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Learning Chinese - an encouraging video

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Keith
Diglot
Moderator
JapanRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5864 days ago

526 posts - 536 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: Mandarin
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 Message 33 of 62
16 September 2007 at 9:38am | IP Logged 
FSI wrote:

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.


I have to point out that I asked that question before Julien arrived on the scene. You make it sound like I was attacking him because he showed up here, which is certainly not the case. I do not belittle people's accomplishments.

My comment was actually in reference to what kinoko was curious about.

kinoko wrote:
I am always a bit skeptical when it comes to foreigners learning to speak a language very distant from their mother tongue (not the case of Spanish Italian for example, but German Chinese) in their adulthood. I'm not saying it can't be done, but still...


So, I did not ask the question to put down Julien. My question was not in reference to him but instead to the ability to become so good at Chinese.

I think word order and expressions play a big part in learning to think in a foreign language and to be able to express yourself. The word order in Chinese is closer to that of English, whereas Japanese is usually the reverse order and usually drops the subject.

Pronunciation is just one hurdle to get over. Everytime you speak you use pronunciation. So basically you have a good chance to master it.

I don't wish to elaborate here since this is not what this thread is about.

I'm very glad to see someone like Julien who has reached the native level. I know it will encourage a lot more people to try. I think it is great that he has joined the forum. We are all inspired by him.

We have certainly learned about his tenacious study methods. That is what it takes if you want to go far and fast. I look forward to hearing more from him.

Thanks Julien for joining the forum.
2 persons have voted this message useful



krtek
Groupie
United States
Joined 6197 days ago

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

 
 Message 34 of 62
16 September 2007 at 11:45am | IP Logged 
Hi Julien, have you ever used the so called "shadowing" method? If yes, did it work for you?
1 person has voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 5367 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 35 of 62
16 September 2007 at 12:19pm | IP Logged 
I'm not sure if I know exactly what it is, but it seems that unconsciously I've done that more or less. My guess it that like many methods I would gain a lot from it, but also after intense training for a while I would notice its shortcomings and begin to practice on something else.
Anyway I'd be grateful if someone could explain it to me more precisely.
1 person has voted this message useful



furyou_gaijin
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 5473 days ago

540 posts - 631 votes 
Speaks: Latin*

 
 Message 36 of 62
16 September 2007 at 3:17pm | IP Logged 
Julien wrote:
using the magic word 缘分 in order to make friends and blablabla...


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!


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?


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.


Julien wrote:
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 probably the most inspirational thread on this forum I have seen so far. And the above quotes are so true
they should be written in big letters in some sticky FAQ on this forum.

Regarding the speed of learning in the country, I have actually noticed how true it was for a language like
Japanese. When learning it from a book, there is a tendency to stop ever so frequently and to complain about a
particular point being illogical, out of line with everything else, etc. When in the country, there is no time to
complain
. There is no time to stop and try to figure out things logically. So one just has to remember this
point and move on, because the situation has moved on. This is so different from learning from a book...

Glad to see you here, Julien.
3 persons have voted this message useful



maxb
Diglot
Senior Member
Sweden
Joined 6270 days ago

536 posts - 589 votes 
7 sounds
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 37 of 62
17 September 2007 at 1:10am | IP Logged 
Julien wrote:
I'm not sure if I know exactly what it is, but it seems that unconsciously I've done that more or less. My guess it that like many methods I would gain a lot from it, but also after intense training for a while I would notice its shortcomings and begin to practice on something else.
Anyway I'd be grateful if someone could explain it to me more precisely.


I guess the simplest way to explain it is that when practicing pronounciation with recordings, instead of speaking after the recording you speak simultaneously along with the recording, focusing on matching your speech rhythm with that of the recording.
Have you used this technique?

I would also like to know how much deliberate tone study you have done? Do you find that you can rely on imitation alone when learning new vocabulary in chinese or do you feel a need to analyze and remember tones of new words?
1 person has voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 5367 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 38 of 62
18 September 2007 at 9:47am | IP Logged 
maxb wrote:
I guess the simplest way to explain it is that when practicing pronounciation with recordings, instead of speaking after the recording you speak simultaneously along with the recording, focusing on matching your speech rhythm with that of the recording.
Have you used this technique?

I would also like to know how much deliberate tone study you have done? Do you find that you can rely on imitation alone when learning new vocabulary in chinese or do you feel a need to analyze and remember tones of new words?



I used to skip all the grammar explanations systematically at the beginning and I definitely would still do it now, but I always was aware of each tone, should it be from the book or the dictionary. It is actually hard not to be aware of it, and I guess it kind of helps in a way. And it is even more important in my job to be aware of the perfect Putong hua. However, like any language if you speak too perfectly it's rather hard to sound "local", so listening is far more important, and the more you rely on your ears the greater their ability, and the quicker your reaction will be.

About the shadowing technique, I do use it sometimes when I practise on dialects, but I find that you also can do it in your head without actually talking, which is an excellent way to improve your hearing ability. Actually I have two days to learn a big piece of Henan Nanyang dialect right now, so I'm gonna try the technique a little bit more and see how it works.

Edited by Julien on 18 September 2007 at 9:51am

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krtek
Groupie
United States
Joined 6197 days ago

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

 
 Message 39 of 62
18 September 2007 at 10:00am | IP Logged 
Julien wrote:
About the shadowing technique, I do use it sometimes when I practise on dialects, but I find that you also can do it in your head without actually talking, which is an excellent way to improve your hearing ability. Actually I have two days to learn a big piece of Henan Nanyang dialect right now, so I'm gonna try the technique a little bit more and see how it works.


Have you already or are you planning to try the more distant and challenging southern dialects, e.g. Shanghai dialect (Wu) and Canton dialect (Cantonese)?
1 person has voted this message useful



krtek
Groupie
United States
Joined 6197 days ago

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

 
 Message 40 of 62
18 September 2007 at 10:02am | IP Logged 
Julien wrote:
Every instrument develops different hearing abilities too.


I know this is off topic, but could you elaborate a bit on this statement? A few examples would be fine. Thanks.


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