My Chinese language learning log

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eamon0989
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:48 pm
Languages: English (N) Spanish (C1) French (B1) Portuguese (Conversational) Italian (conversational) Mandarin (Beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6208
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My Chinese language learning log

Postby eamon0989 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:51 pm

Hello everybody,

This is my first language log, I'm currently learning Mandarin Chinese and I want a log so that I'll be able to look back and see my progress, and also as I'll be trying a few experiments I thought people might be interested in that.

I decided to learn Chinese seriously about a month ago. I already have learned Spanish to a relatively high level, and have dabbled a bit in French and Portuguese, so I have a good idea of how to learn a language. My goal is to make this as efficient as possible and learn as quickly as possible. For me, then whole point of learning another language is to learn about another culture, to be able to speak with people from other countries and to be able to consume media that generally isn't available in English, e.g. books, movies, series, etc.

So for that reason, I want to efficiently learn enough to become conversational and to be able to read and use the language as quickly as possible. Of course, I know this is a long-term project that will most likely take many years, but I will see how I can hack the language.

Anyway, on to my method. As I have read that pronunciation is one of the most important parts of Chinese, I've bought myself a pronunciation trainer from Gabriel Wyner's website, fluent forever. It has been a great help and I've been using it fairly consistently for the past few weeks, so hopefully my pronunciation will continue to improve. I guess the real test will be when I start to speak to natives.

One thing about the language that fascinates me are the characters, it's so different to any of the European languages that I really want to master them. So after extensive research, I've decided to use the method outlined in Remembering Simplified Hanzi by James Heisig, as it seems to be incredibly efficient and I agree with his approach. As I am on holidays for the next two months (one of the perks of being an English teacher), I can dedicate a lot of time to this, therefore I've set myself a challenge. My goal is to complete both of his books, learning 3,000 characters by the end of the summer.

This is a tall order, and involves learning 50 characters a day, but as the course is very well structured and the focus is on learning to write and recognise the characters, and not on pronouncing them, it shouldn't be that hard. I'm using the app Skritter to keep track of them for me, using its SRS system, and I'm currently on day 6 of the challenge. So my posts for the next few weeks will mainly be about my progress with that. I've currently learned 230 characters with a 78% retention rate, so hopefully I can improve on that.

Anyway, I hope you find this to be an interesting read, any tips and encouragement are welcomed! I've got to go study now, see you in the next post. :)

[edit: error correction}
Last edited by eamon0989 on Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Language Enthusiast, Spanish (B2/C1), French (Conversational), Portuguese (Conversational), Italian (can get by) Twi (A1)

eamon0989
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:48 pm
Languages: English (N) Spanish (C1) French (B1) Portuguese (Conversational) Italian (conversational) Mandarin (Beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6208
x 13

Re: My Chinese language learning log

Postby eamon0989 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:44 pm

For those of you who may be wondering if I'm only learning the characters and its English meaning and hoping to be able to read Chinese in the end, don't worry, I'm not that naive :)

I realised early on the importance of learning Chinese using audio courses to learn the spoken language, so I've been listening to Chinese Pod, Michel Thomas Mandarin and a bit of Pimsleur. From that, I've picked up quite a few words and can say some very basic phrases, for example, I am Irish, I am not Chinese, etc.

Then, to associate the Chinese words that I've learned to the characters, I use the website Lingq.com, where I read and listen to basic texts at the same time. So I've already started to associate some of the basic words with their sound, pinyin and characters. On top of that I'm reading through, for fun, Assimil Chinese with Ease and A New Practical Chinese Reader.

So I'm hoping that in 2 to 3 months I'll have picked the most of the basic vocabulary, along with the pinyin, character and pronunciation of each word, and be able to use it in a sentence.

That's the basic plan anyway. :D If you have any tweaks or advice on that approach, feel free to comment. Thanks again for reading.

[edit: fixed bad grammar]
1 x
Language Enthusiast, Spanish (B2/C1), French (Conversational), Portuguese (Conversational), Italian (can get by) Twi (A1)

eamon0989
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:48 pm
Languages: English (N) Spanish (C1) French (B1) Portuguese (Conversational) Italian (conversational) Mandarin (Beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6208
x 13

Re: My Chinese language learning log

Postby eamon0989 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:06 pm

So I'm 7 days into my challenge to learn 3,000 character in 60 days and I'm slightly behind, I've currently memorised 317 instead of the 350 I wanted to have learned by today. I went out with some friends for the day on Saturday and I got back late, so instead of learning 50 I learned 21, and then did 30 on Sunday as I was still tired. Today I've started to catch up again though, I managed to do around 65, bringing me up to 317.

You may be wondering what's the point of all this, is it of any use just to know the characters without knowing the pronunciation and meaning? Well the answer is yes, I'm 100% convinced, and I'll explain why. Yesterday, I went through over 10 short texts in LingQ (with audio) and I recognised quite a few of the characters as ones that I either had already learned through the book, or had learned the components of. So as I went through the texts I was able to connect a lot of the words that I already know with their characters, and there were some other words that I didn't know whose meaning I was able to guess correctly because of already knowing the characters.

Also, today I went for a walk around my city with my wife, and when we walked past Chinese restaurants I recognised a few of the characters and almost all the components of them. And keep in mind that just 7 days ago I didn't know any characters! Looking at the stats on Skritter today I noticed that I've already learned 21% of the first 1,500, so I'm extremely happy with my progress.

Aside from that I haven't done my Assiml lessons today or yesterday but I've been justifying it by doing more LingQ which I find to be more engaging at the moment. I've also listened to 2 more Chinese Pod lessons and I must say, I'm super impressed with it. I find myself remembering a lot of what I hear because of the way the repeat it so many times and explain it so well.

That's about it for today, I'll update again when I feel I've made some more progress. Happy learning!
2 x
Language Enthusiast, Spanish (B2/C1), French (Conversational), Portuguese (Conversational), Italian (can get by) Twi (A1)


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