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Showing content with the highest reputation since 10/17/2021 in Posts

  1. 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.
    6 points
  2. I need to clarify my position a little more. In my opinion, any discussion of what is more or less important needs to take the following four things into consideration. 1. How long it takes to develop a high-level of proficiency in the relevant aspect/domain. With respect to comprehension (listening and reading), this would mean being able to read native texts on a variety of subjects without recourse to a dictionary, and it would mean being able to understand things like podcasts, television shows, and audiobooks without the use of subtitles or transcripts. With respect to output (speaking and writing), high-level proficiency would mean being able to communicate ideas clearly using a broad vocabulary and proper grammar without strain to either the speaker/writer or the recipient. Defined as such, I think it is pretty evident that listening ability probably takes more time than any of the other three, by a pretty wide margin; reading takes a substantial amount of time, but less than listening. Speaking and writing, on the other hand, can be developed quite quickly if you have a solid foundation in reading and listening. You can find many, many examples of people who can speak and write decently well after an intensive study-abroad program, especially speaking, but still struggle to understand native content at a high level. I’m not even taking into consideration the fact that many of these people actually lack a strong foundation in comprehension before they are able to speak or write, yet still manage to pull it off. Speaking and writing, especially if you have a strong foundation in comprehension, take far less time than reading and listening. Listening takes longer than any of the other three to fully develop. 2. How much the ability in question assists in developing the other abilities. In this case, reading and listening are closer, but I still give the edge to listening, though I could see an argument for reading. Speaking and writing are not going to improve your comprehension as much as your comprehension will improve your speaking and writing. 3. Where you are in the process. If you’ve managed to acquire strong abilities in listening and reading, then the obvious next step is to improve your output. Additionally, if you are in the target country/environment and need to be able to communicate, then speaking and writing become more of a priority. You still need to have decent comprehension, but past a certain point your output ability will become more important to develop further. 4. Your goals. As @imron would say, you get good at what you practice, so if you want to be a good speaker, you need to speak. If you want to write well, you need to write. That said, comprehension assists in improving those aspects more than the reverse, so over the course of your studies, you will still have to put a lot of time into developing them. Taking all of these things into account, I maintain that listening and reading are the most important, followed by speaking and writing. This is why the traditional language learning environment is so poor for developing real proficiency. It’s 90% output with negligible focus on comprehension, and the results of this approach show. People in traditional classroom settings who don’t have the time to immerse have terribly low proficiency in the language and graduate with degrees that are worthless as indications of proficiency in the language. Ideally, you could spend most of your time immersing and then attend to class to clarify grammar and work on output, but most students are burdened with tons of unrelated classes and time-intensive output activities that really make it hard to immerse enough. Sadly, you will likely just have to stomach the nonsense and then when you graduate you can begin to actually learn the language, which is what I had to do.
    5 points
  3. It's an impossible question to answer. For instance, if you want to be really good at speaking, then it's probably best not to do any speaking for the first few weeks or months and concentrate mainly on listening, if possible! That's interesting -- I'd never thought of listening as all that difficult, or at least not all that exhausting. Perhaps it seems that way because learners are more likely to be forced to listen to speech at a much higher level than they're comfortable with, and less likely to be compelled to read through text at a much higher level than they're comfortable with (because it's harder to walk away from a conversation than to put down a newspaper).
    5 points
  4. We “hear” written words in our head Sound may have been the original vehicle for language, but writing allows us to create and understand words without it. Yet new research shows that sound remains a critical element of reading. ... In other words, Broca's area responded to silent reading much in the same way auditory neurons respond to text spoken aloud—as if Broca's area was generating the sound of the words so the readers heard them internally. The finding speaks to a debate about whether words are encoded in the brain by a neural pattern symbolic of their meaning or if they are encoded via simpler attributes, such as how they sound. The results add to mounting evidence that words are fundamentally processed and catalogued by their basic sounds and shapes. From: - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-we-read-we-recognize-words-as-pictures-and-hear-them-spoken-aloud/ Personally, I'm increasingly convinced that a negative effect of characters is that, if we learn new vocabulary from reading texts and dictionary definitions, we never 'force' that word into our heads as a sound unit - but just as a viusal code that we must decipher to discover its meaning. I think that's a problem. So these days when I'm learning new vocabulary, I'll make sure to test myself on pinyin->word and English->word as well as the more traditional 汉字->word.
