I want to be able read magazines and Big scary books full of chinese characters with ease! What’s taking so long to acheive that! I feel like my progress is so slow, I don’t want to be too old to finally appreciate ancient texts.
Although what will probably happen is that I will waste years of my life learning thousands of characters, just to read something like a newspaper and be like, “that’s it? this is what I have wasted my life on?” Always my biggest fear.
But ancient texts are probably way different, I hope so…
Dragonbones, I have class for 4 hours everday. Then, I usually study at least 1-2 hours after school if not more.
I do agree with you, I really need to enjoy the trip rather than rush it. However, I miss reading books, I made a vow that I wouldn’t read books in English while I was in Taiwan, so I’m left almost hobbyless. The only books here I can read, as of right now are comic books, and even those books I take so much time struggling through them that they are not the relaxing hobby I once knew. So instead of reading books in English I just study chinese, but that really does get tiring.
And how long has this been going on? I’m just trying to get a better feel for where you are in your studies and what level your Chinese is, so I can give more relevant advice, if any.
Nothing wrong with rushing it – just make sure you enjoy it too. Don’t focus on a distant goal as a source of frustration. If you do have such a goal, use it as a motivator, but be realistic about how long it will take, and accept that. Focus on shorter term, more accessible goals so that you’ll feel rewarded and motivated as you reach each one, and then set the next one.
Yup, been there. Well, consider reading books for youths that have bopomofo or pinyin accompaniment, so that at least you spend less time looking characters up (even if you have to look them up, it will be faster if you use pronunciation-based indices; plus you can use the VERY highly recommended DeFrancis ABC Comprehensive, and look up compounds quickly).
Then soon you’ll be ready for some books for youths that don’t have that crutch, and some simple novels for adults, such as 離島醫生 Li2dao3 Yi1sheng1, which is a collection of humorous anecdotes about a doctor’s stay on an island. It’s very colloquial, simple, and short.
Another stepping stone is the bilingual translations of famous novels like Through the Looking Glass, with English on one page, and Chinese facing.
As for lacking hobbies, well, consider taking up some that are Chinese-related, such as taking a calligraphy class. Or pick up something that requires you to use Chinese, such as taking any other course taught in Chinese (e.g., seal carving, pottery, martial arts, etc.). And vary your study methods. Add a language exchange or two.
BTW, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and reading a novel in English once in a while!
I have been doing that since I arrived in Taiwan, probably started studying seriously like June 4th or 5th.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I study and communicate a lot in chinese, I get really really sleepy. Sometimes when I’m in a group with a bunch of people talking chinese, I get really really tired. I sometimes feel like just sleeping right after eating with everyone.
But I think my first step is just getting a simple goal and working towards acheiving it. That will be my first step indeed.
Well one piece of advice would to be to find a topic you like such as music, science, sports, etc. Then find reading materials for that topic. Learn the words and find a language exchange or pay someone to discuss that topic with you.
It might word like this. You find some Chinese pop songs and print the words. Learn to read the song. Then discuss it with a language partner. Use the new words to have a conversation with a language partner or someone you pay to discuss the topic. You could hire a student for 200-300NT to discuss the topic with you.
[quote=“Rabidpie”]I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I study and communicate a lot in Chinese, I get really really sleepy…[/quote]I think that’s a common side effect of forcing your brain to work overtime. I had the same problem w/Japanese & I’m sure Chinese will continue to be the same. Maybe has something to do with being simultaneously visual, auditory and 3-dimensional (tonal) - requires more energy to focus on than a “simpler” language.
The idea of focusing study efforts on a hobby can also be very helpful. Use a subject you enjoy to 1)keep things interesting, and 2)focus on concepts & vocab you’ll actually WANT to use. If you’re always learning business or school terms but aren’t a business person or student, you’ll get bored quickly.
Another option (which might prove to be expensive) is to get Chinese-language DVD versions (or books) of stories you already know fairly well in English. No need to start w/complex classics - get the Chinese book adaptation of “Transformers: the Movie” or something. Harry Potter is readily available too, I’m sure, if you’re into that series. You’ll already be ahead of the game on characters & plot - you just have to fill in the details.
Yeah, I’d also like to find audio books. It’d be great to have the paper book and a CD of the same thing. I spent some time looking for this type of thing a few months ago, as I thought it would be a great way to improve my reading. I found one or two audio books, but no paper copy. The CDs were really expensive too, so I didn’t buy any.
Rabidpie, you mention having studied in the US. I presume you have a good foundation of pinyin, radicals, tones, and dictionary-use. I think you will find obviously that with an immersive environment, your rate of learning should increase exponentially. Good luck!
I also feel very mentally drained at the end of the day since I am forced to use mandarin for work in speaking, listening, and some reading. By 7pm, I tend not to be able to understand mandarin anymore. In fact, on some tired occasions, I imagine that I am actually hearing French or some foreign language when someone is speaking English or Mandarin. Weird, but very true. It’s like my wires are crossing or melting in my brain.
Instead of audio tapes, I find that watching DVDs helpe tremendously for me. The benefits are:
Listening to the Chinese audio while making use of English subtitles to fill in the gaps as needed (either if the vocab is unfamiliar or the speech is too fast).
Even better, find HK movies that have English and Chinese subtitles shown together. It’s like a modern Rosetta Stone.
Look for movie genres that have “light” content, so the vocab doesn’t get too complex (or too archaic - like the period pieces). Cartoons and Comedy seems to be easy genres to get into. Fortunately, most Chinese movies aren’t that complex in plot or dialogue.
I think you may save more time this way than by audiotapes, but YMMV.