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I want to learn Spoken Chinese


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#1 ons189

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 07:20 AM

Hello
My electrical engineering company does a lot of business with Chinese companies and I would like to begin to learn Chinese, in a fast way, so that I can improve myself here at my company. Any suggestions?

#2 trc1850

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 09:57 AM

If you want to speak Chinese quickly, I recommend doing it online. Online lets you focus on your speaking and listening with a teacher on Skype; you can practice character writing outside of class and spend time on it on your own if you wish. I tried online courses from Surf Chinese and study on my own schedule from home now. Learning online has allowed me to continue studying with less of the stress and strain of commuting to meet up. I suggest you learn Chinese online. Good luck to you!

#3 lingling88

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 04:12 PM

If you have a Chinese colleague, speak to him in Chinese daily. That's about the fastest way to learn it.

My language teacher once said that to learn a language well, you basically have to hear, read, write, speak and dream in the language (in that order).

#4 shatteredsouls

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 04:10 AM

Or you can watch some chinese drama? Listen to the pronounciation, see and try to understand the word then repeat after? =)

#5 Luci13666

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:37 PM

I agree with shatteredsouls. I spoke Chinese, but my understanding of it was really horrible. I watched Chinese dramas nonstop and not only learned to understand it better, but I learned how to read and write it as well.

#6 HeTieShou

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:58 PM

You need to take classes, speak with people that know the language and watching dramas would help a lot after a lot of formal instruction...

#7 BMPP

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 02:17 AM

When I wanted to improve my spoken Chinese I took a weekend job at a Chinese store promoting Chinese products. Basically a salesperson. Despite the fact that I got made fun of by those who speak a whole lot better than I do, at the end of the 3 months I improved a lot. So I got paid and improved my Chinese. Win Win!
Anyways, to master a language you got to immerse yourself in that setting .

#8 nomad 822

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:02 AM

View PostBMPP, on 05 February 2013 - 02:17 AM, said:

When I wanted to improve my spoken Chinese I took a weekend job at a Chinese store promoting Chinese products. Basically a salesperson. Despite the fact that I got made fun of by those who speak a whole lot better than I do, at the end of the 3 months I improved a lot. So I got paid and improved my Chinese. Win Win!
Anyways, to master a language you got to immerse yourself in that setting .

Good for you! Not that many are willing to risk being laughed at and would actually shy away.

I was once interviewed for a position (that was 80% already bagged by Interview 2, bec the top decision makers definitely liked me and were interested). Except I had to open my big mouth, and tell them honestly, my Chinese was not on par with my fluidity and ease with English

So Interview 3 was arranged with a rapid-fire native speaker from China. Whose mastery of the language I can never hope to meet (English is definitely my strong comfort zone) even if I speak and write Mandarin, Cantonese and speak 2 other Chinese dialects.
In reverse, I could see how she was also feeling somewhat threatened bec if I were hired, her written English proficiency might look bad or be in question .... because now there will be another (outside of non-Chinese co-workers) who can understand both Mandarin and English, or actually know when she's misunderstanding or translating info wrongly.

I understand later from others later that her final feedback review was not in favor of hiring me, but I got hired anyway by the decision makers. My Chinese writing was/is still nowhere as graceful as hers either. And initially, she would actually highlight that, in company emails!

So kudos, hats off to you ... for branching into territory where you know you will be treading water, not swimming.
Great attitude! B)

Edited by nomad 822, 06 February 2013 - 06:20 AM.


#9 nomad 822

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:16 PM

View PostAntiGravity, on 06 February 2013 - 08:45 AM, said:

I do actually want to get beyond just speaking and learn to read and write, well read any way, and know that I learn well by singing along and playing games (holds my attention long enough to actually learn something LOL).

Any one got any suggestions?

View PostHeTieShou, on 31 January 2013 - 09:58 PM, said:

You need to take classes, speak with people that know the language and watching dramas would help a lot after a lot of formal instruction...

Ditto He Tie Shou on dramas.
I am easily bored in a stifling environment (which unfortunately most of the old-school teachers are, and tune out easily). But for writing ... rote works for me = all those 5-10 h/w pages per night of writing Chinese words as a child in school,which helped reinforce and is retained in most of my word-memory these days.

What supplemented and helped me go from D grade to getting A-Bs finally by A Levels was a steady fare of Taiwan dramas and movies. And at some pt, all Asian dramas coming into Singapore were only in Mandarin (to promote Chinese, instead of dialects).

