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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/15/2020 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. 20 points
    There are more and more Chinese language Youtube channels popping up, covering a wide variety of interests and hobbies, and they make for a great learning resource. Here are a few of mine. Feel free to add your own. General life in China Channels: One of my new favourites is 小叔TV . His content consists of walking around various localities in China, with a focus on the more forgotten, left behind type places. While it doesn't sound too exciting, I really like to watch now that I'm not living in China anymore. He offers some interesting insights into Chinese society and economy, and it's interesting to see these normally unseen locales. You really get to see what everyday life is like for many (maybe most) Chinese people. I discovered 当下频道DxChannel while researching an essay about 地摊经济 (the idea of jump starting the post lockdown economy by allowing people to set up little market stalls in the streets). In their video they tried to set up their own little stall in Shanghai to see how much they could make in a day. Most of their recent content is about young people trying to set up businesses, so I think it's quite an interesting insight into entrepreneurs trying to make it in China. IC实验室 is a channel about marketing, the economy and society in general. They have some great videos about Chinese internet culture and how that relates to marketing. The first video of theirs I watched was this great one about 奋斗逼 (people who work themselves into the ground, with no benefit to themselves or their colleagues). Their video about 添狗 was an interesting insight into dating in China. Gaming Channels: I got into gaming (particularly retro gaming) channels a few years back, and decided to find some Chinese channels about the topic to turn it into a learning opportunity. Gamker is a good one, creating professional long-form reviews of the latest games (they just released their Cyberpunk one), and 小宁子 is always a relaxing watch, with more chilled game reviews. 老孙聊游戏 is probably my favourite though. Although ostensibly a retro gaming channel, he actually ends up covering the changes in Chinese society from the 80s to early 00s, as he talks about how he met his wife, how he set up a gaming shop, the development of his city etc. TV/Movie Reviews and Retrospectives: I have been able to watch and understand TV shows and films with no problem for a couple of years now, but always struggled to explain the plot or content of what I had watched to my teacher. I mean, I could do it in a simple way, but just not as articulate as I would have liked, so I started watching these kind of channels to fix that. These two mostly just take the mickey out of really bad Chinese dramas, but also feature the odd really good show now and again (I've discovered some really good TV shows as a result): 哇哇哇妹 (I like their end of year "worst of" awards) 开心嘴炮 These movie channels only really review ones that they like, and it's a good way of finding good potential movies, both modern and classic: 看电影了没 大聪看电影 越哥说电影 News: For official Chinese government news I quite like新闻1+1 and 今日关注 (they normally focus on a single topic). When I need a break from the official party line, I check out these North American based news channels: stone记 公子沈 (a little bit too anti-CCP in an axe-grindy kind of way, but a good balance to official news channels) Misc: I used this channel to learn Chinese cooking while in lockdown in China: Chef Wang 美食作家王刚 李永乐老师 is fun education/lecture channel about economics. maths and science. He manages to get hundreds of thousands of views, despite the super low production values (basically just him in front of a blackboard), which is a testament to the quality of the teaching: 李永乐老师 True life crime channel: X调查 Mr and Mrs Gao is a good one for Chinese learners, as the uploads generally consist of a husband explaining various topics and weird stories from around the world to his wife. They range from black hole theory to the lives of famous people, so you get a wide range of vocab. They consistently get millions of views an upload, so are one of the most popular Chinese channels on youtube: Mr and Mrs Gao Profiles of famous Chinese people: Your Studio 有耳工作室 Everyday economics (ok, if you can get over the weird disguise the presenter always wears 😂 ) 人人都该懂的经济学 逻辑思维 stopped uploading their philosophy/history podcast around three years back, but their library of 200 uploads is worth watching, if you're into that sort of thing: 逻辑思维 Good channel about computer programming (by a Chinese coder living in the US): SchelleyYuki This is the channel of the Beijing MMA fighter who likes to expose fake martial artists by challenging them to real fights (expect lots of profanity and beef): 徐晓冬北京格斗狂人 This is a channel that does a good job of explaining current affair topics, accompanied by some nice illustrations. Good for Chinese learners given the breadth and relevance of the subjects covered: 点点动画 Finally, I probably should include Papi酱. She's one of the biggest 网红 in China (or at least she was), and although she seems to have moved on to 抖音 now (hence the 60 sec videos), her older videos are still worth watching for their satire of modern Chinese life: Papi酱
  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. 14 points
    Wow, this is so funny, I experienced an eerily similar situation to the OP, only mine came from the opposite side: I was on a long train journey in southern China a couple of years back. Unfortunately there weren't any sleepers left, so I had to take a seat. There were four of us squeezed around a tiny table, all strangers, but we got to know each other a little as the afternoon wore on. As night began to fall, one of the passengers, a lady in her early thirties, started to open up about her unhappy marriage: about her bad relationship with her mother-in-law, about how her husband had been seeing prostitutes and how she had just now found out that he was having an affair with a work colleague. The other two people around our table (a man and a woman, both in their thirties or thereabouts) took turns in giving her advice, while I tried my best to keep out of it. At some point I fell asleep and was woken by the noise of the lady having a very animated discussion on the phone while standing in that little area of the train where the bathrooms are (our seats were very close to it). My guess is that she had been thinking about her marriage all night and couldn't wait until she got home before having it all out with her husband. I managed to get back to sleep for another hour or two, only to be woken up by her jabbing finger. She told me that she had decided to divorce and wanted my advice on a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. I think you can see what is coming next... She had decided that 无情 was the best word to describe her current attitude (or aspiration, even), but just like the OP, felt her own language insufficient to express all the layers of meaning that she wanted to convey. She had already found a translation on her phone, "no feelings", and wanted my opinion. Now, it was 3am, and normally I wouldn't be too happy about being woken up so late, especially in a situation in which I generally find it really hard to fall asleep in the first place. However, given the personal crisis she was obviously going through, I didn't have the heart to refuse. As a native English speaker, "no feelings" just sounds a little awkward to me, a bit incomplete. On the other hand, all the other translations ("heartless", "merciless" etc), are not exactly positive descriptions, so I couldn't really recommend those either. I suppose "numb" would be an option, but I think that sounds much more passive than what she was aiming for. There ensued a long conversation about the various meanings and translations of 无情 (on a crowded train, rattling through southern China in the middle of the night), and I was trying my best to keep my voice down to avoid waking anyone else. Despite my misgivings, her heart did seem pretty set on her initial translation, "no feelings", so I guess that is what she went with in the end. Seeing this thread randomly pop up all this time later, I can't help but think that Mr "无情" and Ms "No Feelings" have a kind of 缘分, and that maybe one day this story will have a happy ending!
  6. 14 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.
