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Receptive skills good, productive skills bad

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Receptive skills good, productive skills bad

Postby Milkybar_Kid » 15 May 2012, 18:10

Receptive skills good, productive skills bad

The stage I am at with my chinese learning at the moment is this; My receptive skills are imporoving nicely, I can listen and read very confidently and understand most of what goes on around me.  However when it comes to my turn to produce output I don't know how to Formulate sentences.

A classic example of this is the 看圖說話 section of my textbook where I often cannot describe 4 simple pictues but can read paragraph after paragraph of example answers.

Does anyone know how I can fix this?  I have very few speaking oportunities in my day to day life.  Can I fix this problem through more input?

Sorry about the sloppy typing - I am using my ipad.
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Re: Receptive skills good, productive skills bad

Postby Feiren » 15 May 2012, 20:48

Milkybar_Kid wrote:
Sorry about the sloppy typing - I am using my ipad.

That's probably part of the problem.

Seriously, try listening and imitating more.
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Re: Receptive skills good, productive skills bad

Postby ironlady » 15 May 2012, 21:52

It sound to me as though you are at the point where you can understand but not produce (yeah, I know, "duh!"). It takes far fewer encounters with a word or structure to understand it than to produce it unconsciously and correctly. So yes, more input -- preferably in less predictable formats and more meaning-linked than sample answers of the sort generally seen in most textbooks. :noway:

Let's eliminate other potential problems.

Do you feel comfortable about the whole tone thing? If not, try adding directional gestures to your mix as you meet new words. You could also try singing instead of speaking if you feel very uncomfortable with tones, as there basically are no tones in sung language. (Intended for practice -- not recommended as a long-term solution. :D )

The problem you will probably have is that your mind says "I know that", so you may tend to become bored hearing or reading language you "know". That's where it's really helpful to have a teacher who will keep mental tabs on what you "know but haven't acquired" and periodically pop you with those words and structures in a highly concentrated yet unpredictable manner. The ultimate goal is to nudge the repetitions up high enough so that they "fall out of your mouth". See if you can get a teacher who will constantly ask you questions. Say a sentence, then ask every conceivable question about that sentence (who, what, where, when, why, how, with what, how fast, how long, anything possible). Answer in single words at first -- that's fine. Have your teacher repeat the correct answer in the **natural** form (sometimes this will be a shortened form, not a textbook answer) that a native speaker would use to reply to that question, then fire another question at you. Don't have her correct you for form -- simply have her say the answer as she would say it (assuming you got the answer right, I mean). When you run out of questions about that sentence, add a detail to it or add a sentence to the narrative and start again. Focus on the meaning, not the form. Your brain will do all that work for you; just let it get on with it.

Hopefully the unpredictability of the questions will keep you interested, and the higher levels of repetition and hearing flexible, natural answers over and over will help you to begin outputting progressively longer answers as time goes on. Don't force it -- you should find that the language just "falls out of your mouth". When that happens, you've acquired it and it's yours to use any way you like, unconsciously and correctly.
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