Learning to Speak Chinese

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CountryBoy
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Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

My sister has just returned from a month long tour of China and the old Silk Road. She would like to learn how to speak / converse in Chinese but is not sure the best CD or book to start with. Can you advise?

Thanks.

country boy
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linuxuser
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linuxuser »

Where does your sister live?
Here in NJ, I have noticed adult evening enrichment classes in Beginning Chinese.
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CountryBoy
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

That's a good idea. Maybe she could check out for what is available in classes in Chicago where she lives.
Thanks.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Tim_in_GA »

The Pimsleur lessons are decent. I used to listen to them while commuting to/from work. You can learn some basic conversation that way. Rosetta Stone is expensive but pretty effective in my experience for getting deeper and building more vocabulary. I also took a couple of semesters of Mandarin at a local community college in the evenings and that was very helpful.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by sunspotzsz »

Many universities have confucius institute that offers Chinese course.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by chaz »

Rosetta Stone is very good.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Watty »

She should be specific about which type of Chinese she wants to learn.

There is Mandarin, Cantonese and many others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varieties_of_Chinese

These are pretty basic but she might want to check these out.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/
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CountryBoy
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

Thanks for the ideas.............

cb
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by scottyja »

I've studied Mandarin a bit, but I'm certainly no expert. I would have her check out LiveMocha before spending money on Rosetta Stone. It has free introductory lessons that should give her an idea of what learning Chinese will entail. It's very similar to the Rosetta Stone approach, so she may prefer something different altogether. Given how different Chinese is from English with respect to tones (how you say the syllable), I would ensure any books she uses have accompanying video or audio to assist in pronunciation.

One criticism I've heard about Rosetta Stone and LiveMocha for Mandarin is the learning style isn't a perfect fit for learning character-based languages. With Chinese, there is no alphabet, so you can't sound out words you don't recognize. You either know it or you don't. There is a way to Romanize the phonetics of each character (pin-yin), but with the limited number of sounds in Mandarin (with associated tones), it's often difficult to distinguish what is being said. For example, 'ma' can mean many different things, depending on context and the way it's said (the tone). So there is a lot of rote memorization if you want to be literate. It just means there's an additional step required for students to match the sounds and meanings to the corresponding character. With many Latin-based languages, you can learn the alphabet and pronunciation pretty early and learn quite a bit from reading. The trade off is grammar in Mandarin is fairly straightforward, especially compared to French or Spanish (i.e. no verb tenses, feminine/masculine, etc...).

If the community has classes, I second the recommendation to start there. Otherwise I would start with the local library and see if they have any subscriptions for online learning or software use (such as LiveMocha or Rosetta Stone). Additionally, see if there are any local clubs that she could join (or start) that get students together with native speakers. I've found people from China in general are very appreciative of Westerners trying to learn their language and are very patient having conversations in Mandarin, even when their English is excellent.

Good luck!
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by JupiterJones »

I'll second LiveMocha. Not the only learning source anyone should use (what is?), but a great part of your overall language-learning arsenal.

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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by FireProof »

I haven't done Chinese specifically, but I can say that for Spanish and French, there is a broad consensus from those who are actually successful learners that Rosetta Stone is entirely useless. For people who just dabble and never actually learn to speak, some find the mindless games enjoyable. It's basically disjointed vocabulary drills, and often just wrong (for example, it uses the gerund for the general present tense in Spanish, which a Spanish speaker never would). And the idea of learning as a language-less child is a cute gimmick, but we aren't children, and we already know a language, so there are much better ways to learn.

