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Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
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Arado Offline
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Post: #176
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Why are you learning to write? Super time intensive and nearly useless. Better to.spend time practicing tones, learning high frequency vocab, and basic conversation skills. I speak nearly fluently and cant write more than 10 characters and it has had nearly zero impact on daily life.
10-01-2016 03:13 AM
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Post: #177
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-01-2016 03:13 AM)Arado Wrote:  Why are you learning to write? Super time intensive and nearly useless. Better to.spend time practicing tones, learning high frequency vocab, and basic conversation skills. I speak nearly fluently and cant write more than 10 characters and it has had nearly zero impact on daily life.

I wouldn't knock learning to read and write. If you are serious about China, these will very much come in handy.

I can read about 700 characters and this skill comes in handy constantly. Not being able to read at all would hurt my quality of life.

Since OP is not living somewhere where he can frequently practice his speaking, at least you can learn a ton of characters.

Given the choice, however, I'd rather see OP memorizing the pronunciation of words, rather than learning to write if he doesn't have time for both.

However, since there's a difference between memorizing Pin-Yin pronunciation codes and actually learning to correctly pronounce and recognize words, once he's surpassed 200-300 words, the utility in memorizing more pronunciation codes will be almost non-existent until he has had the opportunity to learn to actually use those words.

At that point, he'd be best off learning to read and write.

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10-01-2016 04:39 AM
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Post: #178
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-01-2016 03:13 AM)Arado Wrote:  Why are you learning to write? Super time intensive and nearly useless. Better to.spend time practicing tones, learning high frequency vocab, and basic conversation skills. I speak nearly fluently and cant write more than 10 characters and it has had nearly zero impact on daily life.

Yeah, no reason to learn how to read the fucking language that everyone texts in, that all the signs are in etc.
10-01-2016 10:59 AM
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Arado Offline
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Post: #179
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-01-2016 10:59 AM)Space Cowboy Wrote:  
(10-01-2016 03:13 AM)Arado Wrote:  Why are you learning to write? Super time intensive and nearly useless. Better to.spend time practicing tones, learning high frequency vocab, and basic conversation skills. I speak nearly fluently and cant write more than 10 characters and it has had nearly zero impact on daily life.

Yeah, no reason to learn how to read the fucking language that everyone texts in, that all the signs are in etc.

Please note that I never said don't learn how to read. Suits/Space Cowboy - I completely agree that reading is an important skill to function in China, no doubt about it.

I can read books and newspaper articles and texts in Chinese, but can WRITE for shit. Writing Chinese and reading Chinese are COMPLETELY different skillsets. If you can write 1,000 Chinese characters then you can certainly read them. But to be able to read 1,000 Chinese characters you absolutely DON'T have to be able to write them. I drilled vocab and character recognition using the Pleco app, it's far more efficient than painfully writing out every character.

Everyone learns differently, and perhaps Mochihunter needs to write in order to read. I and many other foreigners don't though. He should at least try to see if he can learn to recognize characters without writing, and if so, that will save him a buttload of time and his conversation skills can progress without getting bogged down in writing characters.

If you want to write because you enjoy it, that's fine. But we all have limited time for studying, and if you want to maximize your Chinese functionality then it's best to spend that time speaking with and listening to Chinese speakers.

No Chinese girl is going to not sleep with you because you can't write characters. OTOH, if she can't speak English then writing hundreds of characters will do nothing for you unless you can speak to her. I've seen too many people study Chinese in university and classes for months where they drill writing and then can barely have a one minute conversation. Focus on what is useful.
(This post was last modified: 10-01-2016 10:25 PM by Arado.)
10-01-2016 10:24 PM
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Suits Offline
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Post: #180
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
I think Arado's points are valid.

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10-01-2016 10:31 PM
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Post: #181
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-01-2016 03:13 AM)Arado Wrote:  Why are you learning to write? Super time intensive and nearly useless. Better to.spend time practicing tones, learning high frequency vocab, and basic conversation skills. I speak nearly fluently and cant write more than 10 characters and it has had nearly zero impact on daily life.

Yup, learning to write is a giant time suck that doesn't help learning the language that much. I can't write more than 50 characters and yet can read the newspaper, novels, magazines.

Everything is typing on a phone or writing a letter using the computer. I don't even write English much, I type. Except for maybe grocery lists or to-do lists at home I never write English either.
10-01-2016 11:45 PM
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Post: #182
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-01-2016 10:24 PM)Arado Wrote:  Writing Chinese and reading Chinese are COMPLETELY different skillsets. If you can write 1,000 Chinese characters then you can certainly read them.

