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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/20/2021 in Posts

  1. 8 points
    I can speak from a certain degree of personal experience, because I made the transition from graded readers to native-level novels about 1.5 years ago (I felt that graded readers stopped feeling profitable after the 2500 level). 活着 is a really great choice for a first book, and I think that with your level of vocabulary, you're in a good place for it. Granted, it's still going to be a grind. I had an HSK6 vocabulary when I read it, and I still had to look up about 750 words. I've read 8 different books so far, and they've averaged about 1200 new/unknown words for each book (although that number is falling off a cliff, because I'm encountering less and less new words). Using Pleco's clipboard reader (so I could quickly look up words with a touch of the screen and add them to my SRS flashcards) proved absolutely vital. Kudos to any of those old-school learners out there who managed to pull it off without any such tools. I've found that the most important thing to do (which, unfortunately, I didn't do) is to get a feel for the difficulty of a given book. You can analyze it with CTA, and you can also sample a few pages to get a "feel" for it. For me, anyway, it's never been a matter of vocabulary, because I can always look up words I don't know. Rather, I've found that some authors use really obscure, ambiguous, and/or literary sentence structures or phrases. Too often I would think, "Well, I know all the words here, but I can't make heads or tails of the sentences! I haven't even been tracking with the last 3 paragraphs!" Ultimately, I forced myself to slog through a few really hard books, when I really should have just set them aside and saved them for later. I know people often look for easy and/or good reads in these forums, so here's been my experience thus far, for what it's worth: 1. "To Live" by Yu Hua (really great for a first book) 2. "We Three" by Yang Jiang (crushingly difficult and quite a traumatic experience, though quite short) 3. "Three Body Problem" by Liu Cixin (a massive amount of vocabulary to learn--2000 new words--but it reads smoothly and has an English translation) 4. "Life" by Lu Yao (really smooth and enjoyable to read, like Yu Hua's book) 5. "Secrets of the Namiya General Store" (解忧杂货店) by Keigo Higashino (a popular Chinese translation of a Japanese book; another relatively smooth and fun read) 6. "Decoded" by Mai Jia (I thought I was getting the hang of reading since the Higashino novel, but this overwhelming book nearly did me in). 7. "Golden Age" by Wang Xiaobo (rumored to be an easy book, but I had an extremely difficult time with it and found the language quite opaque) 8. "Three Body Problem 2" by Liu Cixin (really easy and enjoyable by this point; I began to feel like things were taking off) I think I have passed the "peak" difficulty with contemporary Chinese, and it generally just gets easier from here, but in order to know for sure, I just need to continue. I haven't fully "arrived" yet. I wish you the best on your journey!
  2. 6 points
    @Jan Finster Must say I find that a really odd approach, but each to their own. None of the words is obscure and rural life might not be what interests you but it's hardly a niche aspect of the culture.
  3. 5 points
    I honestly don't think there is really any shortage of graded readers - in fact, I think there are far too many. So many fellow Chinese learners you run into are doing the same things, even after several years - reading articles and graded readers or listening to podcasts that are all created from HSK word lists, for the commendable goal of passing an HSK exam. This is fine, but incredibly boring, to the point where even meeting other Chinese learners has become quite boring for me, when 9 out of 10 just seem to have been sucked into the HSK industry bubble, motivated more by superficial markers than any real interest in some deeper Chinese cultural or interest. What would be far more interesting to me is native content that is curated for learners based on their general level and interests.
  4. 4 points
    We're at a similar place, it seems, though other than the first book, we've gone in different directions. I wish I could get into CTA - it's a great tool - but I'm stubborn about my paperbacks. Plus, the whole process of finding a .txt file online, and then running it through the program, because too much prepwork for me. First off, I don't know where to get reliable .txt files anyway. Instead, I've been doing something else I saw here - basically, collecting books that interest me, and then when it's time for a new one, I just spend an hour or so without it before I decide whether I should keep going or move on. Ultimately, I've also noticed the same limitation - archaic grammar and literary usages have been far more of an issue for me than vocabulary. As for the topic at hand, I think I would echo the general sentiment here: you just need to jump into the things that interest you. But that might be harder than you think... If you've been studying in a program that has reached its end, or have been focused on the HSK all these years... maybe you will find that there is nothing in particular about Chinese that you actually need or enjoy. This is sort of where I'm at - I'm still reading, but increasingly the question has become "why Chinese"? If there's something you really want out of Chinese, just go for it. Don't be like me, wait super long because you "don't feel ready", and then realize you don't enjoy it much anyway.
  5. 4 points
    Does that really matter? I've found variations in the taste and consistency of Doujiang in different parts of China. Wouldn't be surprised if there are also differences between one shop and another, one brand and another. These machines were common on the "small kitchen appliance" shelves of supermarkets in Kunming. I never owned one.
  6. 4 points
    From my experience the rate of words you understand is significantly higher than given by any kind of vocabulary analysis tool. There are many words that are either segemented wrong, compounds of words you know or verbs with complements like “放下", "看出来" of which you know the verb, but haven’t saved all possible combinations with complements as “known”. So my advice is, pre-learn the words that occur at least 3,4,5 times (and that are actually unknown to you) in order of appearance and once you’ve done that for a chapter, go ahead reading it. Maybe even going for just the words that occur at least 5 times will result in too many new words, then I’d stick a bit longer with graded material. If it doesn’t bother you to look up many words as you read and you like to learn new words like that, then just go ahead and give 活着 a try, if it’s too hard/unenjoyable you can just come back later.