Pimsleur is much better in general, but should be supplemented, at least at some point, with some study of grammar and, as with any course, with some native material (subtitled movies, childrens' books etc) and some kind of conversation (e.g. language exchange).
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by LAbob »

FWIW, I used the Plimseur CD's (Mandarin I, 2 and 3). It was a great way to learn vocabulary and phrases, but I discovered that my tones were way off, since there was nobody to correct me. Chinese is a tonal language, and I cannot over-emphasize the importance of combining self-study with a knowledgeable teacher or mentor because the cadence, tone and sound of the actually spoken language can be quite different than the slow, plodding, enunciated sound you hear (and think you are repeating) on the CD
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by harrychan »

Date someone that only speaks Mandarin.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.
sscritic
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by sscritic »

harrychan wrote:Date someone that only speaks Mandarin.
That was my mistake. My date only spoke Cantonese, which is why I can order dimsam at yamcha but not dianxin at yincha.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by runnergirl »

She can check if her public library has an online course such as Rosetta Stone or Mango Languages. Both are very good introductions to the language. My public library offers these courses to residents for free via their website.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

runnergirl

i never thought of that idea; thanks.

cb
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peregrine
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by peregrine »

Pimsleur is very good. Chinese Pod (www.chinesepod.com) can also be helpful. There are a lot of good apps for cell phones, many of which are free - different people like different ones. If she can find Confucious Institute or other community education classes they would be the best. It is often difficult for new students to get the tones correct.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Starting Investor »

I lived in Beijing for 6 years. Tried a million different things. Lot of frustration and finally reward.

My general suggestions:
- Make sure she knows what she is getting into. She needs to be fully committed. Learning Chinese is no joke. I speak 5 languages and Chinese was more difficult to learn than the other 4 combined. I am not saying she should not, but best to be very committed and know what she get's into otherwise it will be time wasted.
- Make sure she studies "Mandarin Chinese", which is the most common language spoken in mainland China.

My two favorite materials are:
- Michel Thomas audio tapes. Its done in a classroom setting and they do it in a nice and effective way, making a lot of good and sometimes funny "memory links" and giving a lot of encouragement, making it fun. I like this one better than pimsleur which I also tried. These audio tapes you can listen to when walking outside, well anywhere, so convenient.
- Rosetta Stone. This is also fun, and is "total emerging" (i.e. no English at all). Its computer software that makes you link words to pictures, etc. Its like a fun game, and is effective as it stimulates your visual memory by linking words to pictures. Only problem is you need to sit behind your laptop.

Good luck!
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by HongKonger »

Starting Investor wrote: Make sure she studies "Mandarin Chinese", which is the most common language spoken in mainland China.
I would add to that - make it Beijing Mandarin too.

Do you get CCTV9 over in the US at all? There's a great learning Mandarin programme by the very famous Canadian - Dashan ("Big Mountain") - who is a big celeb in China because his Mandarin is excellent - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK61JUSdMbY
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Tim_in_GA »

LAbob wrote:FWIW, I used the Plimseur CD's (Mandarin I, 2 and 3). It was a great way to learn vocabulary and phrases, but I discovered that my tones were way off, since there was nobody to correct me. Chinese is a tonal language, and I cannot over-emphasize the importance of combining self-study with a knowledgeable teacher or mentor because the cadence, tone and sound of the actually spoken language can be quite different than the slow, plodding, enunciated sound you hear (and think you are repeating) on the CD
Definitely true. My wife is a native Mandarin speaker and often gives me a funny look when I say something in Chinese even though I think I am saying it exactly right. And there are so many things in all the learning methods I have tried that are not the "common" way of speaking. She will hear something on Rosetta Stone and say "nobody says that!" Just as English continually comes up with new slang and different ways of saying things that are not "proper" so does Chinese. And then different areas have much different ways of speaking the same language. Since I plan to retire back in my wife's home country of Taiwan I need to learn more of the Taiwanese version of Mandarin which sounds a bit different. They would make fun of me there if they hear me speaking like people do in Beijing (the typical Putonghua you hear on most lessons).
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

Apparently there is a Confucius Institute in Chicago where she lives....
http://www.confuciusinstitutechicago.com/
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linuxuser
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linuxuser »

Apparently Confuscius Institute is sponsored by PRC so you are going to get Mandarin Chinese that is more typical of Mainland China versus Taiwan. This is particularly relevant when it comes to learning simplified versus traditional Chinese characters.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Nephron »

My son has used Rosetta stone which I think is pretty good. It didnt' work for us simply due to his (and ours) lack of dedication.