  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. 13 points
    After a pretty rough year, I don't even want to look at my language goals from 2020. On the one hand, after about four months of really solid studying starting of the year it all tapered off and I didn't really pick it back up until a month or two ago in large part due to switching jobs, dealing with COVID, and other personal things that happened. On the other hand, with all those experience now turned to memories I'm ready for a fresh start. At this point, my language ability has mostly stabilized in the advanced range. What I mean is that recall and fluency is very rarely a challenge at this point. However, I want to move from sounding fluent to sounding educated, which means starting to develop a more robust literary vocabulary as well as branching out into more specialized vocabulary. I feel like I'm back in the "collecting new words" phase after spending a lot of time digesting many years of learning, an advantage of some time off of studying while still living in China. So, my modest language goals for this year are: 1) Learn 3 new words per day and spend 20 mins studying/reviewing vocabulary. I assume I'll have some days that go beyond three and hope to hit 1000 by the year's end. In the interest of developing literary Chinese I'm getting these words from the collection of essays used for the 普通话水平测试 which has the added benefit of moving me toward a long term goal of passing that test with a high score. I want to reach the same score required of native speakers to be 语文 teachers. 2) Write one essay (>1000字) each month and go through two rounds of feedback and revision. This is a new one for me and will consider it on trial while I figure out how well it works into my life. I welcome feedback if anyone has set writing goals before. 3) Read the books I have on my shelf: 《红高粱家族》、《蒋勋说宋词》、《一只独立行的猪》、《白夜行》、《雅舍小品》. The last one is a challenge but I'm hoping that after building up my literary vocabulary in the 1st goal I'll be closer to comprehensible input when I return to it. I also have 《吾国与吾民》but have been told the original English version is much better than the translated version. However, it's also a classic so I might try to read both. I won't be using vocabulary from these from my 3 words per day and will instead just take what I get from passive learning.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 12 points
    Most reviews of Chinese language programs focus on reflections immediately after the student finished. I instead want to share my review of ICLP 5 years later now that I am in the workforce, in the US, and do not always use Chinese formally. I believe this is particularly important because the majority of Chinese language learners unfortunately do not have the luxury - or desire - to live or work in China/Taiwan/etc. for an extended period of time. How does ICLP prepare you for a life of using Chinese? https://iclp.ntu.edu.tw/ Summary: ICLP helped me bridge the gap from conversational Chinese to native material. I will remember my year in Taiwan as one of my favorite chapters in life. I now have friendships with people only in Chinese and even interviewed for a job in Chinese. I owe this to the intensity of ICLP and its principles. I believe it is important for people to have as much information as possible before deciding to take time out of their life (and money) to move to a foreign country and study a language. I can comfortably and confidentially use Chinese professionally, even years later. ICLP was integral to helping me get there. Why ICLP: I went to ICLP because I wanted: To sound educated/professional when speaking Chinese I did not major in Chinese in undergrad or grad school; studying Chinese was always a part time endeavor Bridge the gap to native material Learn traditional characters Experience life in a Chinese society outside of the PRC Chinese level before ICLP: I had taken and passed HSK 5 (max 6) a year before attending ICLP. I believe that equates to ~1500 characters. However, my vocabulary was a bit more expansive because I lived in China. In undergrad, I studied two semesters of Chinese (Integrated Chinese textbook series) followed by a semester of study abroad in China. The next 2-3 years were completely self study and work with a tutor. I mostly used the BLCU textbooks for self study with tutor. Needless to say, I did not have much formal training. I lived in China for ~2 years before attending ICLP. I quickly realized I could start a conversation but had difficulty continuing it. Therefore, I focused less on grammar and simply crammed vocabulary so I could communicate most effectively - difficult to measure language “level” this way. I had also stopped using Anki and flash card because of time constraints. By the time I enrolled at ICLP, I was very conversational and handled my Taiwan Visa at the TECO office in person using Chinese. I could read the People’s Daily fairly comfortably. I spent a week a friend’s house for Spring Festival and was able to follow along with most of the 春晚 broadcast and talk to them about it. TV shows like 爱情公寓 and novels/books were challenging because of the unknown vocabulary. I would pick up a book and get discouraged after a chapter and the same after an episode or two or a show. I was right at the cusp of native material and wanted to take a year at ICLP to make substantial progress. I hope this helps assess where I was heading into the program. ICLP review: Placement test: The placement test is fairly straightforward with both a written and spoken portion. The written portion is multiple choice fill in the blank and gets progressively more difficult. Everyone takes the same test and most don't score 100%. It also serves as an exit exam and the person with the greatest score increase at the end of the year wins an award. The spoken portion is with two teachers. I do not believe the details of these exams are particular important because it is important to start at the appropriate level. Many students are disappointed with their placement and believe they should be a level higher. I had similar feelings as I knew >90% of the vocab and grammar in the text. However, everyone ultimately understands that they started in the right place. The program is difficult and its important that you truly know and internalize what you think you know when starting on day one. Teaching methods: You will be speaking all class, not listening to the teacher lecture at you. For those familiar with the method, its a flipped classroom. Your teacher will tell you what section of the text will be covered in the next class. You are expected to review the text, vocab, and grammar ahead of class. You will not be able to reference the text, your phone, or dictionary during class. You focus on using the grammar structure, using key vocab correctly, and then talk about the text and your own views on it. I don't want to use the word "drill" because the class is ultimately one big conversation. The thought is: if you can speak well, you can write well. Just because you can write well, doesn't mean you can speak well. I believe this approach to be ideal. For example, there are no final exams, only mid-term exams. "Finals" are a 3-5 min speech/presentation given to the program. Yes other programs are cheaper and use the same textbooks. However, ICLP's value is its pedagogy. They also train other Chinese language teachers. Group classes: Three of your four classes will be small group classes of 3-4 students. You have one core class using the core text for that level and two "elective" classes. These range from TV news, to short stories, to classical Chinese. You will need 3 students interested in taking the elective course for it to be offered. Happy lobbying. You can "stretch" your chinese by taking an elective a level up from your core class (sometimes). I do not recommend this. You will have ~50 new words a day per class and 5-10 new grammar patterns. You will have enough to cover. the program is structured effectively so no need to be over-ambitious because you want to squeeze out every minute of every dollar of the program. Your teacher and classmates will get upset if you're slowing down the class. Overall the classes are fun...if and only if you are prepared. You get to know your classmates and teacher using Chinese. You're not parroting the text or drilling mindlessly. The teachers try to have a dialogue where you answer questions using certain vocab or grammar. Its nice to get into discussions about your thoughts on a text, related current events, or about students in your course. I personally found this to be a really rewarding environment because classroom content was more about using and thinking in Chinese vs memorizing a text. The best teachers do this very well. One-on-one: Through the 500-level core class (思想與社會), your one-on-one will be used to supplement and re-enforce the content in your core class. The teacher has a curriculum of stuff to cover even during on-on-one. If you have a firm grasp of the material, you can really use the rest of the hour to make it your own. From 600 and above, the one-on-one is entirely at your discretion. I often sent my teacher long-form newspaper or magazine articles ahead of time. We then used the class time to discuss. Other students (eg. PhD) will use this time to dive into research material. Textbooks: 思想與社會 is their bread and butter. It's used elsewhere in Taiwan and there is a version used at IUP in Beijing as well. Some textbooks are written by ICLP and others are 3rd party (lower levels). Some students have reservations about outdated texts and one or two books with some typos. I personally think these reservations are fairly trivial. Yes, you don't want to speak/write as someone from a past generation, but your textbooks should not be your only input method, especially in a native environment like Taiwan. The register of the material is more formal/learned and for their intended intended purpose, I think they're top notch. You will need to supplement textbooks for informal/colloquial vocab and grammar patterns. Program community: I made some of my best friends in life through ICLP. Its a great opportunity to be around many like-minded people from all over the world doing the same thing. While in the ICLP building, one must speak Chinese. However, English does tend to dominate the discussion outside of class. I did have relationships with some classmates primarily in Chinese outside of class. The two largest cohorts are American and British. Students range from undergraduates studying abroad, graduate students, mid-career professionals, academics, and everything in between. The teachers all want you to succeed and even take your learning personally at times. It was the most supportive academic environment I have experienced. Cost: Non-Americans will have sticker shock. American students often think the program is affordable compared to US tuition. As long as you are clear what you want out of the program going in, you will not have buyers remorse. I recommend applying for the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship. I was able to live off the 25K NTD per month but had to budget accordingly - rent and food. Tuition, travel, and nights out were out of my own budget. Living in Taiwan: Taipei/Taiwan is a nice native environment for learning Chinese. I lived in Northeast China immediately before attending ICLP - which is great for "standard mandarin" as many on this forum attest. However, I found Taipei great for daily life as a student. It was much easier to just "plug in" and use Chinese in daily interactions. Plenty of coffee shops to study near/off campus. The coffee shop culture in Taipei's alleys is actually pretty great if that's your thing. Hiking and weekend trips are easy. Some classmates even rented a van to drive to a music festival. ICLP can be intense during the week if you really buckle down and study. I appreciated how easy it was to get out of the city and go hiking, go to the coast, or even fly to HK for a quick getaway. The metro can even get you to some pretty great spots. The urban sprawl of some Chinese cities makes this a bit more difficult, but still doable. Several of my friends would go elsewhere in Asia too over holidays, namely the Philippines. ICLP takeaways: Who should attend: IUP in Beijing has a minimum 2-year Chinese pre-requisite. You can start at ICLP as a complete beginner - I believe this is a business decision. The program is best used to polish your Chinese and take it to the "next level" for formal/learned/professional uses. The return on investment is greatest for advanced learners who can already pick up a paper, turn on the tv and get the gist, and have a conversation. Its arguably one of the best place for classical chinese as well. Because beginners don't always have a feel for the rhythm of the language, you risk sounding too mechanical/formal after time at ICLP. What the program is not: Don't attend ICLP if your main focus is colloquial Chinese. Slang and colloquial speech simply isn't the focus of the program. On this forum and others, you will find mentions of ICLP students speaking like a textbook. I believe the ability to pick up a book, read a newspaper, give a speech, or talk about complex ideas is much more valuable in the long run than simply chatting and making friends. Strong foundation: I've been in the US since ICLP. Any language learner fears "losing" their progress, especially after investing the years that Chinese requires. The programs helps build a foundation that I often compare to Mad Libs; the structure is there and I just fill it in with new vocab as needed. Years later and I am able to maintain my Chinese because ICLP helped me bridge the gap to native material. I cannot overstate how incredibly important it is to enter native material if you're not living in Greater China. Your world expands infinitely when you can dive into books, tv, novels, apps, personal relationships, etc. in Chinese. I can turn on the TV or read a Chinese newspaper years after leaving ICLP - exactly what I knew I would get from the program.
