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  1. I'm currently back in Texas because of the travel restrictions surrounding this Covid mess. Friends sometimes ask why in the world I ever liked living in a place such as Kunming. Lately, by means of reply, I've given several of them links to these picture stories about Tanhua Temple 昙花寺, one of my favorite easy places. It's a bit clumsy to reach by public transportation, no bus goes right to the door,. So I usually ride my bike. Only 15 or 20 minutes from my Kunming apartment. This quiet place hasn't made it onto the "tourist circuit," and I don't even find it mentioned in most English-language guidebooks. Admission is cheap. It's never crowded. When I started digging around in the forum archives for links to my write-ups of this peaceful place, I discovered I had posted about it three times, roughly a year apart. Not surprising, since I love to go there. Thought I would share these illustrated articles with you today, realizing that quite a few of today's members are new. Hope you enjoy a short look. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55348-a-minor-kunming-park-昙花寺公园/ -- Nov, 2017 https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/57023-burning-some-incense-烧佛香/?tab=comments#comment-442020 -- Aug, 2018 https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/59293-a-walk-in-the-park/ -- Nov, 2019
    12 points
  2. The reading marathon continues, and I just finished 草原动物园. I bought it randomly, without knowing what to expect. It's actually one of my favorite books thus far! It's a pretty interesting (fictional) story of an Anglican missionary from the United States who was sent to Inner Mongolia in the early 1900s, after the Boxer Uprising. He wanted a way to capture people's attention, and contemplated introducing Chinese people to this new invention of "film" by building a movie theater. However, the empress in Beijing passed away, and her personal zoo, filled with sick and starving animals and having fallen into disrepair, was being auctioned off. The missionary decides to adopt some animals for himself (an elephant, two zebras, a lion, a parrot, two baboons, and snake). He then takes an impossible trek to Inner Mongolia to build a zoo. His organization is infuriated, because they wanted him to build a church, not a zoo. The plot is a bit clever and funny in its design. Along the way, he confronts adventure, dangers, eccentric characters, and the religiously pluralistic society of Buddhists, Shamans, and Daoists, some of whom help him along. What was really refreshing is that I could actually understand almost all of this book--the previous two books I read were sometimes really unclear. The only downside is that sometimes, in these sorts of books, a character will see magical/fantastic/mystical things, and it isn't clear whether they're actually seeing them in real life, or if they're dreaming it, or imagining it, etc. Sometimes, an author leaves that intentionally vague, leaving you asking yourself, "Did that really happen, or not?" Well, since Chinese is only my second language, and I'm clumsy with it, those sorts of storytelling conventions can throw me off a bit. Along the way, I learned just under 300 new words. I'm now moving to Book #15: 皮囊 by 蔡崇达. I think it's a non-fictional memoir written by a person who grew up in poverty and has become rich and famous in China. It's a nice change of genre, and it looks like an easy and breezy read.
    8 points
  3. You're definitely right to think there's a problem here. Personally I think the best way to learn vocabulary is a combination of (A) flashcards (or rote learning) and (B) seeing the words for real (e.g. in books you're reading). But if you're having to limit your reading just to keep up with your flashcards, then you will be limiting the potential encounters (re-encounters) with these words in real life. And you will be limiting the development of the faster reading speed and stronger language skills that should happen automatically to your brain when you read Chinese texts at the right level of difficulty. I would make two suggestions. First, instead of trying to learn all the unknown words in a book, just learn the most important. By most important, I mean words that come up frequently in modern Chinese, and also words that come up frequently in the book that you're reading. One problem with native material is that it will include lots of words that you won't see again for years and years, so the value of memorising those words at this point is questionable (unless you plan on repeatedly re-reading the book in the future). Second, if 15 words a day is a realistic daily limit, then absolutely keep to that. But don't stop reading just because you've got a backlog of words. Keep on reading regardless. If words are important, you'll see them again soon, so don't worry, it's not like you've missed your one chance to ever learn them. Five thousand words per year probably isn't at all bad, I reckon? And the more you read, the better you'll become at guessing or working out the meaning of unknown words, and that will improve your vocabulary. I use Imron's Chinese Text Analyser to analyse a book before I start reading it: it tells me all the words I don't know, and I then choose a certain number of those words that I want to learn before I start reading - I make the selection based on a combination of how often they occur in the book, and how frequently they occur in Chinese in general. During this time, I'll be reading another book, so basically I'm reading one book and at the same time learning some of the vocabulary for the next book I'm going to read. But even here I've fallen into your trap before: of delaying reading a book because I haven't learned the vocabulary (yet). It's a dangerous trap!
    7 points
  4. We just released a big update to the dictionary yesterday! This update adds about 380 new characters, plus 60+ new Expert entries, bringing the total to over 3000 characters with 250 Expert entries. If you have the dictionary, you should get the update automatically, or you can go to Pleco's Menu > Add-ons > Updated. If you don't have the dictionary yet, you can get it here: https://www.outlier-linguistics.com/products/outlier-dictionary-of-chinese-characters Here's the list of new Expert entries for those interested: Simplified: 一老适丂者包万合三上下而戎尔气帚鸟生大然户夺爻所升乌歌青何教孝非你学火灬山年智窃云五斗林犬辶麻於今燕受这飞𣏟知哥雨自可 Traditional: 一老丂者包合三上下而戎气這帚生氣大萬戶然爻爾所升歌青何教孝非號你適奪火灬山年學智云五斗林犬辶麻於麼今竊烏燕受飛𣏟鳥知哥雨自可雲出 There's some really interesting stuff in there. Here's a screenshot of the Expert entry for 智:
    7 points
  5. Hi Mijin, Don't take this as a criticism but rather as an observation: It sounds like you trained yourself just to the level that you thought the HSK 5 exam would be and no farther, and thought that would be enough. However, not just in exams but in many other situations you need to train yourself to a higher standard in order to pull off a good performance. It's that way with driving. The more you know how to drive in extreme conditions, the more you are able to be an excellent driver in normal conditions. Ditto for music. In one of my favorite books, "The Path of Least Resistance" by Robert Fritz. he talks about how when he was learning to play the clarinet, his teacher would give him a piece of music to play that was too hard for him. He'd struggle through it during his practice sessions that week, then at his lesson his teacher would assign a piece that was still harder, even though he hadn't been able to play the other one without mistakes. And yet: After a couple of months at this, he went back to the earlier pieces and was able to play them perfectly. I hope this makes sense. If not, just ignore it.
