Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

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kraemder
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Re: Learning Korean the hard way

Postby kraemder » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:36 am

My philosophy on studying languages has really been to just focus on one at a time and don't mix it up. However, I'm getting bored with Korean now and I was hoping to take another language night class for fun this Fall and I can't find Korean. I was looking at Spanish but I'm still infatuated with Asian languages and found a community college in Glendale, Arizona that does online classes and has Mandarin Chinese. I signed up. I'm going to have to check with the teacher to make sure it's all online and I don't have to come in person for tests or anything since Glendale is a bit of a drive for me. Maybe going in once a month would be ok though. I hope it's not needed. It's not my local community college I usually go to because they're not offering any Chinese this semester (why?!). So I'm now juggling a lot of languages at once. I would say that Chinese currently has the priority for me followed by Japanese simply because thanks to my high intermediate level I can just watch anime without subs or something and call that review or chat with someone on an app. I had made a promise to myself to do something with German but that's turning out to be harder than I expected. I am watching the occasional YouTube video for language learners but otherwise nothing. It's really nice that I can generally understand spoken German fine without subtitles but considering I haven't touched the language in over a decade I feel like I should get a grammar book or something and look at that too. Probably not going to happen however. Technically I could use German to talk to people on apps just like Japanese but I'm too embarrassed by my pronunciation and stumbling for words. Since Japanese is such a difficult language, I guess I don't feel any pressure to be good at it but German is the same language family as English (if a bit distant) and I actually do feel some pressure not to suck too much. Part of this comes from watching people blog about studying German on YouTube and while I think my overall grammar and language ability is perfectly fine even if it's rusty, my pronunciation is just terrible :( .

So onto Chinese, a language I suck at way more than German in all respects but for some reason that doesn't bother me in the least. I've always felt like I should limit my study resources and try to stick to one thing in order to well make more progress and save myself money. For example, if I read 100 pages in one text book, instead of 25 pages in four textbooks, then I'll be reading more advanced material etc. However, in practice I've found that really hard to stick to. Probably because study materials are just boring and so using a variety of them helps alleviate boredom. I saw a YouTuber who said they intentionally enjoy getting as many good resources as possible and studying from all of them and felt this reinforced the lessons and was much more interesting than just reviewing the same lessons over and over again from one resource. It makes sense right? I guess, just try not to get too many resources. I made this choice to study Chinese sort of spontaneously Friday night when I was browsing the Internet for online classes.

So far I've decided to use SpoonFed, a free (well I paid $2 I think..) Anki deck that looks amazing. It has about 10,000 sentences from easiest to hardest, designed with i+1 in mind, and includes native audio. It defaults to testing you both with Chinese on side 1 and then again with English on side 1. I turned off the production testing (English on side 1). Although it seems like good practice it also feels like the equivalent of sprinting for language studying. I really like production studying but I feel like you need to find a way to pace it and just having Anki throw stuff at you according to its algorithm doesn't work for me. I burn out after a week or so.

I'm playing with DuoLingo. I think the owl is cute and the translation exercises they do seem pretty useful just in no way sufficient in and of themselves. I wouldn't ever just do DuoLingo as a language learner but it seems like a fun way to learn/practice basic stuff. I've never really used DuoLingo in the past so I'm curious to see how long I can stick with it.

I am using Rosetta Stone too. I have a lifetime membership for all languages that they suckered me into buying so I have to make use of it especially before they make it free to play for everyone and my membership is a complete waste. The clock is ticking here.

I'm playing Classic World of Warcraft in Chinese. WoW is notorious for being super popular in China so it seems natural to play the game in Chinese. I'm going to have to be careful to keep language learning the focus of playing and definitely do not join a guild or anything that would distract me from learning. I hope. I found a nice piece of software called Capture2Text which does a great job of OCR'ing the highlighted part of a screen using a mouse and a hotkey then it can use Google translate to look up the word. Or you can paste it into a dictionary. It has a log feature but I can't control when it logs the lookups and there's a lot of bad lookups where it just fails the OCR. Well, it doesn't do too terrible a job but I think the log file is pretty useless. Instead, I'm just directly pasting the words into Anki. I'm then using the MIA dictionary to lookup the word and also add native pronunciation to the card using Forvo. Not a sentence deck but I add pictures too. I think it's pretty nice.

