inspired by the Zhou era (仿古 "pseudo-classical"), or something like that. You'd need to have it looked at by a specialist to be sure, and it's probably worth doing so. As for the inscription itself, whoever made the Ding probably copied it from some Xu they had access to. Or it was a copy of a copy (of a copy...). The characters themselves are correct, or very close to it, for the Zhou era, so it was probably copied directly from an authentic vessel, or from a good copy. The inscription could be Spring and Autumn (春秋), because I don't know of that particular variant of 壽 existing earlier than that (though it's possible). In researching this inscription, I found a recent post on reddit requesting a translation for the exact same inscription, but with slight cosmetic differences and on a different vessel. I also found a Sotheby's posting for a Qing era (they date it to the 1700s) pseudo-classical bronze (different style of vessel) with the same inscription. Possibly exactly the same inscription, meaning cast from the same mold, because they look identical to my eye (I'd need higher resolution photos of the Sotheby's piece to be sure). It sold for US$16,250 so yes, it may be worth getting this looked at by a specialist. This was fun. I haven't had a chance to do this sort of thing for a while.
  45. 9 points
    Incidentally, friends don't let friends get Chinese character tattoos.
  46. 9 points
    I have been studying Chinese for just over 3 years now, while also being a college student. I have just passed HSK5 a few months ago, but I feel like my progress is the greatest while I have more time to myself, during summer and winter break. I just graduated 3 days ago, and have a job in America set up to start in mid-September. As such, I will be following my dream and living in China from December 31 to August 31. During this time period, I will be spending 14 weeks doing 1 on 1 lessons for 16 hours a week in Chengdu. I am hoping for some major improvements, and will be working hard to reach my goals. I will first break down my goals by each ability, then summarize with some general goals. Speaking: Current Level: Currently, I can speak to people, but it sounds awful, and I am not comfortable doing it. I can speak about simple topics with bad grammar, and greatly struggle to say anything remotely advanced. Goal: By the time I return from China I hope to develop a sort of confidence in my spoken chinese. I want to be able to much more comfortably talk about simple to medium topics, and be able to converse about complex topics, albeit perhaps a bit slower, or with some grammar problems. I believe this goal is fairly achievable, since my passive vocabulary is far greater than my active vocabulary thanks to way too much time on anki. I have honestly had very little practice with speaking in comparison to reading, so I hope that being put in a Chinese-speaking environment will finally allow my speaking to "catch up" in a sense. Method: Daily conversation with my teacher. Hanging out with friends that don't know any English as much as possible. Speaking to as many people as possible. My goal is to spend at least an hour every day speaking to someone in Chinese. This shouldn't be too hard to achieve considering I don't know any other foreigners there, and the Chinese friends I do know there all don't know English. Listening: Current Level: Similar to speaking, I feel that I have most of the necessary vocabulary, I just lack the practice. I have the knowledge vs proficiency problem that I sometimes hear about. Goal: I hope that living in China and talking to many people will give me the listening practice I need to allow me to understand the same amount of speech that I can understand while reading. Currently, my listening is a sort of embarrassing point for me, as I struggle to understand some fairly basic sentences unless the person repeats it or speaks slowly, I also am entirely incapable of understanding speech from people with any sort of an accent. I hope to reach a level where minor accent differences (sh->s, n->l f->h etc) won't throw me off, and I can comfortably understand pretty much everything spoken to me in conversation. I don't expect to be able to fully understand things like TV shows and the news quite yet. Since I will be living in Chengdu, I hope to reach a full level of comprehension for people with sichuan-accented mandarin( 川普), and perhaps understand a little 四川话. Method: Same as speaking, lots of conversation. I will also try to get into Chinese TV shows, movies, music, and podcasts as much as I can, and listen to some kind of Chinese audio (a podcast or the news) while getting ready in the morning. Reading: Reading has always been my