    6 points
  6. I continue to spend around 20 minutes a day doing active listening, and 90 minutes a day reading Chinese novels and collecting new SRS vocabulary flashcards. When I began last January, I said I would be happy if I reach 17,500 flashcards, but now I have over 18,500. I use a very simple SRS algorithm (in Pleco) that doubles the delay from 1 day to 2, 4, 8, 16 days, etc., every time I get a word correct. My strongest cards are delayed to 512 days. Likewise, when I get a word wrong, it cuts the delay in half. I guess I could have programmed it to be "smarter," but this system has worked very, very well, with an astounding accuracy (when I fail to remember a word while reading a book, I often see that word promptly come up for review in my SRS test--it knew I was about to forget the word). Right now, my review is about 200 words each day, taking about 40 minutes (so my study routine is roughly 2.5-3 hours). I think vocabulary acquisition will slow down, because I'm encountering less and less new words, and I would have to do a LOT of reading to maintain my customary pace of 15-20 new words a day. I am attempting an all-out effort over the coming months to perfect my reading skills as much as possible, so I'm finishing books at a much faster rate (I'm on my 15th book). Of course, each subsequent book brings about a lesser and lesser improvement to my skills. Borrowing from my own observations and those of other people in these forums, it seems like after 8-12 books, one can say, "I can read (just not very confidently)." After 20-25 books, one can say, "I can read fairly well, with some obstacles." After about 50 books, you're really starting to fly. By early 2022 (i.e., a few short months), I plan to be past the 20 book mark. I want to get to 50, but because that's such a long-term effort, I want to relax a bit and not burn myself out trying to get there. It will be a good time to start integrating other tasks into my study routine, having a better balance with listening, speaking, and perhaps even writing. To be honest, because I'm such an introvert, I have emphasized reading skills the most so far. But as that skill plateaus, I really need to start speaking Chinese more often, and perhaps seeing whether I can find someone to correct my writing/grammar. I have a friend from Tianjin who's willing to do a language exchange every week or so. Beyond that, I'll probably have to resort to iTalki or some similar platform, which I know isn't always an instant success, because you need to find someone who is personally compatible with you and does a good job. I think it will be the hardest part of my journey, but I just need to do it, likely starting next year.
    5 points
  7. Finally finished 兄弟! took me 6 months to read (although not always very consistently) 🙄 Now finally on to something more fun! 嫌疑犯X的献身 sounds really good, I think I'll try that!
    5 points
  8. I was pretty sure I had heard this being used as a swear word in Hubei. My way of testing? I just shouted out to my wife 你这个鳖 and she immediately responded 你才是鳖乌龟王八蛋 shortly followed by 瘪三 (which apparently can also be said as 鳖三 in the local dialect. Hopefully that answers your question!
    5 points
  9. With the recent discussion on reading speed, I was inspired to run some tests. I decided to compare my English v Chinese reading speed. As content, I chose Chapter 3 of The Magician's Nephew, a short easy piece I'm already familiar with, that I have available in .txt form in both Chinese & English. I read it years ago as a child in English, and I read it in Chinese less than 6 months ago. In English, Chapter 3 has 2809 words. In Chinese, Chapter 3 has 4627 characters (so roughly 1.65 Chinese chars per English word) I read the English version in 6.82 minutes, for an average of 420.97 words per minute. I purposefully read in a leisurely manner, trying not to scan / skip words, but not reading word-by-word like a child either. I think that's faster-than-average English reading speed, but not close to a speed-reading level of speed. --------- Then I read the Chinese version right after the English version. (Note: I've read this exact text less than 6 months ago, and I just read the same text in English 10 minutes ago, so the meaning of every paragraph is fresh in my head. It's about as perfect a situation as I can get in Chinese.) I read the Chinese version in 16.56 minutes for an average of 279.41 characters per minute. That's by far my speed record. My normal speed is around 150 chars per minute, +/- 25. Because I knew what every sentence was supposed to mean, I spent almost no time on processing logic. Just recognizing characters, parsing the sentences into words and deciding that the words match what I knew they were trying to say, so I can move on. Even than my average English speed is 2.4x faster (6.82 mins v 16.56 mins) than my max Chinese speed. My average Chinese speed is ~150 cpm (my max Chinese speed is 86% faster than my average speed). And that it makes my average English speed 4.5x faster than my average Chinese speed. I knew I had a ways to go, but now I know exactly how wide the gap is 4 to 5x. I had been thinking of pulling double-duty by choosing to read Chinese versions of novels / texts I've put off reading in English. I'll still do that, but I can see it won't be saving much time (but still good for Chinese language development)! Anyways, even though the test is specific to me & 1 piece of text, I thought the data (particularly the ratios) might be interesting to others.