I'm not using a textbook yet because I don't know what they're going to use in my class. The description of the course says no textbook which is possible I guess but I'm guessing they just didn't update it. I don't enjoy textbooks so much that I would use two instead of one. At least not when there's apps I can use instead.

I'm really not interested in doing any listening immersion for now. I know immersion is a really big deal and you'll never really get good at a language until you incorporate immersion into your routine. I'm gonna hold off for now. I will argue that Warcraft in Chinese is a bit immersion although it's not the same as watching TV or listening to podcasts or YouTube.

And on a side note I have failed utterly at fixing my bad sleeping habits and I'm functioning on 4 to 7 hours of sleep a night. Usually about 6 hours I would say but for example last night my Phone went off (why?!) just after I had drifted off to sleep and then I woke up and was doomed not to fall asleep again for a couple more hours. I'm pretty sure sleep deprivation is terrible for language learning which is why I mention it in this log (and to motivate me to do better).
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devilyoudont
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby devilyoudont » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:10 pm

I thought it might interest you to know that there is a very large population of Chinese speakers playing WoW even on North American servers. On retail, the unofficial Chinese server is Illidan, not sure about Classic, but it probably exists.
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kraemder
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby kraemder » Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:10 am

devilyoudont wrote:I thought it might interest you to know that there is a very large population of Chinese speakers playing WoW even on North American servers. On retail, the unofficial Chinese server is Illidan, not sure about Classic, but it probably exists.


I'll keep that in mind. I'd feel pretty good joining a Japanese guild but it would need to be a very friendly guild to let a noob like me in. I don't even know how to type Chinese on Windows yet lol.
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devilyoudont
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby devilyoudont » Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:01 am

The Japanese population for NA servers is incredibly small, but there are at least 3 or 4 guilds on Proudmoore. In all honestly, FF14 is probably a better game to play in Japanese/with Japanese players.
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alaart
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby alaart » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:12 am

From all the resources I enjoyed yabla the most, which is one of those dual subtitled video learning platforms. But probably not suited for total beginners, although they have beginner material as well. I used it when I was around 6-12 month into the language (full time study as a university student).
The good thing is that you can quiz yourself on the tones you hear in the subtitles, that proved very helpful for my ears - even if at first I did not understand at all where words begin and end, but over time it worked.

I think, learning through content in Chinese is valid, since the grammar is not the main difficulty of the language.

Ah, and the people in the language courses are interesting, since for Chinese the reasons for learning it are usually more diverse than pop-culture alone.

So, good luck with Mandarin!
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Re: Kraemders lazy Korean log

Postby AnneL » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:06 pm

kraemder wrote:
I'm still very intrigued with the speed review method I was trying out but I'm finding it's really not good for newly learned material and not if you're not ready to really focus. It's particularly not so good for sentences that aren't i+1. It's inevitable that you will need more time to puzzle over those cards.

I tried that way too around the same time as you it seems, that made me totally burn out from Anki, esp trying to use it with sentence cards. I think you can only use this when indeed doing reviews, rather than in learning, and with vocabulary only.

From one of your previous posts, I added more fields to my cards and have space for 10 sentences for each vocabulary word on my standard card. I rarely fill it up but if I struggle with a word I will put 10 sentences (Example/Translation). I get those sentences from Naver dict for Korean learners (https://korean.dict.naver.com/english/main.nhn?sLn=kr). My Evita cards are like that for example, so I can add example myself.
I'm reviewing quickly everything in those recent decks made by Retro (grammar and vocab) because he uses sentences for all the vocab and I think no english at all (lots of images) at least on the intermediate grammar deck I'm reviewing right now.
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kraemder
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby kraemder » Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:37 am

alaart wrote:From all the resources I enjoyed yabla the most, which is one of those dual subtitled video learning platforms. But probably not suited for total beginners, although they have beginner material as well. I used it when I was around 6-12 month into the language (full time study as a university student).
The good thing is that you can quiz yourself on the tones you hear in the subtitles, that proved very helpful for my ears - even if at first I did not understand at all where words begin and end, but over time it worked.

