How about a 汉子 only group?

November 17, 2009, 08:14 AM posted in General Discussion

In Tal's racism post, there has been some debate about using too much English here at Chinesepod.  Actually, I would like to have more conversations in Chinese, but these two factors have turned me off in the past:

  • Sometimes my Chinese comments are totally ignored.
  • I don't like entering a conversation/debate that keeps switching between Chinese and English.

I think we can agree, a group that communicates totally in 汉子 would solve both problems.

So what I am asking is:

  • Are there others that would be interested in such a group?
  • How to structure the group so that people continuously stay involved in it (i.e. I don't want to start something that will fizzle in a week or two)?

Sadly, I have to head for work now, so I won't be able to add feedback till possibly, gulp, tomorrow, but I would really like to hear what people have to say.

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November 17, 2009, 08:49 AM

是个好主意! Strangely enough in a way it would be the only place in all of Chinesepod in which we would only be "allowed" to communicate in Chinese.
I'm all for reserving a small corner of CPod for that purpose.

I don't like entering a conversation/debate that keeps switching between Chinese and English.
Right, that wouldn't happen in the new group.

How to structure the group so that people continuously stay involved in it (i.e. I don't want to start something that will fizzle in a week or two)?
For me personally, it would be so much work just to keep my head above water in an all-Chinese conversation so would likely be unable to take part actively if a discussion is moving too fast for me at high levels. At the same time, I would hate to have any restrictions that keep advanced people from talking about what they would like to.
So yeah, I'd be interested to hear from people with ideas too.
Meanwhile I'm off to think about it some myself.

Thanks for initiating this Xiaophil. I was hoping you would actually
(I see you as a hitmaker of sorts).

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November 18, 2009, 12:57 PM

Hi guys, this sounds like a great idea! I need to start working on writing / reading in stead of speaking and listening which I do most of the time in my daily life. This is a nice opportunity I guess to start :-). Unfortunately my writing skills are not good, so I do not have much to offer, but I do support the idea! So 加油 小phil et al.

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November 17, 2009, 12:09 PM

I'm in.Good idea mate.I'll certainly give it a crack anyway but personally I have a minor reservation.My trouble won't be quite so much following what others are saying..I think I can generally get enough of a gist.Also,I don't mind having a crack at trying to express myself,but the problem I spy is that my grammar is atrocious and my vocab choice at times not much better so I think there's a good chance a lot of it will come out as 狗屁。It could lead to a lot of misunderstandings,[particularly with my habit of joking around] ..which could be hard to clarify without the crutch of English.Might be hard to explain what I mean.But yeah,I think it's worth a shot all the same.

How to structure it and keep people involved? Dunno.I don't think anyone can guarantee they are going to stay involved and I don't think there should be any pressure in that direction.However,I suppose that if a group was formed ,any member could start a new thread under that group's banner.So while an individual thread will no doubt run it's course and fizzle,I think starting regular threads under that group should move things along.I would caution against starting threads on sensitive topics in an all Hanzi group.Even for those much more advanced than myself,I think there still would be way too much potential for misunderstandings and unpleasantness which may put people off.So I think a balance needs to be struck between finding things that are not too political or sensitive,and at the same time interesting.Others may see this differently of course and that's fine,but just my 2 fen.I suppose for those who do want to post about more sensitive topics,those who don't want to be misunderstood could just refrain from that thread.

ps Just had an idea for a thread...having a shot at Shakespeare quotes in Chinese.Would be a pretty benign topic.Only thing is ,I just remembered I think a started a group on Shakespeare here and no-one was interested as far as I recall.It didn't have the hanzi only slant though.hmm..will have to think of perhaps a more China-centric topic.I'm sure we can come up with plenty between us mate.Jiayou.

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November 17, 2009, 12:09 PM

I'm all for splitting the group into three levels, or essentially starting three versions of the same group, elementary, intermediate and advanced. 

The more advanced learners are afforded the luxury of moving between levels, so in the lower levels we can come in as counselors.  We can keep the conversations simple without too much advanced vocabulary so that lower level learners can keep up without their eyes starting to droop and heads starting to spin.  This way we can answer people's questions in simple Chinese that can build upon and reinforce what they already know, gradually raising their level. 