    5 points
  10. Hey, sorry to hear you were struggling with HSK5. Sounds like you studied the content rather than the test in preparation for it, which is a huge mistake. When taking any test you should always try and study the test itself (the structures, main hurdles and ways of getting around them), and this is very much true for HSK. If you didn't take a single timed past exam at home before sitting HSK5 (to the point where you were surprised that in the listening part they only play the audio once) then I don't know how you can claim that your exam was harder than previous years' exams. I sat HSK5 earlier this year and it was just as hard as the mock exams I'd been going through at home. I understand your frustration, you did the textbooks and studied the vocab so you feel like you prepped very thoroughly but until you've done at least one timed mock test or past paper at home, you haven't prepped for the test. (This resets at every level btw, the format varies from exam to exam.) You're clearly not lazy and willing to put in the effort so if this exam really went as badly as you thought it did, then sign up for the next one and download all the past papers you can find online. Just as an aside re reading speed and subtitles - being able to read subtitles is nothing to be terribly proud of unfortunately. I translate subtitles for major streaming platforms and we have incredibly strict timing requirements: max 18-20 characters - not Chinese characters, Western characters, ie letters, blanks, punctuation per second. The average reading speed of a normal person is 25 characters per second. In terms of grammar and especially vocab, we're always told to make sure we're translating as if for a person who is extremely slow and not very bright (so, always use simple structures and common words, dumb it down). Obviously my target language isn't Chinese but the guidelines for pretty much all languages are the same.
    5 points
  11. My next project is a tool that predicts when you'll reach a near-native reading speed using a statistical technique called regression analysis. I'm still refining it in Python (animation below is my progress as of last night), but the goal is to release it as an easy-to-use spreadsheet. I think it'll be possible to get an accurate prediction with only ~5 books. The early-time predictions are currently all over the place, but incorporating a Bayesian prior informed by @pinion's dataset should smooth that out. If anybody reading this has similar reading rate data they'd be willing to share, please get in touch via Chinese-Forums or email ([email protected]).
    5 points
  12. Work through these books, in this order: 1. INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE CURSIVE SCRIPT (by Fred Fang Wang // Fang-yu Wang) 2. READ ABOUT CHINA IN CURSIVE SCRIPT (by Chang Yi-Nan) 3. INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE LETTERS IN CURSIVE SCRIPT (by Chang Yi-Nan) This person has a series of videos (still being uploaded) that go over how to write in running script. This YouTube Channel is devoted to Chinese handwriting, with some brief tutorials. This workbook has been recommended to me, but I haven't had the pleasure of thumbing through it myself, so I can't say if it is good or not: 席殊3SFM实用硬笔字60小时训练 Finally, Mega Mandarin has partnered with a calligrapher to compile a very handy Anki deck of handwritten forms. Good luck! (I am still in the first third of the first book -- got a long way to go!)
    5 points
  13. Thanks, these are great questions! I'll unpack things a little by responding to what you wrote. Original content, spontaneous speech The player that I linked to is the last step in a process that I use to make original audio content accessible (to myself). The starting point is exactly what you write: a podcast, or maybe a video on Youtube. The text you hear in the player was not written with an educational purpose in mind. It is something I grabbed while looking for authentic audio to listen to. I.e., you need to ask the podcast's producers about the background music : ) The key thing is exactly what you write here: She is not a reader : ) The reason she sounds natural is because it is original content that she recorded spontaneously. This is precisely the benefit of working with authentic audio, and part of the reason why I started building out this tool in the first place. I share the experience that anything produced didactically, for educational purposes, typically lacks exactly the kind of nuance that you need to sound natural in a language. It's all about intonation on the phrase and sentence level, the exact nature of false starts and fillers, etc. Achieving comprehension through close listening That's essentially it, but the process is actually a lot more magical than that. I'll go into how I can get from raw audio that I almost entirely do not understand to the outcome that you can read and hear in the linked player. My point here is that having the audio in exactly this format, with the transcript, allows me to gain access to the text in ways that are otherwise not possible. I can navigate the audio sentence by sentence. The usual "rewind 15 seconds" of general-purpose players doesn't allow me to repeat exactly one sentence as many times as I need, and it also doesn't allow me to pause conveniently at sentence boundaries. The combination of Pinyin and characters allows me to "clear up" my understanding of what's being said. Initally, most of the audio is obscure. After a few passes, I can understand most of what's being said even without looking at the transcript. The integrated dictionary lets me get a pretty good understanding of what's being said even in the presence of many unknown words. Even if you have subtitles e.g. on Youtube, those will be characters, with no word boundaries shown. In tools like Du Chinese, you get both characters and Pinyin, but again no word segmentation: it's all separate syllables. The transcript I have in here shows words, which are often pretty crucial to making sense of the text. So, to sum up, I start by grabbing a piece of authentic, real-life audio like a podcast episode. Initially my level of understanding is "well, that sounds cool, but I get maybe 5% of it." From there I can get to a sentence-aligned transcript with Pinyin and words in the kind of player that I linked to, complete with dictionary annotations. In there, I can listen to each individual sentence until it all begins to clear up and I am able to follow along. ~Gábor
    4 points
  14. By the way, if anyone wants to, please do add any authors/books they've read to this list: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/53547-book-list/ The last time I was studying Chinese I set it up to provide a neater alternative to scrolling through pages and pages of this thread to get future reading suggestions.
