Feiren wrote:That's why you are having trouble producing good Chinese. It's just not long enough. Not even close.
I know, but I feel like I should be further along than I am as far as speaking. There's a huge gap between my listening ability and my speaking ability. I'm working on that now, but it's slow going, of course.
You will rarely if ever speak modern Chinese in grad school, especially if your field is pre-modern.
I was talking about reading in that quote. Anyway, I will need to be able to speak Chinese in grad school, if only because I will be competing for TA/TFships. Since those assistantships and fellowships will require me to assist in teaching Chinese at the undergrad level, I will have to have a high level of competence if I want to be competitive.
Besides that, if I intend to participate in conferences here or in the mainland, I will have to speak Chinese with native-speaking professors. It helps to be able to present and/or publish papers in Chinese as well. Many of the top professors in the field do this on a regular basis. My dissertation research will likely be conducted either here or in China, so I will need to be able to communicate and collaborate with native-speaking scholars about my research. So I disagree that I won't need to be able to speak Chinese for grad school. Reading will be of primary importance, of course, but speaking is also important.
There's also the possibility that I might do my MA here in Taiwan before starting my Ph.D. in the States, in which case I will absolutely need to be able to speak Chinese.
You and Formosa Fitness are misunderstanding me slightly. I think your goal should be to speak Chinese like an educated (albeit foreign) person and to be very comfortable reading and understanding complex texts in both modern and literary Chinese. A big plus would be able to write academic prose in Chinese. This is very rare for non-native speakers and, in my view, foolishly ignored. It's really, really hard to find a decent teacher though.
The students who try to learn Chinese too fast at programs like ICLP rarely reach this mark in my experience.
I agree with you here. But the fact is I don't have forever to spend learning Chinese. I need to get on with grad school at some point, so I've got to do as much as I can while I'm here.
Hmmm...well I guess you've only been here for eight months so you probably haven't met that many former MTC students. There are many long term residents of Taiwan with excellent Chinese who studied at MTC. And others who studied at ICLP.
I'm sure this is the case. I just haven't met them.
That's very impressive for someone who has only been in Taiwan for eight months. Perhaps you will benefit from ICLP more than most because you won't be struggling so much to keep up with the characters and you can focus on putting it all together.
I hope that's the case, and that's part of why I've put a big focus on character learning in the past, before getting to the more advanced stages of learning.
I also suspect that this is the reason that you are having trouble producing good Chinese. Learning 3,000 characters takes a massive effort and and might be distracting you from more high level tasks like usage, fluency, accuracy, and reading.
You may be right here. I've been switching focus recently to speech as a focus in my studies, rather than reading.
Have you read a novel or a longer book in Chinese yet?
Do you read the newspaper every day?
These are important signs of acquiring a well-rounded level of literacy in Chinese. If you haven't mastered these level of literacy, I think you will have trouble functioning at the higher academic level you aspire to.
I'm currently reading the first Harry Potter book in Chinese. That may not really count, I don't know. This summer I plan to read 雪山飛狐 as my first "real" Chinese book. Or maybe 棋王, since SMC publishes a glossary for it.
That will really help. I think you've got plenty of time to 'do it right'. Enough time is the biggest problem for most people.
I originally planned on coming here for a year, and then applying for grad school. It quickly became apparent that a year wouldn't be enough time, and I figured I'd just have to come right back once my professors discovered that my Chinese wasn't up to the task of doing good research. I've learned a ton of Chinese since I got here, but that just makes me very aware of how much further I have to go.
Thanks for all the advice.