  7. 4 points
    Yes. I forgot to mention that soy sauce is often a table condiment along with the chili and vinegar. In all the hotpot restaurants I can remember, one makes his own dipping sauce: add a little of this and a little of that. It isn't a standard condiment like catsup or mustard which is just passed out. It is custom made to your taste. You do it yourself. Edited to add: I don't want to harp on this, but the hotpot experience varies widely depending upon one's level of savvy. The first few time I had no idea of anything except, "Put this in the pot and eat it when it's cooked." I had no awareness of broth or the dipping sauce. I only knew about the raw ingredients that would be added as the meal progressed. But my hosts, gracious native Chinese, took care of lots of details for me without my being aware when I was just starting out. Host ordered the broth just as we sat down. Usually there is a selection of at least three or four. Different levels of spiciness but also choice of "origin meat." For example the broth could have been premade from chicken parts, like a chicken stock. Or it could have been derived from beef bones or lamb or seafood or only vegetables. Decent hotpot restaurant had options. Admittedly these options differed according to what kind of hotpot place it was. If the specialty of the house was Hunan-style crawfish 小龙虾 hotopt, then you were not going to be given bland broth in which to cook them. If it was a Yunnan wild mushroom hotopt, the broth would typically be something mild, like pigeon 鸽子 so as not to overwhelm the delicate flavors of the fungi. And when cooking your food, it isn't really all helter skelter. Knowledgeable hotpot fans first cook the meat, usually thinly sliced. Some thin slices of fat beef 肥牛肉 cook so fast that you should not even let go of them with your chopstics. Just swish them in the scalding broth for a few seconds so as to enjoy them rare. It is not "just dump it all in and fish it out later." After the meats are just about finished, then the vegetables are introduced. Solid and hard items first, since they take longer to cook. Examples: potato, sweet potato, white radish, lotus root. Then the green leafy vegetables. Delicate ones first, hardy ones last. Cabbage, for example, usually brings up the rear because of its strong flavor. If you put it in prematurely, everything from that point on tastes vaguely like cabbage. At the end, fensi and fentiao 粉丝、粉条 plus noodles 米线 and 面条。This is because they don't contribute flavor, they soak it up. So you want to afford them the richest medium for soaking up the accumulated good tastes. Tofu is flexible, can go in pretty much anywhere along the line. And it goes without saying that the broth must be kept topped off as the meal progresses. If the level gets low as it boils down it over-concentrates some of the flavors and seasonings. Tell the waitress: 加一点汤。 Gradually, over the years, I learned how to do it and It made a difference in the outcome. Once or twice I was invited to an "all foreigner" hot pot with classmates in a language school as part of the "getting to know eachother" BS. It was a disaster. Ignorant people dumping in a plate of half-frozen raw chicken legs right on top of corn on the cob then some noodles and scooping out random pieces to eat before safe internal cooking temperatures were reached. Most diners were sick the next day. They were blaming that "damned Chinese food -- We shouldda stuck with burgers and fries." I quickly learned my lesson about those introductory "mixer" social dining occasions. Hotpot gets the reputation in foreigner circles of being totally casual and requiring no knowledge or skill. Then it turns out being a big mess. Making good hotpot is not really difficult, but it does have some guidelines which help make it a success.
  8. 3 points
    I am around HSK5 level, and according to Chinese Text Analyzer I know about 3700 words, which I feel is pretty accurate. I have been reading Pleco 2500 word graded readers every day for 30 minutes for a few weeks, adding the most important 5 new words a day to my flashcards, and am soon going to finish my second book (Outlaws of the Marsh). When I read the Graded reader, I think I have about 98% comprehension. However, CTA says I only understand 68% of 活着 (and that's the simplest native book I can find so far), so I feel like even when I finish reading all the graded readers there is no way my vocab is going to be at a 90+% level which is ideal for reading a book without having to look up too many words. Do you guys have any advice on how to make the transition from graded readers to native books?
  9. 3 points
    I read most of my chinese books in paperback which might be impractical and waste of time for a lot of people since I have to look up words and put them in some kind of flashcards but I enjoy the process so I haven’t been discouraged by it so far, the bother of having to look up the words more manually prevent me from obsessively looking up too many words.