    4 points
  15. I've been googling on average reading speeds, and the best article I've found is this. It's a meta study of reading speeds, reviewing 190 other studies. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749596X19300786 (non-paywall version) https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marc-Brysbaert/publication/332380784_How_many_words_do_we_read_per_minute_A_review_and_meta-analysis_of_reading_rate/links/5cb0b402a6fdcc1d498feb2d/How-many-words-do-we-read-per-minute-A-review-and-meta-analysis-of-reading-rate.pdf It's got a section comparing the speed of reading in English vs other languages, and it's also got a section about L2 reading speeds (non-native reading speeds). I thought I'd save down some tidbits for my own benchmarking purposes: 1. "Based on the analysis of 190 studies (17,887 participants), we estimate that the average silent reading rate for adults in English is 238 word per minute (wpm) for non-fiction and 260 wpm for fiction." 2. "Reading rates in other languages can be predicted reasonably well be taking into account the number of words these languages require to convey the same message as in English." 3. (p. 49) "In Chinese we found 26 studies coming from 23 articles: 18 on silent reading and 8 on reading aloud. Mean reading rates were respectively 260 wpm and 152 wpm. With respect to these estimates, it is important to know that we often had to estimate the number of words from the number of characters given. When we had to do so, we used the conversion 1.5 characters for 1 word. For those texts in which the words on average were longer than 1.5 characters, our value is an overestimate... " Native speed benchmark: 260 wpm = 390 chars per minute, at the exchange rate of 1.5 chars = 1 word. 4. (p. 31) "Reading speed in second-language (L2) speakers is considerably slower than in first-language (L1) speakers. Indeed, reading rates below 100 wpm are no exception. Hirai (1999), for instance, studied English L2 reading rate in Japanese university students. All students had taken six years of formal English education in junior and senior high school. In addition, most of the participants had two 90-minute English lessons per week at the university and a subgroup majoring in English had about five to eight English courses per week. Text materials were easy prose passages, followed by a set of eight four-option multiple-choice questions. Reading rate was 139 wpm for participants who could answer more than 75% of the questions correctly and 61 wpm for the other participants. Interestingly, Hirai (1999) also tested the participants on English L2 listening and found that their estimated optimal listening rates corresponded well to the observed reading rates. " L2 learner benchmark: For L2 university students who learned the second language fairly well (including language majors), the equivalent average would be 208 cpm, for Chinese characters. For those who didn't (but still sat thru the mandatory 6 years of secondary school classes), the equivalent average would be 91 cpm, for Chinese. L2 learners typically listen at approximately those rates as well. 5. (p. 31) "Cop, Drieghe, and Duyck (2015) asked reasonably proficient Dutch-English bilinguals to read half a novel in L1 and the other half in L2. Reading rate was 17% slower in L2 than in L1. In addition, the eye movement pattern of L2 readers very much resembled that of L1 children: They made more fixations per sentence, fixations times were longer, forward saccades were shorter, and less words were skipped. Only the number of regressions did not differ. Similar results were published by Whitford and Titone (2014) for sentence reading, although in their study regression rates were higher in L2 than in L1 as well. Dirix et al. (2019) observed 10% slower processing rates when participants read or studied texts in a second language (respectively 174 wpm and 50 wpm) than in the first language (189 and 54 wpm). " Proficient bilingual benchmark: 17% slower than an average of 260 wpm is 216 wpm. That would be an average for proficient bilinguals of 312 chars per minute, for Chinese characters.
    4 points
  16. As an American I would have no idea what you meant if you used this phrase in conversation.
    4 points
  17. I ride my ebike all over town, all the time. This is usually where I see Chinglish: on the backs of people's shirts as I pass them (I learned to ebike in China by copying the locals, so I'm super aggressive). There have always been Chinglish, from the nonsensical to the amusing. I've seen everything from SS lightning bolt runes to a fellow wearing an AVG (Flying Tigers) jacket from WWII, complete with blood chit asking the finder to assist the shot-down pilot to get back to his squadron. But lately, that's diminished. Now, the slogans and phrases are...better, shall we say? They might be banal or meaningless, but they lack the essential features of Chinglish: poor grammar, made-up words, distorted meanings, pure gibberish. They'll use correct grammar and spelling. I even get a smile once in a while. People still have no idea what they're buying, just a shirt with cool-looking English on it, but whomever is making those shirts has obviously gotten better at English as time has passed. To me, it's just yet another sign of China's modernization (as if we need any more). I like to compare it to a ratchet, which can only go one way, and which clicks slowly over time, always increasing. We've had decent pizza for a few years now, and art hotels are common even down here in this proverbial third-tier city. We have not one but two live houses that host traveling acts. There are so many western restaurants I can't keep track of them all, and just today I was the very first customer at a new coffee shop that served a good latte, just outside my apartment. Chinglish going the way of the dodo seems yet another click of the ratchet.
    4 points
  18. Tonight I finished the appendices to 巴金’s 爱情三部曲. The novels were better. In the most interesting of the four appendices, 巴金 imagines a contemporaneous literary critic as a smart, “幸福”, out-of-touch scholar who takes great pride in his fancy car and expert driving abilities. Read a long 知乎 article on Cluster B personality disorders. Been reading messages in the WeChat parents’ group for my daughter’s elementary school. I feel like an interloper, reading all this Chinese mom chat. Not sure if this is because I’m a foreigner or because I’m a dad.
    4 points
  19. Tonight I finished the third book of 巴金’s love trilogy, 《电》. It’s different than the previous two novels in the series. Compared with 《雾》 and 《雨》,《电》 is darker, more suspenseful, and more consistently plot-driven. The novel is also only peripherally about romance. There are no pathetic expressions of infatuation. There are fewer conversations with educated writers about the propriety of love in dangerous times. Instead, there are numerous expressions of revolutionary zeal. There is action: guns, explosives, young agitators running from soldiers. There are a few hugs and kisses, too, but 《电》 is not a love story in the same way the other two books are. It is my favorite of the four 巴金 novels I’ve read. I’ll probably slog through the 67-page appendix. wish me luck.
    4 points
  20. Today I finished 王小波’s novella 《未来世界》. It’s a strange story told in a strange way. The novella has two main parts: one about the author’s uncle, one about the author himself. Neither part is historical in the traditional sense. The writing style is absurd, irreverent, vulgar, frequently funny. I liked it. Now back to reading 《电》 by 巴金.
