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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm interested because I'm currently learning Chinese and have now reached a stage where I can have a go at getting involved in online forums.

I'm particularly keen to do this because I'm leaving China at the end of June, and then have no idea when I'll return. So I'd like to maintain my Chinese skills somehow.

I guess forums will of course help with the continual maintenance of my ability, but I'm interested in how it happens - what improves the most? What are the benefits?

Also - introverts - some of us have a tendency to sub-vocalise when reading (literally reading it as if we're silently speaking the words in our heads). I am very much a sub-vocaliser. I'm wondering if this would help with oral language practice, even though no speaking is even being done..? Probably a bit of a long shot, but no harm it putting it out there.

Thoughts? Advice?

Thanks!
 

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It doesn't help with my academic English at all, it mainly helps with learning how to misspell words like a native speaker ;), e.g. they're/ there/ their or 'definately'. It also helps with picking up swear words, or rather, those swear words that are fashionable on the internet, like douche bag, ass-hat, bad-ass etc.
That has certainly boosted my street cred with morons..... I mean with poetically challenged individuals, but I'm not sure that it's had any benefits apart from that.


Yes, I'm an introvert and I do sub-vocalize.
 

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The silent voice in your head has following reason: your brain is doing everything you would do when you talk, but you just don't allow your mouth to get the signal to move.
That means that your brain knows exactly how it should be pronounced and so you say it correctly in your mind. However, especially in the case of Chinese, vocality and tongue-movement are most crucial when trying to practice the pronounciation. The point I'm making is, that you should probably read it out aloud so both your mouth, your tongue and your vocal chords can get used to the correct pronounciation. Often times you know exactly how something should be pronounced, but once you say it out aloud, it can sound very derpy, because you're not used to actually saying it.
Also, some people are visual learners, some people are tonal learners, and if you are the latter, reading it out aloud can help you improve and memorize it better.


Also, since I've been learning English for basically 10 years now, online forum like these don't actually help my English since a lot of words used are words I've already learned. When I was younger though, online video games and forums/chats helped A LOT! It was basically the reason why I've been getting straight As in English classes for all my life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It doesn't help with my academic English at all, it mainly helps with learning how to misspell words like a native speaker ;), e.g. they're/ there/ their or 'definately'. It also helps with picking up swear words, or rather, those swear words that are fashionable on the internet, like douche bag, ass-hat, bad-ass etc.
That has certainly boosted my street cred with morons..... I mean with poetically challenged individuals, but I'm not sure that it's had any benefits apart from that.


Yes, I'm an introvert and I do sub-vocalize.
Interesting, thanks. And yeah, the spelling mistakes are defiantly annoying. ( :wink: )

Then again, how do you make a spelling mistake in Chinese? You just type in the Pinyin and the correct character pops up on screen. The only error you can make is if you pick the wrong character.

Hah actually I did once see a brilliant spelling mistake..!

It was around christmas time. Of course the Chinese shouldn't necessarily celebrate christmas, but the commercial aspect has naturally flourished. The Chinese for 'Happy Christmas' is ShengDan KuaiLe. This is written like so: 圣诞快乐. It kind of means 'Happy Saint's birthday'.

I saw a sign saying 圣蛋快乐。 Note the difference:

圣诞快乐
圣蛋快乐

The second character also says 'Dan', and is pronounced exactly the same. But it means egg!

Literally, the sign said, "Happy Saint Egg day." It was hand-written, too.

Generally though I do think it's quite tough to make such a mistake in Chinese, compared with the ease of misspelling in English (or any alphabetic language).

The silent voice in your head has following reason: your brain is doing everything you would do when you talk, but you just don't allow your mouth to get the signal to move.
That means that your brain knows exactly how it should be pronounced and so you say it correctly in your mind. However, especially in the case of Chinese, vocality and tongue-movement are most crucial when trying to practice the pronounciation. The point I'm making is, that you should probably read it out aloud so both your mouth, your tongue and your vocal chords can get used to the correct pronounciation. Often times you know exactly how something should be pronounced, but once you say it out aloud, it can sound very derpy, because you're not used to actually saying it.
Also, some people are visual learners, some people are tonal learners, and if you are the latter, reading it out aloud can help you improve and memorize it better.