    4 points
  5. @杰.克, I also find the question impossible to answer after reading your original post and thought it better to leave it unanswered. I think a better one would be to ask how important the respondent finds each skill on the scale of 0 to 5 or to put them in the order of importance. My order for Chinese would probably be: 1. Reading 2. Listening 3. Speaking 4. Writing But writing being last in the list by no means means that I think it should be neglected. I only relatively focus more on the others. I believe the four skills are fundamentally equally important but I would stress them differently depending on circumstances. In general people who read a lot have larger vocabularies, which affects their communication prowess. Language is also the tool for thinking and even if an average person would only use a fraction of their active vocabulary in everyday chatting with people, large vocabulary allows for conceptualization of more and more complex things than a small one does. Would someone need to think in a foreign language? I frequently do this and I've also heard of some research suggesting that problem solving in a foreign language leads to more objective results than doing it in your native language. Communication is exchanging information either orally (or with your hands if you use sign language) or in writing, so while for some people it seem to be very easy to say that they don't need to write, it is difficult for me to distinguish these two from each other in importance. The role of writing and reading is increasing all the time as digitalization continues to permeate our lives and the world literacy rate is now about 86% compared to 31% 100 years ago and 12% 200 years ago. But in the context of language learning I think the importance depends entirely on what you need to do with the language. In my case I'm fluent or semi-fluent in three foreign languages; English, Japanese, and Chinese. In addition to personal life, I use English extensively in my professional life and if I look at the time spent doing these four activities, I'd say reading, listening, and writing far outweigh speaking. However I need to be able to converse fluently (while also taking the minutes) in meetings, and also talk with coworkers and friends. I use Japanese almost exlusively to talk with family and friends so speaking and listening are predominant skills. I'm literate after a fashion. I can chat in Japanese on Line with my spouse's family but reading books is a chore. I haven't read a Japanese book in years. I know my Japanese vocabulary is a lot smaller than my English vocabulary, but I know how to use the words I have very efficiently and being at a level of probably a Japanese first year high-school student doesn't impede anything I need to do in Japanese. I'm learning Chinese and I'm currently gradually introducing it to my work. Because of the pandemic, there is currently not much chances to communicate with Chinese people at work (some, but not much) but this will likely change as the pandemic subsides. In the future I wish to use Chinese in a similar fashion in my professional life as I use English now, so this is guiding my current efforts in learning the four skills. I have invested heavily in face-to-face communication with tutors and listening practice in the fist few years and this year I have invested more and more time in extensive reading while keeping up the sessions with tutors. I also practiced the characters a lot in the beginning, but more recently I have begun practicing handwriting more seriously and I find it also supports my character recognition while reading. Reading in turn has been found to be the most efficient method for accumulating vocabulary, which in turn aids speaking and listening skills. tl;dr; The four skills are equally important and they mutually support each other to form well rounded language skills. However it depends on what you want to do.
    4 points
  6. Of course it's OK to focus on the aspects of the language you find most helpful in meeting your personal goals. When I lived in China, I thought conversation was the most important skill for me to have. I was where I most felt a need for proficiency. Reading followed that, and writing took up the rear. Now that I'm in the US, no longer immersed 10 or 12 hours a day in a Chinese environment, I'm spending more time reading and even a little bit of time writing.
    4 points
  7. 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.
    4 points
  8. 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
  9. This forum tends not to have "bog standard students." That is why so many people are taking issue with your super-confident flat general assertions. Because you are saying things that are not true across the board, true only for some people studying Chinese. The point brought up by Insectosaurus was that countless people around the world use their second language of English daily, reading and even perhaps writing it at a very high level yet not speaking it well. That works for them. So who are you to tell them that they are wrong? Different people have different language learning goals and different lifestyles. Period.
    3 points
  10. Wow. That sure is at odds with how I live my life. Whether in any language, I spend multiple times more time reading than speaking. Most days I speak no more than 10-20 minutes all told. Bottom line, the answer depends on your personality, your lifestyle and your goals.
    3 points
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. I'd never heard of "rauding" before! 😀 https://www.jstor.org/stable/40016440 Rauding theory Rauding is a word derived from two words: reading and auding. Reading means to look at words and determine their meaning, and auding means to listen to words and determine their meaning. The term rauding focuses upon the fact that the comprehension processes underlying typical reading and auding are the same. Rauding refers to comprehension of the complete thoughts in the sentences of textual material, whether presented visually or auditorily. When individuals are understanding most of the complete thoughts in the material they are reading, they are said to be rauding. The rauding process is one of five basic reading processes, also called reading gears. Gear 1 is memorizing. Gear 2 is learning. Gear 3 is rauding. Gear 4 is skimming. Gear 5 is scanning. The basic process that most readers use most of the time is their rauding process, Gear 3. It involves looking at each consecutive word in the sentences of textual material and attempting to formulate the complete thoughts that the writer intended to communicate. College students ordinarily operate their rauding process at rates around 300 words per minute. Sometimes individuals shift up to a higher gear. For example, they may shift up to a skimming process, Gear 4, when they need only an overview of the material and do not need to comprehend the complete thought in each sentence. College students typically operate skimming processes around 450 words per minute. Sometimes individuals shift up to a scanning process, Gear 5, whenever they only need to find a target word in material. College students typically operate scanning processes at rates around 600 words per minute, or even higher. Sometimes individuals shift down to a lower gear when they need more power. They may shift down to a learning process, Gear 2, whenever (a) they want to know the material well enough to be accountable for it later, or (b) the material is relatively difficult for them and they did not understand the sentences the first time they were read. College students typically operate learning processes at rates around 200 words per minute. Individuals may shift further down to a memorizing process, Gear 1 , whenever they need to be able to accurately recall the details of material later, either orally or in the form of an essay test, for example. College students typically operate memorizing processes at rates around 138 words per minute, or even lower.