    4 points
  21. The Baidu app offers a widget called "热点资讯" that displays two headlines of news articles or videos on your home screen which keep changing over time. I think using this widget can be very beneficial for more advanced learners. First of all, it is very motivating. If you put it on your home screen, you will see it multiple times a day, you notice when the content has changed and you will automatically read the new headlines. It’s constant, automatic exposure to Chinese. Secondly, there are specific benefits in reading headlines. Headlines of news articles or videos contain very dense information, there are almost no filler words and they contain the most important words of the article of the video. So headlines largely consist of specific, not super frequently used words, which are however still very important words for achieving fluency in Chinese. For these reasons, the difficulty of reading and understanding the headline of an article often is higher than the difficulty of the article itself, meaning it is an extremely efficient way to practice reading comprehension and acquire vocabulary while taking only very little time. Reading headlines allows you to encounter in context a wide array of words you already learned that you might not see very often outside of news and also allows you to encounter important words that you don't know yet and you can look them up and make a flashcard. It also is a very good way to practice recognizing names of people, companies, places, etc., including the transcription of foreign names. Besides the advantages the widget offers by just displaying the headlines on your home screen, it also invites for more in-depth study by clicking on the headline and reading the article/watching the headline. Obviously just working with the headlines won't help much with building reading stamina etc., I consider this method just a small, bite-sized but highly efficient addition to other reading, particularly suitable for short moments that you otherwise wouldn't use to improve your Chinese, like when you are standing in line somewhere for a few minutes.
    4 points
  22. Hi there, I passed HSK 5 last May with a score of 232. Here are a few of my thoughts, which I hope will be of help to you: Focus on your strength(s) and hone in on it/them. My strengths were listening and sentence arranging. Instead of just taking those strengths for granted, I practiced them more to get a higher score in those sections. (I got a 93% on listening; I think the only ones I missed were when I spaced out due to crushing test anxiety, which I admit I struggle with.) I also reflected on what led me to feel confident in those areas; that way, I could devise a strategy to deal with weaker areas. Read widely, beyond the scope of HSK 5 books. Truthfully, I only studied half of the first of HSK 5 标准课程 before taking the test; most of my vocabulary comes from tackling texts meant for native speakers. Even if it seems too hard, I suggest finding content that interests you and just diving in, with the aid of Pleco’s document reader. I like to read magazines like 意林 and 青年文摘, as well as children’s books. Brush up on your Chinese history and chengyu. Like RedInkstone pointed out, there will definitely be texts on historical figures/kingdoms, literary icons, or some other cultural cornerstone. In hindsight, not knowing enough cost me points on the Reading section. Meanwhile, chengyu and non-chengyu expressions are sprinkled liberally, so try to learn some. You could buy a children’s book that teaches chengyu. I didn’t practice anything for the writing section at all; consequently, I scored at a staggering HSK 3-level on that section. I immediately sought to rectify that by working with teachers on iTalki. I’ve been writing an essay a week, and it’s really helped. If writing is a challenge, you could try to develop a writing habit and have a teacher correct your work. I also think markpete’s strategy of memorizing standard phrases is useful; when I attempt HSK 6, I’ll be sure to do that. Hope that this helps you. Good luck!
    4 points
  23. This Anki deck has all the grammar examples from ChineseGrammarWiki, organised by HSK level 1-6. It's in a "re-arrange the tiles" format but you could maybe adapt it to do cloze questions instead. Chinese Grammar (汉语 语法) HSK1 - HSK 6 https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/797518833
    4 points
  24. Here are the marking guidelines, for "self-test" at least. See page 2 (very bottom) and page 3 for HSK 5 writing. HSK-pingfen.pdf
    4 points
  25. Hi All! Long-time lurker and occasional poster here. Over the past 2+ years I have built up a collection of tools that I am using on a daily basis in my own Chinese learning practice. When I saw the recent topic about transcribing audio with online services I realized it might be time to share some of the things I have been working on. By "opinionated" I mean some guiding principles that I feel strongly about, and which seem to work well for me. These include de-emphasizing Chinese characters and focusing on building vocab first instead of spending excessive effort on the script, and working with authentic, real-life content even if it's still a bit above my level. I see there are topics about existing tools, including commercial ones, on here. Is a topic like this an acceptable way to share the things I have been building? I am unsure where these are going; at this stage they are not even remotely close to anything resembling a "product." I essentially want to understand if others see value in them, get feedback from a broader group of fellow learners and teachers, and see if it makes sense to invest more effort and make them usable for others besides me ~Gábor PS: There's a lot of lively discussion in this topic, so I'm adding links here to the posts that are about the tools themselves. (1) Interactive audio player for close listening (2) Original content, spontaneous speech + Achieving comprehension through close listening
    3 points
  26. This is just silly. Let me guess, your mother tongue is English? You do realize most people who know English know it because they consume stuff in that language every day, and have no plans on living in an English speaking environment? My listening and reading ability are at near native level, while my writing and speaking is subpar. That goes for me and most of my generation. Surely we could treat Chinese the same way without having to feel embarrassed.
    3 points
  27. Are you sure this is the best strategy? I tend to cut myself a little more slack. Just be satisfied with "getting the gist of it" if a sentence or passage is extremely convoluted. Sometimes I will make a pencil mark in the margin of a book if I come up against a puzzling sentence or phrase and come back to it after finishing the chapter. Often it is clear once I have more context.
