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  1. You may know me as one of the authors of the Heavenly Path reading guide, we’ve recently moved this guide to a new location, along with our webnovels and books resources. We hope this is a much better format than the previous Google Docs and Spreadsheet. I thought I’ll share with you my experience of spending 18 months reading original Chinese novels everyday, novels I had previously never read in any other form. I jumped straight into original work because reading something like Harry Potter in Chinese just didn’t interest to me. As well as reading, I also regularly watch Chinese TV but just so I don’t bored you to death, I’m only going to focus on reading, passive vocabulary, and from intermediate onwards. Maybe I’ll talk about the other aspects in another post in the future. My reading method and word review technique When it comes to reading, it’s really simple, I don’t do any unknown word extraction or pre-learning, I simply open the book either on Chrome or Readibu and start reading with a popup dictionary. I would note down unknown words, then after my daily reading session is over, I would go through that list and pick some words to add to my Pleco deck. I decide these words in a very subjective manner, literally do I think it’s useful to me, have I seen this before and am I likely to see this again. As for reviewing words with SRS, it’s super simple. I’m using the Pleco SRS flashcard add-on. I have most settings set to the default, and I do a review once a day. Pleco would display the word in Chinese characters only, I say the word out loud (recite the definition in my head if I need to), and then ask Pleco will reveal the pinyin, definition and play the audio. I would then give myself a score of 1-6. Sometimes if I struggle with certain words I would look up example sentences in Baidu Fanyi, write them down and then write my own sentences with those words. If I need further help, I’ll ask on Discord. The beginning... Before jumping into native novels, I read short children’s bedtime stories on https://www.qigushi.com/baobao/ for a few months to prep myself for literature style text. End of September 2020 was when I decided to start my first native novel. At the time, I had around 1,700 words in my Pleco deck, which I had collected from day one of my learning journey. I picked up a children’s novel called 舒克和贝塔历险记, which was recommended to me by a native. Following on from 舒克和贝塔历险记, I read 大林和小林,秃秃大王,小布头奇遇记,小布头新奇遇记 and 没有风的扇子. Even though these were all children’s books aimed at 6-7 years olds, I found them to be really difficult at the time. I had to do it slowly, and at times I had to spread a chapter over two days. Slowly as the weeks went by, it became easier and easier as I learnt more words. I felt that I jumped into native books too early, as I had a real difficult time at the beginning. I later discovered https://chinese.littlefox.com/en which I wished I had discovered earlier. If I could go back in time, I think reading and listening to all the Level 3-5 Little Fox Chinese content before jumping into these books would have made the experience less painful. 3 months later... By mid December 2020, I had around 3,500 words in my Pleco deck. I decided to up my game and started a slightly more sophisticated children’s book series called 笑猫日记 by 杨红樱. It was a huge step up, due to the more mature writing style, less repetition of the same words, and the increase usage of chengyus. At the beginning of the series, I only managed to read one chapter a day (approx 2k characters), which took me around 30mins, before feeling completely drained. As I learnt more words and my literacy ability improved, it became less draining and occasionally I managed to read two chapters a day. I ended up reading 6 笑猫日记 books in 3 months. It also helped that I read from the same series for a long period of time as I got use to her writing style and many of the same words and chengyus were repeated throughout the series. Another 3 months later... By mid March 2021, I had around 5,300 words in my Pleco deck. Once again, I decided to up my game, and started an urban fantasy children’s series called 幻想大王 by 杨鹏. The added fantasy elements and longer paragraphs made this quite a step up from 笑猫日记. Exactly the same as with 笑猫日记, I was slow at the beginning then eventually I picked up my reading pace after a while. I read 4 books from the series before moving onto something else. 2 months later...I started to dip my toes in the adult webnovel world... By May 2021, I had in my deck around 6,300 words. I decided to give it a go at a relatively simple but long cultivation webnovel (total of 1.2mil characters) that I had discovered, 重生之极品皇子妃 by 叶忆落. Chapter lengths were around 1.5k at the beginning, then it increased to 3k after around chapter 70. This was a mistake, I should have waited a little longer and pick a shorter webnovel as I ended up spending 6 months on this. Luckily I did eventually got really fast at reading it, due to many repeated words and her simple writing style, else it might have dragged for longer than 6 months. At the same time, I did manage to also read two more children’s books called 我的狼妈妈 and 我的狐狸妹妹. I also read a few other short adult webnovels: 我男朋友好像有病,狐狸尾巴露出来了,当你走进图书馆而书里夹了一枚书签. 6 months later...I was fully in the webnovel world... By October 2021 I had in my deck around 8,000 words, and have been reading native novels for just over a year. I would say at this point, native content for adults started to become a bit more accessible. I also learnt how to navigate a few webnovel platforms to search for content. Today.... As for today, I have around 9,000 words in my deck and have read roughly 4million character worth of content. Read adult webnovels: 重生之极品皇子妃 by 叶忆落 你是不是喜欢我 by 吕天逸 我男朋友好像有病 by 一只大雁 狐狸尾巴露出来了 by 姜难吃 当你走进图书馆而书里夹了一枚书签 by 晚秋初十 微微一笑很倾城 by 顾漫 带着小卖部去古代 by 叶忆落 (dropped around 50%, might go back to this and finish it) 我家又不是神奇生物养殖场!by 唇亡齿寒0 做树真的好难 by 喝豆奶的狼 撒野 by 巫哲 幻想农场 by 西子绪 Read next: 镇魂 by priest (starting on Monday with some members of 看剧学汉语 Discord) Final Reflection My reading speed increased as time went on. As I didn’t take notes on my speed time over time, any improvement was based on feeling. One year after starting this reading journey was when I noticed a significant difference. I checked my reading speed recently while I was reading 幻想农场 by 西子绪, and found myself at around 200 characters per minute (so in 30mins, I can read around 6,000 characters). This is three times the speed from when I first started. The amount of time I can focus on a piece of text without feeling drained has also increased. Nowadays (18 months later), as long as that content doesn’t contain too many words I don’t know or complex sentence structure or grammar, I can read for as long as I want. I currently know around 2.8k characters, and at a level where I can comfortably read (with occasional help from a dictionary) some slice of life modern novels. Novels with a bit of fantasy or supernatural elements mixed in are also manageable. Anything heavy on certain themes such as ancient martial arts, high fantasy and sci-fi are still quite difficult. This is something I’m slowly working on right now. General FAQ Why have you only read webnovels? It’s simply ease of access, reading from a website allows me to use tools such as Zhongwen or Readibu. PayPal payment is also available on platforms like 起点中文网 and 晋江文学城. They are also extremely cheap. 幻想农场 by 西子绪 (a 700k character webnovel) is around $3-$4 to buy via 晋江文学城. 9k words doesn’t seem like it’s enough to read native content? That is simply just the number of words I have in my flashcard deck, many words are learnt from content and many are combination of characters I’m already familiar with. For example, I know 书店 and 网上, so I don’t necessary need 网上书店 in my deck. How do you determine which novel to pick up next? I based it on the total length and number of unique characters or recommendation from other learners. Usually I would give the first few chapters a try, if I really struggle then I put that on hold and try something else. Do you have any goals of the rest of 2022? Continue learning Chinese of course, I’m still far from being able to read everything without a dictionary. I don’t have a fixed ordered reading list as I decide base on my mood at the time but I would like to read 全球高考 by 木苏里 and 夺梦 by 非天夜翔 this year. Key take aways Patience & perseverance is key - The journey from 1k to 3k characters is a difficult and frustrating one, especially if you want to read Chinese literature. Not going to lie, I’ve wanted quit many times, but I’m so glad I pulled through, it was so worth it in the end. Don’t rush - It’s tempting to rush to the best work, but don’t do it, just take your time. For example, if I had attempted 幻想农场 2 years ago, or even a year ago, I would have been so frustrated with all the unknown words and the slow reading speed, that I might even have drop learning Chinese entirely, but instead I had an amazing experience! Take that first step - I know many learners find it difficult to pick up a completely brand new native novel that they’ve never read before in another language, but it honestly isn’t as scary as it seems. The difficult part is actually finding a suitable novel and taking that first step. The first few chapters might be a bit difficult but trust me it will get easier after a few chapters. If you’re looking for something to read, maybe give one of these a go: HSK (2.0) 4 - give 秃秃大王 a try HSK (2.0) 5 - 我的狼妈妈 or 我的狐狸妹妹 are good options HSK (2.0) 6 - 他们都说我遇到了未知生物 by 青色羽翼, 蜜汁炖鱿鱼 by 墨宝非宝 or 撒野 by 巫哲 would be good choices for this level For more recommendations check out our Webnovels and Books resource page. Some extra tips Listening is important - I know I haven’t really touched on listening in this post, but listening (whether it’s watching tv, listening to audiobook or a podcast) really really helps with passive vocabulary acquisition and retention. Use your vocabulary - Actively using vocabulary makes a huge difference in retention, so if you’re able to use what you learn from reading when speaking and writing then go for it. Conclusion Thank you for reading my ramble, I hope I’ve been able to inspire you, and you’ve learnt something from me post. All the best in your Mandarin Chinese learning journey. Remember, learning a new language enables you to discover all the culture has to offer, so go out there, discover and enjoy. I tried to keep the post short (still ended up quite long), so I didn't go into too much details. So please do ask questions, and if you want any more details on anything I'll be happy to provide it.