  16. 12 points
    So i finally made it back. A bit about my little experience: Boarding is done 5 rows at a time regardless of travel class (back>front). Mask must be worn at all times and they discourage walking around on the plane. After landing, people in full hazmat board the plane to check your health code. 5 rows leave at a time (front>back). You have to show various QR codes about 10 times at the airport so make sure you have a fully charged phone. They are still unsure about how to handle foreigners but get there in the end. Covid test was really well organised but pretty brutal. Immigration is pretty standard. Collecting bags standard. You then break off into various lines based on your final location then hop onto a bus to your hotel. No choice of hotel. More paperwork to do on the bus. Check-in - usual hotel check-in + chlorine tablets for the toilet and a thermometer. Must pay everything upfront. Rooms are fine. Internet not great. AC poor. Can 外卖·. You are put into a WeChat group with other people on your floor and have to submit your temperature twice a day in the group. Food etc is dropped off outside your door at certain times. Feel free to ask any questions!
  17. 12 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
  18. 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.
  19. 11 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!
  20. 11 points
    Long time lurker, first time poster...thought this data might be of interest to some of you. The graph below shows my increasing reading speed over the course of about 15.6 million characters read between December 2018 and July 2020 (so just over a year and a half). Some notes: Reading time includes time spent looking up unknown words in Pleco's document reader, creating Pleco flashcards, and googling unknown references, plus a little occasional texting. Most of what I read was webnovels, with a few real books thrown in here and there. Other than starting out with a webnovel that I'd heard was easy, I didn't make much of an attempt to filter for difficulty. When I started, I'd learned around 1600 characters (recognition only), but I'm a heritage speaker, so my vocabulary was probably somewhat larger than that of a second-language learner who knows an equal number of characters. At this point I'd say I recognize 4000 characters or so. I read roughly the first 2.5 million characters either fully out loud or muttered under my breath, and switched to reading silently only when reading out loud began to noticeably slow me down. I still tend to semi-voluntarily mouth the words when reading something unfamiliar or difficult. I hope this is helpful for someone, as my small attempt to give back after all the time I've spent reading the massive amount of accumulated wisdom on these forums.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 10 points
    @mungouk -- About seasoning your new wok, even though you probably already know these basics, please let me review them here all in one place. (These are specific to your wok, a cast iron wok 铸铁炒锅。) 1. Scrub the wok out with dish detergent and warm water. This is mainly to remove the surface protectant coating which the manufacturer applies to keep the wok from rusting while it is in a warehouse or on the shelf of a retail store. A dish rag or plastic dish scrubbing pad will usually do the trick, but if not, it's OK to resort to harsher measures. In China one can easily buy stainless steel wire scrubbing balls in all grocery stores and supermarkets for very little money. They make quick work of the process. They are called by several brand names, but asking a clerk for 厨房用清洁炒锅铁丝求 will get what you need. (Dishwashing detergent is called 清洁剂 and 白猫 is a popular brand.) 2. Rinse the wok several times to get rid of all the detergent you have used. Heat it on your burner or flame at a medium-high setting for a couple minutes until it is completely dry. Pour in a little bit (one or two teaspoons) of high-smoke-point cooking oil. Canola oil 玉米油 or rapeseed oil 菜籽油 are suitable and readily available. (Olive oil 橄榄油 is not a good choice.) Rub it around. I do this by grasping a wadded-up paper towel with chopsticks. You want to thinly coat the entire surface, but you don't want a pool of oil in the bottom of the pan. Let it continue to cook on medium-high for 15 or 20 minutes, rubbing it with a little fresh oil when it begins to look dry. It will smoke during this process. At the very end of the process, with the pan still hot, I rub the outside well with an oily paper towel. I don't obcess over truly curing the exterior surfaces. 3. If you have time, let the wok cool down, rinse with soapy water as above, dry it and season it again. Even twice more makes sense. If not, that's OK. Once will get the job done pretty well. The idea behind this seasoning process is that the steel of the wok is microscopically porus and the clean hot oil is allowed to bond with it and produce a smooth, non-stick surface. The high temperature allows this oil to polymerize and behave somewhat like a plastic. Since you are using an induction hob instad of a flame, take special care to get the wok thoroughly hot. If it is not hot enough, the surface will wind up being sticky. 4. Serious Chinese home cooks carry it one step further. I am not personally convinced it is actually worth the trouble, though I do follow the dogma out of a religious hope that it is slightly beneficial. This step involves seasoning the wok with a neutral vegetable in addition to oil. Jiuci 韭菜 is the one usually recommended; it is sold year around in fist-sized bunches for 5 or 6 Yuan. Heat the wok to medium high, add oil as before, but this time put in enough jiucai to loosely cover the bottom of the pan. Let it cook until it starts to blacken and char, then grab it with your chopsticks and rub it all around the inside of the pan, being careful to include the sides (not only the bottom.) I do that several times, with several batches of jiucai. (The jiucai is ruined by this; throw it away.) Spring onions 小葱 can be used for this, but they cost more than jiucai. 5. When I use the wok for cooking, I clean it mainly with warm water and a scrub brush. If something has stuck to the pan, I let it soak with hot water for half an hour or so, then scrub it again. I don't use detergent. Rarely I will use the metal scouring ball. Mechanical cleaning is preferable to chemical cleaning since it is less likely to remove the deeply-bonded food oils. (You want those to remain because they make the pan slicker and shinier over time.) 6. When I have washed the wok and rinsed it well, I set it over low flame for half a minute or so and wipe it out with a paper towel. This insures that it is thoroughly dry. Put a small splash of cooking oil on a wadded-up paper towel and rub it all over while it is hot. When it cools, wipe it with a dry rag or paper towel to remove excess visible oil and put it away. I keep my wok in a disposable recycled rag-fabric bag from the supermarket. This allows me to "nest" another smaller pan in it without scratching. (A plastic bag is not a good idea because it traps atmospheric moisture and encourages rust; the bag needs to "breathe.") 7. Once every six or eight months I give it a "mini re-seasoning" just to maintain it at its prime. The only other care precaution that comes to mind is that I don't store food in it overnight since that can degrade the cured surface of the metal and might also make the food taste funny. My wok keeps getting better and better. It's a pleasure to use. I can usually heat it to medium, wipe it with a tiny amount of oil on a paper towel, crack one or two fresh eggs into it sunny-side-up and move them around just by gently shaking the pan. (That's only when I'm showing off or testing the pan; typically I do use oil when frying.)
