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Chinese efficient methods of learning.


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#1 Saoshun

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 01:11 PM

Hello. I wish to start thread about learning chinese. I wish to read old chinese texts but I don't have much clue where to start learning chinese to be efficient way to learn it. Like a course you can suggest or approach from people who learned chinese. 

 

Thanks.



#2 dust

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 03:11 PM

Quite a task...

 

What degree of fluency would you hope to achieve?


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#3 Saoshun

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 03:50 PM

Quite a task...

 

What degree of fluency would you hope to achieve?



The best. Right now I can speak with two natives which I often come and listen how the sounds are and how the tongue moves, mouth and accent working. 

 

It can takes years so it's no need for miracle method. Just overall plan and tips.



#4 dust

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 05:44 PM

Will your friends (these 2 natives) help to teach you? Would you be able to find a long-term teacher?

 

Would you be able to go to China?

 

 

I really don't know where to start...

 

If you're serious about learning to read/write and speak, the best thing is to go to China. Find a school, or get a job out there (perhaps teaching English) and find a tutor. Learn the fundamentals (tones, pronunciation, grammar, character structure) from teacher/tutor. And then of course you will pick it up by living in it.

 

If you can't go abroad, you will still benefit greatly from a teacher, at least at the beginning, to teach you the fundamentals. You could learn to just speak, or just read/write, but these things (tones, pronunciation, grammar, characters) are intimately connected. Neglecting any of them from the beginning will slow the progress of learning all the others, in the long run. And you'll benefit from someone to tell you where you're going wrong.

 

 

 

Here are some suggestions, focused a little more on reading and writing, based on my experience. Others might tell you differently, but I'm sure these things worked for me, at the beginning:

 

 

Speaking

 

To learn the 4 tones well, you need to drill. Repetition. And someone to listen to, and to correct you. People who don't learn the tones well sound silly and have difficulty making themselves understood even if their grammar and pronunciation is perfect. Listen, repeat....

 

To learn pronunciation, learn pinyin. Learn the initials and finals (e.g. in "Saoshun", s and sh are initials and ao and un are finals), and practice certain difficult sounds. Again, good to have someone to listen to, and to correct you. There are some sounds that just don't make sense at first. Listen, repeat....

 

 

Grammar

 

The grammar is mostly very simple and logical. To my eternal joy, there's no conjugation of verbs; making past/future is very straightforward. For example, (again at a basic level) generally all you need to do to make something past tense is stick one of 2 particles at the end of a sentence. As you get more advanced there are some seemingly weird structures that will need explaining, but again they're really very logical.

 

 

Characters

 

For me, this was the easy part, though it seems daunting to begin with.

 

Firstly, learn the basic character parts (radicals) and their pronunciations. You can see them here: http://zhongwen.com/

To learn the correct stroke order you'll again benefit from a teacher though there are loads of websites with animations that show you the stroke order.

 

Learn to write 一 and 乙 and 口 and so on, getting progressively more complex.

 

The radicals are generally found in combination in each character.

 

e.g. 妈 = 女 + 马

mother = woman + horse

Woman gives meaning, horse (ma) gives pronunciation.

 

If you learn all the written structures, pronunciations, and meanings of the most basic parts of the written language, the more complex parts come quite easily. Not all are so straightforward, but you can often guess at the meaning and/or pronunciation of a character if you know the components.

 

Then all you need to do is... repetition. To learn a character, write it out. A lot. With its pinyin pronunciation.

 

 

 

And with all this, of course, you need to learn the words..


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#5 Saoshun

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Posted 22 February 2015 - 07:02 AM

Great, thank you very much. That was very helpful and gave me good base to reflect now. 



#6 dust

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Posted 24 April 2015 - 08:55 AM

I forgot about this.

He seemed quite nice... wonder why he got so aggressive...


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#7 giovanni

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 09:37 AM

i really think that is almost impossible to learn chinese without long term teacher and without regular, every day practice.



#8 BiGF00T

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 12:58 PM

i really think that is almost impossible to learn chinese without long term teacher and without regular, every day practice.