    2 points
  15. Just to be clear: as I understand it, yes, this is an example of subvocalisation, but quite an extreme one. You will also be subvocalising when you read in your native language at a quick, comfortable speed. Perhaps (just me guessing) what slows us down reading Chinese is that we subvocalise too slowly, in part because we're not that familar with the characters. The goal must not be to eliminate subvocalisation, but to train ourselves to subvocalise so quickly that we don't normally realise we're doing it.
    2 points
  16. https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/C'est_la_vie
    2 points
  17. 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) Preparing new audio, Part 1
    2 points
  18. Here is perhaps a better version of your question: Most people on these forums would expect a certain amount of progress over the next 24 months in reading/(writing)/speaking/listening. If I could inject you with 24 months of progress right now, but for only one of those four areas (and then you carry on studying and progressing as usual), which one of those four would you choose? Which is your booster shot of choice?
    2 points
  19. Found this elsewhere: Psychologists have become increasingly interested in the phenomenon of ‘inner speech’: the internal conversation that occupies many of our waking moments. Reading colonises that inner dialogue in varied ways. If you are asked silently to read words with long vowels (as in cape) you will do so more slowly than if the vowels are short (as in hat). If you are told about a certain fictional character who speaks fast, you will read their speeches more quickly than those of a character with a more leisurely speaking pace. Such findings show that you as a silent reader are nevertheless sounding out the words: you are not processing the text purely at some abstract level of meaning, but rather are articulating those voices for yourself in your head.
    2 points
  20. I find it is also orders of magnitude easier to put in quality time listening, reading, and even writing, than it is speaking. I have had several one hour conversation practice sessions each week with online tutors for about two years now. I record the tutors' voices during the sessions and then cut out the silences to end up with recordings that I can listen to later. I usually end up with about 20-25 minutes of the tutor speaking with the rest being me speaking for probably about 30 minutes and the remainder being silence or me fumbling for words. This gives me about 30 minutes of focused speaking practice per each one hour conversation class. I have two or three classes every week on average, which gives me about 5 hours of speaking practice per month. In contrast I can easily get 5 hours of reading practice in a weekend if I'm in the mood to dig into a book and countless hours of listening hours listening to my recordings and other material. Even writing practice beats speaking for me if I write 15 minutes every day. This is quite little speaking practice compared to the other skills and I believe I'm someone who focuses on speaking/conversation practice quite a lot. When I'm focusing on conversation practice, I can have up to six of these classes a week! Even for someone living in China, I don't believe they will be regularly spending more than a few hours every day actually actively producing spoken Chinese. Though they will likely have the practice spread out more over the day. This leads me to believe that speaking is something that you will pick up relatively easily once your foundation is laid down properly with the input from reading and listening and my own experience learning English seems to confirm this. I didn't really have any trouble beginning to speak English after studying it in school for ten years, reading dozens of books, and spending countless hours playing computer games and watching television in English when I was a kid. I began studying English when I was nine, but I didn't really have anyone to speak English with until I was an adult. So maybe I'll change the order of my list of importance to Reading, Listening, Writing, Speaking. 😄
    2 points
  21. In my own experience reading skills transfer to listening more easily but not always. There are English words that I thought for years were different words until at some point I realized that the real pronunciation was so completely different than what I had imagined countless times reading them that I had learned the "listening" and "reading" versions for them separately. I recognized and used the different versions happily for years but never realized they were one and the same word. Two examples that come to mind: "lingerie" and "queue". However with Chinese I find that listening does help guessing words when you know one character but are a little vague about the other. In these cases it is often easy to guess the right pronunciation of the other character based on the first and the overall context if you are familiar with the pronunciation and the meaning of the word.
    2 points
  22. Someone threw the word "academic" in there.. I don't really see anything academic about this discussion. Only opinions. Like the title suggests. If people want to make the discussion more academic, the first step would be to agree on what the different terms, for example "important", means, then agree on the research question, "how to quantify and measure the importance of the four skills, Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, for the general Chinese language learner", then the research methods would need to be set and decided what the scales should be, quantitative or qualitative, etc. Only after the basic framework for measuring importance is agreed on, another research project would be needed to perform the actual measurements. There are a lot of Chinese learners around the world, so I imagine it would require quite extensive questionnaires and interviews to gather the data for comparison. Only then it would be possible to "academically" declare any general order of importance. This does sound like an interesting topic for a series of dissertations though.
