How should I start learning Chinese?
Hey, I need some help here. How should I go about learning mandarin Chinese? I will be learning on my own for a couple of years then in college I will learn the language in class. I am also planning to take a trip to China in a year or so.
Ok so here is how I have been trying to learn and the progress has been really slow. I listen to a lesson and learn how to pronunciate each word under the "key vocabulary" until I know how to pronunciate it correctly with the correct tones. I then transfer the words that I learned how to say over to Skritter to learn how to write the characters. ( When I write the characters, I do not really know what all the strokes mean etc.) The way I am learning is a very slow progress. How should I go on about learning this language? Should I focus on learning vocab and forming sentences in my mind and don't worry about writing it?
iaingMarch 16, 2011, 10:48 AM
Slow progress = inefficient learning :)
The idea that Chinese is "hard" or "takes a long time" is only true if you let it be.
1- only use the dialogue (mandarin only) files and the expansion exercises. Don’t listen to anything that has English in it. Particularly avoid the main podcasts at Cpod (seriously).
2- download 300 elementary dialogues (mandarin only) and their transcripts (pinyin is fine if you are beginning). Listen to them obsessively – minimum 4-5 hours a day for 2-3 months. Read the transcript, then listen to the dialogue and repeat over and over. Fall asleep with the dialogues, and then first thing waking start reading what you fell asleep listening to.
3- by the end of 3 months you'll know all the ellie dialogues back to front.
4 - during the third month start adding 5 inter dialogues (mandarin only) per day on topics you find interesting, mixing the newer ones with the older ones.
5 - during months 4-6, switch to inter only and progressively add another 5 intermediate dialogues (mandarin only), per day. Again – listen and read obsessively. Really obsessively.
6 - during months 4-6, also spend 4 hours one night every fortnight listening to the old ellie dialogues nonstop in one "hit".
6- by the end of month 6, you'll know close to 200 intermediate dialogues back to front and will not need to use ellie anymore - you are well on your way.
7- during months 5-6 add in reading (only) of upper intermediate transcripts that are on topics of interest to you.
8 - After month 6 - start going to aichinese and do the "lesson of the day" for an hour a day. Read how to pronounce Chinese sounds correctly.
9 - during months 6-12, progressively add 3 I and UI lessons a day. Keep reinforcing and mixing the I and Ui lessons. Repeat and rinse.
10 - during months 9-12, talk to a native speaker in casual conversation for 45 minutes a day.
After 1 year, you'll be fine, and totally functional in communicating in Chinese.
If you believe "important language" points are "only" found in the main podcasts then, undoubtedly, that is where you will find them.
I'll occasionally listen to a full podcast - particularly when the dialogue screams "important Chinese tidbits may be explained elsewhere". But it is more often than not forgotten the next day, and I find I've wasted 15 minutes that is much, much better spent listening to Mandarin-only dialogues.
Hardcore indeed! I think it takes a very special person to keep up that kind of level of self-discipline, and boredom. Because listening to the same 300 dialogues for 4-5 hours a night for THREE MONTHs would indeed be quite tiresome.
That's not to say your method wouldn't work, I absolutely believe it would, and if you had the stamina, and more importantly the time, you could definitely achieve your goals that way.
The problem is that the majority of people listening to Chinesepod don't have 4-5 hours a night to spare just to learn chinese. I don't. Which is the type of person that Cpod is aimed at. Mandarin on your terms, remember?
But in any case, if you've followed your own method there and are indeed fluent by that method within a year, I absolutely applaud you. I wish I had your tenacity and time!
I think users simonpetterson and themainman posted at some point that they were spending multiple hours per day listening to dialogues, repeating them out loud, and progressing up the lesson chain. They seemed to have had the success you're indicating can be had with learning Chinese. It would be cool to hear what their metrics are for "fluent".
Actually I agree that it is possible to communicate within 12 months at an elementary level .. I think that maybe three or four months is enough. I've met some people who get the language down way fast. And there are even easier ways of achieving this than the way you describe.
Hey, what is you own experience? Are you theorising here? Wishing it were true? Or reporting on the results of your method?