    18 points
  2. This weekend, for the first time since I started learning Chinese 2.5 years ago, I felt that reading Chinese is actually fun 😃 Today alone, I have read ~12000 characters covering about 45 TCB HSK 4 lessons. This may sound trivial to you guys, but it is the most I have ever read in a "day" (without any form of exhaustion). According to CTA the texts were at a 97.5% comprehension level. It took me about 4 hours (with some interruptions (emails, playing chess online, etc)). Somehow, this weekend something "clicked" and I somehow recognised characters much better than before. I believe a very important aspect of it is study intensity. I know many people believe in the "don't break the chain" philosophy and small steps will add up. However, for me, whenever I did some really intensive studying (>30 hours per week), I made the most progress. I have always struggled with character recognition and I never tried to learn them separately (Heisig, Tuttle). As you know, I love TCB, but one of its downsides is that "even" the "HSK 1" lessons cover around ~1400 unique characters (https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/50831-the-chairmans-bao/?do=findComment&comment=478385). This can be quite much and I have voiced my frustration over characters before (https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/13726-i-hate-hanzi/?do=findComment&comment=471032). Currently I am at TCB HSK4, which cumulatively has more than 3000 unique characters in the lessons I have read so far. Because of the intensive studying this week, I re-encountered lots of characters several times and therefore I managed to recognise characters much better. I wondered before, if learning vocabulary gets easier, once you are able to recognise 3000 or so characters (https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/59489-learning-vocabulary-after-knowing-3000-4000-characters/). I believe it does. For instance, I was able to identify each of the following individual characters and their meaning: 吸收 阳光 发电. From that I was able to work the meaning of the phrase even though I did not previously "know" that 吸收 together means "to absorb" and 发电 means "to generate energy". So, from the above my starting speed is around 50-60 words/min, which is pretty lame, but to me it really felt like I was flying over the words 😊
    11 points
  3. I have been following the goals for 2021 thread with fascination, though I didn’t get to the band wagon properly then. This time no-one seems to have set up a thread for goals for 2022 yet so here goes. My overall goal for 2021 was to begin reading books and begin to have meaningful conversations with my tutors all in Chinese. I largely attained those goals, but this time I wanted to make more detailed plans for 2022 so I can properly reflect on them later. Also, my goals are basically about keeping doing what has worked for me so far, though I want to make a little bit better commitment to writing in the future. I have planned different allotment of daily study time for each of the four activities (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) with their respective expected results. 1. Reading The goal for 2022 is to read 60 minutes a day, finish the first five books of the Wheel of Time and reach the average reading speed of 190cpm. This is basically what I've been doing over the last two months so this shouldn't be a problem. 2. Listening Listening is the easiest of all the goals for me to attain. I'm planning on keeping listening to my recordings of my chats with tutors and anything else I find interesting while commuting and taking walks for at least 60 minutes a day. I'm not sure about what kinds of results I should expect in a year. Also, my listening comprehension is already quite good, but I still can't fully understand random videos or podcasts. The main problem being the vocabulary, not parsing what I hear. So, I'll consider this a success if a year from now I can follow and enjoy an audiobook on a familiar topic, that I haven’t read or listened before. 3. Speaking Living outside of China, this is currently the most difficult one for me to get in larger quantities. I'll continue taking on average about 4 free chat sessions with iTalki tutors each week. I think four hours a week is a good compromise where I can afford them and I can also see real improvement over time. Each session will give me on average about 25 minutes of talking time and it also provides about the same amount of active listening practice. They are also the perfect opportunity for me to activate the passive vocabulary I accumulate from the input activities. I can now have these sessions completely in Chinese (a year ago I was struggling to switch over to Chinese from talking 80% in English myself) but I'm still at a loss of words with unfamiliar topics and I’m bad at explaining around the words I don't know, so I often must look up words or ask how to say an English word in Chinese. I expect to be able to reduce thinking time while speaking and to stop using English altogether. Also, I expect to see further improvement in my pronunciation. I'm fortunate to have two tutors who are quite strict at correcting pronunciation, and they tell me I've improved a lot over the last year, though it is difficult for me to notice myself. 4. Writing When I say "writing" I specifically mean "write with a pen by hand on paper". I found a good way to practice this by repurposing the vocabulary in context anki deck by Mandarin Blueprint to the purpose. The one I'm currently using has about 7000 sentences, 5000 most common words, and 1600 most common characters, ordered so that the cards gradually introduce new characters and words in context while repeating the old ones over and over. The original purpose is to cloze out a word in a sentence and then see if you know it or not, but since each card has audio, I tweaked it so that anki reads the sentence for me and I write it on paper only looking at the text if I run into a character I don’t know how to write. I'm not very strict about grading the cards since there is a lot of repetition in them even if I only always clicked "Good" on each card". I had good success with this type of practice earlier this year, but I got busy and stopped doing it. Now I'm going to commit to doing this for 20 minutes every day and I expect a year from now to be able to write about 5000 most common words and 1600 most frequent characters from memory. Having a passable handwriting wouldn't be bad either, so on the side I'll continue to practice with the handwriting practice sheets by 大块头. I also chat often with a few Chinese people on WeChat, but I'm often lazy and write to them in English. I've noticed that if I do that, they'll usually type me back in English, even though they know that I can understand anything they text to me in Chinese. So, I have also made a resolution to type everything to them in Chinese from now on. That should give me a hefty amount of additional Typing time, but I'm not going to plan for it. I’m going to try to estimate and keep a record of. Altogether these activities should give me about 1025 hours of Chinese study time over 2022 of which about 36% (365 hours) should be reading, 44% (452 hours) listening, 8% (87 hours) speaking and 12% (122 hours) writing). That is 80% input activities and 20% output activities. The writing section is the only new routine I need to establish, though I tried it for about a month already this year, and the listening part is the easiest to go over quota. It is all something I've done already and, while I don't mind any extra, I’m still going to make my best to hit each sub quota to keep the four skills in a balance. What are everyone else’s goals for 2022? 🙂
    10 points
  4. Hi All, Today I decided to start a personal website so that I could document some of the tips and tricks I have picked up over the past few years learning Chinese. I thought I would also share them here in case they are useful to anyone. Here is the first one: The Unexpected Skill You Need to Learn Chinese Over the course of my six years of Chinese studies, there is one skill that has most contributed to: (1) speeding up my overall language development, (2) making study more enjoyable, and (3) improving my real-world Chinese abilities. That skill is handling ambiguity. What do I mean by this? Let me try to explain with a story. When I first started learning Chinese, I would learn in a controlled environment familiar to many language learners—where I could force 100% comprehension of the material. For example, while reading a dialogue, I would stop reading to look up any word I didn’t know. While listening to a podcast, I would rewind it and re-listen to any section I hadn’t understood, until I could completely comprehend it. I made it a habit to understand everything, and, as a perfectionist, this seemed intuitively like the best way to study. Eventually though, these methods led to serious issues with my real-world comprehension. For example, when I tried to listen to HSK dialogues roughly at my level, my brain would “lock up” whenever I encountered an unknown word, and I would just focus intensely on that word and miss any content that came after. In a twenty-word dialogue, this could cause my comprehension to drop to < 50%, when it could have been as high as 95% had I just skipped over the word. This made it nearly impossible for me to understand Chinese in the real world. Ultimately, I convinced myself that I did not need to understand every word of the content to catch the basic meaning, and that I needed to actively ignore what I couldn’t immediately understand to focus on what I could. Specifically, I was able to train my way past this problem by (1) reading extensively without looking up unknown words, (2) listening extensively without rewinding; just focusing on what I could understand. These methods taught me to quickly infer meaning where I could, and skip over content where I couldn’t. As a result, I was suddenly able to make more sense of communications I couldn’t completely understand (most of them, as a learner), which is an invaluable skill when using Chinese in the real world. I recommend you try it out! Note: If you have any tips of your own, please add them below. Also, if you have any feedback, I would love to hear it, either here or directly on the post. My goal with this is to help create a smoother path for new learners, so they don't repeat the same mistakes I made in the past. Here is the link to the website, in case anyone is curious. I hope to post weekly (or so) articles from here on out. https://www.selfstudymandarin.com Thanks!
    10 points
  5. The publishers of Chinese Made Easier have decided not to print any more copies, so the 3rd edition was written but never published, and no recordings were made. The 2nd edition is still available on Amazon, but at a terrible price. So I have uploaded all the textbook files to my website (https://chinesemadeeasier.org/) and anyone is free to download both the textbook and mp3 recordings. Any questions, please contact me – either through Chinese-forms or https://chinesemadeeasier.org/contact/ Appreciating your kind comments. Martin
    9 points
  6. I think this opinion will be unpopular here, but if you have been studying 5 years and feel like you are not getting much out of it anymore, I think you should quit and not put timelines on when you will return. I dislike the common sentiment that "everyone should continue doing things forever". Life is too short for that. Especially if you have other hobbies you would like to try, and commitment to Chinese is holding you back. We all owe ourselves the courtesy of reevaluating our commitments now and then, and the permission to recalibrate our lives when we see fit. I would say take some time to think about whether you want to drop Chinese to try something else. Don't make a quick decision, but just let yourself imagine and do some research on the new thing you want to try and then, maybe while taking a break from everything, and if you still feel this way in a few weeks, go for it.
