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Chinese Language Forum

Postby Bu Lai En » 11 Feb 2002, 13:05

How about a Chinese Language Forum? I know there hasn't been much talk about Chinese on hear recently, but if a forum started I think people would use it considering how many people here are learning Chinese.

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Postby ironlady » 12 Feb 2002, 04:01

That sounds useful. Sometimes I post my queries on tw.bbs.lang.english to try to get Chinese equivalents for English things, and stuff like that, but I can't usually fool them... [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

A forum that existed to support the learner of Chinese in Taiwan doesn't seem a bad idea. I'd be happy to help out on it.
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Chinese Language Forum

Postby aarondbu » 12 Feb 2002, 14:15

I think a Chinese language forum is a great idea. In the meantime however, we can turn this thread into a post about learning Chinese. Why are most of yall learning Chinese? Business? Exchange Student? ABC, CBC coming back to improve language skills? All 3?

Also, how many of us are also learning Taiwanese and or HAkka? Living in Pingdong, I know I should also learn some Taiwanese, but since all the younger people usually speak Mandarin to each other, I havent botherd yet [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]
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Postby ironlady » 13 Feb 2002, 03:45

I'm still learning Mandarin to improve my skills as a translator/interpreter, which is how I make my living. I'm trying to learn Taiwanese (Minnan) too, because I believe this is going to be important in the future. However, being back in the States, this is tough, and I'm getting really bored with the only tape I have... [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] I've tried to get a language exchange but we live a bit far away from the universities.

I hope to get to Taiwan for awhile this summer and do some catching up!
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Postby Bu Lai En » 13 Feb 2002, 07:25

I learn Chinese because I really enjoy it and because it's necessary for living in Taiwan (emph on living).

I used to always read the forums on zhongwen.com. which is an excellent site, but those forums were really messy, full of posts like 'how do you write "dragon" for a tat' or 'what's the Chinese for A,B,C ...' and then most of the regular posters moved to oriented anyway.

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Chinese Language Forum

Postby regan » 14 Feb 2002, 03:07

Hi all.
I too am learning Chinese. I have tried every language program out there...and have found the BEST.
Some of you have probably heard of it....but its called "HyperChina" by a company called "Sinologic"
Short of intensive classes...it is by far the best thing I have found.
You can check it out at:
sinologic.com

Happy studying!
-Regan
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Postby serendipity » 14 Feb 2002, 04:34

Last time I checked, the forum on zhongwen.com was closed until further notice. I just tried to go there again, and my browser couldn't even find the server.
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Postby <aarondbu> » 14 Feb 2002, 21:50

Iron lady you and Richard are my personal heros. My question for you is, how long did it take you to get to the point where you could basically understand a college level lecture? a textbook? any tricks you could share for the rest of us?

Regan, why did you start learning Chinese?
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Postby ironlady » 15 Feb 2002, 00:36

Narrow and deep.
Concentrate on a few words at a time, try to get material at your level for reading and listening (no more than 10% unknowns if you're reading alone for pleasure or to improve your Chinese), and repeat, repeat, repeat.

This is hard to do because there aren't many materials that answer this description at present...but like I said, we're working on it... [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

Remember that you need to hear a word used in a novel context (not just reading the same stuff over and over) about 50-70 times before it really sinks in, so don't be too hard on yourself for the whole "I know I've seen that before" thing.

What is your Chinese level? We may be starting up a class in Taipei. Can't say much more about it at this point, but it would be either foreigner-taught or taught by a Chinese teacher learning a new method [or maybe team taught]--(hey, you've got the whole city as a language lab...why insist on a native teacher if the methods are not going to be appropriate for Westerners??)

For listening, I really enjoy using the "Pinyin Dictionary" (can't remember the actual name, but it's yellow and black!) by Lanbridge Publishing. It lists all the words in pinyin order without regard to tone or character, so you have a fighting chance to find a word you've just heard on the radio or TV without having to check under 16-million characters for "bao" to see if there happens to be a compound that matches what you heard.