strongest skill. I really enjoy reading Chinese, and I review vocabulary in anki on a daily basis, which has brought my passive vocabulary up to an unproportionally high level, and I can read simple novels (余华), even though I wouldn't be able to understand a single sentence if it was read aloud to me. Since I enjoy reading, and it is much easier for me to practice outside of China, I think I should definitely put it on the back-burner while in China, in order to focus on my speaking and listening. That said, I plan to read a lot of Chinese social media and news on a casual basis. Writing: In terms of handwriting, I enjoy writing characters, and practice it with my anki deck daily. I will keep this up every day just so I am good at writing characters. I know many people argue that being able to hand-write characters is pretty useless nowadays, and I totally agree. That said, it is something I enjoy doing, so I will not give up on it. As for actual writing, I will tell my teacher to have me write an essay every once in a while, or perhaps some kind of small paper every few days. Although I don't enjoy writing, I think it is pretty helpful for improving grammar, especially if I have a teacher to look at my writing and go over all the mistakes with me. General Goals To Reach By December 31, 2020: Can comfortably converse in Chinese - be able to put any idea into speech, and understand nearly everything spoken to me by another person. Read 5 novels (These can mostly be done after my return from China, in September - December) Have decent comprehension of some simpler Chinese podcasts and shows During China (January - August): Spend an hour conversing in Chinese every day. After China (September - December): Every day: spend a half hour watching a TV show, or listening to a podcast. Every week: Spend an hour either talking to a friend over wechat, or an italki teacher if that is not possible.
  47. 9 points
    Hi @重大雷雨 , you bring up some valid concerns. Perhaps this might help. I have lived in Shanghai for 8 years. I had worked for 3 Chinese companies, 2 who had never before hired foreigners and I had to handle most of the work permit and residence permit process myself. I have renewed my own work permit and residence permit for myself and my family over the course of the 8 years in China. I have personally accidentally made a mistake on the renewal date of my own work permit and residence permit and was able to get things pushed through faster and negotiate a special arrangement. My wife has had 2 babies in China and we have had to apply for US citizenship, passports, and then take those documents and get residence permits for them, a process that is muddy and ill-defined. I have helped dozens of friends with work permit and residence permit issues, including people who have been denied. I have friends whose companies have illegally employed people (in Shanghai), were checked by the gov, and received heavy fines. I started and still own my own company incorporated in Jingan District of Shanghai (a WFOE - Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) of which I am the 法人 I have used my own company to sponsor my own work permit and residence permit I have previously met the qualifications for a 5 yr work permit and 2 year residence permit. On top of all of this, my wife and I have personally gotten to know over 30 students involved in the China Horizons programs over the years. On one occasion in 2016, my wife personally made arrangement for 3 China Horizons female teachers to have places to stay in Shanghai the night before they were to fly out of Shanghai and back to America. It was an emergency situation, we never got the details, all we knew is that they had to get out now. To be clear, there is no "work visa". A person must first obtain a work permit with Labor Dept that handles foreign affairs (located at 梅园路77号, 5th floor). It's a separate dark red book, not something that goes into your passport, and it allows you to work in China. However, this allows you to work in China but not live there. Once you have a work permit, you can take that to the Entry-Exit Bureau and you can apply for a Residence Permit 居留许可在 that allows you to live in China. This is an actual sticker that goes in your passport. Once you've got that, you're good until it needs to be renewed. That is a basic overview of it and it ignores the many documents and new verifications required. If you want to see the full details on the process, I recommend this article from the China Law Blog: "The ABCs on China’s New Work Permit System for Foreigners". It may be of help to you if you are thinking of taking a job in China. I hope that sheds some light on the matter. All the best!