  10. 3 points
    We occasionally make it with a normal blender (soaking the beans overnight). Might not pass the examination of a connoisseur with a particular regional preference, but turns out pretty darned good if I may say so myself
  11. 3 points
  12. 3 points
    Disclaimer: I'm not a 豆浆 connoisseur and I don't cook, but the following link talks about the machine she (emigrated from Beijing to the States) bought (Amazon, supposedly a Chinese brand) and has a recipe: https://omnivorescookbook.com/homemade-soy-milk/
  13. 3 points
    Welcome! As you will discover with time, everything in China works in a case per case basis. That means that some universities are, some are not and two people asking at the same time, at the same university, will get two different answers. Ludicrous, uh? Well, 没办法. My advice: ask each university via mail/weibo/official wechat accounts til they put you through someone in admissions which can give you a somewhat reliable answer. September/October 2021 seems more reasonable now than back in November, yes. If a country like Japan manages to pull the Olympics with or without vaccines, then overzealous neighbours might follow suit. We'll see. Yunnan is gorgeous but I wouldn't recommend it for a first-time abroad experience to base yourself at. I am sure that @abcdefg can fill you in about the wonders of the area, and Kunming certainly has some places where you can study... but I personally gravitate towards Chengdu, the closest western-style city to Kunming and one that comes with a full expat community and relevant commodities. Living in Chengdu is not really that different from living in Paris (minus the ghettos I guess?) and is a major hub to anywhere in China (plane, train, bus) so it's easier to go anywhere from there than from Kunming. Dali is nice, but also boring and touristic af. As a rule of thumb, if a Chinese wonder has been mentioned in the West, expect for it to disappoint you 9/10 times. Usually it's best to study directly at universities (and avoid if possible those with "weird" names, such as Petroleum and whatnot - although in Yunnan they might be agricultural more often than not 🤣). Not only the quality of education might be better ("might", since you'll probably get a master student as teacher), but you'll need a safe & sound visa/RP nowadays and many academies are not that reliable in that regard. Nevertheless, in China don't expect European-style quality education - anywhere. https://studyinchina.csc.edu.cn/ and https://www.campuschina.org/ has information about scholarships, fees, contact info, etc. Google or the forums here are your friend for the rest. Expect to pay about 6000-10000RMB for a semester in W-SW China (+visa fees), more in coastal and first-tier cities. Usually the biggest university in town is the most expensive, but they all offer the same quality of teaching so pick whatever is more convenient or available. Bonus: cheaper universities might or might not be more lenient when it comes to "breaking the rules" if that's your thing, YMMV. As per the application, before this whole mess it used to be the case that you'd sign-up via the university's own admittance system. Usually that involves going back&forth with paperwork (requisites varying from uni to uni), obtaining a referral letter (if you are abroad) and so on. Once approved you go to your nearest embassy and they'll give you a visa that then you have to exchange for an RP once in China. It's pretty straightforward but also filled with BS to the brim. Regardless, once you manage to start the process is relatively clear what you have to do, so don't worry about it until you've managed to start it. Anything that is not too big or not too small, especially if you're on a budget. Kunming/Chengdu/Xian/Chongqing in the west; Wuhan/Changsha in Central China; Hangzhou/Ningbo/Tianjin/Suzhou/Xiamen in the East, but wouldn't recommend as a first-timer. Southern China is great if you go for work, not so much for studying Mandarin. The North will kill you. Prices vary, but also does quality of life: pollution, temperature, food, transportation and availability of western commodities will play a major role on that regard, so investigate those. At the very least we have Carrefour and Auchan in many places in China, and they carry the same stuff as back in France, so you'll be covered for western foodstuff. Cheap and savoury Spanish/French/Italian wine available everywhere as well. @roddy, perhaps you can move this person's post to the main/study forum? Some people with relevant information might miss it if it stays in a sub-forum.
  14. 3 points
    Only nine months later in response to Roddy’s question and only second-hand information but here it is for what it is worth... My daughter wrote the DipTrans exam yesterday for Chinese to English translation. Yes, it’s still paper dictionaries only but, due to COVID, the exam itself was online and at home - so she didn’t have to travel to London. She was required to have a camera on her all the time but could “raise a hand” if she needed a bathroom break. For preparation, she took a third-party course which she found helpful, especially as she hasn’t done much translation work herself. This consisted of translating a variety of articles, both general and in her specialist areas. From the marking perspective, it sounds like one serious error can mean an automatic fail e.g. in one of the prep course pieces, she for some reason translated Qingdao as Chengdu. Her tutor felt she was well prepared and should be aiming for a “Merit”, although after the exam my daughter was a bit concerned that she’d made a bad mistake which might cost her a pass. Despite that, think she felt that the preparation course was worth it and gave her realistic expectations of what the exam would be like. She’d also read a couple of translation theory books which were recommended and which she found very interesting. The exam itself is in three parts: a three hour general section which everyone must write and then two two-hour sections in two specialist areas. Her planned specialist subjects were Literature and Social Science but you don’t have to commit beforehand and she ended up choosing a Science translation in the actual exam as she said the Social Science one was very technical. It was the Literature one she found tough as it contained a lot of slang. I think she took the exam as much out of interest as any serious intent, although if she passes I think she will probably try some freelance translation work. She actually seemed to enjoy the whole experience very much.
  15. 2 points
    Stats below, & text file of vocab export as per these columns: hz.txt I really don't think this is a "flowery-language" type of book. Word Statistics Total 57,002 Known 0 Percent Known 0.00% Unknown 57,002 Percent Unknown 100.00% Unique 4,292 Known 0 Percent Known 0.00% Unknown 4,292 Percent Unknown 100.00% HSK Statistics Total Words Level 1 37.10% Level 2 11.37% (48.47%) Level 3 8.67% (57.14%) Level 4 3.61% (60.75%) Level 5 4.26% (65.02%) Level 6 2.84% (67.86%) Other 32.14% Unique Words Level 1 2.94% Level 2 2.47% (5.41%) Level 3 4.05% (9.46%) Level 4 5.20% (14.66%) Level 5 7.50% (22.16%) Level 6 6.97% (29.12%) Other 70.88% TOCFL Statistics Total Words Level 1 24.56% Level 2 18.69% (43.25%) Level 3 7.35% (50.59%) Level 4 4.24% (54.83%) Level 5 1.85% (56.68%) Other 43.32% Unique Words Level 1 3.54% Level 2 3.45% (6.99%) Level 3 5.43% (12.42%) Level 4 8.01% (20.43%) Level 5 4.43% (24.86%) Other 75.14% Character Statistics Total 74,932 Unique 1,837
  16. 2 points
    I know this is obvious, but being quite good at a language isn't simply a function of knowing vocabulary items. Someone who had read the English words "electric", "vehicle", "market" and "share" loads of times in lots of different contexts would be quite comfortable, I think, if they then came across "electric vehicle market share" for the first time. And then consider the general benefit of being exposed to, and engrossed in, the language for hours and hours. Because novels are stories written in the hope that readers enjoy reading them. Most people will be willing to read a novel they like for far longer than they would a whole book's worth of worthy newspaper articles. Plus - this is just a guess - surely engaging imaginatively with the lives and feelings and actions of other people, in a foreign language, and picking up on the different registers of how people communicate in that language, depending on who they're talking to, or how they're feeling, or what kind of predicament they are in, is better for your overall understanding of the language than a no-nonsense report on GDP statistics. So, much the same way as competing Red Guard factions might have squabbled over different interpretations of the Little Red Book, let me suggest "study what you want to be good at" could be interpreted as "if you want to be good at reading, read a lot, and if you want to read a lot, find texts you enjoy reading".