You just invalidated your own claim here. I've actually been learning to write some of the most frequent characters with the only purpose of getting more confident in recognizing them, so that I wouldn't mix them up or have doubt when I see them. But I agree it's very time consuming, so for average learner probably won't make sense focus on it too much.
10-02-2016 03:32 AM
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Arado Offline
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Post: #183
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-02-2016 03:32 AM)Apoc Wrote:  
(10-01-2016 10:24 PM)Arado Wrote:  Writing Chinese and reading Chinese are COMPLETELY different skillsets. If you can write 1,000 Chinese characters then you can certainly read them.

You just invalidated your own claim here. I've actually been learning to write some of the most frequent characters with the only purpose of getting more confident in recognizing them, so that I wouldn't mix them up or have doubt when I see them. But I agree it's very time consuming, so for average learner probably won't make sense focus on it too much.

You don't need to recognize and write individual characters to be able to know what they mean when you see them in context. For example, when I see the characters 城 and 诚, all I know is that they're pronounced "cheng." When I see 城市 and 诚实 I know they are different words. Also, I couldn't write these characters for the life of me, but no problem recognizing them.

Again, this is dependent on the individual. Just suggesting that he at least TRY to learn to read without writing, and then spend the time writing if that's the only way he'll recognize characters.
10-02-2016 10:26 PM
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moso Offline
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Post: #184
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Spend some time studying vocabulary, but focus on learning sentences. This is the best way to actually achieve good tones and rythym. It always requires more time than you would expect, but it is worth it. Be patient. Write out conversations that you would typically have with other people and learn how to say it in mandarin or the local language. You can submit this writing to iTalki and native speakers will correct and refine your submissions. Start with Assimil which is much slower and then progress to Glossika sentences which will seem very fast at first. Copy these files to your cell phone or micro sim card so that you can practice them every day. You need to try and mimick the sentences after you hear them. It will seem like you are dancing with two left feet at first, but just be patient. If you cannot say the sentence, just say the first few words, then the last few words, then the middle. Then start putting them together. The crucial thing is to practice for a short amount of time every day. It is better if you do short sessions two to three times a day, but do it at least once. This is how we actually learn and retain information. You can place a lower priority on reading, but do it. All of sudden, the meaning of many things you say will become much more clear. When you have your basic conversation scripts and some Assimil or Glossika under your belt, start trying to speak with ladies on iTalki. You will definitely struggle, but you will gain so much if you keep trying. It will afford you much more confidence and success when you try and use these skills. Also, you can learn much of the sensitive slang from the book Niubi by Eveline Chou.
memrise ( vocabulary SRS spaced repitition )
Assimil Chinese with Ease Volume I (buy on Amazon and not Assimil web site)
Assimil Chinese with Ease Volume II
Glossika Chinese sentences ( Beijing, Taiwan, or both )
iTalki (find people to speak with using Skype, or inexpensive lessons)
fluentu ( paid, other languages available with same plan )
Niubi, Eveline Chao ( very useful slang that you would not want to ask )
Skritter if you actually want to learn how to write
(This post was last modified: 10-03-2016 03:22 AM by moso.)
10-03-2016 03:19 AM
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Post: #185
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
^I won't take Chinese language advice from anyone who hasn't mastered English language paragraphs.

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10-03-2016 06:04 AM
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Post: #186
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
I can't handwrite either but it obviously has significant benefits for reading ability, namely what Arado mentioned in regards to differentiating between similar looking characters and generally being more aware of the components that characters are made up of. Recognizing individual characters and not only words will also boost your vocab building when known characters are used in new combinations and being able to make more educated guesses regarding the meaning and pronunciation of new characters and words.

I wouldn't spend hours on handwriting but stuff like Skritter is a good middle of the road solution in this regard, since it's more about tracing and internalizing the shape and components rather than really laboriously writing them out. So I've just been using the 3000 most common character set in Skritter, set to single characters only (no words), I do that every day for 15-20 min and I find that helps me a lot.
10-03-2016 07:23 AM
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Post: #187
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
with smartphone and computer, writing can be made simple with your mastery of pinyin itself, the reading and speaking are more crucial in everyday life, If you have 1000 most commonly used words in your bag, I can safely say you are good in your everyday life communicating with the men on the streets. you may pronounce it differently, but as long as sentence construct is not too far off, people can still make sense out of it, they can't be too hard up on foreigners who are learning a new language that is so different in many ways. for those who struggle in this new language or new some help, feel free to drop a message here. I'm more than happy to help.
10-03-2016 11:23 AM
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moso Offline
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Post: #188
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
I wrote that at 4 am in the morning with the intent of being helpful. I will be more careful about how I write in the future.
10-04-2016 01:41 AM
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Post: #189
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-01-2016 10:24 PM)Arado Wrote:  Please note that I never said don't learn how to read. Suits/Space Cowboy - I completely agree that reading is an important skill to function in China, no doubt about it.

