Do your methods work for “advanced” students, and do you ever have advanced classes?
The method itself works for advanced students, but I am probably not the person to teach such a class, and to complicate matters, there are not any existing materials for Chinese as of yet (that’s what I’m doing). So, the answer for now is, no, there wouldn’t be any advanced class. It’s gonna be hard enough for me to keep ahead of the beginners considering the volume of reading they’re going to need after not very long. It’d be easier if I could use stuff that’s already around, but…I guess that’s the point. Oh well.
However, there are some people passing the AP College Spanish and French exams after 2 years of study, and many after 3 years, so you can see it does work pretty well for more advanced levels. Unfortuantely, once you get to “a certain point” no one seems to know what to do with you, except to tell you you need to “keep studying” or “improve” your Chinese. (I get this all the time, too, but no one ever seems to have a concrete suggestion for something that would really work.)
Well, I’ve always thought of myself as a “multi=beginner.” I’ve tried “starting” so many times. Though, I have been more consistent recently with learning. But, I need the practice and the confidence.
Three days a week works for me. I’m assuming most will be weeknights, which is fine. I eagerly await the details.
[quote=“Southpaw”]We noticed that when we hear someone speaking Chinese in the background…we respond differently. He switches off. at work, when shopping, when the tv is on…and so on. I however, switch ON. I don’t make a real effort to listen hard and understand; it’s kind of passive. I believe that i pick up a lot this way. Why not try to notice what is being said around you a little more? it helps, and this is of course REAL Chinese in context.
This is a tip for anyone who feels that they switch off or block out the background Chinese interference.
I have noticed that i switch of my Chinese radar when I’m with a native speaker…i sit back and let them order and communicate for me. I will make a conscious effort to stop it.[/quote]
I only half read your post yesterday before leaving the apartment to go spend the rest of the day with my bf and his family. I read enough, however, to spend the drive up and some of the evening thinking of what you said. I realized that I do that, alot… switch off, I mean. It is like my brain says, “You can’t understand this, so why listen.” But, I believe you have a very valid point. And, it goes hand-in-hand with my suggestion earlier to use Chinese whenever you can, even if the Taiwanese you are talking to is using English (even though this is hard, since it is so natural to speak English).
So, last night as my bf and his mother were talking, I tried my best to listen to the conversation and not block it out. I was amazed at how many words I recognized or understood. It still wasn’t enough for me to really follow the flow of the conversation, but with comments from my bf (in English) and their body language, there were a few times I had an inkling of what was being said.
The intersting thing is, this is how children learn… isn’t it? A child, as it grows from infant to toddler and beyond, does study grammar, they don’t spend hours practicing to write characters or reviewing the tones. Instead, they listen. Over time, they start to hear patters, words that are repeated. And, they associate these with behaviors, actions, facial features, etc…
I know it is easier for a child to learn a new language than an adult. But, this method should help our process. And, this is part of the TPR process that ironlady used with me in the short time she was teaching me. At first, she just told me to listen and try to understand. I didn’t even respond to her in Chinese, but English. She just wanted to make sure I was “hearing” what she was saying. Then we moved on to other things…
Good suggestion! I’m going to try it more. Thanks.
You talk about your methods, etc. which sound interesting, but you have never mentioned (that I’ve seen) where you are in Taiwan.
Where are you? North, South, East, West?
I’ve never had the fortune of meeting Ironlady in person, but from what I’ve read on here from her and from others, she knows her stuff. I would certainly recommend anyone to give her class a try, and I only wish I was a beginner again so that I could take her class … but then again, when I see all the stuff that I still have to learn, I suppose I am still a beginner in many ways … sigh Chinese is certainly not an easy language to learn, so I can certainly sympathize with the original poster … but, if anyone can help, I’m sure Ironlady would be the one. Good luck!
It’s hopeless to think you can learn a language like chinese in a year, even if you study full -time. It takes years of perseverance. You’ve got to give yourself time to absorb the sounds around you. Let your brain get used to the phrases and how to put it all together. How long did it take you to learn English and that was when your brain is more plastic and adaptable. Just cos you learned German easily has no correlation with Chinese. Different thought patterns going on too.
One writer here made some comments about Active listening. Actually trying to discern meaning from the conversation around you. I agree that that is an excellent idea. However it’s requires a lot of energy and concentation that I find it difficult to keep up too long.
