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Showing content with the highest reputation since 08/13/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. 4 points
    Car Park at Yu Long River 遇龙河 near Yangshuo 阳朔, Guangxi.
  2. 1 point
    3 things getting in your way to learn a foreign language 1. Afraid of making mistake Don't be afraid to look stupid when you are trying to figure out something you are not familiar with. Dare to make expression and utter your voice even if you are basing on the wrong evidence. You may never know that you are wrong if you silence your opinion, your argument, your pronunciation, your writing style, your way of comprehension within your brain. Get them exposed and someone may jump out of nowhere to correct you, that's how you can boost your language skill and understanding of certain thing language related, whether your mistake is pointed out in a friendly way or not. Otherwise, you are stupid instead of looking stupid. It is quite normal that your pronunciation will sound strange and unnatural to native speakers. They could detect your atmosphere of foreign accent once you start with the greeting, and unfortunately what you are going to say next, anything different from what they deem normal and natural, could never escape their judgment. But it is not the reason to make you a mute. Keep speaking your way and make necessary adjustment as you know more about what will be the thing that gives you away, until one day you are next to perfect. Keep writing and posting in foreign language even if someone else keeps claiming that you are making things complicate or confusing to them but not in the way stubbornly clinging to your old habits. Maybe sometimes dignity and sense of shame may get in the way but you have to cut it loose and swallow the pain if you find that something does need improvement. And you do it for a better yourself. During adjustment, stick to your own view if you are not well persuaded even if you are not part of the overwhelming majority. Keep your own judgment and don't let it be navigated by bias or timidity of something not in line with you. If someone's claiming something isn't worth a try, you should be the one to test it and decide to be a follower or not. You just choose the same path or stay on your own way for your own sake. 2. Unwelcome things alien or different from you We are born to seek ally and stand against the difference. Any voice not in the same tone with ours, we are likely to call it a noise. But learning and idea exchange is anti nature. We need to be brave enough to be different and tolerant enough to accept existence of different opinions. The real modesty is not solely presented to someone more professional than you but also an amateur, not someone showing their admiration to you but someone uttering a voice different from yours. Correct your pronunciation based on the way how the native speakers pronounce it and make it sound more native, but stick to your accent if it doesn't essentially prevent the others from understanding what you've said. Don't care too much about the uniqueness in accent, even native speakers have their accent inherited from local dialect to deal with. Keep it part of your pronunciation if it is not too strong to make yourself understood. 3. Partial effort on input or output, orally or writtenly He who is good at a language is a balancer, doing good in listening, speaking, reading and writing instead of blocking his potential to a certain aspect. Think about how it may have something to do with your spoken Chinese when you listen to the Chinese broadcast. Think about what you could read next when you see a bottleneck in your writing. Develop a nose for listening materials and reading materials, and make it output oriented. Spend related time to be a speaker, a listener, a writer and a reader during different time of a day.
  3. 1 point
    FOUR REASONS WHY CHINESE 成语 PUZZLE YOU I have asked people learning Chinese as their foreign language what will be something puzzling them beside Pinyin, and 60% of them have idiom (成语) as answer. Backed up by story and historical quotation, idioms frequently come in the form of four characters combination, based on the meaning of ancient Chinese, or extended meaning and metaphorical meaning of Chinese. It is a hard-to-crack case even for Chinese native speaks, let alone to mention the challenge they present to foreign friends. I still remember the first material guiding me to Chinese idiom. It is not the dictionary but a picture book with cartoons vividly showing the background story of idiom. And that's probably the most frequently applied resource that open up a Chinese child's door to this special kind of wording culture-related. There will be many reasons why a certain idiom fails your comprehension, but most of them fall into the four mainly listed below. Elaboration is given based on 狼狈为奸 for example. 1. Not knowing the story behind it Almost right behind each idiom lies a story, and some of them sound like a fable(寓言), containing the truth you need to know the idiom better. 狼 and 狈 pass a sheepfold and the sheep are attractive to them but out of reach. The fence is high for both of them. An idea occurs to狈, and he asks狼 to stand onto his shoulders so that狼could lay his hands to the sheep. And they get their meal by carrying out this plan. 狼狈为奸gives a description of this situation in brief wording. Both characters 狼&狈 appear at the beginning of the idiom, while 为奸means doing something evilly bad. So you know why it is stated as" act in collusion with each other "in the dictionary. 2. No comprehension based on classical Chinese Idioms come from traditional Chinese culture, so ancient Chinese is involved beside modern Chinese. If you cannot figure it out based on the literal meaning applied nowadays, try the corresponding meaning in ancient Chinese. I bet you may wonder why 狼狈, describing an embarrassing and awkward situation, as it is shown in Pleco, would have something to do with 为奸. It may take you less time to see what 狼狈不堪 means, since the word狼狈here is consistent with what you are familiar with. That's it. 