    2 points
  23. 1. Listening 2. Speaking 3. Reading 4. Writing Some of the best Mandarin speakers I know are illiterate. I was at a restaurant with one and immediately handed the menu to him because his skills are clearly superior. He handed it back with a rueful grin and said, "It's all you, I can't read." My own reading skills aren't that great but long ago I made a special study of the characters used on menus, and that has paid off handsomely in the years since. If I can't read it, probably I don't like it. Listening is most important because if you can't understand what people are saying, what use is speech? Writing is trashed all the time because of the rise of smartphones. Heck, I don't even write in English any more. I feel that "typing" Chinese should be separated out into a different skill.
    2 points
  24. You might consider asking one of the moderators to split out the two posts about your audio player and put them into a new topic.
    2 points
  25. In my opinion, listening ability is the most important of the four, if we are looking at the overall contribution, over time. Listening ability is the hardest aspect to develop both in terms of the time required and the amount of fatigue it generates, especially prior to reaching an advanced level. However, because of how well listening ability transfers to the other skills, it also provides the greatest return on investment.
    2 points
  26. Preparing new audio / Part 1 I've just started to delve into a new text, so I thought I'd give you a live update and explain the key steps. I expect the whole process will take a couple of days to a week. (1) The first and very important step is to pick something that both sounds interesting, and also holds the promise that you will be able to roughly understand it : ) This time I picked a recent episode of the Loud Murmurs podcast, where they discuss Shang Chi. It's difficult because it's a rapid-fire, intellectual conversation. But on the pro side, it's very standard and well-articulated Mandarin, and being about American pop culture, there are lots of references that make the content accessible to me. This is the episode: https://loudmurmursfm.com/episodes/shangchi (2) You need to download the audio file. If there's a download button it's easy; but even if there's only an embedded player, there's usually an actual MP3 in the background, which you can identify from the browser's developer tools. (3) Magical step: Get an automatic transcription of the audio. This is one of the key enablers of the entire method. Currently I am using Microsoft's speech-to-text API, which is part of Azure's "Cognitive Services." It's a mess to create an Azure account and figure out how to use the API, but nobody promised this bit would be easy. You also need to fiddle with the audio format, because why would MP3 be supported. The transcription usually needs maybe half as much time as the audio's length, and it costs less than a dollar per hour. (4) The output of the previous step is a JSON file: a semi-human-readable text that contains random, long-ish chunks of the transcribed audio with timestamps for words. What counts as a "word" for Mandarin is quite arbitrary, but it's usually 1 to 4 characters. The tool I wrote takes care of reading this file and extracting the information I need. (5) Magical step: Get the Pinyin for the transcribed audio, after saving the text in a plain text format. For this I use Wenlin, a venerable tool that pre-dates Unicode and looks very strange, but is hands-down one of the best tools out there. After copy-pasting the Hanzi, the relevant functions are in the Edit menu under "Make transformed copy". First you need Pinyin transcription; then, for my purposes, I need to "Remove tone change notation". (6) Split audio into meaningful chunks. The segments returned by the speech recognition service are odd: They are typically much longer than sentences, but often they stop arbitrarily in the middle of a phrase. Also, there is no punctuation included, so you need to play it by ear at this stage - literally. For this phase I use a variation of the final player, in a "segmentation" mode. The image below shows this stage: the Hanzi is the actual transcription result; "words" are whatever the transcription considered as words; the Pinyin for each syllable comes from Wenlin. Although Wenlin's words are much better, I cannot use them here because the timestamps belong to the original words, not to Wenlin's output. In the image above I hover to the right of "chuánqí" around the middle. Clicking after words splits the segment; a different shortcut joins the current segment with the next one. When I'm done, the same bit looks like this: Although strictly speaking at this stage I'm not yet "using" the tool, just preparing new audio, to me this is equally useful as digging into the final annotated result. You can see that the automatic transcription still has a lot of errors, and of course a LOT of the vocab is unknown to me at this stage. It's a thrilling exercise to figure out what are the meaningful units and where the boundaries are, and it's a great way to get attuned to sentence intonation patterns and those so-called "filler words." (Also, if you look at spontaneous speech closely like this, it's striking to realize that most often it's absolutely not clear where one sentence ends and the next one begins. This is not Chinese-specific at all, I had the exact same experience when processing English and German speech. Makes you question a lot of assumptions about both grammar and writing.) --- To be continued ---
    2 points
  27. Kenny, one thing I've learned from 40+ years of writing and editing is that when I'm hovering over a sentence looking for the right word and can't find it, usually the best solution is rewording the sentence to avoid that problem altogether. That's what happened in this case.
