The fastest path to fluency
This is more a casual hypothesis than anything else. Also, at the end of the day, it's something that would have been somewhat intuitive anyway about learning a language. I think the key is that, even though this hypothesis is intuitive, in practice, in the real world, people do not actually do this when they learn a new language.
The hypothesis is based on the idea that shadowing, and casual review of statements of progress with Cpod from simonpettersson, xiaophil, themainman and others suggests that if a user of cpod seriously wants to learn Mandarin fast, then the path might be to:
- say out loud the Chinese you're learning, but create your own sentences.
-- creating a sentence in this context is as simple as changing 1 word or phrase.
You must remember this phrase (thanks Sifu Campbell):
- 100 times to know:
- 1000 times to get good at
- 10000 times to master.
The hypothesis is that saying out loud the sentences forces you to hear yourself speaking, so you can correcct your pronunciation.
Creating your own sentence 1000 times forces you to really create the language in your head, where you need it anyway.
Or maybe this is the theory behind why shadowing is effective. who knows.
chanelle77July 04, 2010, 10:20 AM
Many Chinese (in their infinite wisdom) shared their secret, "the fastest path to fluency is a Chinese spouse" :-).
Same here :-) I discovered "the secret" too late. When I told them I was married already, more than once I got the reply: "oh no problem, you can marry someone else! hahaha, very practical indeed.
Besides Chinese partners, I think it is getting out there (China or Chinese speaking environment) and grab every opportunity to speak. Works for me :-) If there is no one to speak to, I talk to myself, or try to think in Chinese....After 2 years I sometimes dream in Chinese. Funny thing is I am fluent then (not irl though).
Interesting. I was starting to thing the metric for fluency was when you could finally dream in Chinese. But i guess it's not a light switch, you gradually dream one sentence in Chinese, then 2, then so on.
Chanelle, I don't know how long you've been in China, but I do recall you posting that you're also studying at a university. Studying Chinese at a university is really helpful in getting to 10000 sentences quicker, but it also appears you've taken the initiative to think of these sentences on your own.
Well there are different definitions out there for fluency, one I like is being able to hold a conversation on any given topic for about 10 mins....
I have been in China for about 2 years, been here since '08 but went back for half a year in between. Studied for about 2 years I guess. Just finished a semester at uni and yes I think you have a good point about the quantity there. Also, special things pop up there, or other words than the the ones used irl. I like the combination of uni / cpod / self study and real life, max exposure I guess. Worked well for me :-).
You bring up a good point. I wonder how many language learners try to speak to their Chinese spouses, friends in Chinese? It seems a bit strange and awkard if your level is fairly low and your spouse's/friend's English level is high.
Good question, yes. I cannot speak for them as I married a Dutchmen, but I hope a lot (if one is serious about learning the language)! I never have been embarrassed (and refuse to be hahaha) by my lower level when speaking with Chinese (with good English) whether it is a teacher, ayi, husband's colleagues, friends etc. I think it is very important to speak "sans gêne". No one expects you to be perfect and it is great practice. I often say (with a smile and in Chinese), it is China so we speak Chinese :-). You can always switch to English if it really is necessary but try if you can is my point of view!
It's really hard, speaking personally. When you've conducted a relationship in English, then trying to speak in Chinese is a very difficult mental shift. Speaking isn't so bad, it's the understanding when they reply that becomes really difficult. Because they're not teachers, they tend to just speak as they normally would, which makes comprehension tricky, which further discourages you from attempting Chinese communication...
I'm so glad you said that, I have no luxury of a chinese speaking partner but am noticing with my guided tutor speaking is.....well okayish......understanding is so hard.....
I often listen to the dialog before I have had a chance to read the transcripts and get totally lost! Then I read the transcript and think "ah that's what they said" after that I hear the right thing.
I try listening to films in mandarin and other sources to get familiar with the music but I suspect that this is translation lag. I am trying to translate into english to understand when I should be just trying to understand the mandarin directly....
It is indeed hard to switch primary communication languages with someone--regardless if it is a significant other or what not. It's either like saying "hey, I'm better than you now, nah hah," or forcing them to baby talk only to benefit you. But then again, my wife and I speak mostly Chinese together now. (I couldn't speak Chinese when we first met!) She has no special love for English and just wants to communicate, so for her, speaking Chinese is no problem.
As for the benefits of having a Chinese significant other for learning Chinese, the pros usually outweigh the cons, but not always. Chinese people seem to generally lack the concept of 'it's polite to include everyone in the conversation', and will default on whoever is easiest to talk to. (I know a married Chinese women who lives with her in-laws. At dinner time, her mother-in-law will often say something to her husband like "is your wife still hungry?" even though she is present!) So when my wife is talking to other people, they generally ignore me. I sometimes butt in, but honestly, it feels like I am forcing myself in, so it becomes listening practice.
My take is even in China, you'd better be careful which crowd you fall in with. In Beijing, Shanghai, other big cities, there are so many English speaking expats that you could easily speak English all day in China as well.
xiaophilJuly 06, 2010, 12:38 AM
I do indeed recommend speaking Chinese aloud. It might be helpful to voice out sentence patterns while changing certain words, but that does sound a bit boring to me. I have in the past read aloud CPod's dialogs, even acting it out a bit with my voice, and I thought that was beneficial. Reading aloud books, newspaper articles and magazines can also help, but obviously one risks sounding like a, well, book.
The reason reading aloud is important, essential even, is because conversing is a physical activity, even if it is just the mouth and lungs doing the work. Not speaking a language while studying a language is like a soccer coach giving the team a manual and saying that they are playing a game tomorrow, so study carefully-no practice, though!
Frank(shaoxlee)_Shenzhen_ChinaJuly 07, 2010, 08:53 AM
I agree on create your own sentence. Read aloud only is really boring. You can aslo ask yourself how and why for particular things to build your context in your mind eg. how will you do if you run into your chinese firends? How not to offend them? I think it is task learning style 任务型学习