All of which helped, in some kind of overall 'package' to help connect the Mandarin dots for me. I was definitely an out to lunch D alien to begin with.

At least I started relating and appreciating the dull repetitive stuff that was taught in classes/school.
And I read loads of comics myself (Chinese fables, Journey to the West Monkey God) which I think were in English mixed with some Chinese.

BOTH my parents don't speak Mandarin. Well my dad did some Cantonese and very basic Mandarin ... my mother not at all. So it wasn't home environment. They spoke mainly English, and some other Chinese dialects.

As a kid - I started watching Chinese stuff by reading English subs ... some movies were good enough that I watched twice (and gradually didn't need the Eng subs bec I gradually understood the entire conversations in Mandarin) .... then later I even supplemented those conversations by reading along convo + Chinese subbing. Which of course made the sound+visual word association clearer.

Yup so loads of Taiwanese movies and TV drama consumption. These days, I actually find Tdramas a little cloying (esp their brand of Mandarin or their wah-sei's type of slang which the guys use and can come across as quite ewww to me). But I still watch the occassional good one, as long as the actors/actresses don't irritate too much. Or even OSTS that go 'ha-choo, ha-choo' as with a recent drama ... everytime the opening song came on, I just cringed and FForwarded.

It also helped that I was flipping loads of Chinese mags and trying to read articles for news on my idols as a pre-teen, or trying to find Chinese songsheets (only found in Chinese song bks) to play on the piano. Or trying to sing along to Chinese lyrics.

I work best (and in some self-directed journey of independent discovery) when motivated by some passion (in this case - Chinese pop, Chinese showbiz).
At some point, though taught the simplified version of Chinese writing (and reading) in Singapore,... I also taught myself to read the newspapers, which are always written in intimidating traditional form Chinese (which the Taiwanese still use).

These days, I can use both old and new forms of words easily, to email my friends here in Canada. A few ys ago, I did (pretty well paid) work for a China website which needed Chinese - > English advertising done for their site.

My rusty Cantonese (picked up bec I had a Cantonese nanny who took care of me from babyhood - 6? 7?) ... was picked up again when I was nearly 20.
In some ways, early exposure to different sounds, intonations as foundations are imp. I hardly had any need to speak Cantonese except for now and then after 7 once nanny left to retire , it comes up when necessary (with Cantonese speakers like when travelling in HK with my parents) otherwise it was for many years totally unpractised.

Anyway suffice to say I left all I learnt from toddler-> 7 behind ..... yet miraculously ... when I came over to NAmerica where Cantonese is so widely spoken among the Chinese here, I picked it up all over again. And it came back. Again, aided a lot by a steady watching of HK movies and dramas which were so readily available.

Find your motivation. I have seen/heard in a bkstore rap ones for kids in Chinese. There was a teacher who got her classroom all motivated with a Jay Chou song and they studied the lyrics for 3 wks. You start somewhere.

Good luck, and don't give up even if it's frustrating! Thanks to watching mainly Korean fare for the past 12 yrs .... I know many single Kwords/nouns/verbs etc. But string a whole sentence rapidly, and I am still lost unless it is common sentences often said

Edited by nomad 822, 06 February 2013 - 06:36 PM.


#10 MichaelD

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:37 PM

^^^ This is very impressive !

#11 HeTieShou

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:26 PM

View PostAntiGravity, on 06 February 2013 - 08:45 AM, said:

I'm also TRYING .. emphasis on TRYING to learn Mandarin ... still desperately seeking the kind of interactive kids software you find so prolifically in English with simple rhymes and songs and repetition and games. I hate the normal language software because I'm bored out of my mind in 5 minutes + my short term memory is good enough that I 'learn' quickly and forget in 5 minutes. And its very very very boring repeating the same lesson over and over. VERY BORING.

I do actually want to get beyond just speaking and learn to read and write, well read any way, and know that I learn well by singing along and playing games (holds my attention long enough to actually learn something LOL).

Any one got any suggestions?

As I have mentioned, TAKE classes!!! I feel that nothing beats formal instruction if you want to speak any language properly. I know that from experience and studied acquiring languages in my master's program. If you just try to learn it from just hanging around with people that speak it, then you will pick up pieces here and there but they will not be proper. Getting instruction and then engulfing yourself in the environment if you can is the way to do it. Also, try to use it when you can as well as watch dramas!! Trust me, that really helps!!! As for reading and writing, you just have to read magazines, books,etc and practice writing. Formal instruction helps you with everything but you have to have the patience to do so...