In the more advanced levels we can freely talk about what we want and help each other in intermediate or advanced Chinese.

It's even possible for more advanced students to learn things from lower level students.  For example, answering questions helps me reinforce areas where I'm a little shaky on because it requires me to be 100% before answering a question, as I don't want to give any bad advice.  Also being required to provide explanations in Chinese might help clean up some areas where I'm weak and make mistakes. It's also quite possible for lower level students to know a word or two that I don't and I can learn that way too.

The Chinese have a saying, 压力是动力, yā lì shì dòng lì, pressure is motivation. Sort of like our, necessity is the mother of invention. When we're required to do something then we will find a way to make it happen.  This group will require us to excel.

In this setting we can yoke the native speakers who visit here, they're always willing to communicate in Chinese since it's easy for them, and they're the best one's to learn from, the perfect 模范 mó fàn. 

Coincidentally 模范 is a great example of how I could benefit from this group, as I'm really not sure if, in this context it's best to say, 模范, mó fàn 榜样 bǎng yàng, or 表率 biǎo shuài.  I'm certain someone here knows the answer.

If the C-Pod staff is willing, perhaps they can periodically visit the group to clean up the more advanced learners mistakes.  This can be a variation on the activity stream concept, but perhaps being more free form and user driven as opposed to moderator driven.  In this group we can use Chinese to talk about any subjects we like.  Starting strings that people are interested in can keep people motivated to participate.  First people must be interested before they will actively participate and it's necessary to participate before they can go to the next step, and we can only know what people want to talk about, what will hold their interest by trial and error, right? 

In this forum trogging posts can be turned into a positive because what gets people fired up to talk, in Chinese, about will bring people out of the woodwork to weigh in on the subject, and when people really want to be able to express themselves they WILL find a way.

有志者事竟成, yǒu zhì zhě shì jìng chéng.  Where there's a will, there's a way.

It's important that in the group everyone feels that their contributions matter and that we feel comfortable to make mistakes, because only by exposing our mistakes can we know what we need to correct and make progress.  It's also important for everyone to approach this with a respectful, nurturing attitude so people feel comfortable and free, this way people will open up and express themselves.

I'm excited about it, what's everyone else's feelings?

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November 17, 2009, 12:28 PM


...yeah,I'm excited.I agree that "trogging posts" as you refer to them will very likely bring many more poddies and posts into [what could become ] the fray ,but I'm  somewhat slightly dubious [but don't have my mind made up about it] about the affect this will have on the group in the long term.Thus:

It's also important for everyone to approach this with a respectful, nurturing attitude

..would be crucial...particularly if such posts were encouraged.Perhaps you are right.Perhaps recognising that there is more potential for misunderstandings people will be more inclined to give others the benefit of the doubt and think the best of them.I certainly hope so.I know that's the attitude I'd like to enter into it with.I'm certainly very keen to partake no matter what form it takes anyway.I like your enthusiasm mate.Thanks also for your Chinese sayings you've put in your last post btw.Jiayou.

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November 17, 2009, 12:36 PM


I am generally in favour - good idea.  One weakness in ChinesePod (for me) is that no-one corrects the Chinese.  Except Miantiao if we ask nicely, thanks mate.  It would be great if some poddies could contribute this way.  Teachers obviously don't have time in the vast majority of discussions.  

I have to say that this is a problem for me - I have difficulty seeing what is wrong with a sentence.  'Specially those where the meaning is fairly clear, but there is a better or more natural form of expression.  

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November 17, 2009, 05:23 PM

Bodawei which poddies were you thinking of who would help correct? I don't mean my tone to be challenging, and I do understand your wish to be corrected. It's just--as far as I can see, one or two people would be asked to take on all the enormous burden; it can't be fair. Do you regularly correct others' Chinese? If not it's probably for the same reason I don't--because I can't, not because I don't want to (I often think I can correct part of a sentence but not the whole, so I don't touch it at all, on the boards. In AS I have actually been helping sometimes, even if it's only part of the sentence I can speak with any confidence on).

I think peer help has to be 100 percent voluntary, for it to be sustainable. I would say--there have been other efforts like this before--for those specifically wanting to be corrected there should be a separate place set aside for that. It's not very realistic to expect our utterings in this entire Mandarin-Only zone to benefit from consistent corrections. Whether it's by peers or teachers, that's just too much work.