  24. 10 points
    Time for a recap: whole year: take HSK5 and pass with a good score Nope, didn't want to do the online test read a few easy Chinese novels Yes, on my 7th right now, and will be done before the end of the year:) each month: write at least one essay longer than one page Nope, only wrote an irregular diary for the first half of the year each week: take 2 classes with 50/50 focus textbook/free talk Yes, kind of, though it was way more free talk read a few news articles Sometimes, but often I just read my current novel instead watch at least one episode of a TV show / consume some other video content Yes, watched quite a few shows and movies each day: vocabulary study (~10 new words) Yes, but I gradually reduced it to 5 new words, review time was getting to long I'm satisfied overall, but next year I have to come up with a plan to do more writing. I'll make a plan and post it in next year's topic.
  25. 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.
  26. 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)
  27. 9 points
    This is relatively new as the Microsoft's Edge Chromium browser was only released to the public a few months ago, and I haven't seen it mentioned here yet. Microsoft's new Edge browser can read aloud Chinese pages and pdfs (open in the browser), and you also have impressive new AI voices, can tweak the speeds, can change voices and practice reading alongside listening. You can also use Read Aloud in Word but not sure whether the Online voices are there yet. This page explains all : Use Learning Tools in the Edge browser - Office Support (microsoft.com) Try it, have it read the newspaper for you! You can use this Edge browser in other OS: iOS, Linux, Android, you name it, but they don't have the read aloud capability yet. Besides 听力,I am finding it a good tool to improve my reading speed, it really helps. The AI voices may not be perfect but have improved beyond recognition, these Online Natural voices are top of the range. I can't remember the names but they include Mandarin, Cantonese and Taiwan pronunciation (not Taiwanese). Enjoy!
  28. 9 points
    Its that time of year - share your aims and objectives for the coming year here! For me, I have two areas I really want to push myself forward into: 1) Reach 150WPM in shorthand speed. I halfheartedly began learning Pitman shorthand back in 2018; it got put on the back burner until lockdown this year, and now I've finished all the textbooks and workbooks available. Currently sitting at a mediocre 40-50WPM. I want to be able to note take speeches at speeds exceeding 150WPM by this time next year (roughly the normal speed of human speech). 2) Second goal is related to first. I want to complete translations of 100 news articles in Chinese by sight interpreting directly into shorthand. Thats around 1 article every 3 days, so this is a big goal that I'm committing to. As a result, thats it for me for targets for this year.
  29. 9 points
    This year will be my 7th year of Chinese! How time flies 😄. Still have my eyes set on getting to a pretty decent (but far from perfect) level of Chinese by the 10 year mark. My biggest goal for 2021 is to improve my speaking skills. I've developed some fairly good daily study habits based on some posts by imron which I was fortunate enough to read pretty early on. One goal is essentially to just keep with it. 1) Have 150 hours worth of voice calls on HelloTalk. I've decided to keep a log of the hours. So far I've done 4 hours and a half and it's only been 5 days 😃. I probably did 100+ hours of this last year and it's worked wonders for my speaking ability. One nice consequence of this is that I've gotten much better at understanding accented mandarin. Having a voice call with a girl who grew up in the villages of Sichuan or a guy in Guangdong with a super non-standard accent does wonders for understanding accented mandarin in a way which watching TV shows really can't compete with. 2) Learn 4 new words per day in Anki. I'll bump it up to 5 if I end up my bumping down the number of characters I learn per day. 3) Go through 500 new characters in my Anki deck. That'll bring me up to 4000 characters in my deck. Right now I'm doing 3 characters a day but will tone it back to 1 or 2 characters per day if need be. 4) Watch at least one episode of some TV show a day. I tend to watch an hour or two of Chinese videos/shows each day. Maybe a better goal would be to do at least 30 minutes per day. I'm rather fond of 相声 so listening to half an hour of 相声 instead of a TV show would work just as well. I'd like to read more novels but honestly even if I were completely fluent in mandarin I still wouldn't read all that many novels so I consider it a secondary goal. I think it's better to practice what I intend to use the language for. Having said that, I'll still make some effort to read.
  30. 9 points
    Last year's goal reflection: One of my goals last year was to get my chinese 驾照, and boy did I just squeak that one in. As of Xmas eve of last year, I am now a licensed driver here in China! It took about 3 mo. of studying with 驾考宝典, 5 attempts, and plenty of times pestering my Chinese friends, but I did it in Chinese. I scored a 90, which means I just barely hit the 通过线. But boy, if I got a point for each time someone told me to just take it in English, I would've passed just on that alone. This year: Goal for this year is to finally get around to passing hsk 5 as well as signing up for a college course in Chinese (not a college chinese course). Not sure what the availability is like for night classes in Shanghai, so I can't commit yet. 加油 to everyone else 👍
  31. 9 points
    Interesting idea. Just wanted to note that my experience of HelloTalk is completely different from yours. Background: I live in the US and have been studying Chinese as a hobby for almost 4 years (4 year anniversary is January!) I went through a period of time this year where HelloTalk was a major part of my study routine. I wanted to try to have some form of speaking practice every day, so if I didn't have a class that day, I would find someone on HelloTalk to talk to. My process was the following: 1. Make a post on HelloTalk asking if anyone was available to have a call, because I wanted to practice my Chinese (the post is written in Chinese) 2. Get bombarded with 10s of requests within seconds, because the ratio of Chinese learners to Chinese Natives is heavily skewed. Be careful of time of day in China before making these posts - if you make one during the middle of the night, you obviously won't get responses. 3. Respond to the ones who sent Chinese messages with an audio clip of me speaking Chinese. 4. If people continue to ONLY respond in Chinese, then I would initiate a call. I did most of these calls while walking the dogs, and they were usually 20-30 min long. I almost never had an issue where people started speaking English. If I did, I just explained I was looking to practice Chinese right now and we can talk some other time, then found a new partner. Everyone should place value on their time. I think you are misunderstanding the reason most people use apps like HelloTalk. People who are "serious" learners are the small minority; the vast majority are either (1) lonely, (2) curious about "foreigners", or (3) both. Simply find people who don't care to actually learn English, and even if your call is only in Chinese, it is still mutually beneficial and enjoyable. I don't know your Chinese level, but another thing that may be happening is that your Chinese level isn't quite good enough to be able to hold a conversation completely in Chinese without frustrating the other party. This will cause them to try to help you, and the easiest way to help is frequently by using English. I personally have steered away from conversation practice with other Chinese learners because (1) I don't want their accents and grammar mistakes to imprint upon me, (2) I live in the US, so I find incremental value in hearing people with different accents so that I can understand people that speak something other than "standard" Mandarin, and (3) it is SO easy to find native speakers interested in having conversations in full Mandarin on HelloTalk that I haven't found the need. To drive this point home, I did the above process for several MONTHS 4x per week, almost always speaking with a new person. It never took more than a few minutes to find a suitable partner.
  32. 9 points
    As discussed and decided on here, the Book of the Month for May 2020 is 《草鞋湾》 by 曹文轩. Cao Wenxuan (1954) is a children's book writer (he's written some things for adults as well, but children's literature is his main work). Some of his work has been translated, most notably Bronze and Sunflower, and in 2016 he he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award. 《草鞋湾》 is his latest book, published in 2019. 209 pages (in my edition), 22 chapters of about 10 pages each. So far (one chapter in) the language is easy, both in vocabulary and in sentence structure. Chapter 1: Shanghai, 1940s. We meet the inhabitants of Straw Sandal Bay Street no. 108: Private detective 沙丘克, his ten-year-old son 沙小丘 and caretaker 马大伯. Because father Sha is so good at his work, gangsters tend to come by and threaten him and/or shoot at him. When Xiaoqiu was two, his mother got enough of this and left. In the yard of the Sha family stands a scholar tree, with an abandoned magpie nest. Xiaoqiu hopes a new magpie family will move in. (Cao Wenxuan really likes writing about birds.) Some words: 喜鹊 xǐquè magpie 槐树 huáishù Chinese scholartree 不由得 bùyóude cannot but, can’t help (doing sth) 私家侦探 sījiā zhēntàn private detective 管家 guǎnjiā housekeeper 傍晚 bàngwǎn toward evening, at dusk 稀松 xīsōng sloppy, lax 将就 jiāngjiu make do, make the best of it (not to be confused with 讲究, which means pretty much the opposite) 邬 Wū family name (with bird in it) 高枕无忧 gāozhěn wúyōu shake up the pillow and have a good rest, sit back and relax, not worry at all List of Glorious Book-Finishers: Lu Roddy Murrayjames somethingfunny Ouyangjun Tomsima Matteo jiaojiao87 PerpetualChange Dahuzi ...