    3 points
  28. OK interesting - especially becuase I've been thinking about these same things for myself recently. That explains why the reading speed is low. And I think leads to another question which I guess no one can really answer: is it better/worse to spend hours and hours each day on that intensive reading versus extensive reading versus a mixture of the two. (That's assuming you have the stamina for hours of very close reading every day, and it seems you do.) Maybe think about how reading is beneficial. Let's say novels have three types of sentences: easy (you can read without really noticing any effort), moderate (takes some effort but immediately or quickly comprehensible) and hard (you've got to stop and re-read multiple times before you largely or fully comprehend). The only benefit of reading the easy sentences is that you might improve your reading speed, but at least they don't take up much time and effort. Moderate sentences force you to think and ultimately reinforce words or grammar that you've only been loosely familiar with, as well as introduce you to words or patterns that you can correctly intuit. Hard sentences do the same, and can provide a real workout for the brain, but they take up a lot of time and effort. I'd suggest that hard sentences take up so much time and effort that too many of them make reading inefficient. If you had time to read 10 hard sentences and 10 moderate ones, or 5 hard sentences and 50 moderate ones, my hunch is that the latter is the better choice. There's also the risk that the hard sentences contain unknown words or grammar that are very rare, and it's a more efficient use of your time to learn more common vocabulary and grammar before moving onto the rarer ones. So if it were me - I'd focus on more extensive reading, and do hours and hours of that, to see where you get to in terms of reading speed. So you would either carry on reading the same kind of books, but be prepared to skim over some of the hard sentences. Or split your time: mainly extensive reading of 'moderate' books, with some time spent slogging through (perhaps with some assistance) hard texts. Also if you aren't 100% comfortable about abandoning listening, then get audiobooks for the novels you've read!
    3 points
  29. Approaching the last quarter of the year, here's my update: 1. Reach 150WPM in shorthand. Well sometimes life just happens - I spent a minimum of an hour a day practicing my speed in shorthand all the way to about July time, then I started getting RSI in my writing hand. I think I was gripping too hard for long periods of time as I pushed for faster speed. Unfortunately this meant I stopped shorthand a few months ago, and as a result it has also thrown off my plans to take a few CI jobs. That being said, as of July I unexpectedly had an hour slot for studying set aside in my schedule that I was no longer using. I started to shadow Cantonese again (last studied in 2018), and I have been going strong since then. An unexpected positive out of a negative! 2. Fill a book with shorthand forms for interpreting purposes. This also stopped around July, but again an unexpected positive came from this. I now have a base of about 600~ vocab items that I revise through listening rather than reading. Its done wonders for listening comprehension, lots more clarity when watching more complex dramas. That being said, I finally got round to watching the whole of 长安十二时辰, and to be honest couldn't understand as much of the story as I would have liked, I just kept forgetting who was who and missing the more subtle plot lines. Maybe I'll try it again in the future. For the last quarter of the year, here are my revised goals: 1. Cantonese every day - min 1 hour 2. Mandarin vocab building every day - min 30 mins Hope everyone else is more on target that me!
    3 points
  30. Recently watched several episodes of "Midnight Diner" which is a Japanese TV series set in back-street Tokyo. It has been showing on Netflix with subtitles in English. Skillfully drawn vignettes about life in modern urban Japan. (An enjoyable series, by the way.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Diner_(Japanese_TV_series) Synopsis: My question is about how the customers address the owner/chef. They call him "Masta" with a soft "s" such that it comes out sounding like "Mash-ta." I don't know any Japanese, so please excuse the ignorant question. I was wondering if that was commonly used in Japan the way one might address the cook in a Chinese diner as "shifu" 师傅 or laoban 老板。Or is it a respectful form they just used in addressing this particular character because of some past events that aren't shown on screen in the series. (There are subtle hints that he might have once been involved in organized crime.) Here is a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dmZhlHupOI
    3 points
  31. I wonder if @杰.克 is doing a performative exposition of taking the piss by his determination to be so very wrong in such a decided fashion
    3 points
  32. Hi All! I have finally reached the point in my studies where I enjoy reading native material. I think this is 50% because I have reached a decent level of comprehension (somewhere between 90% and 98% based on whether I’m near the beginning or end of a book) and 50% because I have become more comfortable with ambiguity and just sort of skipping over the stuff I don’t completely understand. Either way, I have recently been able to read for longer periods of time than I could previously. However, this has led to a new issue; I can read much faster than I can acquire new vocabulary. In a given day I might read 3 – 5 pages of a book (currently, volume one of The Hunger Games). During that reading session I will come across approximately 10x new words per page, so between 30 – 50 new words total per day. I currently add all of these words to pleco and memorize 15 of them every day, but because I am adding more words than I am learning in a day, this is creating a huge backlog of vocabulary in pleco. For those who read a lot and have larger vocabularies, do you add all of the new words you encounter to a flashcard app and drill them until you know them? Or have you reached a point where you can just acquire new words through reading itself? If so, at what point did that start to happen? I ask because I want to push my vocabulary from 7Kish words up to 20K+, but by acquiring 15 words a day using my current process that will take years. Can I potentially learn these words faster by just reading more every day? Or should I just sit back, continue what I’m doing and be patient? Thanks!
    3 points
  33. Well I got my result just a few minutes ago, and I have to eat both my hat and a serving of humble pie because: 1) I passed 2) The average scores appear way up on previous years Well, I was right about one thing: I performed worst on the reading section, despite reading being the thing I am most comfortable with compared to speaking, listening and writing. BTW, now I've passed it starts to look like this thread was a whole stealth brag or something, but I assure you it wasn't. When I just logged on to chinesetest.cn I genuinely was still expecting a score of around 30%.
    3 points
  34. Yep, "Winner winner, chicken dinner" in the original English version. So the term 吃鸡游戏 is used to refer to this kind of Battle Royale-style, multiplayer online shooting games, and 吃鸡 -> to play/win such a game.
    3 points
  35. I use the Pleco reader to read books in Chinese because it's easy to look up words I don't know that way, but I make no effort to add new words to flashcards or anything like that while I'm reading. I could spend hours on developing the best method for maximizing my learning, but for me, the best method is just to read and look up the words I need. My reasoning is that if I make reading into "learning", I am less likely to read regularly because it becomes a chore. By having no strings attached, I can just pick up my phone a read a couple of pages whenever I have free time.