 

I would disagree with the need of a long term teacher but agree with daily practice. Any chance to practice regularly would be ok after in initial setup with base vocabulary. Going to China would definitely help you, of course :) Without someone to speak to, you will not reach any decent level of fluency. (Although, reading old texts is completely different language than speaking to native Chinese about the weather or their family)

 

I learned best by stupid repetition of flash cards and studying of dictionaries. But of course not only that but the most important was to use the new vocabulary immediately. This only works if you have some foundation of words that enables you to speak simple sentences. Afterwards, I just looked for patterns like 因为……所以……。 or 除非迫不得已,…… and inserted my vocabulary into it. The more you speak and hear others speak, the more of those patterns you'll build up in your mind. Study new words, use them immediately. Nothing else works for me. I've been sitting and repeating flash cards with stuff that was of no interest to me and had no chance of using it. The time was wasted. See what you like to talk about and try to learn some vocabulary to be able to express that. Then find some native and talk.

 

Oh, and for me, it works best if I write flash cards no my own. Bought cards don't work that good, maybe because the writing already burns it into my brain. Best card setup for me is to fold a small paper, write the character on one side, the translation on the opposite side and the Pinyin on the inside. Cards with two sides suck because if you want to study English > Chinese or Chinese > English depending on where you wrote the Pinyin, then you'll probably already see the solution without really reading the characters.



#9 Papayapple

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 10:16 AM

http://www.digmandar...se-pinyin-chart

Is this a good base for learning the pronunciation? From what I understand, there are only 4 'notes' or 'sound shapes' in mandarin right? So once you get good at few syllables the rest should follow right? And I recognize that to my musically trained ear this is pretty easy actually... much easier than singing melodies, which a lot of people are able to do without any problem, so what's the catch?


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#10 dust

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 07:46 AM

http://www.digmandar...se-pinyin-chart

Is this a good base for learning the pronunciation? From what I understand, there are only 4 'notes' or 'sound shapes' in mandarin right?

 

'Tones', they're usually called. Yes, 4, and a neutral.

 

So we can talk of 'intonation' for the tones and 'pronunciation' for the vowel/consonant sounds (initials + finals as shown in that table).

 

 

So once you get good at few syllables the rest should follow right? And I recognize that to my musically trained ear this is pretty easy actually... much easier than singing melodies, which a lot of people are able to do without any problem, so what's the catch?

 

Catch? You mean, this doesn't seem as hard as everyone says?

 

Well... yeah, the intonation/pronunciation might not be that hard for you, at least in principle.

 

Individually they might be easy enough, but there are certain rules for stringing them together in a sentence; remembering which words carry which tones (and many characters have multiple tones, multiple different meanings) and stringing them all together isn't quite the same as singing.

 

And... I think a major reason Chinese is said to be difficult is not the difficulty of any single aspect of the language, but putting all aspects together into a fluent whole. For example, you might be great at the tones and pronunciation, but might find the vocab / characters / etc much harder.

 

From the beginning I found characters easy to write and remember, and enjoyed it, but didn't have much fun with tones. I only really started getting the tones truly fluently after spending a whole year in China.

 

 

 

So, regarding that website, yes, the table is pretty cool. I used a paper printout when I was learning, which didn't have clickable audio! (though I did have a pretty Chinese teacher, so...)

 

It's a basic table of initials and finals, and if you can learn all of them, and learn the 4 tones, you should be able to put the 2 together and (theoretically) say anything in Mandarin. But obviously it's not always obvious to the learner if she's saying the words right, so it would be helpful to have either a teacher / study partner, or record yourself, listen back and compare.


Edited by dustybeijing, 18 July 2016 - 07:48 AM.

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#11 darebak

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 11:55 AM

I'm just beginning but www.yoyochinese.com has been pretty great for the basics. It's not free but it's not the most expensive thing either. Much, much better than any other online method I've tried. 



#12 Ocean Form

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 12:36 PM

i read about someone one here learning it pretty fast with pinyin

you get access to a lot of info quickly.... vs learning a foreign writing system at the same time as a new language...


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#13 dust

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Posted 15 October 2016 - 08:21 AM

i read about someone one here learning it pretty fast with pinyin

you get access to a lot of info quickly.... vs learning a foreign writing system at the same time as a new language...

 

A close friend of mine learned using only pinyin at first, and has done OK (well, he's settled down in China with a lovely wife and cushy job and speaks close to native level). It is, likely, more efficient to get to a decent speaking/listening level.

 

Then again, once he figured he could already speak Chinese, later on he found it difficult to find the time and energy to learn the characters ("Ah, it's good enough for now") and connecting the dots was not as easy as it would've been if he'd just learned it all together. And I'd say it is helpful to be literate, especially if one plans on living in a place.


Edited by dustybeijing, 15 October 2016 - 08:21 AM.

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