    9 points
  7. The other day I was reading on a plane. Specifically, I was struggling to get through a paragraph that I found difficult because of some weird phrasing. I remember thinking to myself "how can this still be so difficult after almost eight years of learning this language?" At that exact moment, the guy in the next seat turned to me and said "Wow! You can read Japanese? That's amazing!" After letting him know that it was, in fact, Chinese, I thanked him and then thought about it for a minute. It IS pretty incredible to be able to read Chinese books, even if it feels really difficult sometimes. I would try to focus on how far you've come, and how truly incredible it is that you can actually pick up a Chinese novel and read it, even if it's difficult or you cant understand everything. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that most Chinese learners never make it to that point. Maybe take a break and come back to it when you feel ready. I find that when I try to force hobbies into my life I start to resent them, but then when I take some time away I find that I actually miss them and naturally want to pick them up again.
    9 points
  8. Just to give an update: still stuck in my apartment (6 weeks+ now I think? Losing track of time...). The good news is that the food situation is better, getting food is no longer difficult. Buying random stuff (100%+ markup of course) is relatively easy with group-buys, but getting specific stuff you actually want is still hard. Mentally the whole situation is really taking a toll on me (and everyone...), it just feels so freaking hopeless. 6 weeks in and my xiaoqu is still seeing cases everyday. How many and and why we dont know, because our juweihui sucks and dont tell us anything. Have some friends that got allowed to occasionally leave their compound due to no cases the last month that suddenly got 2 new cases yesterday and are now locked again. It really feels like the 0 case goal is impossible. At this point seeing Beijing getting more cases actually makes me happy, I'm already way past caring about other people. Let the guys up there that are deciding these policies suffer as well, lock down all those guys that think this is a "Shanghai is shitty"-problem only. I know this aint a very nice or healthy attitude, but am in a revolutionary mood lately. Exhausted
    9 points
  9. That is so interesting, I've never imagined learning the language(or any language) but not living/having lived in the country it's spoken. I will say one advantage of that must be a lot less pressure. Also, when you do finally make a trip over, I pretty much guarantee it will not be quite what you imagine! There will be many pleasant surprises and disappointments. It will be an amazing trip though, seeing and hearing the language all around you! For me, it's the small wins that keep me going. For example: The sauna in the gym I go to had been broken for 3 weeks leading up to cny. I was walking in the other day, stepping into the elevator when I saw a guy who appeared to be the manager. I quickly stepped back out of the elevator and asked if he indeed was the manager and he replied that he was. With no preparation I told him the situation and added that myself and 5 friends(exaggeration) are not happy about the sauna not working and one of them is not going to renew and asked when it would likely be fixed. He said he had no idea(exaggeration) that it was broken and promised he'd get right on it. The woman at the front desk jumped in saying they couldn't get a repairman before cny etc. Anyway, I was able to do this all in Chinese, nothing needed to be repeated, nothing mis-understood and all with a friendly tone and demeanor. The very next evening, I went back to the gym. The sauna was working and the light had been replaced in the steam room! I'm sure for many on here, a conversation like this is a very ordinary. But for me it represents a small win, I had the vocab, the grammar and no need to prepare in advance. Every time those small wins happen, I feel like it's worth it to keep putting in the effort. The small defeats also keep me going. I try to say something and am at a loss on how to express it, or the listener didn't really get it. That situation motivates me to put in the effort so that next time it's easier.
    9 points
  10. A while back, I made this tool to diagnose Mojibake, because (amazingly) I couldn't seem to find an existing one. It's quite basic — the heuristics to detect the most probable encodings aren't perfect, and diagnosis will crash with longer texts. Looks like your text is encoded with big5 and decoded with iso-8859-1, which can be reversed by encoding with iso-8859-1 and decoding with big5. You can use the "Decode" tab of the tool to do that: https://ioiw9.csb.app/decode?from=iso88591&to=big5hkscs
    8 points
  11. I've had this idea for a while to make my own podcast, as a form of speaking practice. So tonight, kind of on a whim, I did my first one. I'm only just barely able to attempt it, so please cut me some slack. Also, this was done in one take, without any preparation. Next time I will think of my questions ahead of time and try and make it a bit smoother. But I felt this was ok for a first shot. Since I know a lot of Chinese people my plan is to, every now and then, interview one of them about some aspect of their life. This first one was is kind of cheating because it's the easiest person I could possibly talk to. Feel free to point to any mistakes. 50506948_podcast-.mp3
    8 points
  12. Although it's been a year or two since we last caught up, I knew self-taught-mba quite well and would consider him a friend. Back in the day, we would meet up semi-regularly in Beijing and discuss thoughts on learning Chinese. He was the first person I talked to about Chinese Text Analyser, back when it was just an idea in my mind. He did end up opening a school, but it didn't work out, although not for want of trying or lack of effort. In some ways I think he was too far ahead of his time, probably by several years, and in fact the school he ran pioneered many learning methods that are almost taken for granted today. How many people were talking about flashcards before Anki was invented? Not too many, but in that revived post of his (which pre-dates Anki by a year or two - or longer if you count when it became popular) he's talking about using flashcard software to improve learning of characters. Likewise he was an early proponent of electronic dictionaries in a world before iPhones and AppStores, and where if you wanted Pleco you paid several hundred dollars for a separate device (Palm Pilot), on top of $100+ for Pleco - and he was introducing all of that as key components of his school's learning strategy, which was focused on efficiency of process and efficiency of tools. He was also the person who introduced me to the concept of "don't break the chain", which you've probably seen me talk about quite a bit on the forums. Anyway, I can't speak for him, but I know he wasn't against learning about culture or other things, but he was passionate and focused on helping people acquire usable and practical language skills in the shortest time possible, which is then the gateway to all other aspects of Chinese language and culture. I'll drop him a line and see if he wants to come and provide his thoughts on looking back on that post. Based on how he ran his school, it sounds like you would have really liked the style of teaching he provided.
    8 points
  13. I spent a lot of Yuan on "conversational foot massages" 足疗 in my early days in China. I would take my Hanzi flash cards out of my pocket and strike up a conversation with the therapist. They were always curious about the English words for the Chinese that I was learning and often helped me with the process. Some would ask me how to pronounce the English words more naturally. Some would correct my Chinese pronunciation. Some would help me make up sample sentences. Some would even quiz me about last week's material to see if I had made progress. Then encourage me or chide me or exhort me to try harder. Foot massage was ideal for the process because, unlike traditional 推拿,you are sitting up and can easily converse. (You are not face down on a treatment table.) Foot massage can be a social occasion. Often you are sipping hot water or tea. I discovered that lots of these these bright young therapists are bored and looking for ways to make the time pass quickly. They tend to be personable and not terribly shy. Many times I had the good fortune to even have some chatty local in the next chair. So if I were to make a "Learning Chinese" expense tally, I would have to include these "conversational foot massage" sessions. They were glorious for my mind as well as for my feet. Worth it a hundred times over.
    8 points
  14. I've been in China for pretty much the entirety of COVID. Don't get the idea that the whole shanghai thing is the standard. There were a few months of things being mostly locked down in the very beginning, (2020?) which turned out to be a really nice time to do things and explore the empty city. There are some slight inconveniences like occasional and often free covid tests, and scanning a QR code to get into places, but besides that, things have been pretty much normal (in Chengdu at least) almost the whole time.
    8 points
  15. Please note that I am keeping an eye on this thread and if it veers any closer to name-calling or useless bickering, I will close it.
