What should i do

hello everyone,

I have a very basic question.
I have been in Taiwan for quite some time and all my efforts to learn the language have been futile or have just remained plans.

I have taken two courses (once a week classes) and finished till level intermediary but in reality I would still rate my self as a beginner.

I am not much interested in the written part of the language and want to concentrate more on the spoken part.

I have pimsleur tapes for all the 3 levels, practical audio video Chinese part -1 with tapes and tones of stuff downloaded from internet.

Now is the real problem and I want your advice on this, I know there would be many who have been through this situation before.

I am into a full time technical job and it requires a lot of time during week days. week ends; I do have the time but lack on motivation I think.

If I look at the whole picture I think Chinese is too hard to learn and get scared to even start again, but I know if I will take it step at a time it wont be that bad.

Do you have any suggestions as to how should I change my schedule so that learning Chinese is not a big problem.

Any tips on how to keep my self motivated, how to practice. in a technical job basic Chinese doesn

Use it everywhere you go. Breakfast shops, 7-11, bars, etc. Go to places on your free time where you’re always around it. Listening skills get better. Don’t be afraid to ask how to say things and exchange English for it. Can be a slow process but the more you learn, the more you know. Use a phrasebook with pinyin or whatever. Carry that book wherever you go.

Anyway, ask people. I find that you don’t learn too much too fast. There’s a lot more I could learn but I just have fun with it.

Agreed to that.

Aside from the world’s most idiotic and ridiculously inefficient written system, Mandarin is a fairly easy language to get a basic grip on.

Starting from the standpoint where you’ve said you don’t do well with textbooks and don’t care about reading, just start listening to all the common phrases people say around you (have you eaten yet, long time no see … etc etc), and repeat them religiously. Make sure you have someones attention before speaking to them, otherwise you’ll always get the “deer in headlights foreigner speaking mandarin to me” look, no matter if you said it right or wrong. After that, if they still don’t understand then you know you have to work on your pronounciation or tones a bit more for that phrase…

Eventually, you start connecting these abstract phrases together and pulling words out and making your own sentences, or understanding other people’s.

Repetition repetition repetition, same as any lanquage. So force yourself to use mandarin for whatever you’re able to say at every opportunity. Do not point out on the menu if you can say what you want, etc etc…

Hope it helps.

www.supermemo.com used with a PDA helped me a lot. If you’re not into the reading part make flashcards of vocabulary using just pinyin and tone numbers/marks.

I got mine to where it is by throwing grammar and writing almost totally to the wind and just memorizing vocabulary. Then I was able to understand a lot, speaking followed.

What really helped out my speaking was being in a working situation where I had to use it everyday. I never did the “I’m going to only speak Chinese to everyone I see” thing, though I hear that works well.

I took a notebook around with me and wrote things down I wanted to learn (phrases, characters etc.) I’d get them translated and put them into my flashcard database.

Some things you’ll say wrong for the longest time until one day someone corrects you. It’s like they accept what you say until one person…

For example, I used to say, “fu chien” for “I want to pay my bill” at a bar. Then one day I was told it’s, “jie jhang” (something like, “borrow bill”).

One of the first things I learned was the Chinese word for cigarettes since I smoke. Eventually I was able to pronounce that correctly and then found out the name of different brands. It’s easy going to the stores and such because you don’t need to say please, etc. Just like back home in Canada. Say the name of the product and they give it to you.

[quote=“j99l88e77”]Some things you’ll say wrong for the longest time until one day someone corrects you. It’s like they accept what you say until one person…

For example, I used to say, “fu chien” for “I want to pay my bill” at a bar. Then one day I was told it’s, “jie jhang” (something like, “borrow bill”).[/quote]
“jie zhang”. The “jh” digraph comes from that evil, seed-of-Satan monstrosity known as (dare I utter it and risk burning in hell?) “Tongyong Pinyin”.

“fu qian” means “pay money”, “jie zhang” means “settle account”: the result is the same - you end up paying the bill. It’s the difference between saying “I’d like to pay” and “I’d like to pay my bill”.

I’d suggest going out with a Chinese co-worker or friend or two, to some quiet coffee shop or something and practicing Chinese with them. I learned a lot of my Chinese simply from conversations with people.

Get a Taiwanese lover?

I don’t know about this approach, as I’m married to a Canuck and don’t dally with others (I don’t have a death wish). However, it’s often said that the best way to get up to speed in a language is to have a SO whose native language is the one you want to acquire.

