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Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 11/11/2018 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    Hello everyone, It has been a while since I last updated my blog. There were a couple of reasons for this - My eyes My vision was deteriorating quite a lot and last November the decision was taken to under go cataract surgery. As this was in the UK and on the NHS the wheels grind (no complaints it just the way it is) and eventually I now have 2 new lenses and can see better than I have been able to for many years. I found it was becoming increasingly frustrating trying to read characters with bad eyes and magnifying glasses are a pain, hard to scan pages with one. I am still in recovery, it is only the third day after my second eye so slowly slowly does it. My intention is to return and update my blog with my new learning schedule and updates as to my successes and failures and hopefully help myself and others to progress with learning Chinese. Just wanted to update anyone who was interested that my hiatus from learning is now turning slowly into a return to learning.
  2. 1 point
    I'm blown away! That is also incredibly useful! YouTube is a whole new world to me now. Thanks!
  3. 1 point
    That is excellent, @mungouk, thats what I call team work, although really all I did was point you in the right direction and you did all the rest. I am going to sort my Word, its so useful.
  4. 1 point
    Yes, generally, if you get married in country A and then move to country B, you have to register the marriage with country B otherwise it is not valid. Not sure what the consequences are of a non-valid marriage, I suppose it can lead to issues with things like insurance and pensions, which you can usually share with your spouse. But apparently this has not been a problem for you two so far. Glad to hear you found a copy of your marriage booklet. I think this is a good point to find a divorce lawyer who has some experience with international divorces. You'll need a lawyer anyway to get all the paperwork done, and they should know what to do. It will be enourmously helpful that your wife in in China and motivated to get everything taken care of. Good luck.
  5. 1 point
    I have resolved the issue in-country. Fortunately I had a trip to China coming up anyway. I bought a Chinese phone number at the airport (needed this anyway). Went to the bank with my three passports (two old ones and the current one), my bank card and my new phone number. It took an hour and a half to change the passport, the phone number and my PIN (which I had forgotten). By that time the higher-ups in the bank were concerned it really was still me, but fortunately it was. I still have a little money in that bank account, I have another week left here to decide whether to take it out or leave it in to use on Weixin. I attached the phone number to my Weixin account. This was not difficult, but unfortunately it was not enough for real-name registration. I don't know if I did something wrong or it's just not enough. I then added my bank card to my Weixin account. This worked. I received a few text messages with codes to verify that it was really me and my phone and my bank account. Fortunately, it still was really me, and then I was a verified user and I could finally join the big group I so badly wanted to join. Writing this update in case someone else ever has the same issue. It appears that coming to China is the only real solution.
  6. 1 point
    a few years ago i used an app called wai chinese to improve my pronunciation. it cost money but there was a free trial period and i don't think it was that expensive anyway. the app is very simple, you are given phrases to record and their pro teachers will give you back a graded report on your pronunciation. they will give you very specific criticism, so in this way it's better than just asking a chinese friend about your pronunciation. the friend might tell you you sound foreign but probably won't be able to give specific pointers. i'm not even sure if the app is still around, but at the very least it will make you develop a habit of recording yourself regularly.
  7. 1 point
    Yeah, this is definitely a major stumbling block for me, my speech rhythm is often still off. Stupid example, but good nonetheless: went to a water park two days ago and there was a big slide called '大喇叭', it was a huge slide with a conical trumpet shaped end which you spin round before dropping into the water. I said 大喇叭好刺激 and the girl next to me did her best 外國人 impression of what I'd just said. All my tones were right, got the name right and all. but yeah, I found out I had said 大喇叭 when everyone else was saying 大喇叭. So frustrating, but yeah, still wrong. As for the dialect thing, I can actually say quite a bit in the local dialect here now because of long term exposure with my wife and her family. But outside the house I just dont, it causes so much attention and people dont seem to actually listen to what Im actually saying. I'm obviously still in the formative stages, so its a bit like when we all first started mandarin and everyones constantly coming over to listen to your weird attempts at butchering their language. Don't know if youve had the same experience with 昆明話?
  8. 1 point
    What you might find is that the problem isn't with the tones as much as it is with the phrasing, the speech rhythm and its contours. I don't consider my own speech all that good, but the criticism I most often get here in Kunming is "When are you going to stop sounding like a 外地人 and learn to use 昆明话 like the rest of us?" Using good, standard 普通话 here just makes you sound strange. (But it's something which is readily forgiven most of the time.)
