Learning Mandarin ……..

At four plus years of effort I am settled into a  CCTV textbook which stops me from whizzing around and writing up notes that can soon be forgotten. The CCTV Chinese 400 course was given to me by my penpal Xiao Xia when I knew her in England. Its virtue is that I can work over previous lessons and get the characters, hanzi (pron. ‘hanssurr) burnt into my brain. I am not that clever a person so the rote / repetetive approach is essential, just as in primary school years ago, re-testing myself over old notes.

I have a sheet of A4 with the 300 hanzi so far encountered on the CCTV course that I can sight read at random with another maybe 80 in addition learnt elsewhere. I seem to be merely learning characters, other courses and the indispensable Oxford Starter Dictionary provide me with phrases I’m more likely to remember.  Its just as well I like talking to myself……

Ting talking dictionary gives me good audio for correct pronounciation,   quick and easy.  http://hua.umf.maine.edu/php/search.php?eng=rice&p_input=&c_input=&search_limit=7&search_type=exact

Try to concentrate only on pinyin pronounciaton, however occasionally I work in the Wade Giles system as I have two invaluable dictionaries, a modern technical and a traditional huge tome that has beatifully drawn characters that help to get the ‘feel’ of a character. Also, Wade Giles with its alternative romanisation ie ni zeng shuo from pinyin becomes ni tseng shuo in WadeGiles so its a help in getting a good sound. I have started to learn a few lines of the knockout Rainie Yang song Jue Jiang (Stubbornness).  http://chinat0wn.blogspot.com/2008/04/rainie-yang-stubborness.html   Its useful to work through each character on paper and write down all the relevant dictionary entries.

A problem I have is that I cannot really assimilate / understand a character unless I know its associations and couplings with other characters in themselves as pairs forming new words, its only then that I can get a ‘picture’ of its intended use.

Any CCTV documentary on youtube has excellent voiceovers. Chinese newsreaders are phenomenal at tones. At random http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm1fGRHXYSA

Lastly, check out CCTV the English section, two good courses on there, tho in my opinion have too many instances of non native speakers occupying instruction time and the native speakers are a bit too fast.  http://www.cctv.com/english/vod/index.shtml The language courses are at the bottom of page, some very interesting documentaries as well. Beats UK tv…..

From experience try to be pen and paper based, and try to stick to a single course of instruction even if its only half of your study time (your ‘core’ course). Twenty minutes early morning and ditto before bed are sufficient to make valuable progress. Try not to get bogged down zipping around youtube.

Conversion chart pinyin to Wade Giles  http://www.heroic-cinema.com/eric/PYWG.html

Traditional names modernised to pinyin http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/chinlng3.html

www.cslpod.com is useful, tho no pinyin for beginners, not really a problem as the dictionary soon solves that.

Yesterday found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=015uo0nVeuA this man has over a hundred quick lessons, hearing and seeing himself explain the lessons adds to the learning experience. Can be a bad acoustic, tho stick with him, the oudoor locations provide a sense of real China. I appreciate his efforts. Xiexie fushoubing.

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2 Responses to “Learning Mandarin ……..”

  1. myrainsong Says:

    Check out these Mandarin lessons. Although it might be a bit too basic for your level..? At four years, you’re probably pretty advanced.

  2. kllrchrd Says:

    Ni hao myrainsong,
    As I am a bit dim you’d be suprised how basic I am. You have good spoken audio tho unfortunately i am character based. Also, your not using pinyin makes your site so much harder for me. However on the plus side your free audio downloads sound a great opportunity. Xiexie.

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