  33. 9 points
    Hi all, Something I reflect on alot, is people tend to have a warped view of how long it takes to become fluent in Chinese. I myself had it when I started. I told myself that if I did a year studying Mandarin at university in China, I would definitely be fluent in Chinese. 1 year? what the hell was I thinking. In part it's difficult not to think this way, with snappily titled Youtube videos such as "30 days to fluency" or engaging language services such as "The Mandarin Blueprint". It gives the sense, that becoming fluent is easy, can be done in a short amount of time, and is achievable in a smooth and routine manner. Well it can't. As such - here is my guide as to how long a so called "normal person" will take to become "fluent" in Chinese. TLDR - 10 years. A NORMAL Persons Guide of just how much it takes to become Fluent in Chinese Year 1 - Your journey begins with you trying a weekly class of Chinese in your home country. You quite like it and can now say your name, and introduce you family and favourite hobby. You pass HSK 1 - You are not fluent Year 2 - You increase your classes to twice weekly. You can now say colours, talk about your holidays, and introduce a range of hobbies. You pass HSK 2 and 3. Go you! - You still aren't fluent Year 3 - You move to China and sign up to Uni. You have 4 classes a day, 5 days a week. Surely after a year of this you will be well on your way to being fluent? Now you can go to a coffee shop and have a conversation with a language partner for 15 mins all in Chinese. Your family back at home now say you seem completely fluent to them. You pass HSK 4. You still aren't fluent. You feel somewhat dejected. You are starting to realise just how far you have to go. Year 4 - You return home, and continue with weekly classes. Now you can touch on a range of subjects, but you worry you are regressing in your home country. People who you speak to say, wow a year living in China, I bet your language skills are awesome. You hesitantly shrug your shoulders and say, "yeah I guess." You work towards HSK 5 but its alot of words so you vow to take it next year. You still aren't fluent. Year 5 - You move back to China and get a job. You teach english, but your colleagues are Chinese so you hope you will speak in Chinese alot with them. You don't. Their english is way better than your Chinese, and its tiresome to always force them to speak Mandarin. It seems selfish. Your Chinese does improve more than your year at home though. You pretty much grasp everything at a basic level. Any instruction in a shop, or topic of conversation you can make a comment on. You pass HSK 5. You feel pride at this and you should. All your family and friends back home think you are fluent. You still aren't fluent. And despite now passing the advanced level of a Chinese proficiency test, you start to worry that you never will achieve fluency. You've put 5 years into this, and 2 years living abroad, and lets be honest. You. Are. Still. Not. Fluent. Year 6 - Pretty much the same as last year. But slowly you use mandarin a little more. You make a Chinese friend who cant speak English, and when you socialise with them you do so in Mandarin. Cool you think, a relationship that relies on you speaking only Chinese. You start preparing for HSK 6. As always your friends and family back home think you are fluent. And you know what, you have a friend that you converse only in Mandarin with and it works, you can make them laugh and you talk about a considerable range of subjects. You are now socially fluent. Well done! Year 7 - You take a deep dive. You get a girlfriend/boyfriend/housemate that can only speak Mandarin. Now you spend alot of social time with them outside of work. You are now using Mandarin 50% of the time. Thinks flow easy. You rarely feel anxiety thinking, i don't understand what they are saying. If the subject becomes complex or terchnical. You are lost however. You pass HSK 6. You are still socially fluent, but more so. Year 8 - You start a job in a mandarin only environment. All of your colleagues use Chinese. You recognize that whereas before most people had better english than you so the conversation naturally reverted to english, this has now reversed. Your Chinese is better than most people. You spend lots of time learning vocab relevant to your job. You can now express everything you want to say. In reality however it is clunky, and you make many mistakes. Well done. You are now socially fluent, and work fluent. Year 9 - Everything is going well. You rarely meet anyone whose english is better than your mandarin. Many of your friends you now socialise with in Mandarin. You rarely feel anxiety, and even rarer still have no grasp at all of what is going on. You still make many mistakes though, and vow to iron them out. In truth though, if you listen to the radio, or watch tv. Its complex. You get this gist easily, but its not as enjoyable as watching stuff in english. Because your brain is working overtime.You are now socially fluent, and work fluent, but not entertainment content . Year 10 - You find a tv show that you enjoy, and you watch it pretty confidently. Your mistakes start to iron out, and you don't pause it that much. Your family, your friends, your colleagues, your boss, society at large and now, finally, yourself, consider you to be fluent. In reality, fluent is now probably an accurate description of where you are at. PHEW, Well done, it only took 10 years, and not the 30 days you had hoped for. You are now fluent. Despite this, you now have the wisdom to know. This is a life long journey, that is nowhere close to completion. You vow to become more fluent. Notes - Every year it has got harder to define what progress means. No longer do you make big, clear jumps, like when you went from HSK 1 to HSK 4 in around 2 years of serious study. Every year however, it has got easier, to get better at mandarin. Every year your incidental exposure to the language has increased. By year 10 you spend hours practicing Chinese without even intending to. You watch Chinese tv for enjoyment , you speak to friends to socialise, you get paid to work in a chinese office. You do all of this without having to force yourself to do it. You still do intentional study, but now you also do hours of non-intentional study because, well, this is your life. ... Comment This is generalised. It's not my path, it probably wont be yours. There will be outliers and exceptions that do it much quicker/slower. However I do think it is realistic aim for the majority who want to be socially, work, and entertainment content fluent. You are probably looking at 10 years, of consistent study and exposure to the language. And let me be clear, the person above is dedicated, they went to Chinese university for a bit, they lived in china, got a chinese housemate/girlfriend/boyfriend and eventually worked in a Chinese office environment. This person has had lots of kind supportive Chinese friends and teachers, received small grants and scholarships, been able to afford tuition, been given lots of societal support (Wow your Chinese is great!), has had the life and financial circumstances to allow freedom to study. This isn't 10 years of 1 hour weekly classes back at home. My aim for this post, is so people who are say, in year 3 of studying, and have got that nagging feeling they are making no progress and that they should be fluent by now. Well in my opinion, you can relax. If you are a normal person, you shouldn't be. P.S You now you look back and enjoy the long and winding road. You understand the need for consistent but small amounts of effort. You appreciate people who have skills more. You look at your friend who plays a musical instrument and now see all of the small steps it took to play this beautiful tune, rather than just the beautiful tune itself. You feel pride in your friend, and more importantly in yourself. You've gained a life skill that won't erode quickly, the foundations have been built deep and firm. People praise your ability, and you take it onboard, no longer do you think , if only you knew how influent I am. You look at trees differently. You have a sense of self worth. You want to share this feeling and hard earned wisdom with others. You encourage them. You tell them, don't work stick at it. You are even more sure now than ever, that 水滴石穿 is your favourite chengyu. P.P.S - The title is intentionally misleading. There is no guide to becoming fluent in mandarin. Fluent - is such a varied and changing word. We all have our own interpretations of what this means. It's really amorphous. There are no fixed levels of fluency. There is no socially fluent, work fluent etc. It's not an achievement on xbox that you either have or don't have. The aim of this thread, is hoping people aren't so hard on themselves, and realise progress takes time. To relax and enjoy it, rather to constantly worry, I should be "fluent" by this point.