    8 points
  16. This is my opinion about the books I've read so far, in the order I've read them. The funny thing is that I know some people are bound to disagree. Sometimes I purchase a book because somebody said that it was easy, and then I find that it isn't really so easy! I think my bad experiences peaked at around my 6th/7th book (when my reading comprehension got so bad that I couldn't even be sure I was understanding the story correctly). Since then, I've found some books to be harder than others, but I've been able to understand them. 活着 by 余华 - Very easy. 我们仨 by 杨蒋 - Very difficult (at least at the time--I'm not sure what it would feel like to read it today). 三体 by 刘慈欣 - Easy to follow, but a ton of vocabulary to look up. 人生 by 路遥 - Very easy. 解忧杂货店 by 东野圭吾 - Easy. 解密 by 麦家 - Very difficult. 金黄时代 by 王小波 - Very difficult--not just in vocabulary, but sentence structure and style. 黑暗森林 by 刘慈欣 - After reading the first Liu Cixin book, easy. 死神永生 by 刘慈欣 - After reading the second book in the series, very easy. 猫城记 and 小破的生日 by 老舍 - Very easy vocabulary, but has a style that's sometimes hard to follow. 美国历史很有趣 by 袁飞腾 - Easy, but has an elevated level of new vocabulary. 撒哈拉的故事 by 三毛 - Very easy vocabulary, but a little hard to follow her style sometimes. 从你的全世界路过 by 张嘉佳 - Easy vocabulary, confusing style (same as above). 草原动物园 by 马伯庸 - Easy and fun read, but slightly elevated vocabulary. 皮囊 by 蔡崇达 - Easy. 人间值得 by 中村恒子 - Extremely easy in every way (it's a translation from a Japanese author) 人生海海 by 麦家 - Not hard for me at this point, but it's at a somewhat advanced level. 我没有自己的名字 by 余华 - Extremely easy, with one confusing story in it (it's a collection of short stories) 穆斯林的葬礼 by 霍达 - I enjoyed this book, but it's rather advanced. 生死疲劳 by 莫言 - Also a bit advanced. I also read the Bible in Chinese, which was really easy for me, but maybe only because I'm acquainted with it already in English/Greek/Hebrew. So just for fun, I can imagine the order I should have read these books: 人间值得 by 中村恒子 活着 by 余华 我没有自己的名字 by 余华 人生 by 路遥 解忧杂货店 by 东野圭吾 皮囊 by 蔡崇达 撒哈拉的故事 by 三毛 从你的全世界路过 by 张嘉佳 美国历史很有趣 by 袁飞腾 猫城记 and 小破的生日 by 老舍 草原动物园 by 马伯庸 三体 by 刘慈欣 黑暗森林 by 刘慈欣 死神永生 by 刘慈欣 金黄时代 by 王小波 解密 by 麦家 人生海海 by 麦家 我们仨 by 杨蒋 穆斯林的葬礼 by 霍达 生死疲劳 by 莫言
    8 points
  17. There are a lot of different topics that kind of circle around this (i.e., "Why Chinese", "Chinese as a Hobby"), but none of the threads I saw are asking the specific question I want to ask, which is what motivates you personally to keep studying? Is it getting in touch with family tradition and culture as a heritage learner? Is it being able to talk to a spouse or their relatives? Is it something like the HSK test, being able to measure your own mastery in quantifiable terms and see the results? Something else? My motivation has changed a lot over the years, and these days, I can't really say that I feel motivation to keep going. That's why I'm making this thread, so see what inspires others to press forward.
    8 points
  18. @Yadang You should read OneEye's Hacking Chinese post first. To my knowledge, chengyu is the bugbear of many Chinese learners. Guess where they come from? Classical Chinese of course. See, a reason why even a smatter of rudimentary knowledge of the classical syntax can help you decipher a modern text. OneEye's favorite is 非请勿入. Mine is 非诚勿扰, a match-making game show, whose name clearly is derived from Confucius' 非礼勿视 precept. The thing is, a modern writer, unless he's writing a graded reader, does not assiduously differentiate between classical Chinese and modern Chinese. It's all Chinese. An educated Chinese person should have no problem understanding it. It's that simple. Moreover, they often employ Classical Chinese in their writings, either as a narrative device, or to achieve some desired effect, or simply to reflect the reality of a certain period. There's no escaping it even if your interest is solely in contemporary literature. Take the latest Book of the Month 《异兽志》 for example. It's a series of horror mysteries. The clue is revealed at the end of each chapter, in increasingly difficult semi-classical language. Like this: Professional translators as they are, Lu and Roddy had trouble following the plot as the story progressed. Another example is 《人面桃花》, first volume of the 2015 Mao Dun Literature Prize-winning trilogy by 格非. Since it covers the late Qing to early Republican period, it's only natural to see classical language in letters, diaries, grave inscriptions, or even drinking games. Even if you're not the literary type, netizens, journalists and shipowners alike just love to make pun of idioms, proverbs and old sayings, which have a 2500:100 chance of being from the classical era. Sooner or later you'll hit the wall that is Classical Chinese. Better be prepared. At least know what it is that you're struggling against. Hey, even Party slogans can't live without classical wisdom. 以知道八荣八耻为荣,以不知道八荣八耻为耻. Do you know 以…为… is a venerable classical construction?
    8 points
  19. I'm fond of telling stories, so here goes... My background was originally in ancient languages. I studied Latin in High School, and in my adult life since then (I'm 34 now), I've reviewed my Latin and picked up Ancient Greek and Ancient Hebrew. At a certain point, I was really itching for the fresh feeling of a "living" language that people still use today. I tried a few European languages (Russian, Spanish, German), and I just lacked the perseverance for it, for various reasons. Being an ancient/literary language learner, I had a particular distaste for all the cutesy, touristy learning materials: "Excuse me, where is the bathroom? When is the next train? Let's count to ten!"). I remember Russian being particularly fun, but the teacher abruptly left and went back to Russia before I got very far, and I never picked it back up. I tried a little Arabic, but was discouraged when I found out that most of its speakers don't use Modern Standard Arabic, but one of many subdialects. My wife speaks German fluently, so this year I've returned to it and have been slowly chipping away at it. There's no way on earth she'll ever finish studying Chinese (she began with me, but didn't continue), so German can be our one shared foreign language. The Duolingo course, while certainly not perfect, does the job well, and it's been a million times easier than Chinese. Back around 2012, I went to a local Chinese school and tried taking lessons there. My old high school friend studied Chinese, and I thought he was the coolest person ever. Chinese felt so exotic, fun, and challenging to me. As an American who grew up with tons and tons of Chinese-manufactured goods, I would see a lot of multi-lingual instruction manuals with those cool-looking Chinese characters in them. Those characters seemed to be saying, "You'll never be able to read us!" It's just a wall of impenetrable mystery, and learning to "crack the code" was almost a form of exploration. The language has so many speakers, and there are so many of them in my own country. So I thought, "Why not Chinese?" The Chinese school gave me a very warm reception and paired me up with a foreign exchange student from China (Inner Mongolia). For whatever reason, we didn't hit it off well. She said, "Why do you want to learn Chinese?" When I didn't give an answer that satisfied her, she gave me an intense, skeptical glare and heaved a deep sigh. That set the tone for the 2-4 brief weeks I spent with her. Her feedback was often quite blunt and visibly annoyed. During that period of my life, I had busied myself past the breaking point, and I got overwhelmed. Chinese study was the first thing to go. I wrote a brief email to the school that said I was quitting, and, per the agreement, they could keep all my tuition money. I imagined them on the receiving end of my email, thinking, "Oh, yes....yet another quitter! Same old story." At the time, I thought my failure was due to my overly busy schedule and my lack of motivation to continue in Chinese. But in retrospect, I think it's also because I wasn't compatible with my teacher, at all. A few years later (around 2016), I met and married my wife, and we taught English as a Second Language to visiting Chinese scholars. It was just an awesome experience, and even though I don't do it anymore, I still keep in touch with a good Chinese friend I met during that time. Of course, these scholars were all extremely intelligent, interesting people. I loved hearing all the Mandarin background chatter as they spoke among themselves. I got an invitation to my first hot pot gathering, which was a communal eating experience that far surpassed anything I had known from my upbringing in American culture. My appetite for learning Chinese was awakened once again. I thought, "I always wanted to learn Chinese, didn't I? Well, why don't I just do it?" In Fall 2016, my wife and I audited a university course, taught by mutual friend who emigrated to the US from China around 15 years ago. She was the most extroverted person I had ever known--really encouraging, and filled with infinite energy. On maybe our second class, she gave us a sheet of paper with some stock Chinese phrases and took us to the local Chinese grocery store to try using those phrases with strangers. I was completely mortified, but I guess it's an experience I'll never forget. Unfortunately, the class still had its own downsides. It only moved at the pace of the slowest student (who wasn't studying or doing his homework). I was introduced to the basics, like stroke order, tones, the first 200 or so words, etc. But not a whole lot of content. I didn't apply myself too diligently, and I continued to focus my attention on Latin and other ancient languages outside of class time. My wife and I sailed through two semesters and then stopped the following summer. That summer, I was beginning to realize that my latest effort was failing again. Did I really want to learn Chinese, or did I just think I wanted to? How many languages am I going to start and then not finish? What do I want to do with my life, anyway? At any rate, yes, I DO want to learn Chinese. So I need to make it happen. I took the old class textbook, made flashcards for 300-500 words, and started cramming through them. Then I discovered Mandarin Companion graded readers and got hooked on them. Then I bought a ton of other graded readers. Then I turned to native content. Since then, I haven't turned back!
    8 points
  20. I’ve collaborated with a few other fellow Chinese language learners to put together a document focusing on reading Chinese fiction, especially webnovels. Webnovels are extremely popular in China (many are adapted into anime, manga, audiobook/drama and TV shows), and are easily accessible digitally online (both for free and paid). We have divided the document into levels by character count and HSK level. We did our best to fill each section with useful resources and tips to help guide you on your Chinese reading journey. The resources in each level are ones we've personally used and found useful. We are aware that the levels may not be perfect, and using character count may not work for everyone, however it's one way that most people will be able to relate to. You can find the resource here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSjVsapt4NOZx0KuDwgBUfQggTyT15hdgUjHHdqZRnV8LTnzQ5lY-fKjJhV0cb7I06q3x_syq1DyE4H/pub Hope you find it useful!