A lot of medium to larger cities have Chinese language schools. We have sent our kids to one for a couple of years. Though they were mainly started for Asian American kids, most of them have classes for adults to learn conversation (esp for non-Chinese folks). This seems to be the most effective technique (vs software) since it gives you a little more accountability. I have had some friends who went all hardcore and dedicate a year in a language school in Taiwan. I was floored by their fluency after that year. Dedication is key.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

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Tim_in_GA wrote: Since I plan to retire back in my wife's home country of Taiwan I need to learn more of the Taiwanese version of Mandarin which sounds a bit different. They would make fun of me there if they hear me speaking like people do in Beijing (the typical Putonghua you hear on most lessons).
Actually, people in Beijing use a lot more erhau (the replacement of or addition to the final syllable of er) than standard Mandarin as I understand it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhua

When I watch my modern soaps, I can hear a difference between those shot in Beijing, those shot in Shanghai, and those shot in Taiwan.

But don't worry. When you live in a place you soon will change your speech to match. My niece moved to Ireland. She now speaks with an Irish lilt and uses Irish phrasing (as well as phrases). When I lived in the Philippines, my children would make fun of me when I started using Filipino pronunciations and phrasing in my English. Besides, go live in the country and you will want to speak Taiwanese Hokkien anyway. :)
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by HueyLD »

Nephron wrote:..most of them have classes for adults to learn conversation (esp for non-Chinese folks). This seems to be the most effective technique (vs software) since it gives you a little more accountability. I have had some friends who went all hardcore and dedicate a year in a language school in Taiwan. I was floored by their fluency after that year. Dedication is key.
與當地人聽和說是學習的關鍵因素
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Tim_in_GA »

sscritic wrote:
Tim_in_GA wrote: Since I plan to retire back in my wife's home country of Taiwan I need to learn more of the Taiwanese version of Mandarin which sounds a bit different. They would make fun of me there if they hear me speaking like people do in Beijing (the typical Putonghua you hear on most lessons).
Actually, people in Beijing use a lot more erhau (the replacement of or addition to the final syllable of er) than standard Mandarin as I understand it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhua

When I watch my modern soaps, I can hear a difference between those shot in Beijing, those shot in Shanghai, and those shot in Taiwan.

But don't worry. When you live in a place you soon will change your speech to match. My niece moved to Ireland. She now speaks with an Irish lilt and uses Irish phrasing (as well as phrases). When I lived in the Philippines, my children would make fun of me when I started using Filipino pronunciations and phrasing in my English. Besides, go live in the country and you will want to speak Taiwanese Hokkien anyway. :)
Yeah, I really dislike the Erhua way of speaking. Too harsh. People in Taiwan speak in a more soothing manner. Shanghai seems to go even further to the point that guys are accused of speaking "girly" if they speak like that in Taiwan. I know I need to pick up some Taiwanese but I'll wait until I am happy with my mastery of Mandarin. I can't process another language right now!
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Tim_in_GA »

HueyLD wrote:與當地人聽和說是學習的關鍵因素
Very true
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

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Tim_in_GA wrote: Yeah, I really dislike the Erhua way of speaking. Too harsh. People in Taiwan speak in a more soothing manner. Shanghai seems to go even further to the point that guys are accused of speaking "girly" if they speak like that in Taiwan. I know I need to pick up some Taiwanese but I'll wait until I am happy with my mastery of Mandarin. I can't process another language right now!
I sort of like Erhua. More manly you might say. :)

So do you know bopomofo? One of the fun things of watching the shows from various places is the variety of text input methods for computers and cell phones. It seems as if bopomfo is used widely in Taiwan for text messaging. I have also noticed various versions of pinyin with autofill (one uses a lot of ' to separate characters) and some Cangjie for computer input depending on the location. There are the cell phones with touch screens for handwriting, but handwriting seems to be slower than some of the other input methods.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by larrydmsn »