Ah, my mistake-- I thought you were completely forgoing the characters like a lot of popular "polyglot" bloggers do when "Learning fluent Mandarin in x months", apologies.

I agree, writing will hold you back a lot. I have found myself much less enthusiastic when studying because writing out 你看起来很漂亮 or something by hand takes too much damn time. I feel like once you've learned 50-100 diverse characters and the basics of stroke order, you could make a pretty good guess at how to properly write characters from memory-- even the Chinese fuck up their own language and showing locals you have knowledge of hanzi is a good enough laowai parlor trick as it is.

Regardless, I've decided that it's simply best to stick to the computer when studying and taking notes. If any of you were interested in typing without copying/pasting or memorizing unicode for pīnyīn like <--- that, I found this simple and intuitive program:
https://pinyintones.codeplex.com/
(This post was last modified: 10-12-2016 09:07 PM by Space Cowboy.)
10-12-2016 09:05 PM
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Post: #190
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(10-12-2016 09:05 PM)Space Cowboy Wrote:  Ah, my mistake-- I thought you were completely forgoing the characters like a lot of popular "polyglot" bloggers do when "Learning fluent Mandarin in x months", apologies.

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10-13-2016 02:34 AM
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RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
So I somehow pulled the trigger and currently I'm negotiating the prices with a language center about 1 on 1 classes. I work full time so will take classes outside of working hours.

Should i do 90 minute sessions or 60 minutes? I was thinking 90 minutes in one sitting may be too long.

I will do 3-4 classes each week and practice by myself on the days I do not take a class. When I get to a conversational level I'll try use it in the office as well as with locals in public. Right now I'm at such a basic level that my vocab isn't good enough to string sentences together.

Any advice and tips on how to study it whilst having a full time job would be greately appreciated.
05-23-2017 08:26 AM
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Suits Offline
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Post: #192
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Just go to a local fruit market and ask them what the prices of everything is.

Of course, first you have to memorize all the names of the fruits and learn how to ask about price and understand the answer.

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05-23-2017 08:48 AM
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Post: #193
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Does China have those breakfast places we have all over the place here in Taiwan? That's also a good place to test yourself at first; you'll also hear lots of rapid-fire orders going out, the laoban asking people to repeat themselves, etc. Signs might or might not have any English.
05-23-2017 09:18 PM
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Post: #194
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Just wanted to mention two good resources for anyone stuck in the "intermediate plateau", especially when it comes to listening. There are two chinese talk shows that host a bunch of foreigners talking about cultural differences and everyday stuff (idea copied from Korean show "Non-Summit").

First show is called A Bright World / 世界青年说 (btw. first 5 episodes have eng subtitles)




Another one is Informal Talks / 非正式会谈. This is actually my favorite because the guests are more ordinary and less full of themselves than in the first one.




What makes these resources great for an intermediate learner is that the pace of discussion is much slower and thus easier to comprehend than when trying to listen to native speakers. Few of the guys have a slightly obtrusive accent but most of them pronounce really well from what I can tell.

The content in itself is often not so interesting (main audience are teenage girls), so you might want to skip some episodes about pets and stuff, but it's interesting enough and with the challenge of trying to understand what they speak it should keep you engaged. In the beginning I could only catch a random sentence here and there but now after watching about 2-3 episodes per week for about 12 months I can understand almost fully and enjoy the content without having the feeling of "studying". From typical native group discussion I can barely get the meaning if that. Sure it's no shortcut to success but I'm not based anywhere near china so I consider this progress pretty good.
(This post was last modified: 08-07-2017 04:05 AM by Apoc.)
08-07-2017 03:29 AM
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Post: #195
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
My level mrgreen



08-08-2017 12:26 AM
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Post: #196
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Anyone has a recommendation for a good and cheap mandarin school for an intensive program? ( With cheap I mean less than 250 USD each month, I prefer a private language school ) Can be anywhere in Taiwan or China.

The goal is to be fluent in Mandarin( Speaking , hoping to read about 1000 characters) . My level is now beginner. And is it realistic to aim to be fluent in Mandarin just after a 4 month intensive progam?

