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Learning Chinese - an encouraging video

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
62 messages over 8 pages: 1 2 3 4 57 8 Next >>
Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 5367 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 41 of 62
18 September 2007 at 11:13am | IP Logged 
krtek wrote:


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)?


I used to live in Shanghai. Didn't have enough Shanghainese friends to really speak the dialect but I understand it pretty well and could speak fluently as well if I wanted to. As for Cantonese it would be harder, because it's further away from the northern dialects, but it's not the hardest either. And the fact that there are so many TV or radio stations in cantonese make it a lot easier too. TV and radio are the best teachers in the world. Want to learn a language? Get yourself one or a few TV and radio channels in that language and put it on ten hours a day.
I think I would need between six months and one year to be fluent in both dialects.
The problem is do I take that time? I just don't spend my life learning languages, life's too short!

Edited by Julien on 18 September 2007 at 1:46pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



piafpiaf
Bilingual Triglot
Newbie
ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5365 days ago

6 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: Mandarin*, Cantonese*, English
Studies: French

 
 Message 42 of 62
18 September 2007 at 2:15pm | IP Logged 
ar..oui, il est un francais, je le connais~

a propos je suis une chinoise native qui apprend le francais enchantee

yes, i think he speaks rather fluente mandarin, even better than i did( by the way ,i'm a chinese whose native language is cantonse, so i don't speak mandarin quit well). extremely astonishing by his native pronounce!

Du courage!
1 person has voted this message useful



BryanH
Newbie
United States
Joined 5433 days ago

6 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Mandarin, Spanish

 
 Message 43 of 62
26 September 2007 at 8:44am | IP Logged 
Julien, I too find your story truly inspiring and sincerely hope that you will continue to share your thoughts on learning Chinese (and languages in general) with all of us. Much of what you have posted has struck a chord with me. I hereby order myself to stop trying to "understand" so much, and instead focus on immersing myself with input so as to keep wondering about the meaning of that which will already be familiar to me through vast amounts of listening and reading. I see a lot of similarities between your advice and siomotteikiru's Listening-Reading System discussed here in that you both seem to stress large amounts of listening input and letting one's brain figure out the connections naturally in a more childlike manner rather than trying to overthink and understand everything as it is encountered. Both also seem to stress that repetitive speaking (especially before one has acquired good habits of pronunciation) can cause more harm than good early on and that after tremendous amounts of listening and speaking to oneself, speaking need not be difficult.
2 persons have voted this message useful



FSI
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5446 days ago

550 posts - 590 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 44 of 62
27 September 2007 at 6:23pm | IP Logged 
I asked Julien to elaborate a bit on his post at the top of this page, and here was his reply:

Julien wrote:
As I said, language is mostly imitation. I'd say at the beginning, imitating perfectly takes 90% listening and 10% practice. Radio is the best way on this matter, and TV to a lesser extent, but TV is fantastic because with the image you can guess the meaning of everything. Avoiding any translation is the only way to really feel a language and think it naturally. After one year of Chinese I basically refused to use anything else than a 100% Chinese dictionary. It's just a matter of time, at the beginning you'll be tired of not knowing the meaning of things, but that will force you to develop hearing abilities and a great feeling for the language. And you'll think naturally in the language beacuse you have no choice.

And TV is great because you can watch anything and you'll always learn something.

Hope this is helpful.

By the way, feel free to post this reply on the forum if you want to.

4 persons have voted this message useful



traveller
Triglot
Newbie
Switzerland
Joined 6285 days ago

11 posts - 11 votes
Speaks: French*, English, Russian
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 45 of 62
27 September 2007 at 8:48pm | IP Logged 
Julien's posts are great but it seems to me that such advices are only for extremely gifted learners like him. How could an average learner start learning such a difficult language as Mandarin watching TV and DVDs or listening to the radio if he doesn’t understand a word? I fear that you could do it for months all day long without any progress, though I'd loved to be mistaken on that point! Krashen himself wrote that only "comprehensible output" is useful when learning a foreign language.
1 person has voted this message useful



Julien
Diglot
Newbie
China
Joined 5367 days ago

12 posts - 47 votes
Speaks: French*, Mandarin

 
 Message 46 of 62
27 September 2007 at 9:55pm | IP Logged 
traveller wrote:
Julien's posts are great but it seems to me that such advices are only for extremely gifted learners like him. How could an average learner start learning such a difficult language as Mandarin watching TV and DVDs or listening to the radio if he doesn’t understand a word? I fear that you could do it for months all day long without any progress, though I'd loved to be mistaken on that point! Krashen himself wrote that only "comprehensible output" is useful when learning a foreign language.