    2 points
  28. I've set us back to local search for now, so things should work - search engine might not be fully indexed, but unread posts will work.
    2 points
  29. "During the Spring Festival" sounds fine to me. It's not just a short event (like 1 day or shorter), but rather it has a significant duration. "On" works for shorter periods, like a specific day or evening: "On New Year's Eve we no longer buy firecrackers"
    2 points
  30. 2 points
  31. Interactive audio player for close listening As promised, here is the first tool I'd like to share with you. Without further ado, you can just go and try it here with a sample episode: https://jealousmarkup.xyz/off/tingshuo/index.html?ep=WY53 I'll share a bit of the thinking behind it, and how I developed the software and the content, in separate posts. A few quick things up front: The audio is episode 53 of The Unemployable (无业游民) podcast: https://theue.firstory.io/ The dictionary annotations are from CC-CEDICT You need a full screen to use the player; this form is not mobile-optimized Don't hesitate to throw any first impressions or questions at me! I see there is already a lively discussion here with strong feelings about the best way to approach Chinese. Let's keep up this vibrant and friendly exchange and learn from each other. ~Gábor
    2 points
  32. I'm not very good at speaking but I could chatter moderately well in Chinese long before I could recognise even a dozen characters. However I envy people who can rock up in China with a few years' book-study behind them: they've done the hard work, all they need to do now is talk to people every day to develop confidence & fluency and they'll have great all-round Chinese. It's much harder to do it the other way around. My hunch is that neither approach is the most efficient, but choosing the most efficient route isn't always possible if you're based, say, in a university outside China for a few years or, conversely, are working hard in a Shanghai office every day. Characters are a real nuisance though, and I suspect at an intermediate level they may hinder students from treating words as sound units (something that's not a problem for languages with more obviously phonetic scripts). I think this is a great post by Victor Mair, who found a way round that obstacle by reading newspapers with phonetic script above each character, which may be of interest to the OP. https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=189
    2 points
  33. tldr: evaluate why you are learning chinese and prioritise the skills required to meet your goals
    2 points
  34. To be honest, the same applies to people who can speak great Chinese but struggle with a newspaper or an apartment rental contract - they're basically illiterate. Surely all skills (reading/writing/listening/speaking/cultural) are important? It's just about efficiency in terms of the order and emphasis people choose in studying them. I think it's well-established that ideally it's better to listen to lots of a foreign language before starting to speak it. It's also obvious that characters can be an obstacle and if there are ways to temporarily bypass that obstacle - perhaps for example the tools that @glu has been working on - then so much the better.
    2 points
  35. I finally exceeded 200cpm on a book, for the first time! I just finished 兄弟2 at 208cpm. bro2-1: 2.71 hrs, 30694 chars, 188.79 cpm bro2-2: 2.05 hrs, 24852 chars, 202.34 cpm bro2-3: 84.49 mins, 17224 chars, 203.86 cpm bro2-4: 112.44 mins, 21618 chars, 192.26 cpm bro2-5: 82.63 mins, 20133 chars, 243.65 cpm bro2-6: 84.94 mins, 17844 chars, 210.08 cpm bro2-7: 2.04 hrs, 24777 chars, 202.49 cpm bro2-8: 2.05 hrs, 26980 chars, 219.72 cpm bro2-9: 2.19 hrs, 27814 chars, 211.48 cpm bro2-10: 2.06 hrs, 27533 chars, 222.85 cpm bro2-11: 2.64 hrs, 33611 chars, 212.10 cpm Total: 21.81 hrs, 273,080 chars, 208.68 cpm 1. 兄弟2 also puts me just past 4 million cumulative characters, at 4.11m. 余华 is relatively breezy read for me -- by now I'm very familiar with 余华‘s style, vocab & sentence structures, and I found his writing really flows in my head. I estimate my normal reading speed to be 180 cpm +/- 30, or 150-210. I almost never go below 150 anymore even on unfamiliar stuff, and can reach into the low 200s when I'm in a good flow state. 2. Timing all my reading sessions seem to have accelerated my progress. I used to be nervous about a clock ticking in the background while reading, but now realize my reading speed is pretty stable. If I'm not in the mood, it'll be slower but not that much. If I have to look up a few phrases, it won't affect my speed that much either (I include lookups in my time). My speed range is my speed range, for things that I can comfortably read. 3. Ironically if I have to scroll back, usually that means my session is going to be recorded as a fast one. Unless it's boring material that I've totally zoned out on, scrolling back usually means that I read too fast in the near past and skipped over something important that I have to look back to. As a result. I've become less anxious about re-reading stuff that I don't understand; some amount of scrolling/ jumping back and forth is a normal part of reading and could be good for you. 4. Speaking of scrolling back being a good thing, session 5 (bro2-5 in the list), a real outlier in terms of speed, was triggered by scrolling back. For those who've read the book, it's the part where 宋钢 is happily married, while 李光头 just suffered a big business failure and is scrounging for food & sympathy in the streets. Early in the session, I realized that I had to scroll back to look something up, and all of a sudden while scrolling backwards, I stopped noticing the forms of the Chinese characters. It was like I was reading English, going thru the previous paragraphs and noting what each was about. When I then went forward, I started scanning lines, even whole (short) paragraphs, something that I've never done before in Chinese. I wasn't reading every character anymore, but still seemed to processing all the characters. 5. Unfortunately, once that session ended, I couldn't get back into that state again. I tried different ways to trigger myself into that state, psych myself out, but I never got back. I even tried sacrificing comprehension, just having characters tumble into my head -- session 8 -- but then I realized that was counterproductive, when I started losing track of the narrative thread. Even then I didn't get back to 240cpm. So I gave up for now ... I suspect it'll come back again in spurts during the next million characters. But something to shoot for.
