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Learning Chinese - an encouraging video

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
62 messages over 8 pages: 1 2 35 6 7 8 Next >>
Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 4915 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 25 of 62
15 September 2007 at 1:52pm | IP Logged 
First of all, a little bit about myself. Here are the questions I received in Chinese, I'll answer to them in English.

1)你是从什么时候开始学习汉语的?当时有 ?有汉语的家庭背景?
2)你是如何开始学习汉语的?
3)在学习的过程中,你觉得最大的困难是什 ??
4)你觉得学习一门外语最有效的方法是什么 ?
5)在什么时候你觉得你已经达到完全流利的 ?界了?
6)有网友认为作为音乐家,你在学习语言时 ?特别的优势,你认为是这样吗?
7)有网友认为你就是下面这个影片里的"澳大 ?亚学生"
       http://unclp.org/o neword /ddzw/01-1-2.wmv
     请问那真是你吗?

1) I started studying Chinese in 1998, with a Chinese girlfriend helping me a bit and also trying to communicate with any Chinese person I would meet. We "foreigners" in China are usually tired of many Chinese people trying to practice their English with us on any occasion and using the magic word 缘分 in order to make friends and blablabla... But this is how it all started for me, and I guess for many of you too! I would try to speak with any Chinese guy I met!

2) I started with tapes, and always by myself. Tried schools and university, and all added together lasted a month and half! My philosophy is that language is all about imitation, so learn THEN understand is the key rule. Unfortunately most education systems these days are more and more the contrary of my theory, since in order to make people feel good while learning they make sure you understand BEFORE learning. What a waste of time! Sometimes the more you think, the less you learn. Which also means that at the end you are less able to think.
Think of that: the main reason why we study a language faster in its country is because we don't understand anything. You keep hearing words and wondering what they mean, and will remember them before knowing their meaning. Which means when you start using them you'll do it naturally! If I teach you a word and tell you its meaning, say, “computer”, the only thing you’ll remember after a few days is that I taught you a word which meaning was “computer”. What was the word? Forgot it. Now if I don’t tell you its meaning, you’ll remember it a lot more probably. So what do you want?
I learned most of my Chinese by myself in France, so my work was all about creating a Chinese environment around me, using all means I could think of.
I see it that way: the modern educational system is aimed so that people feel good about themselves. The only way to get to that feeling psychologically is for one not to know too much. Basically it goes like this: you know about 20, and you have already learned 15. You feel proud. In the local country you know about 10000000 and you have learned 100, feeling that you don't know anything. Still, you’ve learned a lot more than a 15 no?
Hope this makes sense to you. Of course, feeling good psychologically should be a positive force. I personally believe that it can be dangerous. Just be sure not to feel TOO bad about yourself just to keep the motivation. Otherwise you'll be slow at learning languages.

3,4) The biggest difficulty about learning Chinese is that it is 100% new compared to any language I know, so if you want to be fluent speaking and reading, it takes at least two to three years. If you're gifted and spend at least 5 hours everyday learning intensely. Honestly, at that rate I believe Italian would take me at most six months for the same results (don't misunderstand me here, actually knowing any culture and becoming “local” takes years, some people say 10 years at least, I'm just talking about a basic language ability, and for those who believe that they understand China after three intense years, they don't even imagine how deep the slightest details in everyday life are). I know a bit about Chinese dialects too, and the difference between French and Italian is like close dialects here.
So the most difficult part is here. Give three intense years of your life to Chinese, and you will be superficially fluent.

5) In a way, I felt fluent even after a few months! And back then already on the phone some people didn't notice that I was not Chinese. Of course I had to be in control of the conversation...
I'm actually rather shy, don't dare to make mistakes, so I always wait till I'm sure that I am saying it exactly like a Chinese person. Before that, I talk to myself. This is my very personal way, I believe in listening a lot.
Some people believe talking a lot is key. Can be true, but don't forget that talking a lot means repeating your own mistakes all the time! Then it becomes harder and harder to get rid if them. Talking a lot works only if you pay a lot of attention to listening all the time and always assume that you're still missing something.

6) I do believe that the musical background helped a lot for me. Though I can tell you that many musicians are terrible at languages, it can also depend on the effort they put in it, and the instrument they play. Every instrument develops different hearing abilities too.

7) About the video link with the younger me, it is me indeed, back in 2003! Completely unable to look natural in front of a camera back then, it is so funny... It was my first job as an actor, and I haven't looked back since. I'm now more working as a TV and radio host though.


Edited by Julien on 15 September 2007 at 2:26pm

6 persons have voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 4915 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 26 of 62
15 September 2007 at 2:04pm | IP Logged 
"Were you native-fluent even then ?
I would appreciate a reference to what this course was called and where it might be purchased. I'd be interested in buying it if the
price is right. The sense of humour beats the hell out of anything I have ever seen before in a language teaching context."

This is what Henrik asked me about the 2003 video.

I was pretty much "native-fluent" apparently back then in everyday life, though not in the video. Having to speak a foreign language that clear and twice slower than the natural speed is the ultimate test of how well you master it or feel it. After all the stage work and the hosting I've been doing during these years I think I would be close to a real native now. But still there is a gap.

