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Showing content with the highest reputation on 06/28/2020 in all areas

  1. 3 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
  2. 3 points
    I did the "at home" version of HSK 4 this morning, conducted by the Confucius Institute at Nottingham University in the UK. There's not really much to add to this lengthy thread about this "at home" version of the test, except that the arrangements went smoothly from my point of view. There were 4 of us taking tests this morning, plus 2 invigilators. We all logged into the same Skype call, presented our ID to the camera and then gave a 360-degree view of the room we were in... it was all very casual. Then we set up our phones/tablets to show ourselves and our computer so that the invigilator could watch us doing the test. My laptop's camera was also on throughout the test... I think the software takes some stills of you during the test for temporary records until the results are released. Then we ran the Exam Client program, it downloaded the test, and we sat there for 30 mins waiting for it to start. Overall I thought Ms Chen the coordinator at the Nottingham CI was really helpful... communications were regularly (emails), she explained everything really well before the test began and so on. I didn't even receive a reply to my email enquiries from some UK Confucius Institutes, but I was very happy with Nottingham — as well as Sheffield, Manchester, London South Bank and Edinburgh, who were all helpful and responsive even though they weren't running the tests this time. The results will be out in 10 days.
  3. 3 points
    I thought I would write a brief update on my progress: Here I am happy with my progress. I am probably averaging 4-5 episodes a day. I never listen to the whole episode, but rather just shadow the dialogue and "expansion" sentences. I feel my tones and overall smoothness when speaking are getting much better. I pretty much stopped doing this around March/April. I realised watching TV dramas is a subtle way of procrastinating. I believe at my level I can invest my time better. So, I started TheChairmansBao. The benefit of using TCB to me is the incredible breadth of topics. If you watch a spy drama with 70 episodes, the vocabulary will be rather narrow (guns, bombs, enemy tactics, etc). With TCB you can jump from "producing art from garbage" to "why are domestic hog breeds at the verge of extinction" to "a Chinese man unicyles around the world" in an instant. I have been reading and listening to about 5 lessons per day (mostly HSK 3-5 levels). Been doing this consistently while running. Not sure how much it really helps... Starting doing lessons once a week with a tutor on Skype since May. I wish I had more time to do this 2-3x per week. Speaking skills are still really bad, but getting better. Total failure on that part. I created some 2000 or so flashcards, but did not really study them. I probably should wait until my "normal" Mandarin gets better.
  4. 2 points
    OMG that is such a revelation, thanks!!! I have been wondering for the past year why I scored so low on my HSK5 writing (73 or so, when I was expecting at least 95; iirc I got a 98 on HSK 4, and thought I did better on 5). I thought I wrote such a clever and fun story, even added a lot of humor -- and I was pretty sure the grammar and vocabulary were 100% right (even checked it with a native speaker afterwards). Couldn't understand what went so wrong. Now, I think this must be it. I also asked my proctor at the time, but she had no help for me, other than suggesting I could pay to "challenge" the scoring -- which could even result in a reduced score. I figured, why do that when I already passed?? But this certainly makes me feel better! Unfortunately this trick is quite unique for HSK5 (maybe a little for HSK4, I forget). I don't think the HSK6 writing has any "tricky" interpretation we need to know ahead of time, but just in case, do you mind asking your sources for any tips/directions on that? Since my sources won't tell me anything, maybe because I haven't paid for their classes, lol 🤦‍♂️
  5. 2 points
    one thing I thought would be different from the mocks, is that numbers don't appear in the PY in the official tests. Glad mungo showed me TOFU character learning now, as this helps when numbers are missing in the PY. (btw @mungouk) I've recommended that to loads of English learners of Chinese. If I just scrape a pass, it's down to this mungo, so I have you to thank. I'd easily pass hsk2 with a bit more practice in a few months. I don't like the idea of scraping a pass, but I'll be annoyed with myself if I 'just' fail. It really is great for learning characters and how they are built. I love the 'look up' feature as you find loads of new words, just by piecing things together. If someone asked me what a football field was, then just from learning football and airport characters can guess how to write them! It's such a good language to learn.
  6. 2 points
    Just finished HSK 5 home edition. About 10 others taking it. Had great fun in the writing section - normally it's a nightmare trying to remember how to write anything. At the end it just finished the timer and said exam complete (I didn't get to click on "submit paper"). Did that happen to you Mungouk? I assume it just submits it automatically. Audio section was much harder than previous mock exams... reading section the usual disaster - I'd say my result will be similiar to the last time I sat the HSK last November, except writing section should be slightly better. I could have done well in the writing, but sentence structure not great 虽然。。。但是 won't get very many marks at this level but did manage to squeeze in 莫名其妙. The first writing section story I have to admit got a bit weird - it was 浪漫 母亲 至今 and one other word I forget (remembered 微笑)。 (not a difficult word), and another word I didn't know what it meant....I used the word i didn't know as an adjective, and the story was about my mum advising me on the most romantic way of wooing (追ing)my girlfriend...we ended up with 4 kids at the end of the story - not sure that is great advice from my mu qin. And the Second writing section was a dad and Son together - and the son had just caught a fish and is holding the fishing rod with fish on the hook in the picture. So you know I say I'm so proud of you son, but you know we aren't getting any younger and we will have to rely on you soon...so study hard and earn lots of money type thing...now lets go home and eat the fish... yea creative writing is not my strong point! but there was some decent chinese in there compared to my normal crappy writing section.