Seeing that you have a short term memory and get bored easily, there is no way that you can learn any language. IN order to learn any language if you have a bad memory is to be patient, have the motivation and determination to do so. If not, then no one can help you... If you like watching dramas, then that will help you with the comprehension and speaking too. But reading and writing, you need to so much more...

Edited by HeTieShou, 06 February 2013 - 10:29 PM.


#12 HeTieShou

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:54 AM

View PostAntiGravity, on 07 February 2013 - 07:20 AM, said:

thanks but a. there is NO formal instruction available where I am at present

b. all formal instruction follows standard methods of teaching which do not work for me.

c. there is nothing wrong with my memory the problem is it is too good. I remember large quantities of information for a short term very easily so when doing the repetitive and boring as sh*t exercises I get them 100% right very quickly .... repetition of word drills is BORING BORING BORING .. but repetition is the only way it goes from short term memory to long term memory so I need something that keeps me interested while getting the necessary repetition

d. I KNOW what works for me.

IF you know what works for you then why bother asking for suggestions???

#13 BeInspired

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 05:04 PM

Chinese dramas WITH Chinese and English subtitles. Yup both. One for you to understand what the Chinese texts mean, and another for you to get yourself familiarized with the Chinese words and how they pronounce them. For me I'm Chinese so I obviously know Chinese language, I also know Cantonese but at that time ( I was 5 ) I could only understand certain phrases because my mum taught me those and nothing more. I started watching TVB dramas when I was 6, all the way until now. Because I already knew Chinese, so when I look at the subtitles while watching a Cantonese drama, I know what the drama is about. Slowly over the years I just pick up a bit of Canto here and there (by linking it back to Chinese characters), until one day I can just watch HK dramas without the need for subtitles anymore. It's same when it comes to speaking it. I'm not that fluent in it because the pronunciation is hard, but since my folks and elders often converse in Cantonese, I was able to learn a lot from them. If someone asks me a question in Cantonese I think I'm confident enough to respond back in Canto since I already have very good understanding of the dialect.

Generally the worst part of learning a language is when you're made to converse in it, but do not know what it means. You may know certain phrases because you either heard someone say it, or you picked it up from somewhere, or you may know the basics, but anything else that's a little more advanced and you just end up feeling lost.

I forgot to mention that before I started watching TVB dramas, my mum always plays Cantonese songs on the music player. That's how I know some words here and there, which actually made my learning a lot easier. Still it took me a long time to be really familiar with the dialect since it's not something I would use on an everyday basis, especially not in a country where most young people and adults speak mostly English, some Chinese, and no Cantonese. lol

So I guess the most important thing apart from getting yourself familiarized with the language by watching Chinese dramas and listening to Chinese songs is that there is someone who's fluent in Chinese to converse with you. I wish I could do the same for Japanese but unfortunately there's no one I know (apart from the sensei) who's a pro in the language and can correct you if you make mistakes.

Edited by SoulReaper, 07 February 2013 - 05:14 PM.


#14 HeTieShou

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:00 PM

View PostAntiGravity, on 07 February 2013 - 03:46 PM, said:

Because I DID NOT ASK FOR GENERAL SUGGESTIONS, I SPECIFICALLY ASKED IF ANYONE KNEW OF ANY KIDS SOFTWARE OF THE INTERACTIVE KIND YOU GET IN ENGLISH.

I have been looking for ages and can't find any. Years in fact.

Anything that has games, sing-a-long stuff (preferably NOT with horrible out of the dark ages cartoons) but especially games.

No need to scream and yell, geez!!You really need to control your temper!!!Also, the games and sing a long stuff will only help you a little bit but not much even if you did find some...

Edited by HeTieShou, 07 February 2013 - 08:04 PM.


#15 Evelina_Gwengelyn

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:50 PM

I will assume you already have a basic knowledge of how to speak/understand/read the language (if you don't, start with hanyu pinyin. it teaches you the basic pheonetics, at least you figure how it sounds like before trying to understand the words).

I personally watch chinese dramas (like the old princess returning pearl series) to brush up on the language. that one's got a beautiful script :D





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