There is not one way of learning. My way for sure is what I found out suits me best. What I wrote was just principles, of course me included will need to understand a bit too. It's just that you don't tidy a room if there's nothing in it. If you have the courage of doing it my way, while of course mixing some of your own, one year should be enough to see a difference. You develop the ability of understanding only when you don't understand and have to guess all the time. If you always learn the answers before, at the end you'll only be one of those guys who can use the language correctly but are not able to guess what people really mean. But for sure, people who don't want to study it all might be discouraged quickly.

Most of the time people who always ask WHY are bad learners, because there's not much logic in the grammar or the way people speak in the mother language. Why is it this way? Because it IS this way! I was one of those WHY people, but hard work made me realize I was wrong.

Remember, always listen a lot more than you speak or practise, and read and write a lot. Don't write by yourself in the first two years, just copy anything you can all the time. This way you'll get used to not making mistakes.

The very reason why we study faster in the country is because we don't understand much and have to make the listening effort 24/7. It has nothing to do about gifts. Being gifted is more about being able to find out the best method and elimitate the useless ones in a short period of time. When I see how somebody is studying I can tell how his Chinese will be after two years.

Have the courage of imitating everything, especially when you don't understand. Because at the beginning that will focus you on listening a lot, and also focus you on feeling the words and how they're used a lot more.

Then again, people who want perfection and long term mastering, go my way. Perfection for a few months, mix my principles with others.

If you don't care about perfection and just see a language as a simple communication tool, then you can ignore me. And after a few years you'll still see my success as the luck I have being gifted and not having to practise as hard as you have.

Don't forget that I combined my method with 24/7 full attention for quite a few years. So my two cents are: you can do it, are you ready to work that hard?

Edited by Julien on 27 September 2007 at 10:41pm

5 persons have voted this message useful



FSI
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5446 days ago

550 posts - 590 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 47 of 62
27 September 2007 at 10:31pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the additional info, Julien. We're very good at attributing other people's success to "genius" or "gifts" or "genes" and so forth. It's interesting to observe.

Yet oddly enough, we're very bad at acknowledging both the hard work of others and the extraordinary amount of dedication needed to succeed at anything worth doing. We like stripping credit from other people, but we don't like considering the work they did - much less doing any of the work ourselves. Much simpler to declare someone innately skilled and dismiss his/her accomplishments, while continuing to bemoan the impossibilities of the task at hand.

I have never believed this (calling others gifted while refusing to put in the hours necessary to achieve similar results) to be a coincidence.

Edited by FSI on 27 September 2007 at 10:36pm

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 48 of 62
28 September 2007 at 3:10am | IP Logged 
Julien wrote:

Have the courage of imitating everything, especially when you don't understand. Because at the beginning that will focus you on listening a lot, and also focus you on feeling the words and how they're used a lot more.


I agree with this completely. Focus on sound first and meaning later. I am convinced that children learn like this. They imitate everything they hear regardless of whether they understand or not. I think that the best way to get started with learning intonation and pronounciation in a language is to take a recording of the language at natural speed and try to learn it by heart. Don't look at a transcript just listen to the sounds. Just listening to the sounds will force you to train you ears to hear the language properly. As soon as you look at a transcript you will have the written picture in your mind whenever you listen to the language. Try to listen without prejudices first. Why do people want a written form? Because they are not used to listen to a sentence syllable by syllabe trying to hear the different sounds. When you start listening to a foreign language you need to assume that every single sound is different from your native language and thus make every effort to hear it with a fresh mind.


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