    3 points
  36. I think this is probably a reference to when I said the following: I want to be very clear, though, because I have very strong feelings about this that run contrary to a fair bit of advice I've seen--I think subvocalization is GOOD and should NOT be actively suppressed. At a certain point my reading speed outpaced my vocalization speed because frankly my mouth isn't very agile and I don't talk that fast, but I am very conscious of deliberately continuing to subvocalize in my head. I think it's crucial to maintain a very strong character-sound connection and to avoid falling into the non-native trap of thinking you can derive meaning from characters without first passing through sound, which is after all the most fundamental part of language. The degree to which you subvocalize (or are conscious of doing so) will shrink as you become more comfortable with reading, but it never completely goes away, nor should it--you just become able to subvocalize at faster than speaking speed, in much the same way as a podcast is still comprehensible at 2x or even higher speed once you're used to it.
    3 points
  37. I'm reading the final part of 兄弟 now (I'm at about 95% and I would have preferred not to know that it ends sadly) and I'm finding it to be a very long book. Much harder to read than 活着 or 许三观卖血记 as it uses many, many more 成语. The whole book is a rollercoaster of emotions alternating between incredibly depressing stories of abuse, desperation and death and page-turning romances. In general, the callousness of the crowd and its indifference towards other people's suffering seems to be one of the main themes that remains always present in the background of the novel. I wouldn't say it's not a good book but with (many) caveats. I strongly recommend against reading it if you are in a emotionally fragile situation (not too uncommon these days with lockdowns all over the world) because it is at time the most sad and depressing reading that you can imagine. At the same time, it is not as easy to read as the other shorter 余华's novels so I wouldn't recommend it if you are not into 余华 already. In conclusion, I'm looking forward to be done with it and get on to something a bit more lighthearted and entertaining, I've got plenty of books on my list that I'm looking forward to read.
    3 points
  38. I think that 15-word-a-day limit should work well, actually. It will only take you 2.3 years to get to 20,000+ acquired vocabulary, and you'll pass other milestones (like 10K and 15K) long before that. Things really start to change around 12-15K, where you'll have to read double or even triple the pages to get in 15 words a day. That's where I'm at now. When I started reading in September 2019, I would read 4-6 pages, and end up with 30, 40, or even 50 new words. Unlike you, I just studied them all as they came, which was truly torture. Now, I'm at 18,500 words, and limit myself to 14 words a day (5,000 a year). My reading pace has become the new bottleneck, rather than new words. I often encounter one word or less per page, and I only have time to read about 14 pages a day, so my intake consists of only about 8-12 words. If trends continue, I think things really taper off between 20-25K words. Unknown words are few and far between, and the remaining words tend to be less and less commonly used ones. That's when I'll likely say, "Okay, I'll stop this whole vocabulary exercise and just relax." I'm probably more of a perfectionist and a stickler than some others (I don't like the feeling of skipping over unknown words too often), so that point would probably happen sooner for other people.
    3 points
  39. Speaking of 王小波, I just finished up 黄金时代. I started it a while ago (~6-7 books ago), and had difficulty with it the first time, got frustrated and put it aside. But this time, with better language skills, I got into the 流氓 spirit and appreciated it a lot more. His writing has energy that a lot of the other writers don't. I'll come back to him again later... maybe 未来世界, per @murrayjames's review. Switching up genre's, I'm reading 红手指 next by Higashino, per a few posters' recommendations.
    3 points
  40. Yes, you're likely right! And in my native language, I don't exhaust myself over learning every individual word. Because Chinese is my second language, and I'm determined to "learn" it, I'm probably pushing myself in ways that are really a bit excessive. So the time is coming soon when I have to turn my focus elsewhere and just relax. I mean, it would defeat the pleasure of reading if I'm only reading in order to reach a goal of X number of books. "377 down, 582 more to go!" Ha ha, that would be bad. I also think that this "obsession" is excessive, but if it works for you, go for it. Just commenting that English is a second language for me and I have never obsessed about learning English vocabulary. I have just picked it up by reading and using the language daily for the last twenty years. In my mind there is no deeper secret to picking up vocabulary in any language. I don't really pay attention to how many unknown words I encounter in any of the languages I know anyway. A lot in Japanese, not many in Finnish, I looked up one English word yesterday.
    3 points
  41. No, it just means she got knocked on the head by Jose (presumably with knuckle). Try search 爆栗 on Baidu.
    3 points
  42. Who said anything about blood? Everyone's first few messages have to be approved, to prevent spam showing up on the site. The tight moderation is one of the things that makes this forum the most comfortable one you have ever run in to.
    3 points
  43. To be honest, I wished you'd posted more - I love reading your posts on Kunming. One place I've never been to is Kunming and, having just sold my business and don't have kids at home anymore, I can't wait to head that way. I've got the potential of a bit of volunteer work in remote Yunnan and it looks so enticing and appealing. However, now we have extended travel restrictions, I'm not sure when I'll get the chance. For the last 18 months, NZers who head overseas are finding it impossible to get back in the country due to restrictions so it's just not worth the risk. What's your take on when you'll get back to Kunming?
    3 points
  44. This gem showed up in my SRS flashcard review today, and I think it's so fun: 火炎焱燚 Meaning: "Hot (i.e. popular). Emphatic form of 火. (neologism c. 2016)"
    3 points
  45. The first bit is actually not that difficult once you realise how it works. It helps to start at the end: 西班牙文字 Spanish words 荷西看得懂 José understands/can read 荷西看得懂的西班牙文字 Spanish words that José understands 三个荷西看得懂的西班牙文字 three Spanish words that José understands 唯一三个荷西看得懂的西班牙文字 The only three Spanish words that José understands 书中唯一三个荷西看得懂的西班牙文字 The only three Spanish words in the book that José understands And then I think the actual meaning is 'There were only three words in the book that José could read, because those words were in Spanish', but I think you get the sentence now. 倒在最后一个字上硬给拿吃掉了个O字。In the last of those three Spanish words, the letter o at the end was chopped off, accidentally I assume. 稻草人只管守麦田,送人的礼倒没看好, 'A scarecrow only concerns itself with guarding the fields, it doesn't even look at the gifts that people give it.' Or something to that effect? Not sure, perhaps I'd understand if I read the whole story. Does it say who the scarecrow is? Sanmao herself or José? 也可能是排印先生不喜河西血型,开的小玩笑。 'or maybe Mr Typesetter didn't like José's blood type and made a little joke.' Meaning, José's blood type presumably is O, but that last O was taken out, so the guy who typeset the book did that on purpose because he doesn't like José's blood type. Slightly lame joke IMO. I hope this helps!