狼狈in 狼狈为奸means something different in ancient Chinese. 狼is wolf and 狈is a wolf-like animal. They refer to bad guys alike. Words in modern Chinese come in two-character form, so you may take为奸here as a unit instead of breaking it into two parts, 为and奸. Take a check in Pleco you may find the meanings are given respectively, which suggests that this is a combination of two parts, representing two separate meaning in ancient Chinese. 为=做=实施=do, 奸=奸邪之事=坏事=bad thing. The meaning could be around the corner if you take the words from the perspective of ancient Chinese, even if you don't know the story behind. 3. Things hardly existent in modern daily life Something involved in the idiom could be rarely seen in daily life, and something is not even existent. It makes idioms more strange to non native speakers. 狈is the animal in tale only, so you would hardly know that it refers to someone next to the wolf in this idiomatic story,not a clue that it will be an executor 故事中的执行者 and subject 主语/主角 of the story. 4. Extended meaning and metaphor contained Idioms act like a fable telling something more than the story itself. It involves meaning extended or implied. 狼狈为奸tells more than the story of how two evil animals snatch the sheep. 狼狈indicates the bad guys while stealing sheep could be extended to anything evil or illegal. Idioms are formed in detailed story but they are highly summerized and logically inducted, from the concrete to the abstract, from the particular case to the universal phenomena, available for analogy based on individual case arising from daily life. 成语是故事的高度概括与浓缩,归纳成一个道理,而我们对成语的运用则是基于日常个案的类比,借用成语形容类似的情况。The meaning implied or extended to fit in the summary universally applicable in daily circumstances makes idiom not straightforward enough to understand.
  4. 1 point
    I finished up the spring semester of my second year yesterday with my final of 7 exams. Next week we start a 4 week summer semester, which consists of a week of class, followed by some outings and then a final exam. This semester has been great, and I feel like I have made a ton of progress. I still struggle with my tones, but thanks to lots of speaking practice I feel much more aware of the mistakes I am making, and am being much more conscious in my efforts to correct and avoid mistakes. I really enjoyed speaking class this semester, as we had a lot of opportunities to be up the front giving presentations and such. This was definitely the highlight for me. Of course I would do massive amounts of preparation beforehand, but the fact that our teacher won't let us take notes up to the front to read from meant that I was forced to go with the flow much more. This in turn has led me to feel much more comfortable speaking in front of others. Final exams seemed to go ok. In general they were similar in structure to previous exams. I made a couple of silly mistakes here and there, but nothing major. I find myself losing interest somewhat in exams and results, as I want the focus to be actually being able to converse fluently in Chinese, read books, write articles etc, rather than comparing myself to others, or getting great marks on an exam. I have already bought most of my books for third year, and have begun looking through them. My reading book is the same series as this year, and so the jump isn't too intimidating. However, for some reason we are now using a 高级 book for writing (I mentioned this to the teacher as I thought he had made a mistake, we are only 准高级 in third year, but he said this is the book). There is a marked increase in difficulty here, and aside from pinyin for a few words, there is no English whatsoever. This may not be a huge deal, but it's a cool little milestone for me hah! I finished watching 男人帮 ages ago, and I'm now 20 episodes in to 一仆二主, and loving it! The first was set in Shanghai, but seemed to use very standard putonghua, and so I didn't find it too hard to understand. The latter is set in Beijing, and for some reason I am finding it far harder to understand! If it wasn't for the subtitles there are whole sections that would just sound like one, long, slurred 儿 sound! I am understanding enough to know what's going on for the most part though, and I am picking up lots of new vocabulary and characters, as well as working on my 听力! I also bought a book. I foolishly bought a copy of 三国演义,being as it was at a great price. It took me half an hour to get through the first paragraph, at which point I realized this wasn't a productive undertaking. Still wanting to be able to have a crack at such a Chinese classic, I bought a 青少年版。 As expected, it is much more manageable, yet still far beyond my level. This is a challenge for me to accomplish over the course of the next two years. Until then, I will stick with my textbooks, and of course with my great friend 淘气包马小跳! In August my family is heading out to China, and we will be traveling to Xian, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. I'm really excited to finally get to visit some other Chinese cities, as so far I have only been to 3. Shanghai is mainly to get passports done for my sons (not to say I am not excited to visit, just that it wasn't at the top of my list of places to go). I can't wait to check out the terracotta army in Xian, especially after spending some time learning about it in my 文化 class this semester. Finally, I have just applied for a scholarship for next year. This is from the university rather than CSC, and there are 4 grades, ranging from fully covered with 1000RMB a month for living expenses, to 20% off. My grades are probably good enough to get me something, but I have basically done no competitions or activities with the university, which is something they highly value. Getting any money off would be amazing, so here's hoping!
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