The other thing I swear by is my Palm Pilot (actually, a Handspring Visor). I have the Oxford E>C,C>E dictionary on there, and another program called "SuperMemo" which is a kind of intelligent flashcard program that remembers your performance and gives you tests based on what you did last time. I have about six file "packs" of flashcards going at any one time, depending on what project I'm working on at the moment. You can put in several fields, so you can have characters, Pinyin, and English and arrange them as you like.

You might also consider adopting my TOP romanization ("Tonally Orthographic Pinyin"). Basically, it's a way to represent the four tones of Mandarin by using capital and small letters, instead of tone marks or adding silent letters to a word as in tonal spelling. I came up with this in 1995 when I was preparing for my dissertation defense and was basically sitting around the university library all summer doing sight translation from English to Chinese under the supervision of a number of (paid!) Chinese grad students (the object being to increase my vocab). You just use capital and small letters, like this:

First tone: all CAPITAL letters: MA ZHUANG
2nd tone: last letter CAP: mA zhuanG (it goes up, you see...)
3rd tone: all lower case (it's low): ma zhuang
4th tone: First letter CAP: Ma Zhuang (the tone of voice goes down).

Neutral tone can be represented by all lower case followed by an "!" or a period, depending on what you like. (In typesetting, I would use italics...)

This system has several advantages. First, you "visualize" the form of the word, so it helps you remember the tones. Second, you have to re-write the whole word to change the tone...no more scribbling over the tone mark and ending up with no clue what tone you meant. This reflects the real identity of the tones in Chinese. It's also easy for people who are touch-typists, because it's usually easier to capitalize than to add a number.

If you like Pinyin, there is a set of tone-marked fonts called Pintone that are very convenient and easy to use.

I don't promote TOP for written stuff (although I can read it easily since I'm used to it). It is just a learning aid, not a revolution to the orthography of Chinese in general. Most Chinese people say they "can't accept it" because it "looks weird" (yeah, right...ahem, like a lot of characters don't!!) [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] but then again those people were mostly teachers of Chinese who never actually had much teacher training in the first place, and were just doing the best they could (pick a random English teacher in Taipei and ask them about pedagogical theory and you'll see what I mean.)

Well, this is long-winded (as usual) but I hope it gives you some suggestions. If you're advanced, there are other methods I can share with you to improve your vocab and diction.

Have fun
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Postby ironlady » 15 Feb 2002, 00:43

Oops...I didn't answer your question, did I?

I think it took about 5-6 years of fairly intensive effort (mostly outside of Taiwan) before I felt comfortable listening to an hour-long lecture in Chinese, although I might not understand all of what was said. Before that, I could catch most of the drift, but I had a problem with "turn-off" -- after a certain time, my brain would just switch off [fatigue]. Also around the 5-6 year mark (that is, after 2 years of college Chinese at Georgetown, a year in Taiwan, another year at GU and then 2 years of studying on my own and with a private tutor, with I'd say no more than 2 weeks without Chinese during that time) I could start predicting word forms and really understanding things I'd never heard before based on understanding how the language works (ex: "ink strip" for "typewriter ribbon", stuff like that).

I started interpreting school with 12 years of Chinese and it wasn't really enough. The good thing was that I did learn some techniques to improve it. In the end, though, what has helped the most has just been reading, reading, reading (usually for pay in the form of translation, but all my leisure reading is done in Chinese too.) I prefer translations of Western novels or stuff originally written in English (I know, I have a low cultural level! [img]images/smiles/icon_redface.gif[/img] ) because the vocab is more what I need to focus on and it holds my attention better.

Early on, Harlequin romances translated into Chinese were great -- lots of everyday vocab, plus you can pick up 35 words for "trembling"...you get the drift. [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] I also enjoyed novels by Cheung Yao, which are considered teenage girl stuff in Taiwan.

If you were taught with modern methods and were in a language-rich environment, I think you could speed up this process considerably, though.
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