  7. 1 point
    Feeling bored at home and decided to start a little project to help people get better at reading. Chinese is my native language. Check it out at www.chinesenewsclub.com You need at least intermediate-level reading skills for this to be useful to you. Would love your feedback! Should I continue this?
  8. 1 point
    (sorry, another mooc post) I bring this up here because there are very few moocs on Classical Chinese and I think this is an exceptionally good one...maybe I'm biased. It is a 17 lessons mooc from Wuhan University: 古汉语 (Ancient Chinese) Teacher: 王统尚 (Wang Tongshang) https://www.icourse163.org/course/WHU-1002922024 It's not entirely on classical Chinese, but he syllabus is very interesting, includes a fair amount of readings, and the topics presentation is clear and very unusual (I'm at the end of Lesson 5 and still haven't heard 5,000 年的历史 even once!). The teacher is excellent, he explains 文言文 very well and has a fantastic sense of humour (his selection of readings is proof). The videos are subtitled (in simplified Chinese) and the subtitles are responsive to mouseover dictionaries like Zhongwen so one gets instant word lookup. There's a slight snag (depending on how one sees it), the teacher speaks some sort of Wu dialect (吴语). I had no close experience of it when the course started, but the subtitles allowed me to understand the lectures. Now, at the end of Week 5, it seems that the teacher's accent has become a lot weaker and I'm not so glued to the subtitles. Another snag is, some of the 文言文, like this week's texts (from the Mencius) is quite difficult. It's not an easy course but sticking with it can be very rewarding. A third snag: it's a very popular course, which means there are bandwidth / buffering problems at certain times (Sundays during term time are almost impossible) - but all is running smoothly now and I can even set the video player to HD. Registration is about to close for this semester. The lessons remain available for registered students to study at their own pace. If you can't sign up now, the mooc will run again next semester and interested students can sign up when registration re-opens. To sign up, one has to be registered with 中国大学MOOC. Registration is easy but needs a legitimate mobile phone number, you can register directly or using Weibo / Wechat / QQ. There's an iOS app for iPad/iPhone (where you can legally download video lessons to watch offline). More information on 中国大学MOOC here: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/53786-chinese-universities-moocs-中国大学-moocs/
  9. 1 point
    That drink on zoom sounds nice ! the Ime was ok but it took time to type everything- find it very slow going and yes you had to type each individual character. For part 1 of writing - Loved the sentence drag and drop feature - that was very smooth.
  10. 1 point
    @∞保罗∞ How was the IME in the writing section? Did you have to type every single character individually? Yes, as far as I know it submits automatically when the time is up. Glad to have today over with... although a little HSK exam isn't much in the scheme of things. I just had a drink on Zoom with a friend who submitted her PhD today — that put things in perspective a bit. Onwards and upwards!
  11. 1 point
    Good man Mungouk! sounds great and hopefully test results will be decent - the online at home test might be the way forward in future - you know the OCT online oral chinese test - it has nine levels (corresponding to new HSK maybe? ) It would be cool if they could do that with the written tests - my exam kicks off in the next hour will report back here.
  12. 1 point
    Ancient Chinese (古汉语) encompasses all spoken and written Han Nationality language from antiquity to the May 4th movement (1919) . Classical Chinese / Wenyanwen, 文言文, refers to the written language, 文. Obviously, all this is a bit redundant since all the study material that we have is written text, though it's nice to think that this was, at least in part, the spoken language in the Zhou Dynasty. If you search for 文言文 moocs in Chinese platforms, you won´t find much (I still have to find a single one), all classical Chinese language moocs seem to be called 古汉语. Funnily, the 'classical Chinese' taught in Chinese Primary and Middle schools (up to Gaokao language questions), seems to be still 文言文 and not 古汉语.
  13. 1 point
    Do it! And feel no shame in it! You are there tomorrow to pass the test. Like i said people will try to moralise it, oh you should deeply read and understand every word. But this test is not about that. SKIM SKIM SKIM As Gandalf said, fly you fools....