  34. 9 points
    My primary hobby is badminton. More than forty years in the game. I take photos of professionals in international tournaments , undertaken coaching qualifications, teach, compete in competitions. It’s not full time. I have the respect of players who have played at the top level including Olympics. We get along very well. I always wanted to talk to more players. Many players are Mandarin speakers. Learning mandarin helps me communicate with players from China, Taiwan and Malaysia. Hobbies are lifelong. I get invited to go to China because of badminton. It’s a pity I don’t have enough time to learn japanese nor Bahasa as many top players are from Japan and Indonesia. Bahasa would be useful for some Malaysian players. Malaysians can speak hokkien, Cantonese, mandarin, English, Bahasa to varying degrees. At least I can cover that with cantonese and English plus some basic mandarin. People have different motivations for their hobbies. Some will lose interest but come back to it. That’s not a problem. So long as the individual is happy, I think that’s is what matters rather than the absolute level of expertise or the length of time. Every person is different. My university classmate is a success story for Spanish. After the age of thirty, she started Spanish and continued it for ten years at a local college. Later she would go on cycling holidays in Spanish speaking countries practicing and using the language. I am lucky to have a hobby that I love and can pass on to a new generation. I can make new friends with it, travel and use it. These aspects are easily overlooked. For learning a language, perhaps we don’t see it as similar to sports. But even in a chinese learning forum like this we can interact and discuss, learn and talk with each other. Personally, I think it’s wonderful. I met a couple of people through this forum in real life that I wouldn’t have got to meet in normal life. We had a great time (I ate most of the 北京烤鸭 at dinner 😂). Will I ever get to true fluency? Probably not. Can I use what I learnt (even if limited) to enrich my life and make things more interesting? Definitely so.
  35. 9 points
    Wow boy, a crazy year for me. Living and working in Hefei, Anhui, I had co-workers talking about the outbreak in neighboring Wuhan, which I didn't think of much going back to the US for Chinese New year. I was interviewing for a new job in the US while this all went down in January, and I was flying back early February after the New Year to finish my two weeks and clear out my apartment. I kept reassuring everyone in the US that there is no way they would close down the Wuhan area since the population size was like closing down the Midwest in the US (I was very, very wrong). They then started canceling flights to China from the US, and I realized I would be able to make it back to Hefei but it would be difficult getting a return flight to the US. Luckily I brought back 90% of my valuables since I was planning to move back to the US, and I had about $500 worth of belongings in my apartment (electric scooter, bike, etc.). I ended up canceling my flight back to China, and my landlord was great in that I told him he could keep everything in the apartment of value and the deposit for me ending the lease early and not cleaning it out. He even let me only pay the month of February even though I owed him a couple more months as part of the lease. Flash forward to today where I have a new office job in Chicago (unfortunately not related to China). I only went into work for 4 days in March before being told to work remotely since. Wild ride living in Hefei for a year and a half with a prior stint in Beijing from 2009 to 2014. I don't know the next time I'll visit China (if Americans are allowed with our outbreak), but I'll get my fix with food in Chicago's Chinatown and reflecting on this year like everyone else.
  36. 9 points
    That Reddit thread is misleading. The OP there is sharing pictures from a 2019 book that's geared towards advanced CFL students or non-Mandarin Chinese speakers who want to achieve standard pronunciation. That book is based on a 11092 word vocabulary list originally published in a 2010 book called《 汉语国际教育用音节汉字词汇等级划分》, or《等级划分》for short. The vocabulary, character, and syllable lists in the《等级划分》are explicitly cited as the provisional content for the HSK 3.0 in a paper (Liu et al. 2020) shared by the official HSK Twitter account. The finalized content for the HSK 3.0 will be released sometime in the future by the State Language Work Committee. I have managed to get my hands on a PDF of the《等级划分》. (If anybody here wants that PDF as well as an spreadsheet of the vocabulary lists it contains they are welcome to DM me.) The《等级划分》do not discuss any sort of "stress levels" other than the basic five tones. 刘英林, co-editor of the《等级划分》and first author of the (Liu et al. 2020) paper, was the first director of the 北京语言大学和国家汉办汉语水平考试中心 and one of the co-creators of the original HSK test in the nineties. I wonder what sort of palace intrigue led to the《等级划分》getting shelved for the last ten years? Roddy is right on the money. As described in the《等级划分》preface, the overall process for compiling the lists at each level was (1) compare some character frequency lists to pick a list of 900 characters for that level, (2) compare a bunch of word frequency lists to pick a list of words that were exclusively composed of the characters included so far, then (3) compile a list of syllables that you'd need to pronounce all the characters.
  37. 9 points
    True that it felt like a park bench or a church pew. But mine was designed for a living room. This furniture is popular in traditional homes. One usually puts throw cushions on it to make it more comfortable. But it never quite works. Perhaps my western bones were too decadent. This is particularly popular in traditional homes that have a true 客厅 in which to receive guests. This deep burnished reddish-brown wood, 红木,is the material of choice. It's a type of mahogany. Lots of it is grown in the mountainous areas of SE Asia, where illegal logging still thrives. My inexpensive Kunming apartment was not a grand place that really called for such a piece. But the landlord had furnished it with left-over odds and ends, as is often the case. I had a friend in Kunming who worked part time for a company which sold this magnificent mahogany furniture. She once invited me to a big expo with displays of it from all over China. Some of the best came from the southwest border provinces. Her company bought the raw lumber from forests in Burma 缅甸 then made the actual furniture in Chinese factories. Some of it was magnificent, especiall the long conference tables made from a single tree. Some would seat 10 or 12 people on each side. Just right for a corporate board room. Smaller ones could also be used as formal dining tables in a suitable setting (not my apartment.) Funny thing about the wood furniture expo is that it turned out to be great for tasting and studying tea. Each furniture merchant displayed samples of his wares next to a temporary employee, hired for the weekend, brewing tea. He would invite prospective buyers into his area to look at the furniture and have a cup of tea. They always served very good tea, properly brewed by someone with some tea master training 茶艺师。 I moved around most of the mornings looking at magnificent wood pieces and sampling tea. Since this was in Kunming, there were dozens of first-rate Pu'er teas available. 普洱茶。 When the tea person wasn't busy, they enjoyed telling you about the tea: where it was grown, how it was cured, the best way to brew it and so on. They didn't know anything about the furniture. Most of these tea ladies wore traditional silk qipao 旗袍 dresses with flowing lines and a high collar. They were often bored, just sitting there waiting for someone to drop in and have tea. So they tended to be glad to have someone to talk to. That someone was me.