Also, since I've been learning English for basically 10 years now, online forum like these don't actually help my English since a lot of words used are words I've already learned. When I was younger though, online video games and forums/chats helped A LOT! It was basically the reason why I've been getting straight As in English classes for all my life.
So online communication did work? That's good to know.

I've picked up the tones and pronunciation pretty well. Actually just on Friday night, we met a Chinese guy who was utterly blown away by the fact that us three foreigners could all speak even a word of Chinese, haha. He then rated us. My one friend had the deepest vocabulary, my other friend had the best grammar, and I had the most native accent. He said I sounded like a real Chinese, woohoo! So yeah, I'm hoping I can just use forums to perfect my grammar and boost vocabulary.



Thanks for the input guys :happy:
 

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My English has gotten so much better thanks to being on the forum. I mean, my English was good even before, but I'm definitely more fluent now. I feel like I can express myself without having any language barriers, only my own personal awkward barriers that I have even on my native language.

I can say for sure this has helped me nail my college entrance exam - getting 146/150 and being the best at the college interview for the English Teaching Studies program. And getting accepted, of course. :D
 

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The point I'm making is, that you should probably read it out aloud so both your mouth, your tongue and your vocal chords can get used to the correct pronounciation. Often times you know exactly how something should be pronounced, but once you say it out aloud, it can sound very derpy, because you're not used to actually saying it.
Also, some people are visual learners, some people are tonal learners, and if you are the latter, reading it out aloud can help you improve and memorize it better.
Either aloud or out loud. Never both.

Also, since I've been learning English for basically 10 years now, online forum like these don't actually help my English since a lot of words used are words I've already learned. When I was younger though, online video games and forums/chats helped A LOT! It was basically the reason why I've been getting straight As in English classes for all my life.
I'm actually learning German. Do you know of any forums that are interesting and in German?
 

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I used to learn English by singing and watching a lot of TV.
 

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Mandarin Chinese is my native tongue. English is my second. I am fluent in both that I can interpret both ways simultaneously on the spot if the speaker's topic isn't too technical (STEM, medical, law).

Overall I think my Chinese is slightly better because I enjoy reading classical lit and poems. Beowulf, Canterbury Tale, and even Shakespeare I still have a hard time getting into.

How do I retain my Chinese being in US for decades? I read on-line newspaper and comment section. The comment section is extremely helpful in keeping up with current slang and popular/trendy word play. Some comments are very clever in weaving old metaphors with current events, be it funny or sarcastic.

To be good in Chinese one must know many old sayings and idioms. Most of them came from historical events or old tales hundreds of years ago. Most ppl pepper their speech and writing with such. Poems and famous written articles from dynasties long ago are still in use today in making allegorical or metaphoric arguments/statements. It's amazing that I keep finding new and clever use of these in news article's comment section.

You may have to keep reading to keep your Chinese from slipping away or to improve it. I never stop reading books in Chinese for all the decades I've been in USA. To keep up with pronunciation and enunciation you should recite while reading passages. This is how I learned English, by reading book after book and reciting while reading.

If you can find audio books in Chinese on line, it's another good tool. I listen to endless audio books in English. It helps me with sound association and meaning association on the spot (you get it in split second from hearing the words in context). Listening also improves oratory phrasing when speaking (when to breath and when to break, etc.) and gets correct pronunciation for long words.

Chinese is a hard language to master. Regular chit chat is fine but to write and speak with wit and sophistication it takes decades; yes, decades of reading good stuff (there are a lot of trash books out there in Chinese; just like English books). Anyhow, you are welcome to ask me questions if you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@Merry in Sunshine - Fantastic, good to know!
@chanteuse - Also fantastic! Yeah I figured I'd need to keep up with the reading. Part of me already knows that a lot of it will go down the drain as soon as I'm home. Or at least I won't be able to improve anything. I'll have too much university shit to deal with, and my studies are not 'Chinese' at all, haha. I'm going for the HSK4 in May and, if I pass, I at least hope to maintain my HSK4 standard until possibly improving myself in the future.

Good to know that there are techniques out there. And yeah about the idioms etc, I take it you mean 成语s? I've heard they're a bitch to figure out for foreign Chinese learners, and so far I know literally about two..! Well, I have no direct intention to become natively fluent anyway, I just want to make sure I don't forget it, or at least can improve a wee bit. 成语s will come after the book I'm currently studying, I think.