About the sense of humour the director was one year younger than me and he's now one of my best friends. I'll tell him that he'll be delighted! I'll also try to ask if it's still available.
2 persons have voted this message useful



krtek
Groupie
United States
Joined 5745 days ago

46 posts - 50 votes
Speaks: Mandarin*
Studies: English, Italian, Cantonese

 
 Message 27 of 62
15 September 2007 at 2:06pm | IP Logged 
Julien, thank you so much for answering the questions! That's very helpful.



Edited by krtek on 16 September 2007 at 12:39am

1 person has voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 4915 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 28 of 62
15 September 2007 at 2:24pm | IP Logged 
maxb wrote:
However I still believe that almost anyone can get a very good pronunciation in a foreign language. It is very much a matter of effort.


Absolutely true. What I notice is that in real life usually the accuracy of one's pronunciation does not change much over the years. Most people who have a good accent when they're fluent had a good accent from their first few words. And unfortunately most people who have a terrible accent when they start don't improve much over the years. This is what I observe, and my conclusion is the same as yours: it is very much a matter of effort. Those people usually believe they don't "have" the accent and stop trying after a while.
When I say "trying", I mean real hard work. Some always say the reason my Chinese is so good is because I'm so gifted. Indeed I think I have that luck, to be gifted. But it does not replace the hard work, the only difference is that I get to small results a lot quicker than most people which is a huge boost in confidence. And confidence is what has kept me studying that much. Still, among all those people who say that it is because I’m gifted I don’t know of one person who has studied as hard as I did during the first 4 years. I was basically 24/7, and tried all possible ways in order to know Chinese as well as my mother language.
Also the biggest aspect about being gifted I think is that I’m able to try all those ways of studying a language, change and combine them when I need too, and most importantly to know very quickly what doesn’t work.
Most people think, you’re gifted so you don’t need any method, it comes naturally! Actually, it is the exact opposite.

So if I try to put it in an accurate way, I'm very very lucky. And I worked very very hard.

Edited by Julien on 15 September 2007 at 2:28pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 4915 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 29 of 62
15 September 2007 at 2:45pm | IP Logged 
Keith wrote:
How old is the guy? He looks about 28.
He probably has been studying Chinese for over 10 years.
I think, if you give yourself enough time and exposure, and if you remain aware of your speaking, you can acquire that kind of skill.

But is Chinese really all that different from English or German?
Certainly not as much as Japanese and Korean are.


Well Keith, I believe Chinese is actually even more different from European languages than Japanese and Korean. Korean is obviously based on Chinese characters, but they were replaced with an alphabet, like with Vietnamese. Japanesed is even more complicated, being a language that was originally close to Mongolian I believe, then having all the written culture based on Chinese characters since they studied it during the Tang dynasty, having kept for each character the original Chinese pronunciation and also the Japanese one, which at the very least means two different ways of saying each character, plus a "Japanese" alphabet with 64 letters, plus a "foreign" or phonetic alphabet for all the words from abroad. Japanese, especially written Japanese is a lot more complicated than Chinese, and so many words are actually European.
Spoken Chinese is harder than Korean if I trust expert friends, and the pronunciation and the intonations in Chinese are a lot harder than Japanese for sure.

Chinese is actually the only language left in the world which writes 100% meanings and not sounds (the pronunciation varies with different dialects, the writing not too much).
Ancient Japanese writings were all Chinese, and modern Japanese is at least 50% alphabet-like system.

Edited by Julien on 15 September 2007 at 2:47pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



FSI
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4994 days ago

550 posts - 590 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 30 of 62
15 September 2007 at 3:01pm | IP Logged 
Hi Julien, glad to see you here. There are too many people (even on this forum) who believe adults can't learn languages to native levels, despite a current stream of evidence to the contrary. It's good to see another person who not only knew it could be done, but didn't waste time arguing with people who thought it couldn't be done, and instead went ahead and did it. Kudos, bro. I hope you stay awhile, and share more about how you did it, and things about language learning in general that you've picked up along the way.

Keith wrote:

But is Chinese really all that different from English or German?
Certainly not as much as Japanese and Korean are.


I'd have to disagree with this as well. Korean, Japanese, and Chinese are all level 3 languages for English speakers, and I'm not sure what the advantage is of trying to imply Chinese is "not that different from English or German" in this discussion. We've got an opportunity to chat in person with a fellow who learned a language quite distant from his native one to an extraordinary level; perhaps we'd be better off not going out of our ways in backhanded attempts to belittle his accomplishments. I see this kind of thing every day on other language forums; we're better than that.

Edited by FSI on 15 September 2007 at 3:09pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 4915 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 31 of 62
15 September 2007 at 3:09pm | IP Logged 
The main reasons why adults are usually slower than children is one, they have too many things to think about, and two would be brain ability. These are two objective reasons. Another one is the fact that most adults want to understand evrything before they learn. If we can fight that tendency and adopt a children's attitude, our understanding ability is greater than children and we can at least compensate for that brain cells deficiency, if not learn faster than children.
3 persons have voted this message useful





Hencke
Tetraglot
Moderator
Spain
Joined 5529 days ago

2340 posts - 2443 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, Finnish, EnglishC2, Spanish
Studies: Mandarin
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 32 of 62
15 September 2007 at 6:18pm | IP Logged 
What an interesting development this. Thank you very much Julien for showing up and especially for your detailed answers to all our questions !!!

Your input here, as well as seeing you on those videos, is a great inspiration in my mandarin studies, and provides an excellent goal to work towards too.

I also hope you can spare the time to share more of your experiences here in the future.


1 person has voted this message useful



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