  38. 9 points
    Hey there! So I just saw this informative notice by Chinese Testing international dated June 2, 2020 (attached is the original) that they posted in the Confucius Institute of Barcelona (below is a direct translation into English by google translate). Main points is that the new HSK is intended to first take place in the first half of 2021 and that it will consist in adding a single new "advanced HSK" level that will comprise levels 7 to 9, and depending on the mark that you get in it you will have one or the other HSK level. It looks like levels 1-6 will remain unaltered: Lately, news such as "HSK will have 9 levels! The Chinese level 3.0 test will be coming soon" have attracted a lot of attention inside and outside China. The concerns and inquiries of Chinese students and teachers who are dedicated to the international teaching of this language come one after another, which excites us and shows unprecedented support. In order to answer the main concerns, the "Standards of the Chinese level in international education", the Chinese proficiency test (HSK) and the relationship between the two will be explained. With the development of the teaching of the Chinese language and the changes in the global needs of teaching and learning the Chinese language, it is necessary to adjust the "International Standards of Proficiency in Chinese" (published by the headquarters of the Confucius Institute in 2007), to Continuously improve the international teaching and learning of Chinese. In 2017, we began research and development of a new standard, namely "Chinese level standards in international education" (hereinafter referred to as "Level standards"). This research has already been completed and will therefore be launched in the second half of the year. "Level Standards" is based on the essence of Chinese language and writing, and has been nurtured by the strengths of other language standards in the world, inheriting the experience of teaching Chinese as a foreign language and the international teaching of Chinese. . From this base, divide the Chinese level of non-native speakers into three categories: beginner, medium and high, and each category is subdivided into three levels, that is, three categories with nine levels. Each level description includes three parts: verbal communication skills, content of thematic tasks and quantitative indicators of the language, and describes each level from five aspects according to their abilities to listen, speak, read, write and translate. "Level Standards" is an open and inclusive professional standard system that, after launch, will lead all international fields of Chinese language learning, teaching, testing and assessment, and will become an important indicator of reform and development of international Chinese teaching. The main change to the next "Level Standard" consists of three new advanced levels 7-9. A higher level of the Chinese language requires students to understand complex subjects in various fields and genres, carry out in-depth exchanges and discussions; are able to express themselves on complex issues of social, professional, daily activities, academic research, etc., have a flexible and effective organization of language, with a clear logic, a rigorous structure, a coherent and reasonable speech, and can communicate decently in various situations; Be flexible in using various communication strategies and resources to complete communication tasks, gain a deep understanding of Chinese cultural knowledge, and possess an international vision and intercultural communication skills. To this end, we will expand the levels by developing the Advanced HSK exam (levels 7-9), with the premise of guaranteeing the stability of HSK levels 1-6. The advanced exam is mainly for foreign students who specialize in Chinese language and literature, as well as for students from other majors with Chinese proficiency who come to China to study and for Sinology researchers abroad. A single exam will be implemented in the levels 7-9 test for the three levels, which means that only one exam will be added and will be determined by the score if the level 7, 8 or 9 is obtained. The Advanced HSK exam (Level 7-9) is scheduled to be released in the first half of next year. Check our website and social networks for future news on this topic. This text is a translation of the Chinese original and is for informational purposes only. Chinese Testing International June 2, 2020 2020_nuevo_hsk.pdf
  39. 9 points
    Sharing some 中国QT Photos... I know someone on their 14 day QT right now. They picked a hotel at the 400rmb per room price and this includes breakfast. They can order food and drink into the hotel. The food is actually from a different hotel where 3 meals were provided due to having no option to order in. Overall they’re very happy with how they’ve been treated and the experience in general. Someone regularly checks in on them (phone calls) and in English. The people on site also speak some English. If they have any issues there’s always someone available to ask. They also got a negative test result back so just doing their 14 and then can go home.
  40. 9 points
    Err...No thanks! Flight out of Hong Kong on JAL was on time, as was the flight onward from Narita (NRT) on JAL to LAX was also on time and without drama. Both were full planes. Just arrived Los Angeles LAX this morning. Took 2 hours to accomplish entry screenings. Hugely disorganized. It was like they were inventing the process as they were going along. No supervisors in sight. Just the foot soldiers trying their best to kind of play it by ear and figure things out. "Hey Bertha, why don't we screen families over here, and people with connecting flights over there." "Sounds like a good idea, Chester. Lets separate out the US citizens from the non-citizens." "OK, that makes sense to me." At first they just had us all sit in a large room. Everyone who had passed through China. Only when the chairs all got full did we begin to form lines, queues. Very few face masks in use here. It's like America thinks the whole thing is some kind of a Chinese joke. Most staff members wore masks at the airport, but less than half of the passengers. Nobody at my hotel is wearing a mask, not even the check-in clerks. Very casual.
  41. 9 points
    I"m prepared for a 2 week quarantine: I have a change of underwear and my Kindle. If the health authorities don't impose one, I will impose my own self-quarantine for 2 weeks. Only go out for essentials. Wear mask, wash hands, etc. Keep a contact diary. My plane leaves in a few hours. Will let you all know how it shakes out. Thanks for your support and suggestions.
  42. 9 points
    Yes, I fully agree and plan to do that. When I go back to Texas for my annual visit, I usually hit the ground running, trying to get lots of things done in a short time. Dentist appointment, new eyeglasses, get new supplies of prescription meds, stop by and chat with the folks at the bank, and so on. Visits with friends and relatives to catch up on news, renew interpersonal ties. Take this old pal out for dinner and that old pal out for a drink. This year I will take it slow and easy. Will play the "masked bandit" when out of the house. Maybe I can finally get my Chinese recipes all pulled together into a small but usable cookbook. That would give me a welcome sense of satisfaction.
  43. 9 points
    Well here it is folks: Yichang has been shut, Zhijiang has been shut. In fact it appears that every road, train station and airport out of Hubei accessible from where we are is now closed. So not going to be able to make the flight out from Chongqing by the looks of things. Seems I'm in this for the long haul... on the plus side my fangyan is gonna get a lot of practice. Not even joking, this year is the first year Ive ever been able to hold conversations with my parents in law (was shocked when we got in last week and I could somehow...understand what they were saying! My wife speaks in fangyan at home all the time when were in the UK, and it has clearly had some deeper passive effect on my listening abilities). Its honestly the best feeling to be able to keep up with jokes in the local dialect, feel like I'm finally a part of the family.
  44. 8 points
    Unfortunately I went through another hiatus in learning. It seems to be a character trait that I go through periods of being good and taking a rest when learning Mandarin as a hobby. Here's a list of useful links to posts and articles (to be continually updated) in no particular order. Reading back in Chinese forums helps me get interested again. It just shows how much we can read and learn, yet still forget. 1) List of everyday topics to discuss. Practicing discussing about these topics with different teachers or language partners. One can practice the same topic with different people to gradually increase fluency and also increase vocabulary around that topic. 2) How to make best use of an online tutor. Lots of practical advice by @NinjaTurtle Note: many useful learning strategies in this thread. 3) transcription project. Lots of subtitle materials from shows that you makes searching for content much easier. Also refer to Best way to Use Chinese film / transcripts 4) Accent Improvement: more natural sounding tones - phenomenal post showing the amount of detail that one can analyse ones own tones for that holy grail of sounding native-like. Of relevance, refer to this Towards Better Tones in Natural Speech where one needs to stress the correct tone on key words when speaking to sound more natural whereas some other parts of a sentence, it's not so important. Some important practical advice here. 5) Honorifics in Chinese - this links to a Chinese honorifics wiki entry. I played with this a bit when communicating with newly met mature people on Hellotalk. Excellent resource and when you use it (and get it right), the feedback is pretty satisfying 6) Getting out of a listening rut - a very good thread that makes interesting observations on why a person may have much more difficulty listening despite a lot of effort. The most enlightening post is here on a 12th page. 7) Effective exercises for learning with a private tutor - not to be confused with 2) which has different strategies. Rote learning is an important way to success. A nice recommendation by @Tomsima for this book which I don't have, but learning some idioms for situational dialogues makes a whole world of difference. 8)Looking for more anki based material? It's here in the Subs2SRS Anki Deck Index 9) Transcribing Mandarin as a learning method. Lovely description by @Publius of the transcribing method. A further detailed description in here by @imron. A forum member posts their experience 10) Worst advice when learning Mandarin - third point is great! 11) Drilling tones - takeaway advice is a lot of drilling on the same sentence is required. Chorus method requires drilling more than 20-30 times and this really opened up my insight. For some reason, I am quite happy to do the same amount of repetitive drilling in sports but felt in languages, it should be easier. Not so - you need to put your time in and no short cuts. 12) Getting new vocabulary and syntax from chinese media. One of my favourite threads which contains the detail of how to use subs2srs to make anki cards from media 13) WorkAudioBook – a tool for listening practice (and subtitle creation) how to create .srt files and then troubleshooting the import into anki process 14) Independent Chinese study: review . The most popular post in Chinese-forums. How to learn Chinese away from formal classes. Simply awesome. 15) How to language exchange - this youtube video details the learning process of language exchange. It's the only video that I have seen that details the exact process within a language exchange session - further explanation with respect to input and techniques. Most other people talk about what you should do to find or keep a language partner rather than the content of how to learn within a session. Getting lots of commands can reinforce the acquisition process. 16) An interesting way and fun way to develop more interactions with people and helping your language skills. 17)Listening skills for northern accents, and southern accents 18) The process of using a movie to help your Chinese listening 19) Mandarin YouTube videos to watch (link added on 1/1/2021)
  45. 8 points
    Its that time of year once again, checking in to update on my 2020 progress. Its been a very strange year for all of us, and particularly so considering I'm back in the uk preparing for some new mutated COVID-20 uk lockdown nearly a year after getting trapped in Hubei with the mystery Wuhan virus. Bizarre... Anyway, onto how I did this year. 1) I managed to learn around 50 Tang poems off by heart, and it has really blown me away just how useful this has become for understanding wordplay and feeling in everyday Chinese, but especially so when watching TV dramas, where they get referenced all the time, and you wouldnt know otherwise. They sit there like little in jokes for those who know, and I strongly recommend learning some of the most common poems to all advanced learners who have yet to do so. 2) I still type in Cangjie, and to my surprise actually find it more of a mindfuck typing according to pinyin nowadays, it just feels like everything is mapped wrongly. That being said, I still frequently forget how some character is written and have to check a dictionary before I can continue. I have typed very little in Chinese in the last few months, so this is definitely a consequence of not having everyday practice to reinforce this skill. Still, very very happy to have managed to make the jump here, both on desktop and mobile. As for 2021, I believe the thread hasnt been made yet, so I'll go and do that later unless someone else wants to take the lead?