Thanks for the advice guys :happy:
 

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@Merry in Sunshin - Fantastic, good to know!
@chanteuse - Also fantastic! Yeah I figured I'd need to keep up with the reading. Part of me already knows that a lot of it will go down the drain as soon as I'm home. Or at least I won't be able to improve anything. I'll have too much university shit to deal with, and my studies are not 'Chinese' at all, haha. I'm going for the HSK4 in May and, if I pass, I at least hope to maintain my HSK4 standard until possibly improving myself in the future.

Good to know that there are techniques out there. And yeah about the idioms etc, I take it you mean 成语s? I've heard they're a bitch to figure out for foreign Chinese learners, and so far I know literally about two..! Well, I have no direct intention to become natively fluent anyway, I just want to make sure I don't forget it, or at least can improve a wee bit. 成语s will come after the book I'm currently studying, I think.

Thanks for the advice guys :happy:
I bought a reference book for idioms when I went to Taiwan a few years ago. There are so many that I figured I'd better have a reference handy so that I would not use the wrong expression when I write.

It has become pretty useful. Each idiom comes with where it came from and the meaning of it. I found that I was able to get a quick history course just browsing.

If your goal is to maintain a conversational level, you should get a native speaker friend to do informal language exchange. You teach him/her yours and he/she teaches you Mandarin.

Somehow conversational level to me is the hardest to achieve. I could not speak English for the first 7 years after I moved to the US. I didn't know enough words, current events, interesting/relevant topics to say anything worth noting. It took me a long time to get enough data inside my head from reading newspaper and magazine articles. When one is talking, it has a lot to do with mental reflex. the more you know, the longer you regurgitate information, the faster you can converse coherently and articulate your chit chat in organized manner.

To do so in Mandarin is even harder; imagine an adult staying in elementary school children level chit chat because there's not enough vocabulary and quick turn around to volley back and forth talking about more sophisticated topics.

I got my HSK 11 a few years ago on a whim (I saw the newspaper article about the test), in case I was asked to provide language proficiency proof.
 

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I noticed my english is slowly starting to flow better when it comes to writing, it was pretty robotic when i started (might still be, to some degree, i don't know, you tell me haha).
Sub-vocalising... that's interesting piece of information, i do that, not sure if it improved speaking skills since i don't do that in a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I bought a reference book for idioms when I went to Taiwan a few years ago. There are so many that I figured I'd better have a reference handy so that I would not use the wrong expression when I write.

It has become pretty useful. Each idiom comes with where it came from and the meaning of it. I found that I was able to get a quick history course just browsing.

If your goal is to maintain a conversational level, you should get a native speaker friend to do informal language exchange. You teach him/her yours and he/she teaches you Mandarin.

Somehow conversational level to me is the hardest to achieve. I could not speak English for the first 7 years after I moved to the US. I didn't know enough words, current events, interesting/relevant topics to say anything worth noting. It took me a long time to get enough data inside my head from reading newspaper and magazine articles. When one is talking, it has a lot to do with mental reflex. the more you know, the longer you regurgitate information, the faster you can converse coherently and articulate your chit chat in organized manner.

To do so in Mandarin is even harder; imagine an adult staying in elementary school children level chit chat because there's not enough vocabulary and quick turn around to volley back and forth talking about more sophisticated topics.

I got my HSK 11 a few years ago on a whim (I saw the newspaper article about the test), in case I was asked to provide language proficiency proof.
The HSK has changed now and only goes up to level 6!!

Apparently the government took the test from Beijing Language and Culture University and decided to administer it for themselves. Many people are angry about it because it's clearly just a money-making scheme for the government - the test fees etc are something of a cash cow. They say HSK1, 2, 3 and 4 are all relatively achievable with not necessarily too much effort (but still need to study, of course), and then HSK5 and 6 are the big ones. Specially 6, which I guess should be quite tough as it's the top level!

I don't think I'm anywhere near conversational yet. However I'm able to quite easily 'complete any task' in China. e.g. if I need, want, or require something, or have some task to complete, or if I'm moving around somewhere and a local has a small chat with me, I can do it. But no I can't sit and converse fluidly at all, haha. Still, after just one year here I'm quite proud of how far I've come. I'm top of my class and am the only one going for HSK4. My reading and writing is better than my speaking. I can actually 'listen' quite well. I just get tongue-tied quite easily if I want to respond sometimes.