    8 points
  21. Followed some of the journeys of folk on here and it's definitely influenced my plans for 2022. 1) Loved Jan's posts about listening to ECB extensively., so I'm going to unapologetically copy and have this as my number one priority. Listening, a real weakness of mine. 2)Not as much emphasis on learning characters. Again, based on some of the wisdom on here. I think I have a decent grasp on the rules etc and can pick this up again later. 3) Travel to China? Very probably wont happen, I'm guessing. Who knows what the future holds, but 2022 looks very unlikely. Really want to spend some time around the Kunming area and immerse myself in the language now I'm likely to have more free time but might have to wait. 5) Still got my eye on a Chinese Diaspora course at Massey University. Might give thsi a go in Semester 2 in June if I have the time. 6)....keep logging on to this site. 7) Learn how to count as I missed out number 4). OK, not funny. Oh, and Happy New Year everyone!
    8 points
  22. To be honest, it isn’t really sustainable for me to continue this way forever! I get up at about 6 AM, before my kids wake up, and I spend 60-90 minutes reading and/or watching a Chinese YouTube video. Then I go to work around 8:30 (I work partly from home, so sometimes there’s no commute). Combining my lunch and break times together, I can get around 45-60 minutes of additional study in. I like to go through my SRS cards while walking—it’s a great routine! Then in the evening, I eat dinner, do a few basic things, play with my kids, etc. Then I have 7:30 to 10:30 basically free, and I spend up to 30-60 minutes wrapping up my Chinese practice and the remaining time studying part-time (one course at a time) as a graduate student. If there are other big tasks that require my sustained attention, I do them on the weekend. In other words, I’m shaving years off my life expectancy! I don’t know how it is that I haven’t already lost my mind.
    8 points
  23. Finished Yu Hua's short story collection, in record time! It was just a very readable page-turner. In the 327 pages I read, I only had to look up 57 words in the dictionary. His writing is so clear and smooth that my reading speed effectively doubled, and I could just immerse myself in the stories. I think this is really the first "natural" reading experience I've ever had in Chinese. I didn't have to interrupt myself every 30 seconds to look up the meaning of something or try to puzzle my way through a confusing phrase. I'm not congratulating myself too much, though, because it is Yu Hua, and he's known for being a straightforward author. More important is the actual content of the book itself. It's one of the wildest literary rides I've been on. As I read through the 21 different stories, I never knew what to expect. Will the next story be a really normal, mundane one? Or will it suddenly go off the rails and became a total fever dream? Yu is really good at subverting the expectation of the reader. Even the titles of the stories seem to be part of that subversion. They'll tempt you to guess what the story is about, and then you discover that the story isn't about that at all. Some of the most impactful stories, I thought, were 爱情故事 (it evokes a powerful mood of despair), 祖先 (it has the biggest "fever dream" quality--it's totally wild and random),and the titular story, 我没有自己的名字, which is quite unexpectedly shocking in its cruelty. As most people can already imagine, Yu is known for his relentless gloom and pessimism, and happy endings are often the exception. He's turned it into an art form, I guess! As a "postmodern" author, it's interesting to see him find out what the rules of story writing are, and then do his best to break them. For instance, in conventional storytelling, you can't narrate your own death, because you're dead. But Yu uses the phrase, "And then I died." As with a lot of what Yu writes, it's equally disturbing and amusing. I've thought about what my next book will be, and I've ultimately settled on Huo Da's 穆斯林的葬礼. It's a very large, 600-page book, and will be the longest one I've ever read in Chinese. It enjoys some prestige, and it is the winner of the Mao Dun literature prize. One thing struck me as I read through the reviews: A Chinese reader using the phrase, "Every time I read this book..." and an English reader (reading the English translation, titled "The Jade King") saying, "This book is so good that I had to read it twice." Wow! I guess it's worth a look, then. I can tell it's harder to read than Yu Hua, but it's still on the easy side and doesn't try to be too fancy in its vocabulary and syntax. At this stage, I like that.
    8 points
  24. So, here is my reality check after 12 months: As some of you know, I have changed my goals to that of listening to all TCB lessons. I did this very intensively for about 3-4 months and completed HSK 1-3 on TCB and I am half-way through with HSK4 (https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/50831-the-chairmans-bao/?do=findComment&comment=482025). Somewhere in summer 2021 I lost my Chinese focus due to relationship problems and I became massively interested in taking my English to the next level after reading Christopher Hitchens and feeling humiliated as to how many English words I (still) did not know. So, I have been inhaling several English books from authors such as Bertrand Russell, Theodore Dalrymple, Josef Conrad, etc and collected tons of new words and interesting expressions. I also started to read more books on psychology and philosophy (Rollo May, Nietzsche, Jung, etc). To my surprise, I found them quite accessible and it made me wonder if studying Chinese has made me smarter (?) Maybe, compared to Chinese, everything else becomes pretty trivial and a low-effort exercise (!?) So, since summer, Chinese has been on the back burner. I still passively listen to the old TCB audios for 0.5-1 hour per day, but I am currently at a crawling pace in my "TCB marathon". Nevertheless, it was a sucessful year: I am writing this sitting jet-laged and sleepless in a hotel bed at 4 a.m. Just 30 minutes ago I switched on the TV and to my surprise I understood remarkably much from the CCTV channel 4 news. I could pretty much always tell what they were talking about and very many expressions were familiar from TCB. I am far from understanding everything, but complete unterstanding no longer seems out of reach [this is after studying Chinese for ~2.5 years]. As for 2022: I will continue my TCB audio marathon and I will try to read more. My reading skills are lagging behind my listening. Reading still feels like a chore. Of course, I know what I would have to do: read and re-read easier material, such as TCB HSK 3 articles. I hope I will eventually cross the skill threshold where reading finally becomes fun and I can pick up new expressions on the fly as I do with English books.
    8 points
  25. He likes you. Whether he wants to date you may be another question, though. He may be hesitant to date someone from another culture: will it be difficult to adjust your various expectations, what will his parents think, how will you get along with his family, etc etc. Or he may be hesitant to date someone from another country: will he have to stay in yours, far away from his family and everything he feels at home in, will you move to his, and how would that work... (This is all assuming he is Chinese from China, staying in a different country.) Perhaps ask yourself these questions as well. You don't have to have ready-made answers, but give them some serious consideration. If you decide it's too difficult, just enjoy the little crush for what it is and let it brighten your workday and his. If you decide it's worth trying, perhaps ask him for coffee sometime, something really, really low-key, to build a friendship first. And are you bringing him small gifts and things to eat as well? He will read that as you liking him.
    8 points
  26. I settled on a routine for leveling up my listening. As you may know, I've been focusing on reading the past 6 months, and now I have that mostly under control, I'm focusing on listening. Similar to reading, I think volume is key. My plan is to listen to audiobooks of stuff I read last year. My goal is to do it: 1) at full speed, 2) without pausing, 3) without looking at text, and 4) (stretch) while doing other brainless stuff like chores. So far I've tried it for 2 weeks, about 15 hours, and wanted to track / share my progress. 1. Baseline: Last I worked on my listening, I had focused on watching Chinese dramas. I had watched 3 series (about 40-ish episodes each), so had about 100 hrs of focused listening to native content. However, I was listening with subtitles the whole time, plus pausing a lot, and I ended up training my reading as much as my listening. The net result was my listening ability was still very sporadic. I could understand only short sentences at full speed. I had tried listening to some Upper Intermediate audio on duchinese and I could only understand it if I also read subtitles at the same time. If it wasn't concurrent reading, I needed to get to half speed, sometimes 3/4 speed, with pauses, to understand ~70% of it -- if I listened after I read the text. I got lost easily facing a wall of foreign sounds. Once lost, I wouldn't be able to refind the thread and had to stop. 2. When I started: Because I read all of audiobook content already last year, I had hopes I'd be able to jump right ahead to listening at full speed, without the text. Nope. Got lost again. Also, my stamina was bad, I had to quit after 10 mins or so. And when I restarted, I'd quit and pause often, limiting my sessions to under half hour total. So as a compromise, I kept listening at full speed and not pause, but would keep the text open in another window. Every 15 seconds or so, I'd glance at the text just to keep my "context" fresh. Even when I didn't exactly read when I glanced, it helped to keep myself oriented. 3. Now 15 hours in: My stamina is built up. My sessions have gone from 20 mins to ~1.5 hrs. For the last couple of days, I finally was able to not open up the text in another window, and still keep track of the content. When I get lost, I can rezone back in after 30 seconds or so, and figure out where I am again. I didn't have to stop or pause. My comprehension is still not that great. I'd estimate only 60-70% of the words are understood, but it's enough to get the gist of the story. However, even when I don't exactly understand the words, I understand what the purpose of the unknown words were -- meaning they're describing an object, it's an action scene with A doing stuff to B, someone is waxing eloquently about the human spirit etc. That's often enough to maintain the thread. The best part though is the ability to re-orient myself if I get lost. This doesn't seem to be content specific -- it helps even with new stuff, random audio that I haven't heard before. If I can't figure it out right away, just wait a little bit, and I can slowly re-figure out what's going on. With that, and the increased stamina, I find listening actually takes less energy than reading. Even though my listening is still way behind my reading, I find I can just keep listening to more and more text. It doesn't feel like it's as much "work" as each time I exceeded my reading limits. 4. Listening v. Reading speed: I've gone through at least one complete book in audio. Comparing the time spent listening to that book vs the number of characters in the book, I find the audio goes at 273 cpm. That's still faster than my leveled-up reading speed, which is humbling. On the other hand, it suggests that listening might eventually help me read faster, so I'll have to see if that's true. I'm a big believer in you having to train your brain to process the Chinese words at the proper speed, whether it's for reading, listening or talking. So listening is still helping train me to process Chinese words at higher speed than before (and I can even go 125% or 150% speed later on). ----------- Anyways wanted to see if others have tried similar things or what they thought. Every third day or so, I'm putting in a conventional session of reading so I can maintain it.