    3 points
  46. @Woodford A similar dilemma I have is whether to choose (1) to read more literary / higher-brow books, with more indirect / oblique / artful language, or (2) to stay with easier, more straightforward pot-boiler type books. (1) would improve my language comprehension, sentence parsing, word choice ability, while (2) would mostly focus on improving speed, and a bit of refining comprehension. Right now, I'm going mostly with (2) over (1), around 3 potboilers for every higher-brow book. At least until I get to 200-ish chars per minute, which will probably take a while (~30 books / 5 million characters by my projection). That also matches natural reading habits in English anyways, as I don't read that much higher-brow fiction in English. Although, it's always in the back of my mind to expand my reading diet, at some point. ----- At my current level of understanding, I have categorized 5 different styles of novels in my mind, with a use for each of them. (1) higher-brow / artistic fiction (written by authors who win literary prizes) (2) mass market fiction (equivalent of John Grisham novels in English) (3) web fiction (equivalent of fan-fiction in English) (4) translated English / western works (they seem to have a different language style from native Chinese works) (5) classics (equivalent of Shakespeare in English)
    3 points
  47. I have now just finished 从你的全世界路过. It was one of my more bizarre reading experiences. The book consists of many different short stories that are indeed very, very, very short. The author doesn't spend a lot of time on descriptions, details, or character development, but he deliberately keeps things simple--he's just trying to leave an impression on the reader, and to get the reader to pause and think. He says that the stories can each be taken independently, but I soon saw the recurrence of certain characters and story arcs later in the book. I often thought, "Oh--those people again! Who are they? I forgot!" I didn't expect any continuity through the book, so my brain wasn't prepared for it. To get the whole coherent story, I would need to read the book again (I'm not going to do that ). The author's writing style is really quirky. In the preface, he invites you to throw the book in the trash if you don't like it. Later, in what's supposed to be a really serious/dramatic/emotional story, a woman's death is described as, "She got in a fight with a bus and lost all her HP." That's an immortal line, and I will probably never forget it for the rest of my life. Yes, so much of my enjoyment of this book is a sort of ironic, "so bad it's good" dynamic. The stories usually all start with people sitting in a bar and drinking and cursing at each other (this book is quite the crash course on Chinese profanity). The plots usually revolve around break-ups, divorces, and relationship issues, and there's a lot of reminiscing about the old days of university and/or high school. In fact, that's probably 80% of the book, and the theme repeats itself so much that the stories don't stand out that much from each other. Other parts of the book involve the author's stream-of-consciousness thoughts about life, a friendship between a dog and a butterfly, and a war between....uhhh....talking food ingredients. I'm still not sure I understood that one. So this book is a wild ride. Unfortunately, my reading comprehension these days varies from book to book, depending on the style of the author. This book was somewhat harder than average, and I would sometimes be left utterly puzzled by certain sentences and phrases. And because the stories were so short, my understanding of a story would be completely destroyed because of it. The worst part was when a story concluded with a single sentence I couldn't understand. So....I don't know how the story ended, even though I understood 99% of it until that part! And thus continues my reading journey. In the beginning, character recognition was what I cared about. Then I understood all the characters, but not the words. Now I understand almost all the words, but the sentences and paragraphs are the biggest issue. Over the course of this 300-page book, I had to acquire roughly 300 words (1 per page). But I now realize that that number really doesn't tell the full story. This book was a bit on the challenging side. Next up is "Zoo on the Grassland" (动物园草原) by Ma Boyong, my 14th Chinese book overall. It seems to be a fantasy-themed book that's quite different from anything I've read before. So I'm looking forward to that.
    3 points
  48. Hope you will be able to make it back to your second home soon, always love reading about your stories from Kunming. South China is so varied, but I always feel the pace of life is always about the same - relaxed, happy, slow yet buzzing in the evenings
    3 points
  49. Echoing the two previous posts: 1. read more, especially not only curated content for learners Just read as much as you can, every single day, this will help you build reading speed and become more familiar with how the written language flows and grammar structures will be ingrained in your brain. You need to be able to infer the meaning of occasional unknown words from the context. For that, I would suggest reading above your current level. (Same goes for listening.) 2. have a strategy Don't read the whole text. First read the questions and then quickly read the text to scan for answers. Questions are in the same order as the information given within the text. 3. know historical people/kingdoms, important literary works A lot of texts are stories that are teaching morals, be it ancient stories or modern ones. In every exam there is at least one text about people like 孟子、关羽 or something about 战国时期 kingdoms like 楚国 or modern authors like 鲁迅 and books like 骆驼祥子 are mentioned. This cost me valuable points because I simply got confused by the names. 4. be sure that your level is above the threshold Tbh, I only took the actual HSK 5 once, but beforehand I made sure with the mock exams, that passing it was "easy". I do not want to demotivate you, but if you barely scrape by, it's better to save the money and take it a bit later when you know you are going to pass it. One of my friends took HSK 5 four times in one year, the first three times she always got around 150 points. When we talked about how she prepared for the exam, it was evident that her preparation was non-existent (unlike yours!). After I was forcing my Anki deck and study tips down her throat, she did pass on her fourth attempt, scoring easily more than 180 points. Keep on practising daily and you will pass it!
    3 points
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