If there are any concerns of BC (Bad Chinese) or SC (Suspect Chinese) sentences going up to fester in public, well? Is that so bad? We let so much bad English stay up on the boards to fester, right?

It could lead to a lot of misunderstandings,[particularly with my habit of joking around] ..which could be hard to clarify without the crutch of English.Might be hard to explain what I mean.
Just a brainstorm--maybe we could have a parallel thread per conversation as a space for annotations, and that could be a crutch to use if we really have to explain ourselves, but at all times keep the conversation free of English, keep it strictly all-Mandarin.
However I do think it's best if we just threw crutches out the window and each made our best effort to communicate with the vocab and sentence structures we do have.

I'm seeing this Mandarin-Only zone in very simple terms actually: the only difference with any other discussion area is that we can only speak in Mandarin. That shouldn't make us nervous (yeah I know, I voiced the first concern), and I don't think we should be limiting the subject matter in any way.
I think it's good to label each conversation one of three "speeds"--Easy / Medium / Free for instance. "Easy" conversations would be started by those who want a slower-paced, easier conversation.

And I did have another brainstorm, but it passed ... 

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November 17, 2009, 07:48 PM


maybe we could have a parallel thread per conversation as a space for annotations, and that could be a crutch to use if we really have to explain ourselves

..yeah,I actually did think of that myself,but then I wasn't so sure how it would work,where to put it,or that it would be desirable.Not sure.

However I do think it's best if we just threw crutches out the window

..I think you're right.I know that's the idea here and I'm for it.

and I don't think we should be limiting the subject matter in any way.

..yeah,I think you're right again.I don't believe in setting rules.I threw my comments out there more as something for folks to keep in tread carefully,or at least with patience and understanding due to the propensity for misunderstandings.I think the proof of the pudding will be in the eating here.

At least an all hanzi group should put a natural limit on the length of my posts,hehe.Which leads me to another thought.If we were to have different levels,once again I don't believe in setting rules,but for the lowest level [newbie/ellie] the 140character length of the AS would probably be a good guideline to aim for.But of course if someone more advanced was coming in and trying to help explain something in Chinese to a newbie/ellie then I don't think an explanation should feel hindered by a length guideline.Once again,just a thought.I'm not for setting rules.I think we should all feel free to participate in any level if there are to be levels.

hey,I don't want to sound impatient,but I kinda woke up early and was hoping this group would be up and running already as I had an idea to start a thread [I was going to start one of the progressive fictional know...where I might start off with a line or two like once upon a time there someone went to china...and then someone else chimes in with a line or two and so on] and was hoping to jump in and join in on any that had started.Fair enough.Just can't wait,that's all.

ps Yeah,I don't mind criticism myself at all....just don't want others getting put off...but whatever...was just throwing some thoughts out there for consideration.And correction would always be appreciated by anyone generous enough to offer it.

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November 17, 2009, 07:48 PM

I'm in!  All criticism welcomed!

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November 17, 2009, 10:57 PM

Yikes!  I might not be able to even look at this today.  (Why am I suddenly so busy?)  Please keep the ideas flowing.  I will join in as soon as I can.

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November 17, 2009, 09:58 AM

I like it! I have the same concern as zhenlijiang... Too high a level and it will be hard for me to stay motivated to keep up, especially if I am tired. Too low a level and those who are at a higher level will get bored. Maybe discussions within the group can be labeled at a certain level?

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November 17, 2009, 11:29 PM


Correction would definitely be 100% voluntary - there is no other way.  Look, anyone could make a correction - our experiences are not all the same.  Clearly it is a time consuming and difficult task so only a few poddies would take it on.  The challenge as I see it is creating an environment in which corrections become part of the activity on the board. Activity Stream, designed for corrections, has never worked too well, not for me anyway. And of course I am not saying that everything needs to be corrected for the 汉字 only idea to work.  My wish is that correction becomes part of the culture - we would all benefit from other people's corrections as well.  

Now guys - the idea needs a NAME! Entries are now invited.. I was thinking at first Phil's Folly, but of course it has to be in 汉字。  What about: 

读书  Familiar. 