I think, learning through content in Chinese is valid, since the grammar is not the main difficulty of the language.

Ah, and the people in the language courses are interesting, since for Chinese the reasons for learning it are usually more diverse than pop-culture alone.

So, good luck with Mandarin!


Thanks. I'm excited about the course and we'll see about the reasons for learning Mandarin. It's one of the first questions anyone asks you and I'm not sure what to say. I suppose people who study Japanese kind of naturally gravitate towards it since they put in all that time studying kanji. And over a billion native speakers allegedly. My experience talking to Chinese people (in English at least) has been very positive throughout my life too. But English is still the language of business so I don't expect people will say they need to learn Chinese for their job but maybe someone will.
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kraemder
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Re: Kraemders lazy Korean log

Postby kraemder » Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:04 pm

AnneL wrote:
kraemder wrote:
I'm still very intrigued with the speed review method I was trying out but I'm finding it's really not good for newly learned material and not if you're not ready to really focus. It's particularly not so good for sentences that aren't i+1. It's inevitable that you will need more time to puzzle over those cards.

I tried that way too around the same time as you it seems, that made me totally burn out from Anki, esp trying to use it with sentence cards. I think you can only use this when indeed doing reviews, rather than in learning, and with vocabulary only.

From one of your previous posts, I added more fields to my cards and have space for 10 sentences for each vocabulary word on my standard card. I rarely fill it up but if I struggle with a word I will put 10 sentences (Example/Translation). I get those sentences from Naver dict for Korean learners (https://korean.dict.naver.com/english/main.nhn?sLn=kr). My Evita cards are like that for example, so I can add example myself.
I'm reviewing quickly everything in those recent decks made by Retro (grammar and vocab) because he uses sentences for all the vocab and I think no english at all (lots of images) at least on the intermediate grammar deck I'm reviewing right now.


I just took a peek at the Retro decks in the Anki shared library and they look interesting. I will definitely come back to Korean in a bit and I'll check those out. The card count size is less intimidating. A lot of people say you need to go all out on the sentence decks instead of doing vocabulary cards but in my experience the sentence cards can often lead to burnout. You need to really keep the sentences short and sweet or your reviews will mentally tax you too much I think. Chances are that I'll just end up doing a vocabulary deck and adding example sentences on the back of the card for clarification like you're doing. Burnout is the worst and most dangerous thing to language learning. You're always getting better until you stop studying.
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kraemder
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby kraemder » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:07 am

So the Mandarin class started. We're using Zoom for the class and the teacher is older and not so good with technology but she's getting better as we go. The first class was a disaster really where she didn't even have a mouse. I assume she got one after fighting a lopsided losing battle with the trackpad on her laptop during our first class. She is older and obviously has a lot of experience teaching Chinese to Americans though and so I am curious to see what we'll learn and practice. The first class was mostly a cultural introduction to Chinese rather than going over language but the second class we hit the book and started practicing the sample dialogues. Zoom has break away classrooms so we can partner up and practice with each other. There were some technical issues for me on that as my first partner had a barely working microphone and then lost connection after 1 minute but my second partner later had a stable connection and it was fun. On a lot of people online belittle language classes because you end up being paired up with other learners who stink with the language to practice but I enjoy it.

If I can stay motivated of course I should go way beyond what we cover in class but even if that were the case it should be better than my Korean class where I was not only retaking the class but they were going so slowly they were actually doing material from the previous class instead of the one I signed up for. We don't have a huge class. Getting enough students to justify having the class at all is a challenge for many junior colleges and this teacher solved it by combining Chinese 1 and Chinese 2 into one class where Chinese 1 meets on Mondays and Chinese 2 meets on Wednesdays. Normally of course we would meet for both days but then the class would get cancelled most likely. I'm ok with it. The lazy part of me is a little relieved even lol. I considered asking the teacher if I could 'audit' Chinese 2 on Wednesdays but I decided not to. I still might ask however.