Fits and starts sums it up well for me too. I personally believe the key to learning chinese is too start learning lots of pingyin vocab and using that to practice with Taiwanese. Learning lots of pinyin vocab will give you a handle to start from, build relationships between words. Then you can go back to the Chinese script. The script is notoriously laborious and time wasting. I’m probably the polar opposite of a lot of chinese learners. I would be very happy for the chinese to abandon most of their script. I think it’s largely detrimental to learning, archaic and a totally inefficient system. Taiwanese will defend it to the hilt if you criticise it however as they see it as being their cultural asset. It’s the very obtuseness and difficulty involved in learning it that helps chinese say ‘we are chinese’ and we are different.
But as the script isn’t going anywhere soon…
In the long run it’s probably better to do it from the start but I am embarking on a experiment to do no writing practice whatsoever, counting on the fact that I can use pinyin or bopomofo to write on a compuyer. I’ve no choice since I’ve no time but I need to learn fast.
Once you’ve got the basic grammatical rules down the complicated phrases come after years of experience I guess.
Please do elaborate.
It depends what you mean by “learn a language”. For me, that would mean being able to converse easily and effectively with people in most everyday situations, express fairly complex thoughts and ideas with reasonable clarity, understand most of what you hear on the radio and TV, browse through and comprehend the bulk of what’s in the newspaper, and knock off a fairly decent letter with not too many glaring errors – i.e., some way short of native-user fluency, but with basic functional competence on all fronts. I have to agree with Headchoncho that, for all but a specially gifted few, it takes many, many years of sustained hard effort to get as far as that.
Please do elaborate.[/quote]
I haven’t studied fulltime and if I did, I believe I would be ‘fluent’. I know I can get anything and read everything that interests me. What more could you ask for?
I once knew a guy who landed in Taiwan with nothing but a liberal arts major from an American college. Within two years, he was functional in all the ways just described, though still far short of native speaker. IMHO, it is all about disciplined interest— tons of discipline to study/practice at every free moment or opportunity and tons of interest to motivate yourself to be disciplined.
Mine too. Look at the mormons.
I think, then, that our definitions of “fluency” are somewhat different.
Really? What’s your definition? I think it’s my ability to express ideas.
Really? What’s your definition? I think it’s my ability to express ideas.[/quote]
For me, it’s the ability to express ideas on a wide range of subjects, from politics economics, literature, and every day small talk, to explaining the rules of a game, etc. in a number of different ways. In addition, discourse should be fluid, descriptive, and flexible/versatile (based on who you’re speaking with, be it a child, the electrician who comes to fix your faulty wiring, or a university professor). Personally, I don’t have much difficulty expressing myself on almost any topic (except for things like brain surgery, astrophysics, or macroeconomics, although I couldn’t express myself very well in those areas in English!), but I am not satisfied with the fluidity of my speech or writing, nor my ability to recall more “advanced” or specialized terms instantaneously, especially idioms, as well as occasional mistakes with things like synonyms (Chinese, for example, has so many verbs for things like “move” or “change” which depend on context). So, I don’t consider myself fluent. I’m hoping that by the time I complete my M.A. here, I will be at that level, but that’s still another 3 years off.
I plan on being fluent by next year. Maybe you should switch styles. Chinese has a lot of information and there are better ways to learn then going to the University. I plan on being fluent before I attend University at Taida next year. I t has nothing to do with study technique either. It’s just the program I use combined with everyday practice.
I would still say our concepts of “fluency” are quite different. But anyway, good luck … the entrance exam for NTU is highly competitive. Have you spent any time studying classical Chinese? It would be a good idea to have a decent foundation in classical grammar, usage, etc. before entering uni as well, since your Taiwanese classmates will have already spent a minimum of 3 years learning this kind of stuff in high school. I’d recommend going out and picking up some of the Guowen textbooks that high school students here use, and familiarize yourself with that kind of material.
Thanks for the tip. I’m going to memorize more characters first. That’s working really well for me.
Miltown- What are do you want to major in? Or what kind of grad program is it? Classical Chinese would only be important if you were in some sort of Chinese literature program. Totally irrelevant otherwise.
I’m also in the dark on university entrance procedures. How do you intend to get in, is there a special entrance mechanism for foreign students that you’ll use? Do you have to take the regular exam like everyone else? (thus explaining why you keep talking about classical Chinese…)