Sanctuary being torn down. We need your help!!! - click here for details
You can also visit TheSanctuaryTaiwan.org - click here to go to their contact page

How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Language Exchange ads posted in the Learning Chinese forum will be removed

Moderator: ironlady

How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby spyfire27 » 16 May 2012, 23:23

I have been studying Mandarin for 4 months now here in Taiwan in a regular full-time course. It's 3 hours a day for 15 hours a week. I was a total beginner when I came here.

I am posting because I am a bit worried about my progress. If I compare myself to the other students of my class, I think my level is equivalent to most of them (well, I could be wrong here). However, quite honestly, I think we all suck terribly. When I try to speak with native speakers and more advanced students and they say "Wow, you've been here four months", I tend to think that they consider my speaking ability to be quite low for someone who has spent four months in Taiwan.

In real life situations, I still have a lot of problems understanding and asking for things, and I barely understand anything if a store clerk asks me something. For example, I went to a vegetarian buffet yesterday and the lady asked me if I wanted rice, and I could not understand when she did it in Chinese. I was completely lost. Same thing at the immigration office. I went to renew my visitor visa and the agent started to talk to me in Chinese. I could not understand a single word she said.

I have to say though that I am quite satisfied with my reading and writing abilities. I easily read menus and other indications on the street. I also can use PowerPoint in Chinese, and can read to a fair level. Should the people in the situations I described above have put into writing the same thing they said, I would probably have understood them at 80% or more.

Is that normal? How good were you after four months in Taiwan studying 15 hours a week?
spyfire27
Ink Still Wet in Passport (shífēn xīnshǒu)
Ink Still Wet in Passport (shífēn xīnshǒu)
 
Posts: 22
ORIGINAL POSTER
Joined: 30 Nov 2011, 08:50



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby E04teacherlin » 17 May 2012, 01:26

After four months, all I could do was cry. Then by 3 I could start asking for basic things. All that input really helped me. I guess I wasn't too worried about it. Then would you believe I met some foreigners here who were better at Chinese after learning for 10 years than I was at age 10. Life isn't fair. Why try to turn learning Chinese into a competition?
E04teacherlin
Scooter Commuter (qí jī chē shàng xià bān)
Scooter Commuter (qí jī chē shàng xià bān)
 
Posts: 614
Joined: 22 Feb 2012, 01:54
85 Recommends(s)
50 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby Petrichor » 17 May 2012, 05:56

spyfire27 wrote: I have been studying Mandarin for 4 months now here in Taiwan in a regular full-time course. It's 3 hours a day for 15 hours a week. I was a total beginner when I came here.

I am posting because I am a bit worried about my progress. If I compare myself to the other students of my class, I think my level is equivalent to most of them (well, I could be wrong here). However, quite honestly, I think we all suck terribly. When I try to speak with native speakers and more advanced students and they say "Wow, you've been here four months", I tend to think that they consider my speaking ability to be quite low for someone who has spent four months in Taiwan.


People are often unsympathetic to students of their native language. After all, they can speak it really easily, what could be so hard?

spyfire27 wrote:In real life situations, I still have a lot of problems understanding and asking for things, and I barely understand anything if a store clerk asks me something. For example, I went to a vegetarian buffet yesterday and the lady asked me if I wanted rice, and I could not understand when she did it in Chinese. I was completely lost. Same thing at the immigration office. I went to renew my visitor visa and the agent started to talk to me in Chinese. I could not understand a single word she said.

I have to say though that I am quite satisfied with my reading and writing abilities. I easily read menus and other indications on the street. I also can use PowerPoint in Chinese, and can read to a fair level. Should the people in the situations I described above have put into writing the same thing they said, I would probably have understood them at 80% or more.

Is that normal? How good were you after four months in Taiwan studying 15 hours a week?


I'd say you generally get good at what you practise the most. Do you do a lot of listening and speaking during the day? One thing I do is I listen to my textbook's accompanying CDs when I'm going places (just make sure you're careful when crossing the road!). Also, it takes a while for the ear to 'hear' Chinese. And, for some reason, some days you understand a lot, others very little.

I haven't studied full time so I can't answer your question, but I think you just need to keep plugging away and not measure your progress so much. I don't think Chinese acquisition follows a linear progression, it's more like plateaus with the odd jump thrown in.
Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.

http://talesfromthebeautifulisle.blogspot.com/
Forumosan avatar
Petrichor
Bird Walker (liù niǎo de rén)
 
Posts: 1435
Joined: 22 Dec 2008, 04:30
Location: Muzha
83 Recommends(s)
85 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby Adam_CLO » 17 May 2012, 10:30

Does your teacher speak mainly in Chinese in the classroom? How is your understanding of him / her? I found when I started, I could understand less than 30% of what the teacher said initially, although that slowly grew to 90% plus, as I got used to her accent. However on the streets, people have different accents, some mixed with Taiwanese.

I'd suggest exposing yourself to a lot of listening material outside the classroom. There are a lot of free podcasts out there, including mine. Click on the orange lesson number links to listen to the lessons free on this page:
http://www.chineselearnonline.com/course-outline/
Forumosan avatar
Adam_CLO
Street Dog Chaser (zhuīgǎn liúlàng gǒu)
Street Dog Chaser (zhuīgǎn liúlàng gǒu)
 
Posts: 1217
Joined: 22 Dec 2008, 18:04
Location: Taichung
24 Recommends(s)
7 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby the bear » 17 May 2012, 10:37

4 months isn't very long. But you should be able to understand someone asking if you want rice. Try and get outside the classroom and expose yourself as much as possible to everyday Chinese as it is spoke in Taiwan. It sounds like you might be stuck learning pattern sentences and when someone dares to vary from the pattern in actual usage you're struggling. Bear in mind most of your learning for spoken Chinese should be in everyday life; you don't need a classroom to practice in because its all around you.
I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.
Forumosan avatar
the bear
Buxiban Laoban (bǔxíbān lǎobǎn)
Buxiban Laoban (bǔxíbān lǎobǎn)
 