Personally, I went through only the dialogues with the newbie and elementary lessons just fine. You only need the podcast at those levels for cultural aspects, language nuances, and for a guided pace.
That being said, patience is key with language learning. Don't try to do too much too fast. As boring as it may be, listening to the same dialogues over and over does have amazing results.
Wow, really? I'm going to try this - I may not be hugely patient, but I'm perfectly happy to just listen to dialogues on repeat in the car if needs be.
Will let you know how I'm doing in a couple of months!
I think I listened to about 50 elementary lessons in the car over 6-8 months. 1 hour commute one-way to work gave me plenty of time to do so. I got bored with it after about 9 months, when it looked like I wouldn't be going back to China for years and years. But not before I could recite plenty of lessons off the top of my head. Studying in the car definitely works.
Yea, I already study in the car, but I just listen to lessons, and then review the dialogue and listen to the audio review. The idea of listening to old ele dialogues on repeat doesn't thrill me, but I'll try anything, because my progress is like a snail at the moment.
in that case, I would just suggest that you challenge yourself, and listen to new intermediate dialogues along with some of the old elementaries. You will definitely not be bored.
Another gentle suggestion would be to use some type of randomizing function to your playback in the car, so that you don't immediately know the topic for the intermediate you listen to. This makes you pay attention (or gets you lost so fast that you lose interest right away. If this happens, then look at the pdf so that you can get a sense of the words in the dialog, then start listening again). Obviously, the first few times you hear it, you won't understand much, but after about 10 listens, you'll start to get more and more.
Worth a try, thanks pretzellogic! My listening is definitely my worst skill, it's pretty shocking. I'm going to download every studied dialogue I've got and put them into a playlist then put them on random in the car when I've done a lesson. Can't hurt I guess.
oh, and just one more thing.... :-)
when I said I listened to the dialogues in the car for about 9 months, I meant that I listened to the dialogue, then tried to repeat along with the dialogue at the same time out loud. The tendency is to speak a couple lines of dialogue out loud, then mumble a few more, then nothing on the last few. This is partly why you'l never be bored; you have to pay attention to this (in addition to driving at 70 mph/120kph). Oddly enough, speaking out loud helps your listening.
The cool thing is, once you've done this with a dialogue, you create a really cool stereo effect between you and the podcast. Plus, you've now burned the dialogue into your head, and you can repeat it back to Chinese people at key times, and delude them into thinking you're fluent! I do this when I feel mischievious (or when the teacher asks me to use a word she's taught me, and the word is one used in a cpod dialogue. They sound so amazed. then I start speaking other sentences, and my awkwardness returns....)
listening to citcoms, radio, and TV took me milestones in the listening arena with a chinese dialect. i noticed at one point listening had to be my main focus for a season then just spent maybe over 90 percent of my study time or most of all my study time listening. fluency came not long after that. so i would encourage you to listen to whatever u can and not just Cpod. i am now watching this citcom in mandarin:
helps alot in upping your listening level...
chrisMarch 19, 2011, 04:41 AM
I've commented from time to time before that my approach has been to plough through as many lessons as quickly as possible which has certainly been successful on some measures. The downside of course is that I never consolidate/review the lesson content once I've ticked it as 'studied'. I purely rely on the repetition/review built into the lessons themselves by CPod. I'm now realising I need to tweak this strategy since I'm starting to frustrate myself with all those grammar patterns and vocab that I know I've "studied" before but just can't immediately recollect when I need them!
Just for reference - Intermediate is the highest level of Cpod lesson that I do at present. On average I spend about 1-1.5hrs on an Intermediate lesson in total (includes listening to the lesson, writing out all the dialogue, vocab, expansion sentences and doing the exercises, as well as skimming the comments). I've "studied" 154 of the 330 or so in total, but am still hopelessly lost in UI lessons when I do occasionally dip my toe in!
yeah, I have the same weakness in that my reviews are not what they should be. I've somewhat been able to force myself into reviews by allowing myself to be forced into taking an exam on what i've already learned at TLI. This of course forces me into review mode. I'm starting to think that I should get more review in the guided lessons this way.