  17. 2 points
    The puzzle has been solved. The odd form of address was actually 小姐, exactly like several of you have guessed. My friend was rendering the Chinese word phonetically according to the way she remembered it in Shanghai dialect as she was growing up. She, the author of this memoir, and her American husband don't know how to type Chinese characters, so the way we finally figured it out was to have her write "Wong Sia Chia" by hand using Hanzi. Then the husband photographed it and e-mailed me the photo.
  18. 2 points
    How do you say "Miss" (an unmarried woman) in Shanghainese? I'm looking for the basic Shanghainese version of 小姐 without any special connotations. Thanks.
  19. 2 points
    Yep. I've been using Superbuy and Taobao-Focus to get my quarantined hands on some otherwise inaccessible 黑茶 this year. Good experiences with both, Superbuy in particular (better communication). Agent fee and shipping not as much of a ripoff as I had feared.
  20. 2 points
    Perhaps try reading a Chinese translation of an English book you've read and enjoyed before. Preferably where the English writing is simple. You might have to try a few since how complex it turns out in Chinese very much depends on the translator. That's what I did for my first novel and it helped me transition to simple non-translated works like 活着.
  21. 2 points
    I just ordered a bunch of books from taobao through cssbuy.com. I found the items on taobao, added them in the basket in cssbuy and placed the order. They ordered them from the sellers and once the items were in their warehouse, I placed the international shipping order. I’m waiting to see what happens next. The items should be sent in one baggage to me. The site was convenient enough to use, had English, and it took a few different payment options including paypal so didn’t need to give my credit card information to anyone new. I found a blog post reviewing a few taobao agents and just picked one of them.
  22. 2 points
    We.soak yellow beans and then use normal blender to make the doujiang. If your blender does not have filter, you may use filter bags (bags for boiling fish soup) to filter away the bean bits. Then you boil the doujiang in a pot. Filter bags can be like below: https://www.hktvmall.com/hktv/zh/main/建成行有限公司/s/H7545001/超級巿場/超級市場/湯-熟食-醃製食品/中式湯/煲魚湯隔渣袋-x-12/p/H7545001_S_cook007
  23. 2 points
    I too love doujiang and I can second most of what's been said above - doujiang in China differs from shop to shop and region to region. I most frequently had the Family Mart one as it was on my way to class - I'm pretty sure now that that was just made from powder, and you can get pretty decent instant doujiang powder in most Chinese supermarkets. The best doujiang I ever had was from an ayi's tiny doujiang stall in Anshan, Liaoning, and she just used soaked, cooked beans and a normal kitchen blender (the jug type, not a hand blender). I think the main thing would be to get the water/soy bean ratio right (plus sugar if you're so inclined) and have a fairly powerful blender. You don't need those doujiang makers as they don't do anything a normal blender can't do, except that some of them will give you the option of just putting in raw beans and water and cooking the beans for you, but that will never give you proper doujiang. It's just a very watery version with lots of dousha because you'll have skipped the soaking process. So, my current verdict is: there's no easy way (you can't skip the pre-soaking and pre-cooking process) but at least it's super cheap!
  24. 2 points
    Back when I was transitioning from classroom Chinese to authentic Chinese, graded readers were exceptionally helpful. I think they do wonders not just for building direct language ability but also building up softer skills like confidence, comfort with seeing a page that entirely small Chinese characters, the ability to hold names and relationships in Chinese in my head, etc. With that said, there are plenty of short graded readers. I think longer ones (200-300) that are unabridged but simplified version of real Chinese novels would be the most useful. Another option is doing something like Paul Nation did for English graded readers in which he published the same story at three different levels of vocabulary, each getting increasingly close to the original. Some people (though not me) are content with working through the same story several times and this way allows for steady growth.
  25. 2 points
    Listen to the first example here.