Thanks again for the advice. :perc2:
 

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The HSK has changed now and only goes up to level 6!!

Apparently the government took the test from Beijing Language and Culture University and decided to administer it for themselves. Many people are angry about it because it's clearly just a money-making scheme for the government - the test fees etc are something of a cash cow. They say HSK1, 2, 3 and 4 are all relatively achievable with not necessarily too much effort (but still need to study, of course), and then HSK5 and 6 are the big ones. Specially 6, which I guess should be quite tough as it's the top level!

I don't think I'm anywhere near conversational yet. However I'm able to quite easily 'complete any task' in China. e.g. if I need, want, or require something, or have some task to complete, or if I'm moving around somewhere and a local has a small chat with me, I can do it. But no I can't sit and converse fluidly at all, haha. Still, after just one year here I'm quite proud of how far I've come. I'm top of my class and am the only one going for HSK4. My reading and writing is better than my speaking. I can actually 'listen' quite well. I just get tongue-tied quite easily if I want to respond sometimes.

Thanks again for the advice. :perc2:
They changed it after 2010. I took it in 2009 or 2008 I think.

It is money making. But it's also necessary to have a standardized test for all foreigners who want to go to school or do business in China.

Language is really a life long thing. I've yet met any scholar or author who has stopped learning or refreshing his/her Chinese. My dad when he's alive, was a historian/journalist/magazine editor. He's always referring to historical books when he wrote his weekly political commentary piece. He read ancient theological texts to better his logical thinking skill. He did it until he's too sick to read.

There's so much one can learn. It's not just the language itself, it's history, culture, ppl, philosophies, everything new and old. I am about to reach the age when my dad passed away but my depth in Chinese culture is still on a superficial level. This is how I feel about my English, too. Whenever ppl told me how good my English is, I could never accept the compliment. There's still so much I don't know and haven't read......
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
They changed it after 2010. I took it in 2009 or 2008 I think.

It is money making. But it's also necessary to have a standardized test for all foreigners who want to go to school or do business in China.

Language is really a life long thing. I've yet met any scholar or author who has stopped learning or refreshing his/her Chinese. My dad when he's alive, was a historian/journalist/magazine editor. He's always referring to historical books when he wrote his weekly political commentary piece. He read ancient theological texts to better his logical thinking skill. He did it until he's too sick to read.

There's so much one can learn. It's not just the language itself, it's history, culture, ppl, philosophies, everything new and old. I am about to reach the age when my dad passed away but my depth in Chinese culture is still on a superficial level. This is how I feel about my English, too. Whenever ppl told me how good my English is, I could never accept the compliment. There's still so much I don't know and haven't read......
That's interesting and I agree. I've always thought that language and culture are deeply linked.

It's amazing how much I've come to understand parts Chinese culture just from learning the language here for half a year.

Most foreigners arrive and they barely scratch the surface - "Oh Chinese people like to buy us drinks and give away constant cigarettes." Then they go on to teach English and pose as models and just live the life of a 'westerner in China'.

Now after learning it for a while, I'm reeeeeeeally starting to get a better idea of what life is all about here.

I'm still very much a 'westerner in China', of course, but most definitely I've improved a fair amount, thanks to me picking up the language.

So yeah, I agree, it's a constant growth and is almost never-ending.

It must be fascinating for you, being able to so fluently see the differences in mindset, when changing between Chinese and English conversation. Language itself is at the core of every thought and action, I think.
 

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That's interesting and I agree. I've always thought that language and culture are deeply linked.

It's amazing how much I've come to understand parts Chinese culture just from learning the language here for half a year.

Most foreigners arrive and they barely scratch the surface - "Oh Chinese people like to buy us drinks and give away constant cigarettes." Then they go on to teach English and pose as models and just live the life of a 'westerner in China'.

Now after learning it for a while, I'm reeeeeeeally starting to get a better idea of what life is all about here.

I'm still very much a 'westerner in China', of course, but most definitely I've improved a fair amount, thanks to me picking up the language.

So yeah, I agree, it's a constant growth and is almost never-ending.

It must be fascinating for you, being able to so fluently see the differences in mindset, when changing between Chinese and English conversation. Language itself is at the core of every thought and action, I think.


There's always the lure for westerns to live in the far east. Reading WS Maugham's short stories gave me a very clear picture.