It doesn't really matter which flavor of Mandarin you speak. As long as it can be called Mandarin, you will be understood by almost all Chinese people you interact with. Even in Canton (Guangdong) province where Cantonese is prevalent, almost all young people can communicate in Mandarin.
Last edited by larrydmsn on Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Tim_in_GA »

sscritic wrote: I sort of like Erhua. More manly you might say. :)

So do you know bopomofo? One of the fun things of watching the shows from various places is the variety of text input methods for computers and cell phones. It seems as if bopomfo is used widely in Taiwan for text messaging. I have also noticed various versions of pinyin with autofill (one uses a lot of ' to separate characters) and some Cangjie for computer input depending on the location. There are the cell phones with touch screens for handwriting, but handwriting seems to be slower than some of the other input methods.
No, my wife uses bopomofo but that's way above my skill level. Pinyin is all I will ever need.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

It all sounds so difficult to learn that one hesitates to even begin....
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linuxuser
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linuxuser »

When I was learning Spanish, my Spanish teacher suggested watching Plaza Sesamo. :happy
My Spanish is so pathetic, I don't even understand what is being said. :(


http://www.sesamestreetchina.com.cn/
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by frose2 »

A suggestion based on my experience in language learning: Read a lot in pinyin. That extensive reading builds vocabulary. When you have built a decent vocabulary, try listening to clearly enunciated audio, e.g., newscasters. Imitate the pronunciation a lot. It is going to be really hard. You can also start at that point learning the 5,000+ Chinese characters, uniquely difficult among the world's languages, as well as speaking Chinese with friendly Chinese speakers who are willing to tolerate and correct your errors.

This is definitely a long march -- and unlike Mao Zedong's experience, no one is going to carry you in a palanquin on that march.

I am not sure how you get your hands on a lot of pinyin to read.

My suggestion may not be appropriate for certain kinds of people who are good at making sense of spoken words even in the context of other spoken words they don't know. To me, however, it is a huge difference watching a movie in French (which is a language I learned) and watching that movie with closed-captioning subtitles in French. Just listening I miss a lot of words, with closed-captioning hardly any.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linenfort »

frose2 wrote:I am not sure how you get your hands on a lot of pinyin to read..
No problem. Just paste Chinese characters into google translate. It can handle both simplified and traditional characters, and it now gives pinyin. It even gives tone markers with the pinyin. It's hard to find colloquial speech on the web compared to, say, the news or wikipedia. But you can definitely build your vocabulary. If you have a weibo account or Chinese people on your facebook, you've got colloquial text, too.

I love bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ), but I don't use it anymore.

Can't give any recommendations of CDs because my spoken Chinese is horrible. You don't want to copy me. ;-)
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by cbeck »

Language learning software is a waste of time. I never met anyone who actually learned a language that way.

Why not do lessons one-on-one with a native speaker using skype? I'm sure there are hundreds of sites offering such services, but here is one from a quick google:

http://www.touchchinese.com/
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CanuckExpats »

I haven't got around to reading it yet, but I noticed this recent article about learning languages (with a travel bent) from the NYT: http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/tr ... wanted=all
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by SP-diceman »

CountryBoy wrote:It all sounds so difficult to learn that one hesitates to even begin....
I'm still working on english. :)
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

Everyone's suggestions are greatly appreciated!

cb
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by feitao »

I am Chinese. My suggestions:

* Go with the standard Mandarin. Most, if not all, Chinese can speak/understand Mandarin. It is the official language in mainland China. TV news in mainland China are broadcasted in standard Mandarin. In fact, I did not know the word 'Mandarin' until I came to the US. In mainland China, 'Chinese' is 'Mandarin' by default.

* Go with simplified Chinese characters. It is used in mainland China, and, as the name indicates, it is much simpler (easier to learn) than the traditional characters. Unfortunately, Chinese newspapers in the US use the traditional characters. But there are tons of news and web sites in simplified characters on can access on the internet, e.g. http://www.sina.com.cn/

* Go with the Latin pinyin system. There is no need to learn ㄅㄆㄇㄈ, which is not taught in mainland China. Extra burden, I would say. I use pinyin to type Chinese in PC. It may be a many-to-one mapping, e.g. dajia corresponds to 大家, 打架, 打假, 大驾 etc. You can then select the one you want.