I was aiming at Taipei or Beijing at the moment but the private language schools there seems to be expensive.
01-31-2018 02:01 PM
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Post: #197
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(01-31-2018 02:01 PM)SpursFan741 Wrote:  Anyone has a recommendation for a good and cheap mandarin school for an intensive program? ( With cheap I mean less than 250 USD each month, I prefer a private language school ) Can be anywhere in Taiwan or China.

The goal is to be fluent in Mandarin( Speaking , hoping to read about 1000 characters) . My level is now beginner. And is it realistic to aim to be fluent in Mandarin just after a 4 month intensive progam?

I was aiming at Taipei or Beijing at the moment but the private language schools there seems to be expensive.

I think language schools in Kunming were the cheapest that I found. I'm thinking of doing language schools in SEA, I won't have the traditional immersion but it's cheap education regardless.

Fluency in 4 months, that's a hard nope.

But you'll obviously be much better than you were 4 months before that.
(This post was last modified: 01-31-2018 02:04 PM by Heart Break Kid.)
01-31-2018 02:03 PM
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Post: #198
RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(01-31-2018 02:03 PM)Heart Break Kid Wrote:  
(01-31-2018 02:01 PM)SpursFan741 Wrote:  Anyone has a recommendation for a good and cheap mandarin school for an intensive program? ( With cheap I mean less than 250 USD each month, I prefer a private language school ) Can be anywhere in Taiwan or China.

The goal is to be fluent in Mandarin( Speaking , hoping to read about 1000 characters) . My level is now beginner. And is it realistic to aim to be fluent in Mandarin just after a 4 month intensive progam?

I was aiming at Taipei or Beijing at the moment but the private language schools there seems to be expensive.

I think language schools in Kunming were the cheapest that I found. I'm thinking of doing language schools in SEA, I won't have the traditional immersion but it's cheap education regardless.

Fluency in 4 months, that's a hard nope.

But you'll obviously be much better than you were 4 months before that.

If you are talking a simply matter of technically memorizing a certain number of words or characters, your acquisition speed will come down to your mental ability to memorize information quickly and the amount of time you put towards the effort.

If you want to be able to comfortably engage with the language and speak/understand it without extreme stress/exhaustion, you're looking at a 2 year investment. Minimum.

The sounds required to pronounce Chinese are varied and very different from most other languages. Your brain will take time to become aware of the existence of some of these sounds and being able to readily interpret the difference between certain sounds that in a different language would be pretty much the same thing.

You've also gotta train your mouth to pronounce sounds that it never learned during the phase of development (ages 1-6) when you were supposed to learn them. That's going to be an uphill battle.

I just moved into a new neighbourhood last weekend. I've been living there for a few days and because of my overloaded consulting schedule this week, I've been using taxis a lot to get home. After a few trips home, I discover that the name of my beighbourhood has a German "ü." Fuck me. I've been learning Chinese since 2006 and I still can pronounce a ü. I don't think I'll ever be able to.

Languages generally can't be treated as merit badges. They are communication tools. If you are serious about being skilled in the use of any tool, you'll best acquire that skill through frequent use of the tool over an extended period of time. Not a crash course.

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01-31-2018 08:08 PM
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RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
Thanks for the thread guys. A lot of good advice. I was looking for some insights on learning Mandarin. I will be going to China in 4 months and I can allocate around 3 hours on a daily basis to learning the language. My objective is to learn how to read and have a conversation.

Do you have any advice on how can I get started?

I was looking into some language schools where I live but I saw that many people in the forum don't recommend it.

02-08-2019 05:37 PM
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RE: Chinese/Mandarin Language Thread
(02-08-2019 05:37 PM)Nater Wrote:  Thanks for the thread guys. A lot of good advice. I was looking for some insights on learning Mandarin. I will be going to China in 4 months and I can allocate around 3 hours on a daily basis to learning the language. My objective is to learn how to read and have a conversation.

Do you have any advice on how can I get started?

I was looking into some language schools where I live but I saw that many people in the forum don't recommend it.

I have only played with Chinese. Follow everything Suits says and mind one huge trap. Logic works differently in Chinese, Logic in the Chinese language as used by Chinese speakers protects against the future. A notable example of this comes from the Bitcoin fork wars when all sorts of people proposing blocksize forks recieved reassurance from Chinese miners that their fork ideas were popular... according to google translate in both directions.

If you are used to European languages and the way phrases in English have single meanings, conversational fluency is going to be an exercise. Bimal Krishna Matilal's work "The Character of Logic In India" is an introduction to the problem of approaching asian languages like Euro languages, but still not quite applicable for the reason China is not India.
02-08-2019 10:12 PM
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