Posts: 3808
Joined: 14 Jul 2003, 14:45
Location: Taipei City
28 Recommends(s)
104 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby Icon » 17 May 2012, 10:41

The way Chinese is taught here goes against what we would naturally acquire. The classes emphasize reading and writing, so that is what you are good at. Listening and speaking, the most communicative activities, are not that focused on, you have to work that outside earnestly. The problem then arises that the nook structures and usually the teacher's pronounciation does not match what you hear outside. Their "proper" Mandarin clashes with outside Taiwan Guoyu, clearest example being numbers. You need to supplement the classes with a lot of language exchange, to get the normal everyday usage.

I really was upset not being able to say HELP in Chinese after getting stuck alone in an elevator 3 months into here. Old geezer at the other side of the phone line did not get my pleas for help. It made me realize how many elementary things I was missing. Before this happens to you, make a lot of local friends/language exchanges to get the oral stuff as it works on the street, not just radio/TV.
"Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante". Mafalda

"Nice guy? Who gives a shit? If you want to work here, close."
Forumosan avatar
Icon
Maitreya Buddha (Mílèfó)
 
Posts: 14930
Joined: 09 Feb 2006, 18:03
Location: Xindian
657 Recommends(s)
532 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby dasmania » 17 May 2012, 10:48

There's a theory out there that if you are immersed in a language for more than 15 hours a week, that you no longer need to use translated vocabulary as your human nature of intuition will being to understand the intonation of all the words (speaking and listenting anyway). I never really studied Chinese but I learned a hell of a lot of basic conversational shortly after I arrived. On a side note, I used to love showing the newbies around my town I lived in, and some of them happened to have studied Mandarin at home universities and such. Just to mess with them (there were 2 like this) I would go up to a tea stand and right before we ordered, I'd say, 'you said you know Mandarin right?' and they'd always say "yea, quite a lot." "Ok, so order me a large green tea with half sugar and no ice." The look that would come over their faces was priceless. A bit mean spirited maybe (I really enjoyed it), but I think it got the point across. You can't only learn a language in a classroom. Go explore, get some local friends, or just find a mall that you like to hang out at and ask a million questions since you should already know the basic question phrases.

My favourite conversations were with taxi drivers and building guards. They knew I could only speak gimp Mandarin but since they were at work they took the time to make the conversation work. I learned a hell of a lot from those guys.

Good luck!
I used to think I was wasting my time teaching in Taiwan...after 6 months of unemployment back home I realized what wasting time truly is. Enjoy the moment.
dasmania
Breakfast Store Laoban (zǎocān diàn lǎobǎn)
Breakfast Store Laoban (zǎocān diàn lǎobǎn)
 
Posts: 129
Joined: 13 Sep 2009, 11:22
1 Recommends(s)
1 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby dasmania » 17 May 2012, 10:56

Oh and that typo I just wrote about 'listenting' has to be the most clever thing I've unintentionally said lol
I used to think I was wasting my time teaching in Taiwan...after 6 months of unemployment back home I realized what wasting time truly is. Enjoy the moment.
dasmania
Breakfast Store Laoban (zǎocān diàn lǎobǎn)
Breakfast Store Laoban (zǎocān diàn lǎobǎn)
 
Posts: 129
Joined: 13 Sep 2009, 11:22
1 Recommends(s)
1 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby Teddoman » 17 May 2012, 12:21

Maybe find a teacher that encourages more spontaneous talking in the classroom. My college Mandarin teacher had us write dialogues which we'd perform for the class. They were usually silly and ridiculous but at least there was an imprompu aspect to it and it got us in the habit of speaking Mandarin in the class in a fun way. Or try to bring more levity to class and get everyone to be silly and joke around with classmates (in Mandarin).

Still, get out of the classroom more with the help of language exchange friends, that's great advice.
Teddoman
Shoe-wielding Legislator (huīwǔ xiézi de lìfǎ wěiyuán)
Shoe-wielding Legislator (huīwǔ xiézi de lìfǎ wěiyuán)
 
Posts: 261
Joined: 03 Jan 2005, 00:31
12 Recommends(s)
10 Recognized(s)



Re: How good were you after four months of studying Chinese?

Postby E04teacherlin » 17 May 2012, 12:34

Or better, hit the local bars. Not the ones where foreigners usually go to. The ones which are dark and smoky inside and people are playing cards or dice games or sometimes darts. Then chat away. They'll be more than willing to help you, according to some western friends I have that speak really good Chinese.
E04teacherlin
Scooter Commuter (qí jī chē shàng xià bān)
Scooter Commuter (qí jī chē shàng xià bān)
 
Posts: 614
Joined: 22 Feb 2012, 01:54
85 Recommends(s)
50 Recognized(s)



FRIENDLY REMINDER
   Please remember that Forumosa is not responsible for the content that appears on the other side of links that Forumosans post on our forums. As a discussion website, we encourage open and frank debate. We have learned that the most effective way to address questionable claims or accusations on Forumosa is by engaging in a sincere and constructive conversation. To make this website work, we must all feel safe in expressing our opinions, this also means backing up any claims with hard facts, including links to other websites.
   Please also remember that one should not believe everything one reads on the Internet, particularly from websites whose content cannot be easily verified or substantiated. Use your common sense and do not hesitate to ask for proof.
Next




Proceed to Learning Chinese



Who is online

Forumosans browsing this forum: No Forumosans and 1 visitor

We die daily. Happy those who daily come to life as well -- GEORGE MACDONALD