    2 points
  36. @realmayo This is a great breakdown of the situation. Once I finish 死神永生,the next book I pick will be a bit easier in terms of the sentence structures and grammar. I’m also going to limit my reading of that to 20 pages per day. To get my daily total to 60, I’ll then find a book of moderate to easy difficulty and read 20 pages of that. Finally, I’ll get my last 20 pages from something like Harry Potter, which is really easy in terms of sentence structure and grammar. Thanks for the thoughtful post! @Jan Finster I don’t actively study every new word I encounter, and I use Pleco for unknown words, so getting to 100% comprehension of text, or very near it, is not that difficult in terms of vocabulary. In fact, while I do make new cards for unknown words, I don’t have time to study all of them and just focus on new characters encountered. Right now, based on the unknown words I find, I encounter about 1.5 new words per page. But it goes up sometimes, so I just say 98% for the sake of convenience. The lengthy, convoluted sentences are the real barriers to my comprehension and are where I’m really spending a lot of my time. I’m going to follow @realmayoadvice and introduce more easy material to get more done. @abcdefg This is a great idea. Way more efficient than just stopping for 3-5 minutes to analyze a sentence during a dedicated reading session. I still have very high comprehension, even if I do just skip a sentence here and there, and I don’t feel like it would be “cheating” to just skim some of them. If I really must, I’ll just come to the sentence after the session and do a brief review session. @phills How many new words are you encountering per page, on average? Improving comprehension speed, adjusting for vocabulary, does seem to be the central task, as opposed to just simple decoding—thanks for this little gem. It’s also extremely encouraging to hear that you’ve managed to improve listening through getting better at reading, and it does make sense. I was using audiobooks as my primary form of listening practice before, and it did absolute wonders for my listening ability—it transferred to other listening tasks very well, in my opinion. I managed to get comfortable with native speed in television pretty quickly using this exclusively (now it’s an issue of grammar, dialect, vocabulary, and subtext). Actually, I am planning to go back and listen to everything I read once I complete this reading phase, both passively and actively. I’m glad to hear you’ve run this experiment and seen such awesome results, and I absolutely will be posting a detailed spreadsheet of my progress over the next 6 months. Thanks for all the tips, everyone!
    2 points
  37. I just finished 兄弟 2. I didn't like it as much as 兄弟 1, but were sufficiently invested in the characters to finish it rapidly. I too was concerned about the length of the story at first, but part 1 is its own story, so I tried that on its own at first, and only came back to part 2 a few months later. As to part 2, I thought 余华 ran out of steam after 李光头 made it rich. Up to that point, I liked part 2 quite a bit, maybe even more than part 1. But after 李光头 made it, the story got a bit too zany for me. The material after 李光头 made it rich (including 林红's last chapter) seems like it should have been in a separate book of Tall Tales from the boomtown 刘镇, rather than in a story about the brothers. As for more specifics (including possible spoilers): Next up, 三体 3, Death's End. Back to the Sci-Fi world.
    2 points
  38. @chineseiseasy-- What dictionary are you using? One that is attached to your browser might make life easier for things like this. Several are available. The one I currently use is Zhongwen. (Chinese pop-up dictionary.) It is available from the Chrome web store. If you use a different browser, or if you use Apple/Mac, then do a Google search for one which is compatible with it. If you don't want to go that route, if you are afraid it might make life too easy, then you can copy and paste the unknown word into a different dictionary. If using your phone, paste it into Pleco. If on a laptop, paste it into MDBG (https://www.mdbg.net/chinese/dictionary). Or if you prefer, it's fine to ask here. We are all glad to assist. But one of the above tools might be helpful if you don't want to wait for an answer.