The two things that I find constant in my learning are: a) 1 hour a day, no matter what, and b) learn what I find interesting.

The only other thing I hold to is the idea that, even when I think I am wasting my time and not getting anywhere, I keep going. I had a class today that absolutely kicked ass, and I was concerned because it is a new subject and text book for me. I did better than either I or my teacher thought I would. You WILL progress if you chip away at it.

I take privates ProperChinese@yahoo.com.

Flexible schedule and you are in charge of the class(and can dictate that talking, not writing is your focus).

結帳 jie2 zhang4 (finish bill, jie2shu4 de jie2) not jie1zhang4(borrow bill)

Find someone to help you with the words and sentences that you will actually be able to use either because of the idiosycracies of your life or because they are just common expressions. Get that person to help you record sandwiches with that vocabulary. It will sound like this “Wo yao xue zui pupian de biaodafa” “I want to study the most common vocabulary” “Wo yao xue zui pipian de biaodafa” “Wo yao xue pu pian de biaodafa”. Get them to really emphasize the tones and perhaps give tone numbers for each syllable on the first reading and then relax with it on the second and third (or fourth and fifth if it is a long sentence with lots of new words or structures). You might also want spellings. I do because spelling in any language is a trial for me. Dunno why exactly.

Anyway after you make and listen listen listen to a number of tapes like this and then try TO USE those expresssion you will begin to understand your own needs and learning style better and begin to make tapes that suit you more exactly. This is how I both teach English and study Chinese so am quite certain that it is effective.

Oh, and eventually you’ll need to study grammar.

[quote=“FearsomeOrange”]man4 zou3
slow walk
“go slow”[/quote]
This is an odd phrase to Western ears: it means “Take your time in leaving” or “Don’t be in a hurry to leave”. The Chinese often say this when seeing a guest off. There is no equivalent in English. We may say “Take care” or “Drive safely” or something like that.

Thanks for that. Wasn’t sure. Now it makes sense. Different tones.

If you want to learn speaking then the way to do it is surprise, surprise to speak.

The crazy notion that you can learn to speak by reading a book is what too many Taiwanese think, and look how good their English is on average after XX years of study.

As everyone else has advised in the thread, get into the habbit of using Chinese whenever possible, at work, with friends etc.

Learn to use 怎麼說 [zen3 me5 shuo1] (How do you say it) to ask how to say something when you really don’t know, and to buy yourself some thinking time in a conversation while you try to piece together a phrase without the other party ‘helping’ you by saying it for you.

Just to confuse the 結帳 issue :smiling_imp:
The Taiwanese also often say 埋單 [mai2 dan1] (bury the bill)

First, be careful about who you learn Mandarin from. Chris knows what he’s talking about here; Bob is helpful and accurate (though apparently tone-deaf :wink: ); so is Fearsome Orange. Some of the other posters who posted something about Mandarin made mistakes.

Second, break down language learning into bite-sized pieces, rather than thinking of it as an insurmountable, monolithic whole. Accept that you’ll never learn everything there is to know. That isn’t a realistic goal. What is realistic is to become conversationally fluent and, later, literate. It will take a few years of regular study. Think about it this way: If you memorize an average of ten commonly used words or phrases each day of the week, in one year you’ll be familiar with 3,650 commonly used words and phrases. You might use 2,000 of them on a regular basis, which puts you far ahead of the average punter who can only make simple requests. Along the way, you’ll figure out grammar, learn to mimic the locals, and start learning to recognize characters. Year two? Work through a few reading texts, then start hacking away at the elementary school Mandarin texts. You’ll be up to fourth or fifth grade in a year if you spend 30 minutes a day on it. Assuming you learn how to type in Bo Po Mo Fo, at that point you’re funtionally literate.

If you can’t find the motivation, nobody is going to give it to you. Either start learning now, or keep worrying about the fact that you haven’t yet learned Mandarin yet. I don’t think everyone needs to learn Mandarin, but if you think you should, then get off your ass and do something about it. Plenty of people learn Mandarin while working long hours.

Be careful of everyone. Even the previous poster.

Especially the previous poster. Memorize ten useful expressions every day! Ha!

Other than that though what he said sounded pretty dead on to me.

if you need some flashcards based on the PAV 1 book’s words/phrases (all 936 of them), click here to print, cut and go:
[Learning Chinese Flashcards (PAV Book 1:Ready-to-Print)