  26. 2 points
    Hello ! This is actually my first post on this forum so I hope I'm not posting in the wrong category. I have been studying chinese on and off for three years now, and I have a level between HSK 3 and 4, but I haven't took the officiel HSK exam yet. I also have a degree in English as well as Chinese ( got it in France) for what it's worth. I will be finishing my studies in wine retailing this year, but before starting to work I'd like to spend one year studying in China to really work on my chinese level, as I've never been to China or Taïwan before. However as everyone knows this year might not be the best to study abroad, with that whole situation going on. First of all as I've never studied abroad I'm really confused about what city to choose, how to find a good university that has a good chinese language center, how the whole application works... I've tried looking at a few of the posts here but I haven't had a clear image about what university or chinese language center to choose. I'm posting this in the Kunming section because I've always been really interested in Yunnan, I mean the place looks really gorgeous and so staying in Kunming I would be able to go around the province and visit some of the natural wonders. I'm also a history fan and I think that there are a few historic cities in the province such as Dali if I'm not mistaken. So would you recommend Kunming as a place to study for someone's first time in China ? If not, what cities would you recommand ? Secondly, if indeed Kunming is a good choice, what are some professionnal university/language center ? My budget is fairly limited, but I know there are few scholarships for foreign students coming to study mandarin. Where can I learn more about these ? Finally, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Are universities even taking applications in at the time ? What about September 2021, do you think students would still be able to enter the country ? I know that's a lot of questions, but as I'm pretty lost in my plans I hope someone will have some answers for me! Thank you in advance! By the way, I have a side question for those who've been living in Kunming : have you seen many wine shops here ? As I am going to graduate in wine selling, I'm pretty interested in the wine situation here 🙂 Thanks!
  27. 2 points
    Learn something new everyday... had to look up "uncanny valley" Like I said earlier, I get that ppl will have different responses to my... creations (the responses that you and @Flickserve have makes me think of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, of which I'm not worthy, of course). I guess I have a skewed outlook of things but that's ok because that's life. Different things are brought to the table, that come to light, and like how some ppl like or dislike certain foods, Mommy speaks Canto and Mando will either be a turn off to some but not to others. To expand on my reply to @Balthazar, I started all of this (podcast first, then videos to stem the request for transcripts) to help me with my work. As an ABC, I'll never be on par with native speakers but because of the similarities in the discussions I have with my clients, they sometimes can't tell the difference, mostly because I'm OCDish in my need to prep for work. I always tell language learners that a great way to practice the target language is to start your own podcast or video channel because unless you don't care if you sound like crap, you'll do the research (whether it's just extensive online research or reaching out to native speakers) to string words into meaningful sentences and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, and more of that... to enunciate decently. This thread started out with what learning videos ppl liked. At the time I was searching for videos to help me with my work, there weren't any that talked much about health and medical matters. Yeah, you can find a few about colds, not feeling well, going to the pharmacy, etc., but those were mostly one-offs. So I had to do the research on my own, and as I was going along, I decided to share some of what I found. The podcast wasn't too difficult--just find a music track, write the script, record, then upload. The video took some time though. I also have a background in design, so I didn't want to just do the typical recording of myself yakking away, or interview ppl. I could certainly go those routes but I didn't. I had to have some background that I thought would be aesthetically interesting. The app I used needed a green screen which I didn't have so after messing around with the app I made it work but with the result of a ghost-like effect over the background. Pre COVID-19, I used to take Mom out everywhere and took lotsa pics of her. So I figured, dang, I might as well organize some of her pics in video form. Mom's dementia is too advanced for her to string meaningful sentences together, ergo the app that allows me to speak through mom's pics. (This is on top of the earlier mention of putting the spotlight on older folks.) I might change aspects of future videos to make them more "palatable," but for the time being I'm making them for my needs and if some folks--however few who can stomach it, or who actually enjoy them--feel it's useful to them, then that's great; one thing for sure is that I'm gonna try to make them shorter cuz iMovie is not robust enough for the long videos, plus it will keep my sanity longer with shorter videos. Apologies for this long response...
  28. 2 points
    I wrote a comment about my journey with the Chinese language. In short: a Chinese university will just be a place where you are forced to artificially use the language a couple hours a day, but real-life immersion and self-study are still what you have to aim for. That's why the quality of education won't really matter, unless you shell out those big bucks at Jiaotong, Tsinghua and the like. I personally didn't go much to class and my level at the time was on par and even better than my peers that were drilling boring exercises everyday. You'll see it yourself with time and experience because everybody here will have a different view on the matter. Yes, that's normal, it's China. I am not aware of any scams going around, but you can always use Baidu instead of Google to make sure you are at the real place (and look for the Chinese version before you bother with the English one). Weibo accounts for the university will also have the actual address there and WeChat also has their official accounts (only in Chinese tho). Have a look at the okayish website for international admissions at Sichuan University (in Chengdu) to have a feel for what to expect: http://www.sculx.cn/ They are alright, but since they are "coastal" cities they will be comparatively more expensive than the others I recommended. I was born by the sea and I spent 4 years in the middle of Sichuan, so I feel you... but you get used to it. The fact that Chengdu has many rivers flowing through the city helped a ton, even if the Chinese insist that they are "smelly" (yeah, they are). If you have friends somewhere that you can rely on, you would be wise to use those connections to start building up your life in China. After all, you never know if you'll end up staying long-term in China (I was originally only going to be there for a couple months and I nearly got married, but YMMV). If they are more "acquaintances" than anything else, then sure, go somewhere with a nice expat/French community that you can rely upon until you are ready to free yourself from the laowai-ghetto shackles! Regardless, you should be able to meet people at uni you can hang out with (and you can even make friends with actual Chinese people that are studying an actual degree and are interested in foreigners). Bonus: bunk with someone at the university's shared accommodation, you'll save money and be forced to hang out with people... and you can always move out later.