    2 points
  39. You are speaking from my heart! Living in an age where literacy permeates every area of our lives, written content is just a very efficient way to access even the verbal aspects of language. But the Chinese script really is an obstacle there, because it obscures or straight-up hides (for unknown characters) the pronunciation. Your example of using flashcards to ingrain frequent turns of speech is spot-on.
    2 points
  40. @ablindwatchmaker I did the same thing starting a year ago, inspired by @pinion's post, and in the last 5 months decided to double down and focus only on reading. Before that I did both reading (slowly, on and off), and watching a Chinese TV show at the same time. I came to the conclusion that reading is the skill that compounds the best. If I read faster, I can read more in the same amount of time, and nothing beats reading a ton of characters for improving comphension, gaining vocab, learning grammar, word choice & sentence patterns, ultimately leading to fluency. For me, the first 600k characters or so were the hardest because you're still figuring the knack of reading. I think picking 三体 1, 2 & 3 to start with is a huge challenge, and you should be proud you got through it. That's the steepest part of the climb. (The second hardest hurdle is stamina and you seemed to have passed that as well). I started with 活着 and 3 translated English children books that I read as a kid. My speed for the first 600k characters or so were around 80 cpm (high double digits but def < 100). I didn't get to consistently 100-150cpm range until I was past 1.5m characters. (I'm now at almost 4m characters, and I'm just finishing up 兄弟2 at around 205cpm -- I'll post my data in the Extensive Reading thread when I'm done with the book.) From my research & experience, I don't think you can improve speed without just getting through the requisite number of characters. Most L2 readers are not that fast at reading because they just don't read enough. In addition to recognizing characters, a big part of reading fast is learning to process / parse chinese at a higher speed. I haven't practiced listening at all, but my listening has improved from my reading just because I'm now able to process the words in my brain at a higher speed. The paper I cited in the Extensive Reading thread suggests that for L2 readers, your optimal comprehension speed is often the same as your reading speed (i.e. you're already reading as fast as you can comprehend; recognizing chars faster is not the limiter). From my own experiements, just from improving my Chinese comprehension ability, I've improved my listening ability. I can now listen to Chinese at full speed and understand it to about the same level as I could before listening at 1/2 or 3/4 speed. This is due to speeding up my brain (as my ears haven't improved -- apparently they were already functioning well enough for my now speedier brain). Natural speaking speed is 250cpm, so if I read faster, I think I'd listen even better. In terms of book selection, I mainly do extensive reading (reading at a subjectively comfortable level rather than reading at a challenging level). If books are too hard, I save them for later. Right now, I'm trying to improve fluency rather than sophistication. I'll take a harder book every 3 or 4 books just to change things up, just I like to sample from a variety of genres so that I am exposed to many different subject matter, but I'm not worried about books being not challenging enough. Instead, my newest wrinkle / experiment I'm testing now is to listen to audio books of old books I've read in the past. I'll play them in the background and I find can understand a lot of it without subtitles, something which I never could do before. I can't do this with chinese text that I'm unfamiliar with (like podcasts), so doing this with old books is perfect for my current level. After 兄弟2, I'm going to read 三体 3. At the same time, I'll also listen to the audio book of 三体1 in the background (in the car, doing chores etc), a book which I read about 4 months ago. Because I don't have to concentrate, it's much easier to find time for this among other stuff. I don't know if this is the fastest way to improve, but I've found it reasonably fast, and I find it less boring than textbooks & exercises. At some point, I'll go back to textbooks, just to make sure my formal grammar stays on par with my improved language comprehension ability. But right now, I am sticking with reading, at least until I get to 250cpm (natural speaking speed). If you do engage in this plan, please post your progress in the Extensive Reading thread. Collecting more data from different experiences will help everyone in figuring out how to guide their own learning. Happy reading! https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/60492-extensive-reading-and-reading-speed/
    2 points
  41. yo guys this is for any Terrace House fans (or someone wanting a slow paced reality show that uses every day language). It's called Shanghai Share House (同一屋檐下). I know there has been a couple other Chinese copycats but this one is an official partnership with FujiTV that made the original Japanese Terrace House and IMO its better than most of the Japanese seasons. I watched if before I really got into learning chinese proper but I feel like its a good show for learners. Especially since there are certain types of conversations that repeat through-out the series whenever a new house mate joins. Anyways here is a link and its been fan subbed if you want the english translation - Amara – Award-winning Subtitle Editor and Enterprise Offerings. Its also on the Youku youtube channel if you have no need for the english subs
    2 points
  42. 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!