I do not think there is much difference between the standard Mandarin and the Taiwanese version. Go with the standard Mandarin and you can understand the Taiwanese version.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by Tim_in_GA »

feitao wrote: * Go with simplified Chinese characters. It is used in mainland China, and, as the name indicates, it is much simpler (easier to learn) than the traditional characters. Unfortunately, Chinese newspapers in the US use the traditional characters. But there are tons of news and web sites in simplified characters on can access on the internet, e.g. http://www.sina.com.cn/
This has not been my experience. Traditional characters are easier to learn for me. I think it is because there is more information contained in a traditional character and more strokes which makes it a little more "unique" amongst a bunch of characters. Simplified characters sometimes lose key components that I use to remember the radical or the sound component. And so many look so similar. There is just more to a traditional character for my brain to visualize, it's hard to explain but it works better for me.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linuxuser »

feitao wrote:Unfortunately, Chinese newspapers in the US use the traditional characters.
I don't believe it is "unfortunate" at all. Learn the traditional characters and you can guess the simplified. Not the other way around.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linenfort »

I love the traditional characters, but for the OP's sister, perhaps no characters are best. I spent way too much time on reading and as a result, I can do some texting from an iPhone, but I don't speak Mandarin well. Of course plenty of people master both, but it's probably best to focus on speech and pinyin first.

And, I hate to say it but if she's going to study the characters, she should really go with the simplified ones. Of course the traditional ones are more interesting and have more meaning. After all, they are the ones that were used for 2000 years. But, unless she's going to live in Taiwan or Hong Kong or a few other locations, simplified characters are the ones she'll most likely encounter. They were not designed carelessly, either. Based on on a cursive style, they have their own beauty.

As for U.S. newspapers, the tide seems to be turning. We used to have traditional characters everywhere, but in Philadelphia for example, top-to-bottom gave way to left-to-right. In the children's section of the paper, bopomofo gave way (as the phonetic aid) to pinyin. It's just a matter of time before traditional gives way to simplified. This is due to the most recent wave of immigration, from places like Fujian province. Not sure how things will turn out in California, where there is a longer history and larger population used to the traditional 字.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by nvboglehead »

HueyLD wrote:
Nephron wrote:..most of them have classes for adults to learn conversation (esp for non-Chinese folks). This seems to be the most effective technique (vs software) since it gives you a little more accountability. I have had some friends who went all hardcore and dedicate a year in a language school in Taiwan. I was floored by their fluency after that year. Dedication is key.
與當地人聽和說是學習的關鍵因素
Reverso.net awkwardly translates HueyD's post as: "And when they heard and said unto them, is the key school student factors". My guess is that this means to say, "listening and speaking are important factors in learning [a foreign language]."
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by sscritic »

nvboglehead wrote:
HueyLD wrote: 與當地人聽和說是學習的關鍵因素
Reverso.net awkwardly translates HueyD's post as: "And when they heard and said unto them, is the key school student factors". My guess is that this means to say, "listening and speaking are important factors in learning [a foreign language]."
word for word from mdbg.net:
take part in local persons hear and speak is study's (learning's) crucial element.

You left out the local part, which I think is key to HueyLD's message.

Bing translate has
With people speaking and listening are key elements of learning. (which also leaves out the local aspect)
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by HueyLD »

Reverso.net awkwardly translates HueyD's post as: "And when they heard and said unto them, is the key school student factors". My guess is that this means to say, "listening and speaking are important factors in learning [a foreign language]."
word for word from mdbg.net:
take part in local persons hear and speak is study's (learning's) crucial element.

You left out the local part, which I think is key to HueyLD's message.
Well, I decided to post in Chinese without English translation because I was conducting a test of the proficiency of various online translation programs. Sad to say that they didn't do a good job.