Most of the other students are, well, college age students pursuing degrees. There's a few of us older folks taking this class for other reasons though. Most of the older students are taking it because their kids are going to study Chinese in school and they want to be involved instead of lost. I think that's very cool. The college age students are probably taking it to satisfy a language requirement. One student signed up for it because he grew up bilingual English/Cantonese and wants to learn Mandarin too. I don't know how much crossover free vocabulary etc., he'll get but in theory he should do well with the pronunciation if nothing else. One student is half Japanese and she grew up going to Japanese weekend school even and must have really strong Japanese ability and know a lot of kanji. It was a little surprising to me but a lot of the girls chose Chinese because of the Chinese Dramas they like watching. I wonder how new of a phenomenon that is. I guess C-pop is a thing now though and probably has been for a number of years.

I like studying Chinese with the simplified characters. They're similar enough to Japanese that I don't seem to have to try too hard to remember them. If I read texts with hanzi and pinyin both it's really easy to understand. I'm tempted to try to just reading, reading, reading to improve since that seems easy. I don't know very much grammar yet however. I am currently watching some cheesy Mandarin dramas on Netflix with the language learning add on so it shows simplified hanzi with pinyin and English translations. It's really nice. I'm already able to reinforce some of the vocabulary I've studied using flash cards using this.

One thing I'm concerned about are the tones. On one hand I seem to be absorbing the tones for some words without too much effort but I know that's just a percentage of the vocabulary I'm studying and many words the tones haven't stuck at all yet. All the YouTube videos about studying Chinese emphasize the need to learn tones from day one. And yet it seems like a "do as I say, not as I do" thing since they all regret how they didn't do it and now they're suffering. The brain can only take so much. Learning an exotic writing system, completely new sounds, a total lack of cognates, and throw in tones on top of that something might have to give. That might be why they didn't learn tones from day 1. Or maybe not. I do also have the advantage in that although the writing system is new to me, it's not too terrible. So I think learning tones wouldn't be impossible probably. But how to do it? All of these people in the videos don't say how to study tones just that you need to. When it comes to memorization, flash cards have been my go to for about 10 years now. If I make vocabulary cards and use SRS should I grade myself wrong if I fail to recall the meaning AND the tones? I suspect that would be too hard for me. For now I'm just trying to remember the tones by thinking about them a lot as I study them but I don't have any tone specific SRS cards.

I actually am trying something new with my vocabulary cards at the moment. On side one I have a picture, usually it has nothing to do with the meaning of the word and is just random, and the audio of the word from Forvo. Then side 2 has all the vocab info. The random card picture is that I want something visual on side 1 to engage my brain but I don't want it to just give away the meaning of the word either so I always mark myself right without even trying. I don't know how well these cards will work. At least they seem to make studying more enjoyable so far.

I have the Chinese Spoonfed deck but I've fallen way behind with it. Sentence cards do take more energy and motivation to do. I don't know if I'll try to do them again or maybe I'd rather spend my time on LingQ or Netflix (Netflix is a lot of passive studying for me as I'm just reading the English and then the Chinese as it pops up assuming I have time to read both and I often don't). I'm also playing with the idea of making a sentence deck with Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone has great sentences, good pictures, but it's kind of boring as it's all isolated sentences and there's no story or characters at all. But the pronunciation is first rate and I could totally make a listening deck form it too and it would be a good difficulty I think without being too hard like many listening sentence decks can be for beginners. I'm also thinking about making a Netflix deck from the dramas. If I put a screenshot on side 1 with a picture, the Chinese with pinyin and then side 2 had the English I think that could work. The Chinese would of course be above my level which is a concern but the picture, audio, and hanzi would be a lot of clues to figure stuff out.
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kraemder
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Re: Was learning Korean, now I'm doing Mandarin. The hard way of course.