  14. 1 point
    I came across a website with past exam papers for undergraduates studying Chinese at Cambridge University. I thought I'd post the link here in case it's of interest, and it might help answer the question that often comes up on the forums about what kind of Chinese proficiency to expect after studying Chinese for one year, or after a full undergraduate course, etc. I was in fact hunting around for Classical Chinese material, but there's the Modern Chinese exams there too. As I understand it, Part IA would be the exams taken after one year of study, Part IB is after two years. Students then study in China for a year before returning for their fourth and final year, so the Part II exams are those taken at the end of that final year. I think all papers (so both Modern and Classical) on Part IA and IB are compulsory, don't know about Part II. I then had a look to see if other UK universities make past papers available too, but the ones I googled seemed to all need student ID. Here's the link: https://www.ames.cam.ac.uk/faculty-library/past-exam-papers
  15. 1 point
    2020 Update One or two new 古汉语 / Ancient Chinese moocs have appeared since 2018, so here's an updated list in the 中国大学MOOCs platform. BLCU 古代汉语入门 Introduction to Ancient Chinese https://www.icourse163.org/course/BLCU-1450193180 Don't be put off by the awful introduction in the general pages! This is a rare one, because it is designed for foreign students and doesn't assume any previous knowledge of classical Chinese. It is very well presented and very clear (at least the first few lectures that I have seen), has Chinese subtitles and enough handouts to be able to follow the videos without much trouble. It is very basic, but I think a nice introduction for beginners in Classical Ancient Chinese. More advanced: BLCU 古代汉语 Ancient Chinese https://www.icourse163.org/course/BLCU-1206312837?tid=1206618259 No subtitles, no handouts either. Probably not very appealing for western students. I gave up after the first 2-3 videos. Fujian Normal University 古代汉语 (上)(下) https://www.icourse163.org/course/FJNU-1205698810 Much easier to follow than BLCU's, Chinese subtitles and plenty of handouts. Looks quite well organised, some very interesting insights relating Min language to ancient Chinese. I enjoyed the first few videos and will get back to do more at a slow pace. Wuhan University 古代汉语 https://www.icourse163.org/course/WHU-1002922024?tid=1450286449 Still there and still my favourite but get my brain done in by the teacher's dialect, can only take a bit at a time, tough it is very interesting and funny. Worth the effort. Thankfully the videos have clear Chinese subtitles and the ppts are available for download.
  16. 1 point
    hi sorry, figured out the issue. forgot to check allow html to be used
  17. 1 point
    Totally agree. I still listen to John's Chinesepod lessons from many years ago. No matter how many times I listen, I still find them interesting. He & the other Chinesepod instructors (Dilu, Jenny & Ken) had a special magic. John offered lots of cultural input that supplemented the language learning. My Chinese friends are always surprised when I'm aware of aspects of Chinese culture that I learned from his lessons. Sometimes cultural differences aren't obvious & you need someone to point them out. John did. These lessons still have value in surprising ways. I recently got to know a Chinese dentist. Because of CP's lessons on dentistry, I knew about some of the basic differences in dentistry between the US and China (and I didn't have to ask her "What is a dentist doing working in a hospital?" or why her work focuses on very serious oral problems versus the US approach of preventative dentistry).
  18. 1 point
    I wonder if they are going to replicate the true HSK experience by piping in the noise of chatting students or broadcasting video of your test proctor painting their fingernails? The last time I took the HSK I had to flail my arms around every few minutes because the lights in the testing room were on a motion sensor. I'm not sure how they'd duplicate that.
  19. 1 point
    Anyone using this app? I find it a very useful tool (in many ways better than the browser / website version) as well as an endless source of listening material for intermediate and advanced learners. Here's a short rundown of it The Windows 10 version is downloadable through the Store app within Windows 10: search for 'ximalaya', the red square with a '听' in the centre is the right link to download it. The Apple Store is fussier: one must search for 喜马拉雅 - searching for 'ximalaya' takes one to the wrong app. Again, the red icon with '听' is the right one. There's an Android app but unavailable through Google Play (and Google will nag you forever if it's installed) I created an account with my Weibo credentials and can make purchases through the Apple Store. With an account, the apps and website/browser versions are synchronised and one can keep favourites, subscriptions, history, comments and any purchases in sync. The player in the App allows you to vary the playing speed on a continuous scale from 0 to X2 (middle button in the figure below). This is very useful for transcribing and/or shadowing, also the reading speed depends on the anchor (some speak too fast) a small reduction like 0.9 or 0.8 can make a big difference. One can also download single podcasts (or a full batch), files are saved in .m4a format. Some podcasts (like the one in the figure below) have a transcript, or a summary, or an excerpt. The paid podcasts I've looked into all have full transcripts Text can be copied and saved elsewhere. Both the MDBG Chinese Reader and the free Youdao (有道) dictionaries work on UI and text in the Windows 10 app (Youdao tends to be a little slow to get going); the Apple dictionaries in iPad only work on text but not on the UI.
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