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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Learning through songs

Learning songs are a great way in learning a new language.

I remember when I was learning English, I learned lots of Carpenters songs. I really like Yesterday Once More. For people who know me, they all know I can't sing. But that doesn't stop me learning quite a few English songs for self entertaining and for a better pronunciation. I tried some rock stuff, but that really doesn't work for me at all.

Now in my lessons, sometimes I used Deng Li Jun's songs. Her slow while clear and beautiful singing is really perfect for learning Mandarin. That's probably why her Yueliang Daibiao Wo de Xin is super popular among Mandarin learners.

Although Deng Li Jun is long gone, her beautiful voice remains.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What to learn first?

There are lots of (a lot more than before) kids are taking Mandarin at school. Lucky them! They won't have as much difficulty as grown ups do. For adult learners, a great deal effort need to be made, especially when they don't have as much time and energy as children do.

Some people are willing to quit their jobs and take full time program, while some people take lessons after work. No matter which way you go, it's good to have some basic guidelines when you first start, and some dos and donts.

Here's the donts:
1. At the beginning, don't learn too many new structures (or grammar rules).
Learn too many new rules only make you choke and too self-concious. Know some general rules, and maximumly use them can boost confident. People tend to understand confident speakers more.

2. At the beginning, don't jump start to listen to news.
You really don't get much out of listening to news at the beginning. It's really waste of time. The experiment goes that even baby couldn't learn anything from watching TV. Listen to something approperiate. You can ditch anything contains more than 10% new vacab or new structure.

Here's the dos:
1. Learn relevant stuff.
It makes more sense if you learn "zhe tai diannao bi na tai diannao gui." (This computer is more expensive than that computer.) than "zhe gen qianbi bi na gen qianbi jian." (This pencil is sharper than that pencil.)

2. Be resourceful.
It works better if you can maximumly use what you have learned than constantly adding new vocabulary to your flash card. For example, you want to ask "how did you meet Susan?". But you don't know how to say "how". Instead, you have learned "when" and "where". So you can voice you question this way: ni zai nar renshi le Susan? ni shen me shihou renshi le Susan? (where did you meet Susan? When did you meet Susan?) You can quickly develop fluency only by being resourceful.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Practice with Children

If you are around with some children aged between 5 to 10 years old and their native language is Mandarin Chinese, you should practice your Manarin with them.

They are really good pals, and will never laugh at you if you make a mistake. They will be all heartedly trying to communicate with you! Real communications, and it's fun and you get to know more about Chinese people.

Once I was at a beach in Hainan , (there are many beautiful beaches there, by the way.) and saw a family of three, dad, mum and their about 7 or 8 years old daughter, sitting there. There was a white man walking on the beach, and was passing them. And this little girl saw him and she handed a sea shell to him and ask:" ni cong nali lai a?" This white man took the shell, but didn't answer the little girl for a very obvious reason: he didn't understand her at all! So this sweet little girl kept asking the same question several times until the white man murmured something back. Eventually they had a nice little conversation using two languages. The little girl's parents sitting there, also joined the conversation. But it didn't last long, and the white man's friend came and got him away.

Next time, be prepared. If there is a sweet little Chinese girl handing you a sea shell, talk to her and practice your Mandarin!

Friday, July 07, 2006

They are not only demo lessons; they are real stuff.

After several weeks of harding working, I am pleased to complete the last test for Chinese Reading and Writing 2. That means, there are over 60 lessons available for Chinese Reading and Writing 1 and 2.

That, for a complete new beginner in Chinese reading and writing field, means three to six months study.

Now time will tell if this can be truely helpful for people who take interests in Chinese characters and show them some very interesting and exciting part of being able to read and write. The real exciting part is the first two books only deal with 120 characters, however, these amazing 120 characters are extremely powerful to form passages.

It has been fun doing it. I hope people will have fun learning it!