Postby kraemder » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:01 am

This week's Chinese class was ok. We spent the first hour going over the homework. We had to present / do a presentation. I was like Woah woah woah! And said that pretty much to the teacher and whole class on my mic. The teacher isn't a native English speaker so I think she doesn't understand the dread and horror that is associated with the word presentation for students. It turns out she just meant we had to read our homework answers out loud to everyone. Not a big deal at all if you did the assignment. I work slowly and it took me 30 minutes tops to do the homework (two weeks worth). I think it took me less time. And I went slow. I was surprised how many students goofed it or did part and they seemed to have legitimately forgotten to do parts like just writing their answers in hanzi but no pinyin.. they couldn't read what they wrote basically. Some students put a lot of effort into it also. I got to partner with a young mom who's pregnant and plans to send her baby to an Chinese immersion daycare / preschool. I think she's one of the better students. I don't get the impression that she's studied a foreign language at length before from her attitude but she does really well and in particular I'm jealous of her pronunciation. I might be wrong but she seems able to do tones really well already. Some people have a good ear and can also hear their own voice I think so they can match the pitch of their voice to what they're listening to. My mom and sister both seem able to do that and my mom was a bit disgusted with me that I absolutely couldn't. I didn't realize that I couldn't but recording myself singing along to Queen songs I think she was right in her assessment and this carries over to foreign language tones and accents. I have studied the theory behind pronunciation of pinyin more than my partner though so I was able to give her some tips but I was sure to explain that I know theory but do not imitate my pronunciation as I can at least hear the pitch of my voice well enough to know it's off. But ignore pitch, just basic reading pinyin like the difference between "q" and "ch" or "sh" and "x" etc., I at least have looked over a few resources on that so I have the basic ideas down. The teacher's (book's) explanation was good for some of the combinations but lacking for others and I think the students are a bit confused. As is typically the case they don't seem to have spent a bit of extra time researching other resources on Google. I've noticed that with classes. A lot of students rely too much on just one resource: the class textbook and the teacher. They're great but you totally need to be alert to anything that seems out of synch that you don't understand and if you're not comfortable or getting it even after asking the teacher just go look online.

The class gave me a bit of motivation to study Chinese more as expected and I got caught up on my SpoonFed Anki deck. I switched it up so it's reading the audio to me and has a picture on side 1 but no text. Before I was making it as easy as possible to keep myself motivated and focused and well just doing the cards. But I think this way makes me hone in more on the pronunciation and tones and also learn the vocabulary better. But particularly the tones. I was jealous of my partner a bit I think in that her pronunciation was clearly better than mine.

For Korean I'm starting a new Anki deck. It's a sentence deck. I think a big reason I burned out on previous sentence decks is that I wasn't doing i+1 cards. I'm not good at mining i+1 cards. Which is why I was trying to mine sentences from the website howtostudykorean because I figured he would present example sentences more or less in an i+1 fashion. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. And in my sentence deck of course I wanted to add cards for words he didn't give sentences for and those sentences were pretty challenging. So as a solution I thought why not just pick one target word in the sentence and then on side 1 list the words and definitions of any words I don't or might not know if they're a little shaky. That's not quite i+1 but it should help. So I am doing that. But doing the SpoonFed deck I want to also try audio cards out. I don't know if it will work since it would be text to speech. Audio cards might need native audio to be understandable enough that you don't need any text. And putting the definitions for the unknown words on side 1 too. I hope it words if not I'll just go with the korean sentences and audio plus extra definitions on side 1.

I saw a youtube video reviewing an advanced reading comprehension textbook for korean learners: https://youtu.be/BN3Soe7JsOQ. I found it inspiring and I got to thinking that I should be reading stuff like that. Forget LingQ. And for me it's not advanced but beginner / early intermediate level. The lowest reading level hehe. I already have something that looks good. I think it's called Essential Korean Reader. I bought it a while back and fought my way through the first chapter / unit but then stopped as it was boring and hard. Well it is a little boring but it's much better than just isolated sentences on Anki. And my Korean is a bit better since last time so reading it is easier. And there's a vocab list for each reading passage that's quite extensive and grammar notes. I like that this isn't a fake dialogue like you see in most classroom textbooks. They try to teach a bit of culture in each unit I think. The first unit they talked about how Koreans often bow to each other as a greeting and greetings in general in Korea. The next chapter which I just read for the first time tonight was about food stands and the food you can get there. Most people studying languages are really just foodies looking for excuses to try lots of new foods and they end up learning all the food vocabulary and little else. This isn't me but reading this sure made me hungry. I'll try to remember the food names but somehow my brain tends to tune food names out.

That's it. I'm continuing on with two new languages for now.
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