For me personally I appreciate both the western and eastern philosophy and life style; the good and the not so good bits. I don't have illusion but go with the flow without complaining. There's no perfect society anywhere.


Chinese people in general treat Westerns like novel objects. They are "foreigners" after all. Most don't expect them to understand Chinese. It's strangely interesting to be fussed over or set apart in the beginning. Most don't stay there long enough to get tired of it.

For the younger and good looking ones, it's almost like addictive high when Chinese ppl keep telling them how "good looking" they are while they are just typical looking back home.


At the end of the day, everyone has his own take on living among ppl not his own race. Some become bitter. Some only see the good. Some adapt. Some use it as an escape.

I like my Chinese root very much because it sets me apart from being like an average Westerner. If I would move back, my decades living in the US would set me apart from being a typical Chinese. It's win-win in my book. :)
 

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My English is better since I joined PerC, way much better. I find myself even thinking on English instead of my own language, I also speak more fluently. Of course I still having my grammatical mistakes, etc even I still confusing some words by their sound but I think it's pretty normal.
 

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You guys might find this website useful:
Antimoon: How to learn English effectively

It's a very good website, which provides language acquisition strategies using comprehensible input (the more you listen and read, the more your English - including speaking and writing - will improve). It's run by two Poles who basically raised their English to near-native speaker level using input over a couple of years.

Their approach is based on the work of the linguist Stephen Krashen (Books and Articles by Stephen D Krashen). Krashen's approach has been picked up by a number of other websites, including:

http://l2mastery.com/

http://thelanguagedojo.com/

AJATT | All Japanese All The Time | You don't know a language, you live it. You don't learn a language, you get used to it.
 

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If your goal is to maintain a conversational level, you should get a native speaker friend to do informal language exchange. You teach him/her yours and he/she teaches you Mandarin.

Somehow conversational level to me is the hardest to achieve. I could not speak English for the first 7 years after I moved to the US. I didn't know enough words, current events, interesting/relevant topics to say anything worth noting. It took me a long time to get enough data inside my head from reading newspaper and magazine articles. When one is talking, it has a lot to do with mental reflex. the more you know, the longer you regurgitate information, the faster you can converse coherently and articulate your chit chat in organized manner.
Don't feel bad. I've been speaking English for about 19 years and am still very bad at conversational English.

That's interesting and I agree. I've always thought that language and culture are deeply linked.

It's amazing how much I've come to understand parts Chinese culture just from learning the language here for half a year.

Most foreigners arrive and they barely scratch the surface - "Oh Chinese people like to buy us drinks and give away constant cigarettes." Then they go on to teach English and pose as models and just live the life of a 'westerner in China'.

Now after learning it for a while, I'm reeeeeeeally starting to get a better idea of what life is all about here.

I'm still very much a 'westerner in China', of course, but most definitely I've improved a fair amount, thanks to me picking up the language.

So yeah, I agree, it's a constant growth and is almost never-ending.

It must be fascinating for you, being able to so fluently see the differences in mindset, when changing between Chinese and English conversation. Language itself is at the core of every thought and action, I think.
Do they speak much English where you are in China? Do you find it difficult to get around without help?
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I find looking at websites entirely in German at first very threatening and scary. And then I look at the words on the page and realize
1. wow I know the majority of these words
2. this isn't that hard or scary afterall what the heck

And then I go to websites that are entirely in English and it's like I'm on easy mode and my brain sort of shuts off and naturally pushes all the buttons without even reading the words . . . just knowing where everything is. very second-nature (or should I say first-nature?).

I have had my phone and tablet in german for about a year now. Recently I changed my SD card to a german SD card, and this made my phone change its language to English for some reason (probably because I bought it in America idk) and it just felt so weird to look at things in English. It felt almost unfamiliar while at the same time . . . not unfamiliar because it was english ? very strange experience.

I would love to get over that fear of German and feel comfortable looking at things that are in German. Why is there that initial fear of "oh my god, despite learning this language for nearly a year and a half, seeing this language still totally terrifies me." lol how irrational is that?
 

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I'm a native Tagalog speaker with intermediate level in English language. I've been on different forums for quite some time including PerC which I currently use as a medium for online self-expression. It really does help especially for expanding my vocabulary. Most INFPs are very creative at forming sentences that's why I get to be introduced to new words that are unknown to me. I need more practice in grammar though.
 
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