  46. 8 points
    Yes. The difficulty is that in all European languages I'm familiar with, we count in groups of three zeroes (thousand, million, billion etc) while in Chinese you count in groups of four zeroes (万,亿,兆等). Since this is really hard to re-calculate on the fly in your head, you run into difficulties. Some people can probably get fluent in this area, I think one could with simply lots of practice. I'm not fluent, so what I do: - If interpreting (or listening for a test or such things), write down the number without thinking and then go back and add dots (or commas if that's what your language does) every three zeroes. Or every four zeroes if you're translating into Chinese. Then read out the new number. No calculating necessary, just counting to three or four. - For numbers that you regularly need, such as the 人口 of your country, just learn them by heart so they roll off your tongue without you even needing to think about them. The Netherlands has 一千七百万 people, Taiwan has 两千三百万, China has 十三亿 etc. Or if you know you'll have to talk about certain numbers (because you give a talk about the box office revenue of your favourite movie, or the tonnage shipped into Rotterdam or something), look up the numbers beforehand and learn the Chinese by heart. Added advantage is that once you have these down pat, you get quicker at saying other numbers around them (11 million, 34 million, 1.5 billion etc). Similar issues with months and percentages: in Chinese, you start on the other end. The solution is the same also: write it down and read out the result; if you need it often (birthday), learn it by heart beforehand. With percentages, you can cheat sometimes, because many Chinese know the word percent, so if you already started on the number and forgot the 百分之 at the beginning, you can just say 六十七percent and it'll be fine.
  47. 8 points
    Update: so one more day until freedom! i did my final covid test (just as brutal as the airport) on Tuesday. I will be issued with release papers and test results upon checkout that will allow me to freely travel until my health code turns green. My 社区 in Beijing asked me to fill out another WeChat mini app form that details my return to Beijing - they require me to report my temperature twice a day for 7 days once i'm back in Beijing. I've heard some other 社区s have asked people to quarantine for a further 7 days at home...
  48. 8 points
    We have just taken the decision based on the update from the UK government to close our shop for the foreseeable future as I am in the vulnerable group and can't take the risk. As we are in the entertainment business ( electronic audio equipment) the source of much of our work is also closing so won't be losing much business anyway and not worth being open for one or two passersby that don't actually want anything we sell. We are in a positive financial situation so not worried for the immediate future and will access what funds are available from the government for small businesses. Take care people.
  49. 8 points
    For people old enough to have been a child in the 90s, I think the NeoGeo has an almost mythical status. I could never afford those games back then, so had to make do with the Sega Megadrive. Speaking of which, the mini version of that console has been helping to keep me entertained throughout the semi-quarantine I am currently under. I went on one of my weekly adventures out of my 小区 today. The set-up at the entrance/exit has become more elaborate since last week, with some tents now set up. The dreaded "caronavirus pen" awaited me there, however I was well prepared this time and had brought my own so that I didn't have to use the same one as everybody else in the apartment complex. Unfortunately, as I was half-way done writing my phone number, the pen ran out of ink. It was kind of like one of those cliches in a cheesy horror movie where the car won't start at precisely the moment the main character needs to escape from the murderer. I had no choice but to trepidatiously pick up the communal pen and fill in the rest of my personal info. I had to do the same twice more, once at the supermarket, and again when re-entering my 小区. The supermarket itself was the same as it has been ever since the crisis started, with people buying much more than usual (the few people you see outside are invariably carrying at least two full bags of shopping each). The only difference from last week was the extra protection worn by the staff (what looks like a basic, cheap plastic rainjacket for the counter staff, and a more fancy all-in-one white suit for the lady on the left). Although only a fraction of the normal amount of traffic, they were noticeably more vehicles driving about, to the point where I actually had to look before crossing the road. Apart from the cars, another familiar menace has also returned to Harbin - falling icicles. This sign was part of a barrier chain in front of one a few of my local restaurants and I initially thought that they had been sealed off due to a virus-connected incident. It was only as I walked up to the sign and read it that I realised it was warning about another danger (at which point I quickly 远离ed my way back a few steps). The daily 确诊病例s in Harbin are now down to single figures, so I wonder how much longer they will keep the travel restrictions in place here? I've been pretty much just staying in my apartment all day, every day, except for when I need to buy groceries, but starting from tomorrow I am going to start taking little jogs around my 小区 area every morning. Although I have been doing daily yoga and "prison workout" videos, it doesn't quite make up for the lack of fresh air and natural sunlight (and the air has been unusually fresh since the clampdown). At this point I think that is a bigger danger to my health than the tiny chance of contracting the virus.
  50. 8 points
    It felt great to leave my apartment, have a walk around and breathe some fresh air after almost a week of being stuck inside. The air is noticeably fresher than usual without all the cars, and without the usual background noise of traffic and people I even managed to hear some birdsong while walking back to my apartment. The general experience of being outside, listening to the birds sing, letting the sun shine on my face and breathing in the crisp, cold air was so nice that I decided it was worth risking staying outside for a little while so that I could enjoy it for a few minutes longer. I had a funny interaction with the 保安 on the way out. As I was filling in my details, I thought he asked me about my 属性. I usually come across that word when using my computer (file "properties" etc), so I was a bit confused, and thought that maybe it was being used in regards to my status or something. A couple of sentences later and I realised he was asking about my 属相 (Chinese Zodiac) and whether or not we had this concept in my country. He then asked “你们是不是都很有钱?” followed by some comments about the strength of the mighty 英镑 (he doesn't seem to have been following the news these past 3 and a half years). I'm sure most people here have had similar conversations countless times before, and it can be a little boring to go through the same old routine, by today it felt different. With all the virus stuff turning everything upside down, it was oddly reassuring to be having one of those typical foreigner/old curious Chinese man interactions. Here's one of the temperature checking stations that have become a regular part of day to day life in China (taken at a shopping mall): Now for a little about Wechat. The screenshots below are from a popular 公众号. It basically tells you how many newly confirmed infections there have been in the city that day and who the infected are. They give a surprisingly large amount of info about each case, including the person's occupation, address, etc. The thing that seems of most interest to people is each infected person's 活动轨迹 (basically their movements before being admitted to hospital), which is set out in remarkable detail. My teacher was particularly worried when she saw that one of the infected people had eaten at a certain market on the same day she had went there with her family. You'll notice that many of the recent descriptions state 无武汉出游史, meaning they contracted the virus in Harbin, not Wuhan. There is even a map showing infected locations relative to yourself, if you really feel like scaring the bejesus out of yourself (I'm not quite surrounded by red infection marks just yet!) : I know many suspect the official figures, but in Harbin at least, things appear to be being handled with great deal of transparency. We're down to 10-20 new confirmed cases per day here, and many seem to be appearing in clusters. Today especially, many of the new infections appear to have resulted from people ignoring official advice and still getting together with extended family and friends, much to the consternation of many: The few business that remain open are trying to adapt tot he situation, as this 无接触 pizza delivery service from Pizza Hut shows. I take it that they just drop off the pizza at the entrance to your 小区. I wonder if picking up a pizza means having to use one of your exit passes? And finally, some light-hearted humour from my 朋友圈:
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