  29. 2 points
    @rouloubole -- Just for the record, in case you reconsider exploring China a couple years down the road, Kunming has a lively wine scene. Odd as it may sound, it's an outgrowth of Kunming's interest in tea. Kunming is a regional and national tea hub, specializing in the fermented Pu'er teas of Yunnan. Appreciation of fine tea involves some of the same principles as understanding fine wine, terroir and microclimates for example, in addition to proper aging. Serious tea drinkers approach gongfu tea like a glass of good wine, critically smelling it first, swirling it in the mouth, letting it fully engage all parts of the tongue as well as the palate, swallowing and then paying careful attention to aftertaste. So, it isn't surprising that many tea connoisseurs became wine connoisseurs as well. In Kunming, one can find wine clubs, courses of study for amateurs and professionals, tastings and wine dinners. Quite a few people in Kunming "lay up" fine Pu'er tea, letting it age in stoneware jars or in protected glass cabinets. Also, the Alliance Francaise is active in Kunming as sponsor of "wine plus dine" social events (at which French is spoken.) They typically hold these soirees in local five-star hotels and engage a talented chef. They would doubtless have more insight into the world of wine in Kunming. One lady of my acquaintance is a high-level tea master and runs a course of study to teach foreigners about tea. She branched out 3 or 4 years ago to include wine in her educational efforts. She particularly espouses the "marriage" of Pu'er tea and the red wines of Burgundy. She sees them as two sides of one coin. I also know a wine merchant who could tell you more when the time is right. She is a Kunming native who emigrated to Australia for university, later became employed by the Penfield Group and was tasked with developing Kunming as a market for Australian wines. She now travels back and forth doing that. Yunnan has several wine growing regions where the weather conditions have proven highly favorable. About two hours southeast of Kunming is the Mile region (pronounced "mee-luh") It is famous for its volcanic hot springs and its vineyards. Wine is also produced in Yunnan's northwest, in the foothills and mountains between Dali and Lijiang. So, Kunming and Yunnan have some things to recommend them to someone in your position with your interests. But the timing is not right due to the COVID pandemic. I think you should wait until the dust settles, until it's possible to know from one month to the next whether or not foreigners will be welcome and on what terms, with what conditions. Yes, they are not difficult to find in the newer residential areas. I can think of three within easy walking distance of my apartment. And my area is not even very affluent.
  30. 2 points
    Update 1: 20 Days So far I have met my daily goals 17/20 days. Only one of which was because I did a bad job and not because of other external factors. I've learned 76 new words so far, all of which come from the 普通话水平测试. To collect this many words, I've worked through 10 of the essays so far. Altogether I have 60 essays to work through and love the idea that I'll finish the vocabulary in these before the end of the year. I'm currently on page 55 of 《蒋勋说宋词》. I had read about 10-15 pages over 2 days from 《一只独立行的猪》before I lost interest. I just don't think I'm in the place for his essays. However, I am loving learning about 宋词. It is very historical in content, focusing on the context from which each poem arose which is a pleasant surprise. I had been wanting to work on reading history in Chinese and this is working out to be a good baby step into the genre. One line from 李后主 has stuck in my mind in particular: "别时容易见时难." That idea of it being easy to live in memories or imagined worlds and much more difficult to take the world as it is. Written as an emperor taken prisoner after his kingdom was sacked. My pace is very slow. It takes about 5-10 minutes per pages just because the content is heavy and I often look up words. I read it out loud as well because that helps me check myself on whether or not I really know a word. Because I'm pushing to look up all unknown words for deeper comprehension I am moving even slower. However, at this point I'm finding the content compelling enough to do this. I guess I can always switch to quiet reading and skimming over pronunciation of the endless stream of names but so long as I have the motivation to do so I will. As for essay writing. I've finished the first draft and have gotten feedback on it. Not sure this goal will be feasible for the whole year as it takes big blocks of time rather than being part of a daily routine. I really need like 60 mins of writing to get into the train of thought and then working through the essay. Side note, I'm also 3 weeks out of 3 for making it to the gym three times per week.
  31. 2 points
    @mungouk -- About seasoning your new wok, even though you probably already know these basics, please let me review them here all in one place. (These are specific to your wok, a cast iron wok 铸铁炒锅。) 1. Scrub the wok out with dish detergent and warm water. This is mainly to remove the surface protectant coating which the manufacturer applies to keep the wok from rusting while it is in a warehouse or on the shelf of a retail store. A dish rag or plastic dish scrubbing pad will usually do the trick, but if not, it's OK to resort to harsher measures. In China one can easily buy stainless steel wire scrubbing balls in all grocery stores and supermarkets for very little money. They make quick work of the process. They are called by several brand names, but asking a clerk for 厨房用清洁炒锅铁丝求 will get what you need. (Dishwashing detergent is called 清洁剂 and 白猫 is a popular brand.) 