  48. 9 points
    快点儿 / Top 12 ① 一席 The best Chinese version of TED Talks out there, by a long shot.Very interesting topics, updated bi-weekly, sporting a clean interface, painless to download, and contains transcripts for all shows. I cannot believe I never heard about this from other learners. https://yixi.tv/ ② 163 Courses Tons of free courses spanning a range of subjects, all of them (that I have seen) with subtitles。 No registration needed. Tip, in some of the videos there is actually a built in (very basic) pop-dictionary within the video player. https://open.163.com/cuvocw/ ③ 希望之声 Non-profit Chinese news broadcasting company. A whole lot of articles here, the majority with transcripts and able to be downloaded. https://www.soundofhope.org/gb/2019/08/01/n3076028.html ④ 华语环球 Like the Mainland version of NPR podcasts. Check out 非常记录 and 会客厅 for starters. Currently only 3 or 4 are producing new episodes, but the backlog here is quite extensive. http://chinese.cri.cn/media/index.html ⑤ 故事FM Each episode tells a different story of an ordinary person from the Mainland. Some of the stories themselves are ordinary, some are extraordinary, and all are interesting. Very good production value here. https://player.fm/series/1496859 ⑥ 臺灣故事島 Same as 故事FM above, but from Taiwan. https://storytaiwan.tw/default.html ⑦ 中央广播电台 This is the single best producer of Mandarin speaking radio content, bar none. No download or transcripts however. https://cn.rti.tw/radio/programList/program_category_id/1 ⑧ 玛丽欧陪你喝一杯 Very nice host who drinks and converses about a smorgasbord of topics with a different guess every episode. Very informal, great for getting used to Taiwanese accents. https://player.fm/series/series-1920692 ⑨ 观点 Some people in a studio giving opinions on topics, usually big, sometimes small. Again, production quality here is very weel done. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeQNWQtmrc98TFUJNrFOdfQ/playlists ⑩ 狗熊有话说 Very relaxed dude, very relaxed podcast. http://voice.beartalking.com/ ⑪ 文昭谈古论今 One guy - who I believe is a professor - giving his take on current events, politics and life. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtAIPjABiQD3qjlEl1T5VpA ⑫ 圆桌派 Perhaps not as good as 锵锵三人行 but still very interesting. If you haven;t noticed, I tend to like barebone productions such as this - a few people, some microphones, and ideas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xmIquqwnBQ&list=PLwmPBqRou8APdG6K-Ks0lV2yL0yqCFHOu
  49. 9 points
    I saw this thread was blowing up abit so popped in to see what it’s about. It’s not my usual area of the forums but i think @Phil Crimmins comes across really well. A lot of people I’ve seen come on here publishing their website or technique or APP really don’t respond at all well to any vaguely negative feedback. I think it bodes well that Phil is at least getting involved and debating with CF users. I’m tempted to try the free stuff just so I can contribute here 🤣 maybe in the holiday that’s coming up soon ...
  50. 9 points
    瑞生兄如握:   動筆前,先對您尊上爲兄,正因爲您是在外地出生,互不知誰長誰次,據您來信所知,您父親已有九十高齡,諒您年逾六旬,今年晚在即,本人即將年登五十九歲了,按輩論,倆人都是同輩的,所以先作兄妹相稱,是無礙的。   來信於本月十五日收到,乃近來身體欠佳,未即敬覆,祈曲諒是幸。   來信得知您父親長壽在旁,是您們兄弟姊妹的福氣。是人生難得,謹此祝頌您爸爸好好保重身體,長福長壽。   今在紙筆轉敘本人求尋親人一事,是非常心切的,自知我家叔嚴財,數拾年前離鄉背井,漂流海外求謀,從未有音訊,本人經幾拾年來的打探都是無着,這次欣逢我鄉親親屬康榮先生回來中國到來碧嶺省親與觀光,適逢機遇,特拜訪他,得他熱情所敘,說馬來亞姓嚴人世很多,但對吾叔嚴財狀況待覆畢後代我探訪,今已探訪吾兄,這也算是我第一個親人,可作兄妹相稱,也是本人求尋我叔父嚴財的起點。據兄來信說與吾叔已失聯絡數拾餘年,唯有登報根尋,我深信兄是個助人爲樂高貴品德,唯望兄接我信後解囊相助一下,在埠代我登報根尋。是所煩勞,他日能享天倫,與吾叔取得聯繫,吾兄功德,厚謝。   紙難盡言,本人狀況下次詳述,登報時請載明,本人是嚴友的女兒。母是黃嬌。             此致 並祝新年各人均安             妹炳娣敬上             28-1-94 聯繫地址:      CHINE 見報請與 中國 廣東 深圳 坪山 碧嶺 大屋      嚴炳娣 女士 聯繫
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