My translation: an important aspect in learning a language is to be in an environment where you can converse with locals in their native language. There is nothing like being forced to listen and speak a language in an environment where nobody could understand your English.
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by larrydmsn »

HueyLD wrote:
Reverso.net awkwardly translates HueyD's post as: "And when they heard and said unto them, is the key school student factors". My guess is that this means to say, "listening and speaking are important factors in learning [a foreign language]."
word for word from mdbg.net:
take part in local persons hear and speak is study's (learning's) crucial element.

You left out the local part, which I think is key to HueyLD's message.
Well, I decided to post in Chinese without English translation because I was conducting a test of the proficiency of various online translation programs. Sad to say that they didn't do a good job.

My translation: an important aspect in learning a language is to be in an environment where you can converse with locals in their native language. There is nothing like being forced to listen and speak a language in an environment where nobody could understand your English.
Google Translate thought it was Japanese, but once I manually selected Chinese, it gave a surprisingly good translation: Listening and speaking with the locals is key to learning
feitao
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by feitao »

Well, the mainland China government pushed the simplified characters for the reason that they are easier to learn and write. Take the Chinese for "simplified characters" for example, 简体字 vs 簡體字.

Simpiflied characters were not created by the government. Most already existed. The government just adopted them into the standard. I heared that the Taiwan government was going to develope its own simplified characters, but decided against it as the mainland China did it first. The Japanese also use their own simplified characters, though I think the changes are not as dramatic as in mainland China.

I learned the simplified characters in mainland China. I can read the traditional characters without much difficult, although slower. I cannot write traditional characters. (It is not a problem to type traditional characters in PC, as these is an option you can switch between simplified and traditional characters in most pinyin input systems.)

On second thought: the choice between simplified/traditional characters depends on one's interest. If one would like to read Taiwan media or Chinese newspapers in the US, they should learn the traditional characters. If one is interested in the web sites in mainland China, they should learn the simplified Chinese.
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CountryBoy
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by CountryBoy »

Many thanks.

Had no idea that learning Chinese involved so very many different issues and decisions.

cb
scottjspencer
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by scottjspencer »

Having had four years of Mandarin in college (almost a decade ago), I agree with those who have said that it is absolutely critical to learn with a native speaker. Either local classes or an online language exchange (there are many of them) can serve this purpose.

It's not just that you can hear what a native accent should sound like, but that they can correct you when you say things wrong. And while I agree that some might not like the sound of a Beijing accent, if you speak with one, you will likely be understood everywhere in China. If you learn from someone with a regional accent, you may have more difficulty. For example, while living in Benxi, in Liaoning province, the natives pronouced R's like Y's, so the word for meat was "you" instead of "rou"; and in Linghai, an even smaller town, the "s" and "sh" sounds where reversed by some locals, so "14" sounded like "40". (I thought a shopkeeper was trying to rip me off, charging 40 yuan--"sishi", she said--for 5 bottles of Coke and tea.)

As for the simplified vs. traditional character argument, I'd agree that it's easier to recognize simplified characters if you already know traditional than it is to do the reverse. But if you also want to learn to write the characters, simplified seems--to me, anyway--to be easier, because many characters have fewer strokes to remember.

The most important thing to remember when trying to learn a language that is so different from English, is that it's a long road. Don't allow yourself to get discouraged if you don't seem to be learning as quickly as you might have hoped.
linenfort
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Re: Learning to Speak Chinese

Post by linenfort »

scottjspencer wrote:and in Linghai, an even smaller town, the "s" and "sh" sounds where reversed by some locals, so "14" sounded like "40". (I thought a shopkeeper was trying to rip me off, charging 40 yuan--"sishi", she said--for 5 bottles of Coke and tea.)
Ha! In Taiwan they also have what sounds like reversals (a failure to "twist the tongue", they say), with s/sh, z/zh, etc. But, there is less of that tone-dropping. The tones are pronounced so clearly in TW that the switching of s & sh doesn't matter, thus even I can distinguish between 14 and 40.

I totally agree with you. Learn to speak standard Mandarin (or even Beijingese with its retroflex r), and most Chinese speakers will understand you, even if you don't sound like a local. By definition, you can't sound like a local everywhere. ;-)
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