2. Rinse the wok several times to get rid of all the detergent you have used. Heat it on your burner or flame at a medium-high setting for a couple minutes until it is completely dry. Pour in a little bit (one or two teaspoons) of high-smoke-point cooking oil. Canola oil 玉米油 or rapeseed oil 菜籽油 are suitable and readily available. (Olive oil 橄榄油 is not a good choice.) Rub it around. I do this by grasping a wadded-up paper towel with chopsticks. You want to thinly coat the entire surface, but you don't want a pool of oil in the bottom of the pan. Let it continue to cook on medium-high for 15 or 20 minutes, rubbing it with a little fresh oil when it begins to look dry. It will smoke during this process. At the very end of the process, with the pan still hot, I rub the outside well with an oily paper towel. I don't obcess over truly curing the exterior surfaces. 3. If you have time, let the wok cool down, rinse with soapy water as above, dry it and season it again. Even twice more makes sense. If not, that's OK. Once will get the job done pretty well. The idea behind this seasoning process is that the steel of the wok is microscopically porus and the clean hot oil is allowed to bond with it and produce a smooth, non-stick surface. The high temperature allows this oil to polymerize and behave somewhat like a plastic. Since you are using an induction hob instad of a flame, take special care to get the wok thoroughly hot. If it is not hot enough, the surface will wind up being sticky. 4. Serious Chinese home cooks carry it one step further. I am not personally convinced it is actually worth the trouble, though I do follow the dogma out of a religious hope that it is slightly beneficial. This step involves seasoning the wok with a neutral vegetable in addition to oil. Jiuci 韭菜 is the one usually recommended; it is sold year around in fist-sized bunches for 5 or 6 Yuan. Heat the wok to medium high, add oil as before, but this time put in enough jiucai to loosely cover the bottom of the pan. Let it cook until it starts to blacken and char, then grab it with your chopsticks and rub it all around the inside of the pan, being careful to include the sides (not only the bottom.) I do that several times, with several batches of jiucai. (The jiucai is ruined by this; throw it away.) Spring onions 小葱 can be used for this, but they cost more than jiucai. 5. When I use the wok for cooking, I clean it mainly with warm water and a scrub brush. If something has stuck to the pan, I let it soak with hot water for half an hour or so, then scrub it again. I don't use detergent. Rarely I will use the metal scouring ball. Mechanical cleaning is preferable to chemical cleaning since it is less likely to remove the deeply-bonded food oils. (You want those to remain because they make the pan slicker and shinier over time.) 6. When I have washed the wok and rinsed it well, I set it over low flame for half a minute or so and wipe it out with a paper towel. This insures that it is thoroughly dry. Put a small splash of cooking oil on a wadded-up paper towel and rub it all over while it is hot. When it cools, wipe it with a dry rag or paper towel to remove excess visible oil and put it away. I keep my wok in a disposable recycled rag-fabric bag from the supermarket. This allows me to "nest" another smaller pan in it without scratching. (A plastic bag is not a good idea because it traps atmospheric moisture and encourages rust; the bag needs to "breathe.") 7. Once every six or eight months I give it a "mini re-seasoning" just to maintain it at its prime. The only other care precaution that comes to mind is that I don't store food in it overnight since that can degrade the cured surface of the metal and might also make the food taste funny. My wok keeps getting better and better. It's a pleasure to use. I can usually heat it to medium, wipe it with a tiny amount of oil on a paper towel, crack one or two fresh eggs into it sunny-side-up and move them around just by gently shaking the pan. (That's only when I'm showing off or testing the pan; typically I do use oil when frying.)
  32. 1 point
    It's 乱码. You wrote an email, probably in Chinese or another non-Latin script, and at some point the encoding went wrong and you ended up with this nonsensical string of random rare characters.
  33. 1 point
    In my personal opinion, I do not think that you should completely neglect speaking, or at least I think it's important to have some feedback from a native. I think lessons on Italki are definitely enough, as long as the lessons are productive. One thing I do with my tutor which really helps is make sentences beforehand with a few words I learned (any ones I choose), and then in the class we look over them together and she corrects my mistakes. Doing this can feel frustrating, but over time I find that my constructed sentences become better and better. However, my situation might be different than yours, and you may not have enough time, and just want to focus on reading/listening instead. For learning Chinese with maximum efficiency, I feel one of the best ways is base your study on these methods that Imron wrote about (really amazing write-ups), and as he says, set aside a certain amount of time each day, and make them a habit. This really helped me. I used Pleco graded readers, Du Chinese and other graded readers for reading. Mandarin Corner for listening practice, and 非诚勿扰 for listening practice and learning "popular" words.
  34. 1 point
    There will also be a point when you impact on your ability to get the most from your factual reading because you've rejected the context it was produced in - the full panoply of the language the native author grew up in and remains immersed within, which will affect the subtle implications of their phrasing and inform their worldview and assumptions. Probably not that material if it's instructions on how to set a digital box to record a series but anything more complex like business and the economy with all their human dimensions will surely benefit from being read against the wider picture.
  35. 1 point
    I'm probably being over-ambitious here, but I just bought a paper copy of 活着 on a whim. Are there any published vocab lists I could study, or would someone be able to share the CTA analysis of the book? I just realised that if I'd bought an ebook I could've done that myself.
  36. 1 point
    I think the mouth shape is a function of the 'vowel' sound that follows.