    7 points
  27. In this last quarter of 2022, my study tactics are starting to shift. I now read online Chinese articles from places like Sina News and Zhihu (whatever looks interesting, fun, or provocative), and I watch Chinese YouTube videos. It's a rich and varied experience that doesn't present the same kind of commitment as a 600-page novel. I'm rapidly learning more about Chinese culture, becoming more informed about international affairs, and basically reaping the benefits that incentivized me to start learning Chinese to begin with. Of course, we benefit the most from practicing those areas in which we're weaker. So resuming active listening practice is proving to be an enriching experience. I can't remember who it was, but somebody in these forums suggested the "Dashu Mandarin" YouTube channel. That's been a lot of fun, and I plan to listen to all the episodes. It's a nice difficulty level--late intermediate/early advanced, I'd say. I might also work through all the "Mandarin Corner" interviews, too. In the past, I've tended to work through native-level stuff, but I think I need to make room for more comfortable content (like the two above channels), as well. During the day, I constantly listen to Podcasts in the background. My mainstays are 原来是这样, 故事FM, 科技早知道, Steve说,看理想电台,and 资讯有故事。They do provide some comprehensible input, but I'm usually only partially paying attention to them, so the benefit might be somewhat limited. I'm not sure. I suppose it doesn't hurt to listen to them passively. If I could put aside everything else, close my eyes, and focus on them, perhaps I could follow along with them. But I don't. Sometime before next Summer, I have to finish elementary German. That has been a very different kind of experience. Far less work than Chinese. And I'm already semi-conversational in it. Half of the words are identical/similar to English, and there are no 汉字 to learn. I don't really have the desire to become some kind of super-ambitious polyglot, but I'd rather limit myself to just Chinese and German for the remainder of my life. Quality over quantity at this point.
    7 points
  28. I'm inclined to see this as more idiotic posturing from careerist politicians wanting to prove their "tough on China" credentials, as if Little Britain is somehow on a par with a world superpower and can meaningfully exert influence on it simply by throwing a tantrum. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, though, given some of the shady things Confucius institutes have been involved in. But not really a positive sign in the broader context of UK-China relations, especially given the importance of international cooperation in facing the existential threat of climate change. Good for Taiwan? Maybe, maybe not. I could honestly see it going either way. Frankly it seems like playing with fire, with the actual interests of Taiwan (namely not getting invaded) being an afterthought.
    7 points
  29. 8月,北京地铁上的人在读什么书?
    7 points
  30. Cool that reading children books works for you. No need to be rude to others that don’t get motivated by reading them. I read a bunch of graded readers and then went on to read native literature, starting with authors that use simple language like 余华 and I think many others did the same.
    7 points
  31. I've been letting this stew for about 2 weeks now and I think I've decided that I'm not "quitting" but I am quitting basically any goal-oriented aspect of Chinese as a hobby. I'll spend the remainder of the year just getting back to exploring native content at a normal clip - music, donghua, films, games, manhua, etc.- and go from there. No more watching stuff or reading stuff for the sole reason of "it's native content". There's got to be another hook for me.
    7 points
  32. I'll like to share with you a website myself and other Chinese language learners have been working on over the last few months https://heavenlypath.notion.site/ Some of you may be familiar with the reading guide and resource I posted a while back. We've moved all of that onto a new website, so that everything is in one place. You'll find recommendations on TV dramas, variety show, audiobooks, books, games and much more. We also have guides on various topics including our famous reading guide (From Beginner to Native novels), a brand new reading speed guide and a guide to native reading apps and platforms. New media, resources and guides are added regularly. We're currently working on a listening guide, and a guide on Chinese Mythology and Legends. So be sure to check it regularly. Recommendations, suggestions and feedback is always welcome, so please do let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.
    7 points
  33. I think what attracts a lot of people to learning another language is the actual "language learning" part of it (textbooks, classes, and duolingo type of things), but that starts to take a back seat as you reach a certain level and you need to replace it with an activity that you enjoy, only using the target language instead of your native language. Without this it all just becomes a meaningless grind of learning the other 60000 of the 70000 words you need to reach native fluency. The problem is that if you don't like doing something in your native language, you probably won't enjoy it for very long in your target language. If there is an activity that you really enjoy that you could potentially do in Chinese rather than English, you should make that your goal and figure out where you've been going wrong. If your interesting in Chinese is purely for the social part of it, then it's gonna be difficult sticking to it without being in a native environment. If you love studying for studying sake then you will probably be just as happy learning other things and you might as well choose something that you can enjoy with the people around you.
    7 points
  34. Officially finished Can Xue's 《边疆》. Over the course of 407 pages, I gleaned only 37 new vocabulary words, which felt really great. My personal goal was to be able to engage in more "dictionary-free" reading, and at least for a certain class of literature, I'm already there. As I suggested before, this book is a total fever dream. So much weirdness. But if you remain open-minded and relax your expectations, absurdity can be a lot of fun. The book isn't exactly a "horror" story, though it is a little creepy at times. It mostly presents its central location (Pebble Town) as a magical paradise, and the attitude is mostly upbeat. That's what makes the story (if you can call it a "story") even more unique. An absurdist/surrealist/Kafa-esque book with a big dose of charm. I have also officially started Book 1 of 《平凡的世界》. I suddenly remember what was so appealing about Lu Yao's other book that I read, 《人生》. He has a way of painting really detailed pictures of people and places, without getting too elaborate in his language. You can tell that his stories (which are about extremely poor people living in the country) are semi-autobiographical, because they're so realistic and believable. I grew up in a rural area, and now I live in a more urban area, and I think a lot about the contrast between the two--they are two very different worlds, where people value different things in life, and live at different paces. I feel like Lu Yao has experienced that himself, and he depicts it well. I'm not Chinese, and I know Lu Yao had a much more difficult life than mine, but his stories speak a universal language.
    7 points
  35. I think you might want to reconsider your style of Chinese learning. There is a difference between learning chinese and talking about learning chinese. One can talk about learning chinese all day long and hold English language symposiums about individual words and do it for years without learning the language. Or, one can use the time to read, listen and speak chinese, that is, learning the language. A year ago I took my rudimentary chinese and began extensive reading of native chinese children stories, and today I read adult novels. Never done intensive reading, never made flashcards and never wrote characters (only recognition). I want to suggest to you to give this way a shot, and to remember - 或许 will be internalized after you'll read it dozens of times and after you'll hear it dozens of times. It will never be internalized by hearing stories about other people's experiences with the word. Want to know my experience with 或许? This is my experience: it is in every second page. When I was learning English I never once needed to hear other students experiences with the word "student" or with the word "or". I think it is totally useless. I hope I saved you years of pointless activities.
    7 points
  36. @Miko869-- I respect your opinion but have had a different reaction to recent events. ------------------------------------- The main appeal of China for me was in living there, getting to know the people, going to interesting places, doing interesting activities, learning about the food and the tea in a hands-on, participatory manner. So a closed China, one that necessitated my hasty retreat to the US was not at all welcome. And the prolonged border closure which followed was equally disappointing. My "China Life" crumbled. I now have much less incentive to learn the language. I studied Chinese history and culture as a way to better understand the land and its peoples. It also gave me some common ground when making friends. It wasn't something abstract. I had a very dear girfriend for 5 or 6 years. She couldn't leave the country with me. I miss her terribly and we have by now drifted apart. I've had to release her and urge her to go on with her life, since it's doubtful I will ever be able to return. It would be unfair to ask her to wait for me. All of which underscores the well-known fact that all of us are different. I wish you the best in your language and culture pursuits. I have been in mourning, and am just barely becoming optimistic about life again, as China fades into the rear view mirror.