读者  Not original, but evocative.   

写作  Functional. 

写意  Poetic. 

Maybe we could get help from a native speaker? 

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November 17, 2009, 11:31 PM


Sure mate.I could be wrong but I'm under the impression that the vast majority would be looking for language exchange though,which isn't going to work in a hanzi only group.However,perhaps a parallel group or thread may work..I dunno the answer.Also not sure how CPod would feel about such an English corner.In the past some have complained about those messages popping up and there was talk of having a designated part of the site for such language exchange posts,but to date I've not seen an official response to this,unless I missed it.Yeah,but good to throw the suggestion out there mate to see what others come up with. :)


I think we all agree how important corrections are.I think I've made heaps of posts in my time here in Hanzi,and if they'd been corrected I think I could have learnt heaps from that.So anything that can encourage that culture I'm 100% behind.

As for what to call it,etc,though I'm champing at the bit to get this underway,I thought as it was Phil's idea I'd leave the name,the avatar ,the intro,and the founder status to him.I can't read your hanzi at the moment,but while Phil's folly etc sounds funny,for mine I would have had it more to the point so there was no mistaking what this group was about just from the title.In fact to that end,so there was no doubt,ironically I'd be tempted to have it as the only English thing about the group by keeping the Group title  in English as something like...Hanzi per the title of this thread.Zheyang,we may avoid having to act like police [HP..Hanzi Police,hehe] for the group by pointing it out frequently to folk who unwittingly drop in and start posting in English.

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November 18, 2009, 01:13 AM


You made a mistake...."汉子" in Chinese means "tough man"...

I think you should use "汉字" rather than "汉子"... They are different...



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November 18, 2009, 02:21 AM

Some regular posters here have a Chinese wife. Why don't you draw them into this plan? I'm afraid it might cause a family rift, though. haha

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November 18, 2009, 03:07 AM

Haha, none of us caught that!

Not that I discourage anyone who wants to make corrections in this Mandarin-only area. Hopefully native speakers like wallacehua will drop by frequently to offer such help.

I don't not attempt to correct others because it's time-consuming and difficult; I don't because I'm just not qualified.

I do have an idea that relates to this. Perhaps whenever we post a comment, we could color our text in terms of how confident we are of the soundness of our Chinese. Pretty sure we've made no mistakes / Most of it should be sound, but will certainly have mistakes / Tried my best, but pretty sure it's full of errors--help! for instance. Do this to differentiate between sentences within one post, even.
And I think anyone who wishes to be corrected should request it expressly, at the bottom of the post; after all we're asking someone to do a lot of work. I personally always welcome corrections and would be happy if anyone offered to help regardless, but I would still be happy if no one did and I could just practice writing anyway.
So I think there should be some "triage" in terms of who wants corrections more. I've said before though, it's easier for a corrector to work on an already pretty "clean" sentence than a "wild" one.

It's interesting, that we are talking about writing in hanzi. I know what Xiaophil and we mean by that.
At the same time I always feel we should be more aware that very often we learners here are "writing English in hanzi", not writing Mandarin. As learners coming from English it's a habit I think we should consciously attempt to break from. I do it all the time myself. I want to get a lot of practice expressing myself in Mandarin here, and break from it.

** I just remembered--regarding corrections--an idea Henning had a while back that I thought was worth seriously considering. He had suggested a "paid homework" service.
I know our teachers have so much to do already, but is this something CPod could consider at all?

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November 18, 2009, 03:15 AM


If we are going to use your colour coding suggestion,can I suggest that black is the colour for meaning pretty sure it's full of errors? I think that will be my default setting.

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November 18, 2009, 11:30 AM


Good eye.  I often make that mistake.  I also sometimes say 'your' instead of 'you're'.  我不认真! (But I really did make this post in haste.)

Anway, my work will be in the clear soon.  Can't wait to read through all of this.

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November 18, 2009, 12:10 PM

If you're starting a group for tough men, I'm totally in!

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November 17, 2009, 11:16 PM

Just curious if you guys are interested in involving the many Chinese students that periodically sign up for cpod accounts, then leave their email addresses.  Maybe some way can be found to integrate them and their native-Chinese speaking capabilities to correct grammar.