  9. 1 point
    I went through 3000 characters with Heisig 2 years ago. Before I did Heisig I was struggling to get past 100 characters through brute force memorization. It was very frustrating and draining. However, now I can read about 2000 characters pretty well (and write most of them). But not 3000... although I did study both books. I think learning component based decomposition is essential. Radicals are not enough... and phonetics are only part of the solution. Heisig gives a nice structure for total decomposition and remembering all the components. Heisig also teaches a nice mnemonic technique for memorizing the parts and how they make up the whole. As you get better with this technique it becomes less and less cumbersome. Frankly it made me realize in all my years of schooling nobody every taught me how to really memorize things. The English keywords are a touchy point. The idea is that they melt away and the more natural meaning of the character (in context of its many words and uses and readings) takes their place. But they are an artificial construct, and a crutch. Even with the best memorization technique, there's a forgetting curve over time. So you are learning all these keywords in English, and spending time to memorize them, but you could be spending the same time learning the Chinese readings of the characters. [ There are other more arguments about the keywords not being historically accurate, ordering of learning etc - but I think those tradeoffs are more acceptable, at least to me ]. Readings and phonetic information are completely ignored in the books (although in this day and age you can of course look it up easily). I am working full time, and learning part time, so the forgetting curve is brutal (intensive study is much better for this, and the tradeoffs are different). So what I found is that memorizing Heisig english keywords robbed time from other learning. Therefore, if I had my time again, here's what I'd do to get the most advantage - at intermediate level, study the first book (1500 characters, 1000 are most frequent) in parallel with other studies (Skritter is a nice app for this, but Anki and paper is also OK). Then go through it again and make sure you learn readings for each character, most common words, and sample sentences etc, add to your study routine. Buy the second book but only use it for lookup at first (lookup new characters you encounter and need to learn, go backwards through the roots). When finished the first book, slowly go through the second book in parallel with other studies, learning each character, reading, words, sentences all at once. I think this minimizes the time you spend memorizing English keywords, while getting the benefits of the decomposition, mnemonics, etc.
  10. 1 point
    I've always loved languages, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I have tremendous amounts of aptitude for it. Sometimes I feel like if I could go back in a “Back to the Future”-esk time machine and lecture the young, ignorant 12 year-old me about techniques to learn a language, I could probably know 4 or even 5 languages now. In any case, recently I feel I've been making some significant breakthroughs with my Chinese studying, so I'd like to share what I've done and also some of the general principals I've figured out. I apologize in advance for writing so much. Skip the boring parts. Techniques 1) Listen to tapes constantly. Right now, I teach English out in the dreary suburbs of Shanghai. Every day the commute used to waste almost and hour and a half of my precious time per day. I used to think that this seriously cut into my studying time. However, it finally dawned on me to use the commuting time productively by listening to tapes. I bought the tapes and books of HSK 听力关键词 and 听力惯用语, which were practical and useful for understanding slangy conversations and the way normal laobaixing actually talk. I listened to each tape for about a week until I memorized it, and then moved on to the next. Similarly, I (slowly) run about 30 miles per week. I also listen to tapes when I run, when I walk to the supermarket, when someone is yelling 哈罗! to me that I want to ignore…etc. Now, every day I get at least two or three hours of listening practice. After I finished the HSK tapes, I had my wife create tapes which leads to: 2) Create your own listening materials. I have hundreds of cards lying and around my apartment, collecting grey dust and nasty soot. Although I spend a lot of time making the cards, I don’t review them as often as I should. So, the solution was to put the info on the cards onto the tapes, and then listen to the tapes daily. Sometimes I also record useful parts of textbooks that don’t have tapes or other random things I want to memorize. After some trial and error, I’ve realized that the most effective format for remembering words is to memorize the words in how they appear in their set phrases. 3) Memorize words in their set phrases. I used to make cards with Chinese on one side, pinyin and English on the other. This is effective. But it’s better to also include some of the common set phrases or an example sentence as well. An easy way to do this is to just memorize the example sentences in the dictionary. I use the great dictionary 现代汉语词典 (which I call either my 二奶 or 小胖子). Like all good learner’s dictionaries, it contains commonly used set phrases. For example, here are some of the words that I have on my cards. 炯炯 (jiong3jiong3 bright, shining). On the back of the card, I have written 目光炯炯 (which is flashing eyes). 鉴别(jian4bie2, distinguish, differentiate) I also have written 鉴别真伪 (to tell the true from the false). 