    7 points
  37. Q1 overview: I went strong for the first two months consistently doing more everything than what my targets were, but then Ukraine happened and completely destroyed my ability to concentrate on anything for weeks except watching the Game of Thrones unfold on our backyard. When I got used to that (sort of) the Covid situation went to hell in Shanghai and other places in China, and pretty consistently everyone I care about in China are in the middle of it all, in addition to it (and the Ukraine situation) causing some grief at work. So for the last month or two my Chinese studies went to background and I've pretty much only hung on to my regular chats with tutors three to five hours a week. Looking at the number of hours spent, I reached 90% of my goal for the Q1 pretty much nailing and even surpassing my Listening, Speaking and Handwriting targets and almost finished my target for typing practice which is about seeing characters and typing the pinyin including the tones right based on it. However I only did about half of the reading I intended. It is the weakest routine for me, so it is the first one to go when something happens. Reading Writing Typing Speaking Listening Left Of Total Q1 41 -6 3 -10 -3 25 266 16.4.2022 Reading Writing Typing Speaking Listening Percentage of expected up to now 47 % 104 % 62 % 148 % 92 % Reflecting on my more qualitative goals for the year. One of the main goals I set for my self four months ago was "Talk with tutors without looking up words. Reduce thinking time. Improve pronunciation". I got feedback from a tutor today was that I speak a lot faster than in January and that I don't stop to look for word that much anymore. The latter part I've noticed myself too. So it seems that I'll be able to have pretty good results by the end of the year regarding my conversation skills related goals. My Reading and Writing are taking a hit quickly after not not doing them for a month or so, but I feel they are pretty quick to get back on track once I get my mojo back. I'm going to be able to get pretty long summer holidays this year, so I expect to get a lot of motivation for my Chinese studies then. I also tend to be a bit bipolar with my language studies so I'm not worrying about the slump. I also regard these goals and the data gathering more as an interesting exercise to analyze my own behavior and a way to give myself motivation rather than as any hard quantitative and qualitative targets.
    7 points
  38. It looks like we're already a quarter of the way through the year! I've covered a lot of ground in terms of reading (around 1400 pages so far this calendar year). I told myself that in my third year of reading Chinese novels, I would read more than the first two years combined. I started reading in September 2019, so if I count from that month, I've already accomplished my goal for 2021-2022. I'm on my 23rd book now. Being the statistical nerd that I am, I plotted out my progress in Microsoft Excel using a trend line, setting predictions and goals for myself. I think I would like to continue to read until I've amassed 30-35 books and I really feel like things are taking off. My frequency of unknown vocabulary words per page is steadily plummeting. Some books are harder and some are easier, but I average one unknown word on every two pages of a book these days (i.e., 0.5 words per page). Not too bad. I took 5 lessons with an iTalki tutor, and it got derailed in March because of family and financial issues I had to sort out. I would really like to get back to that, perhaps with an even greater intensity than before, but it's really hard inserting new things into my routine when I'm out of the habit. I just have to kick myself and force myself to do it, at least by this summer. I really liked the guy I had as a tutor, and I feel a bit bad for him. He quit his tutoring job to get a "996" job in Beijing, but he couldn't tolerate it, so now he's back to teaching, trying to regather all his old students that he lost. My talks with him never got too personal, but I think he lives on a very narrow margin, financially. I would like to help him out by buying more lessons. My listening practice isn't quite as intentional or consistent as it used to be, but I do enjoy casually watching a couple YouTube videos every day, and listening to Chinese podcasts in the background. I'm definitely starting to understand more and more, and all my intense reading practice is only helping me with that. Reading really helps me pick up the contours and the vocabulary of the language so that I am then well-equipped to understand it when it's spoken. Although he's by no means an expert on Chinese (he's pretty good), I've adapted Steve Kaufmann's strategy for learning a language. Get good at reading, then get good at listening, then get good at speaking. Within a year, I think I'll shift my emphasis forward--read less and listen more, while speaking intermittently with my tutor. On a marginally related note, I have been going strong with learning German, which is of course a much different experience from learning Chinese. The complexity of the grammar is much greater. Because I'm using Duolingo, which requires me to write and speak phrases, I have gained basic conversational ability rather fast (I can use it with my wife, who already speaks German). Ironically, though I count German as a "side course" to my Chinese, I might actually have more practical use for German, as I may be going to Austria in the coming years.
    7 points
  39. @dakonglong I'm not sure I have any particular advice for you, but I do have personal experience which migh provide useful perspective to you. At the beginning of last year, I was in a position not dissimilar to the one you find yourself in now -- I had a fairly limited vocabulary (~5000 according to Chinese Text Analyser), and I really wanted to improve my Chinese. Now, you read a few books with a semi-intensive study method, and noted some improvement. And now you are questioning to what extent you want to keep going. Well, I did keep going, so I can give you a preview of what it is like at the other end of that tunnel. I dedicated all of last year to cramming as much Chinese vocabulary as possible. I learned the vast, vast majority of unknown words in each of the books I read, advancing at a pace of 30 words per day, and in this way I covered 7 and a half books over the course of the year, bringing my vocabulary from ~5000 words on January 1, 2021 to ~17,500 words today. So what is the difference? Well, I am significantly closer to being able to read real, adult literature in Chinese with near 100% comprehension, without the aid of a dictionary. To be clear, I cannot do that yet -- but my calculations suggest that I should be able to reach that level within another three years of consistent effort (the same calculations that I ran through suggested I would need a vocabulary of around 50.000 words to be able to read most adult literature with <1 unknown word per page). I think you probably are not aiming for the same level of comprehension of literature as I am, though, based on what you've written in your posts. However, even for conversing with others, I feel like the massive gains in vocabulary I have made have proven immensely useful. Firstly, I feel myself able to converse much more smoothly than I was able to before the start of this project. There are so many things that I did not know the word for before, and now, I do. I can speak precisely without much effort, instead of having to awkwardly talk around holes in my vocabulary, or worse, having to avoid topics entirely due to an inability to properly express myself. Nowadays, if I want to talk about solar energy, I can do that. If I need to mention microchips in daily conversation, I can do that to. If I want to describe a warm, lush, forest, I can do that in vivid terms instead of saying something simplistic like "wet green trees". And other people have mentioned this, but I want to drive it home as well -- you can't necessarily count on other people to use a heavily restricted vocabulary when talking to you, especially if you want them to be themselves when doing so. So learning all of this vocabulary has given me that much more confidence that I won't be left in the dust when someone talks to me, or when I observe conversations between native speakers. This is the long tail of vocabulary. Once you reach this level, there isn't a such thing as a wildly useful word anymore -- not in the same way that words were when you were at a lower level. You're pretty much never again going to find a word and think "wow, my skills were severely impacted by not knowing this specific word!" Vocabulary growth at these levels isn't measured in the single digits at this point -- it is measured in the hundreds or thousands. Hundreds or thousands of words that, on their own, are not going to make much of a difference to your ability to communicate individually. But taken as a whole, they make a huge difference in your skills. And I think, if your goal is to really be able to fully immerse yourself in the language, you'll eventually need that level of competency. Having this dramatically large vocabulary allows you to be eloquent when speaking, not "technically able to get your point across". It allows you to engage in media the same way a native would. You might personally choose not to go down the same path that I have chosen, but make no mistake that the fruits of your labor, if you do, are immense.
    7 points
  40. Maybe I am not understanding your question, but what motivates me to keep studying Chinese is the progress I feel I'm making and the enjoyment I experience at being able to understand more and more of what I'm tackling. Also, I'm at the point with Chinese where I was with Spanish about three years ago, and now in Spanish I can read novels fairly well and watch Spanish-language telenovelas (with Spanish captions on). So it's reasonable to assume that if I keep going I'll understand more and more Chinese, which for me is its own reward. It sounds like you are assuming that studying a language can't be motivating in itself and it needs some other goal or reason. I don't feel that way at all. But I'm that way about almost everything I do. When I was seriously into playing chamber music, it was for the sheer pleasure of it. Even running. Of course I wouldn't mind if I got into better shape from running, but for the most part I run in order to be able to keep on running.