  37. 1 point
    Good morning, Singe....Thanks very much for information...I took a look at 'What's in a Chinese Character', found it at libraries and really it is a great neumonic tool for remember characters....I saw "English Made Easy Volume OneThanks" vol1 & 2, too..they have a lot illustrations but is for learn English but i think the editors will do as soon as possible ones in Mandarim/Chinese...Thanks again....Regards, from Newton-BRASIL
  38. 1 point
    My issue with comics and short stories is that they aren't long enough. If I remember correctly, John Pasden made this point in favor of using long graded readers over short stories. You need a lot of encounters with any given word to internalize it and that requires huge amounts of reading. @blackfalcon, I think I'm around the same level as you. I passed HSK4 in last June and I have been reading short stories and Graded Readers up until now. I also purchased the Chinese translation of one of my favorite books some time ago and my goal has been to read it. I finally began this task about a month ago and I'm about 190 000 character in. The book is from the middle of The Wheel of Time series and I know the story and characters very well, so even though my vocabulary isn't anywhere near the often quoted 98% for extensive reading, it is fairly easy for me to follow the story and I'm already seeing improvement in my reading. I was only able to get the book in paperback and not in electronic format, so what I have been doing is, I've scanned the pages and ran them through OCR in order to get the text into a word file. Then, as I read, I'm using a font, that includes pinyin on top of the characters, to add pinyin to any character that I can't instantly read correctly. This allows me to calculate the percentages of "pinyined" characters in the text and I'm using that as a proxy to gauge my reading comprehension, although it is not the same as "known words". This also allows me to record my "reading performance" of each individual character as I move along the text and later focus my character study on the ones that seem difficult. I also just found out about @imron's Chinese Text Analyzer and I'll have to give it a try! I'm attaching some of the stats that I have recorded. The prologue in the book was quite long and while reading it I added pinyin on whole words that I had trouble with, but after the prologue I began very strictly adding pinyin only on top of individual characters that I couldn't read. This sqews the data a little. I guess this is closer to Intensive Reading than Extensive Reading and in the beginning it was quite slow and arduous but now it is already actually quite enjoyable and I'm finding myself getting drawn into the story. I only check words once in a while in a dictionary and just keep going. At one point I copied each paragraph to google translate and read the translation before reading the Chinese version, but now I don't do that anymore and just check individual words that begin to bug me. I'm finding this a good method and at least character wise I'm closing the magical 98% zone.
  39. 1 point
    I think he means the room temperature kind, so cold as in "not heated before consumption". Pretty common in Sichuan as @realmayo points out: necks, bones, hearts, livers, chorizo-style sausages or even Yunnan-style serrano ham are easily consumed cold, same with already fried veggies and random bits of meat. In my experience, this has to do more with the way leftover food is consumed in these parts, since it's not usually refrigerated afterwards; instead, it's left on the table until the next meal, covered with an umbrella-shaped net to fend off bugs (also in summer and even overnight!). PS: Gotta say that although cold dishes don't bother me at all (common in SW Europe, where I was born), it's indeed an acquired taste to eat the Chinese version of it: the texture of some food is simply not the best in that state and it's akin to drinking warm soft-drinks. Getting sick due to eating something that could have easily been refrigerated instead + the ensuing argument with a stubborn 奶奶 is not for the faint-hearted as well.
  40. 1 point
    @Demonic_Duck I wouldn't watch more of his videos, they seem to be mostly standard party line sprinkled with clickbait and unsubstantiated theories. I'm working on my notetaking with these videos, rather than out of interest
  41. 1 point
    I've read @xinoxanu's excellent posts and just wanted to say that I like Chengdu and Sichuan very much. I would not want the Original Poster to think I was trying to sell him on Yunnan and Kunming to the exclusion of other attractive locations. Plus, @xinoxanu is closer to the whole issue of university education in China than I am. It's something about which I know almost nothing. You should listen to what he has to say.
  42. 1 point
    蒋勋 writes some really accessible stuff on calligraphy too, would recommend if you're interested in putting abstract ideas of Chinese art into historical context. A little bit like his books on poetry, you can easily get drawn into the literary world of Chinese and appreciate what otherwise seems incredibly terse subject matter.
  43. 1 point
  44. 1 point
    I did too, but I think 2018 was pretty much the last year you could do so. It would be nice if I'm wrong though. I left China in 2012, but when I went back in 2018, my account (ICBC) was frozen, but they let me make a new account. I've frequently used that account since, but now with covid I have to really make a conscious effort to use it once or twice a year since I can't go to mainland China.
  45. 1 point
    Thanks, I'd shamefully not even heard of the play but have looked it up on your recommendation and can see it has been something of a cultural touchstone. 感天动地!
  46. 1 point
    An update to the forums software a few years back messed up a bunch of external (and internal) links. The post still exists in the middle of this thread. Here is a working link.
  47. 1 point
    Agree. Seems a bit weird not to use wechat if you want to talk to Chinese friends in China. Mostly as almost nothing else works here ...
  48. 1 point
    Both Whatsapp and Telegram are blocked in China as well. In terms of social media communication that isn't blocked in China, I think wechat & Tiktok are the only ones that work inside of China without a VPN. Those in China can still log into meeting software like Zoom, but from your note it looks like you're not looking for meeting software.
  49. 1 point
    Currently I am working through the DeFrancis Readers, which I can recommend to anyone who learns traditional characters. They are a little dated, but I use them to practice reading and in the end I also want to be able to read books which are even older, so I don't see that as a problem at all. I paid someone to type the lists for me without pinyin or English, since I can use Pleco/CC-CEDICT/HanDeDict to add those for most of the entries. For the remaining ones I might add them manually later. Especially the patterns which I additionally put together in a single file are not found in any dictionary, which makes them difficult to look up. If anyone wants to help me translating those, please contact me :-). The ChineseReaderChars.txt contains all 1200 characters in order of appearance, mainly for sorting purposes etc.. Edit: I removed all duplicate words/characters, since only the English translation is different in this case Edit (2016-04-10): - All three in one file - format is now tab separated like Pleco - I replaced 14 rare variants used by DeFrancis with the more common ones (裏->裡) - English meaning for all sentence patterns - Added some missing entries If you find any mistakes, please tell me so that I can correct them! DeFrancisReaders.txt DeFrancisReadersPleco.txt DeFrancisReadersCharsOrder.txt
  50. 1 point
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