    2 points
  43. Back to studying chinese after a few years long break... Would appreciate any advice. 1. Finish Boya quasi-intermediate 2 again. Went through the first chapter today and was easy. It's been quite a while since I've last actually written anything, so my focus will be on remembering how to write the characters again. 2. Reading 3 books. Will focus on cheesy romance, since it seems the easiest. I just want to start reading again, and as long as I can understand the gist of the story I'll call it a win. I'm starting with one I have already read before. 3. Not using english subtitles anymore. Currently watching 你是我的城池营垒 still able to understand what's going on, at least during the cheesy romance part. Will be using it to learn new words. 4. Start anki again. 5. I'm considering learning to type using cangjie, if it can help me remember the characters.
    2 points
  44. I don't think I can answer that, but can I turn it around and ask: can you look at the pictures and understand them without subvocalising? Because I kind of hear "gun" while looking at that picture. But I don't think I would if I saw a picture of a gun in a magazine. What's different is that I'm actively trying to decipher that sign for its meaning. OR: the only reason I'm subvocalising is because we're discussing the topic, and normally I'd never subvocalise if I saw the sign. Hard to say! I wonder if we mean different things by "subvocalising"? A lot of the time people seem to subvocalise without realising that's what they're doing. Like, in theory: that scene can only appear as an image in your mind if you read the words and understand them. And you can't read the words and understand them without subvocalising.
    1 point
  45. @realmayo, I'm in the camp that believes that you have to subvocalize in order to understand written language. Skimming on the other hand is reading some parts and guessing the rest. However, I'm not quite sure yet if the same is true for Chinese. And after a very cursory examination, that Wikipedia article also doesn't seem to provide the answer. It seems to quote only non-asian sources so the question remains, is subvocalization as essential for readers of ideographic languages as it is for readers of non-ideographic ones? To illustrate, do you need to subvocalize the ideograms in the picture to understand them? Source: The Wikipedia page on "ideogram". "Ideograms in the Church of the Visitation, Jerusalem"
    1 point
  46. I'm not surprised you don't understand. And then changed your mind in a heartbeat: Huh? They obviously didn't. They probably did it by listening and reading. The posts talk about what daily usage looks like, not learning strategies. I'm not sure how you can be so confident speaking is key, since the research generally tends to say it isn't. Neither is writing, which seems to be your strawman counterargument. I feel I've said what I wanted, and invite you to you get the final reply where you can find new creative ways to tell us we're wrong. You've already managed salty and butt-hurt. Third time's the charm, you can do it. I believe in you.
    1 point
  47. It doesn't strike me as horribly wrong, but maybe a tiny bit off. "have big family reunions": "have" suggests hold (hold an event, an event takes place); "reunions" seems like a one-off event after a family has been apart for quite a while. "during": by using "during" instead of "at" you seem to be drawing attention to the meaning of "throughout a period of time". So - for me - maybe the implication is that on different days throughout Spring Festival, one family has several big family reunions, which doesn't really make sense (given what I wrote above). I might prefer "At Spring Festival and on other major celebratory occasions, we often have big family reunions." And I wouldn't find that the "on" is awkward or too much, despite following the "at" so closely. For me, "During Spring Festival and other major celebratory occasions, we often have big family arguments" doesn't have the problem I mentioned, so that makes me think the problem is with the word "reunions". I will add that "major celebratory occasions" seems a bit odd: very formal or specific, but perhaps it needs to be. Edit: if you just want to know about "During major celebratory occasions," then I think it's OK, as in "During major celebratory occasions we often have big family arguments".
    1 point
  48. @phills I just have to laugh 😂 After finishing 黑暗森林,I remember feeling really good about my progress…until I ran into the intro for 死神永生 lol. I ended up reading it over several times to make sure I understood it. It definitely gets better later on, but there is still an awful lot of expository text with huge, run-on sentences, and it’s sometimes hard to follow his reasoning process, which further complicates matters. I often found myself looking at the English edition to confirm or deny my understanding, found that I did, in fact, understand it, but still couldn’t piece together his reasoning process. Additionally, there are still a few sections that I’m not entirely convinced were translated properly, indicating just how ambiguous it can be, but I’ll wait for you to get there before I mention it. I also remember being confused with the beginning of 黑暗森林 lol. Overall, I think the series is pretty awesome, and I’m happy to have read it, but if I could do it all over again, I would have waited to have more under my belt before I tackled it. I think it is way too hard for people just starting out with novels, and I absolutely disagree with anyone recommending these books as an introduction to real Chinese. Between the three books there are 20,000 words, a ton of highly descriptive, abstract sections that wouldn’t be easy for your average native in English, and the sentence structures are quite complex. I’ve browsed through a few other books, and they are nowhere near as grammatically challenging as the 三体 series.
    1 point
  49. Right now I'd rather be worse at speaking if it meant I could be better at reading. And I'm certainly not particularly good at either.
    1 point
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