    7 points
  41. Hey guys, sorry it’s been so long since I did an update. I graduated successfully with a 92 average, which was number one, but honestly it basically feels meaningless. My final thesis was on the 3 body problem. Doing the final year and a half online was a disaster, and my Chinese went downhill massively - thanks covid. All the student had to speak, which meant we got about 3 minutes per class to actually use Chinese. Time differences also made it challenging. Glad that I graduated of course. I guess the question is, would I recommend this degree to anyone else? Probably not, but it depends on what you want to get out of it. My classmates were all young and were basically there to party and end up with a degree, I was there to learn Chinese. In person was better by far. Also important to recognize it was a Chinese language and literature degree. Classes on Chinese mythology were a waste of time for what I wanted, and my time would have been better used doing self study on stuff I would actually use. I also really struggled with being treated like a child - things like having attendance taken at every lecture. In England you can attend lectures if you want, but exam results are what matter. If you fail then that’s on you, if you can pass without attending class then it’s all good, but that just wasn’t an option for us in China, to the point where you wouldn’t get a visa if you missed a certain amount of classes. I’m glad I did it as I learnt a lot, but if I could go back in time I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
    7 points
  42. It's repeated in many places on the Internet and IMHO it's just not helpful: drilling radicals isn't useful in and of itself. Unless you need to use a paper dictionary as already mentioned. In particular, knowing how to pronounce a radical on its own is of very little use, especially to beginners. I started this way and it made me waste a lot of time when I was trying to get to grips with Hanzi. What you need to do is start to identify common components (which are sometimes, but not always, radicals), and to understand how the meaning components and sound components of common characters are used. (Since at least 80% of characters are picto-phonetic, which include both types of component.) Olle Linge's Hacking Chinese website has loads of good resources relating to this. This is a good starting point: https://www.hackingchinese.com/phonetic-components-part-1-the-key-to-80-of-all-chinese-characters/
    7 points
  43. I suppose that now I'm in the middle of my 5th year of serious Chinese study (20-25 hours a week since Fall 2017). I studied very casually the year before that (maybe 3-5 hours a week) by auditing a college course from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017. So that provides context for where I am now! I tend to read 60-90 minutes a day (I've read maybe 40 graded readers, followed by 19 native-level books), review SRS flashcards 45 minutes a day (getting very close to 20,000 vocabulary flashcards), and actively listen to YouTube videos around 45 minutes a day. Reading Goals I want to keep up mostly the same pace I've been going, at least until this Summer. I'm in this odd halfway zone, where I feel like reading is getting a lot easier, but I still have some work to do. The easy/moderate native-level novels are feeling quite good, but the higher, more complex, more literary stuff tends to give me some trouble still. But of course--I've only been reading novels for 2.5 years, so what else would I expect? This year, I want to ramp up the difficulty and read some of the harder stuff (as judged by CTA's unknown vocabulary count): --"A Muslim's Funeral" by Huo Da --"Life and Death are Wearing Me Out" by Mo Yan --"A Fortress Besieged" by Qian Zhongshu As a "bonus" if I feel extra ambitious: --"Wolf Totem" by Jiang Rong --"White Deer Plain" by Chen Zhongshi And somewhere in there, I want to read Lu Yao's "Ordinary World," all three volumes. I think his writing style is much easier (so it might not do much to stretch my skills), but I've heard it's a very good book. And having read his other book, "Life," I believe it. All the above books are total behemoths and require a very large time investment to read. Up to this point, I've limited myself to 300-page books, on average. I hope that after this next big push, my reading skills will feel more confident. I'd like to get to the place where although I'm far from perfect, I do have a general competence in reading modern Chinese literature. Listening Goals I've had a pretty workable system, where I practice listening to Chinese videos with subtitles. Progress is slow and frustrating, but it's happening. I just need to stick with it on a daily basis. I deleted my English language podcasts a week or two ago, leaving me with only my Chinese ones (I'm having major withdrawal symptoms from the English ones!). The frustrating thing is that I can understand large chunks of the Chinese podcasts, but never enough to really engage with the content. I don't know if it will happen this year, but I'd really love to turn a corner on my listening skills and actually...well...understand stuff. Not just chunks of content, but long stretches. Without subtitles or repeat listening or other such aids. So this year, I'd like to just keep up the active listening for at least 30 minutes a day, using podcasts for passive listening. Writing and Speaking Goals This will hopefully be accomplished by sessions with iTalki tutors. At this point, I'll be stepping out of my comfort zone significantly. Quite frankly, I was procrastinating in getting to this step. To ease myself into it, I'll be doing an English and Chinese "exchange" discussion with a Chinese friend, starting next week. I've seen a few tutors on iTalki that seem really promising. With the many hours I've already invested in this language throughout the years, I don't want to stop short of speaking and writing. When people ask, "You study Chinese? Oh, can you speak it yet?" I don't want to have to keep answering, "No." I want to use the language and go places with it, starting with the large community of Chinese people already living around me. A week or two ago, I got into a conversation with a very lonely Shanghai man in his 70s or 80s who doesn't know any English and is living in the USA with his daughter and son-in-law. He seemed extremely happy to have somebody to talk to, but because of his accent (his original language with Shanghainese, not Mandarin) and the noise in the room, I could barely understand anything. It just felt really bad to disappoint him. Maybe if I keep practicing, I'll be good enough to engage with him someday! This year, I'll be happy if I've started an iTalki routine at all. If I'm having 3 sessions or 3-5 hours a week, that will be really awesome. I think this year could shape up to be an adventure, if I allow it to.
    7 points
  44. So I've decided to start learning a bit more Cantonese. So far I'm just using Pimsluer, and I'm about halfway through the series (only 30 episodes total). I have a much better sense for how words are pronounced now, where if I am talking to people on tandem I can often catch the gist of what they're saying as long as they keep it in short and simple sentences. I may look at some more formal materials after that which get into the Cantonese approach to written Chinese because I am actually really enjoying this process of learning Chinese from a different entry point. There are not very many though, because even in Hong Kong most people do not seem to view Cantonese as worthy of formal study. I had been looking for a third language to learn beyond the beginner level for a while and since Cantonese is so close to Mandarin that some people do not even consider it a separate language that makes it a pretty comfortable lift. In all honesty I feel like I have just installed an expansion pack into my Chinese journey rather than started a completely new language. In terms of applicability, that's an interesting one. Mandarin Chinese really has no applicability in my daily life. But when I go to restaurants and the Asian markets they are always speaking Cantonese. Sometimes I use Mandarin with these people but It's always kind of an awkward fit as they are always quick to remind me that they don't speak much Guoyu. So now I can just speak Cantonese with these people instead. So in an odd way I totally acknowledge that Mandarin is far more useful but it turns out that Cantonese maybe is more useful and satisfying in my current situation anyway.
    7 points
  45. I'm quickly coming up on that time when I reflect on this previous year and look forward to the next one! This year's goal was to read books, approach 20,000 vocabulary flashcards, and improve my listening skills. Since the beginning of the year, I've increased the amount of books I've read from 8 to 18. Admittedly, I've always been chasing a magic number: How many books do I have to read until I feel like a much more fluid, comfortable reader? I have to say that reading still doesn't really feel comfortable. I'm improving, and I have a lot of great moments, but there's still more work to do. I started the year with 15,000 vocabulary flashcards (which I review via SRS every day). Now, I'm approaching 19,500. Again, as with the number of books, I've been chasing after a "magic number." Laughably, there was a time when I thought that the 5,000 HSK words would be "enough." Now I'm discovering the sheer immensity of the Chinese language. I run into new words all the time, even as I approach 20K acquired flashcards. Granted, whereas I used to encounter 1000-2000 new words in any given 300-page book, I now only encounter 300-500, or even less. I still don't feel like I can fully ignore the dictionary when I read, but I am getting close. At some point, I'd love to encounter new words so infrequently that I can say, "I don't know what this word means, and I don't care to look it up. I'll just keep reading." Like a native reader would do, really. Last summer, I had the privilege of binging on Chinese YouTube videos and drilling them over and over. Since then, I have tried to maintain a listening habit of around 20-30 minutes a day. I'm convinced my listening skills have improved, but it just doesn't feel that way. My growth is never really felt. I guess that's how physical growth works, too. As a child, you don't feel yourself grow, but you can look back on old pictures and say, "Wow, I was a lot shorter 2 years ago!" Can I say in confidence that I can listen to Chinese and understand it? Ehhh...not really. Not without qualification, anyway. It's still tough. If I'm listening to slow and/or simple stuff, I can totally understand it. Otherwise, my comprehension fades in and out. For some reason, the motivation is still here, and I might as well take advantage of it. I have no immediate plans to go to China, and no practical use for the language. Improvement is really slow and no longer comes in quick spurts. The learning process can be endless, grueling, and sometimes really dull. But for some odd reason, I really enjoy it, and I think practice will pay off in the long term. This coming year should be a big one, especially if I incorporate more speaking practice.
    7 points
  46. I know this is an old post but, I teach at University but the pay is better than before because they have included cost of living (if you live outside of campus) my base salary is 11k + 6k (house expense) Base pay is for 12 hours/week. If you teach more than that you get paid extra but its not that much extra and there is a cap on the total hours that can be taught (18). I generally get 16k after taxes (I opted out of the social insurance program, otherwise it would have been a bit less than that). I personally love the hours. I know the pay is not much but I love the freedom to do what I want in my spare time.
    6 points
  47. Hi there, I am learning Chinese for a few years now since I have visited the country before Corona times. Another hobby of mine is making small quiz games about geography. So I tried to combine both. The result is a quiz about the provinces of China and one about the provincial capitals: The Provinces of China: https://geographyquiz.app/quiz/china-provinces/27 Capitals of the Provinces: https://geographyquiz.app/quiz/china-provincial-capitals/46 But as a Chinese learner I added the options to learn the places using Chinese character (simplified and traditional) and Pinyin! (change it via "Language") Hope you like it!
    6 points
  48. I've put the audio for Talks on Chinese Culture 中國文化叢談 on dropbox, you should be able to download it from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vv5nn3gen15h57r/TOCC.rar?dl=0 Let me know if it matches the textbook that you have.
    6 points
  49. Unless you have to pass HSK 5 for some reason at a particular time, I would just continue learning Chinese and enjoy the process. I think the most realistic approximation of how many words you can learn is around 3-5 new words per hour spent on Chinese: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kYbqud5QAg&t=900s&ab_channel=Poly-glot-a-lot (see 3:20)
    6 points
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