湮没 (yan1mo4, be neglected; be forgotten) I wrote down 湮没无问- sink into oblivion, fall into obscurity. Or 迫害 (po4hai4, treat sb. Cruelly; persecute; oppress cruelly) and I wrote 遭受迫害- to suffer persecution. Anyway, I record all of these vocab words on tapes, with me reading the English and my Chinese wife reading the Chinese. Obviously, using tapes is somewhat ghetto and pathetic in the era of IPODs, but it seems to work. 4) Read extensively. By this, I mean try to read large quantities without looking up all unknown vocab. I’ve tried for a while to find Chinese history books that would suit me. Finally I stumbled upon 正说清朝十二帝, which I loved. This book, which is targeted at a general audience, describes the Qing dynasty’s 12 emperors in a way that is accessible to non-academics. Chinese dramas have brought China’s rich and ancient history to life in a very vivid and entertaining way, but they have also distorted and twisted history in order to enhance the drama or for current political purposes. This book dispels and corrects a lot of common misperceptions. Right now I’m reading 正说清朝十二臣, and there are others in the same series that I plan to read in the future. Anyway, reading extensively could include novels, magazines, newspapers or whatever you are interested in. When reading the first 50 pages of a book, I usually give my dictionary a heavy beating. After I have become familiar with the author’s vocabulary (every author has his or her own vocab and speaking style), then I use poor 小胖子 less and less. 5) Watch TV and movies. I’ve made a goal this year to watch at least one Putonghua movie per week. I also have been watching 走向共和, which is “West Wing”-esk in its subtlety and nuance. Watching movies and TV shows every day can tremendously improve your language skills. 6) Try to speak as much as possible. I’m not much of a chit-chatty person, so I consciously have to make sure that I don’t forsake chances to improve my spoken Chinese. This means always talking with taxi drivers, people at the supermarket…etc. I also try to mimic their voices and mannerisms. 7) Listen to the radio and music in Chinese. 8 ) Use the resources that are out there for free. I try to browse through or use these sites daily: www.oneaday.org http://gb.chinabroadcast.cn/chinese_radio/pthlb.htm 9) Record yourself. One techniques that I've only just started to use is to record your speaking. Then listen to yourself and compare your recording to a native speaker’s. Which tones do you get wrong? Which words do you pronounce slightly wrong? I got this idea from a Chinese girl who I had mistakenly thought was from the US because her accent was 100% perfect. This was her method of “standardizing” her speech in English. General Principles 1) Study as much as possible per day. I think the biggest reason why most people get stuck at a beginners or intermediate level is they simply underestimate much time it will take to learn Chinese to a fairly advanced level. I once underestimated it. Now I try to study at least 5+ hours per day, usually more on the weekends. 2) Study something formally. It’s a good idea to find a good textbook and study in an organized and structured way. Ideally, it would be best to be a student with a good, experienced Chinese teacher, of course. 3) In addition to studying formally read and listen extensively. This is crucial for retaining vocabulary. 4) Combine two studying methods so that they overlap. For example, when I was studying the HSK 听力关键词 and 听力惯用语 books, which put emphasis on how normal laobaixing chat, joke and scold each other, I read some soap opera books that used a lot of the vocab I was trying to learn. Likewise, vocab from the Qing dynasty books overlaps with 走向共和. I’ll study a pedantic word or idiom like 戟that seems too rare to be worth memorizing, and then it will magically pop up again in another similar setting. This means if you want to study Chinese news, get a good textbook and study that systematically, but also combine that with a good deal of time scanning the papers per day. 5) Read a lot about China in your native language. I find that it’s always much easier to read something in Chinese if I am already familiar with it in English. 6) Assess your weaknesses and progress regularly. For example, at one time I noticed that my Chinese level had stagnated, like swimming through mud. After analyzing the situation, I realized that I was wasting too much time watching TV shows like “Sex and the City”, “Family Guy” and re-watching old “Simpson’s” episodes for the millionth time. So, I decided to substitute that with Chinese TV and movies, which are both interesting and linguistically useful. It’s always nice to sit around a drink a beer while watching a movie and still feel productive. (That’s an American trait if there ever was one- the feeling of guilt and shame when being unproductive). Right now my biggest weaknesses are grammar and tones, so I’m working out a plan to deal with that. 7) Have confidence in yourself. I know tons of people who don’t improve their Chinese level simply because they lack confidence, and they compare themselves to better speakers. Learning Chinese isn’t a competition. I teach in China, and I usually tell my students that suffer from a lack of confidence that whether you are the best speaker in the class or the worst is really irrelevant when you have a one-one conversation with a native English speaker. 8 ) Make specific goals. I make short term, medium term and long term goals, and then I constantly assess them. For example, like I have already said, my medium term goals include: A) speaking more than 90% with my wife in Chinese B) watching at least one Putonghua movie per week C) watching走向共和 D) chatting with folks E) listening to tapes daily F) reading books and novels G) studying from a few textbooks I have Anyway, these are just some of my studying methods. I'd be interested to read about any other unique methods people have created.
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