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Learning Article : My 10-Point Method For Getting The Most From Mandarin Chinese Classes On italki

Discuss the Article : My 10-Point Method For Getting The Most From Mandarin Chinese Classes On italki

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Over 350 italki classes have honed my ability to get the most from this unique learning format. My goal has been to become fluent and functionally literate in Chinese, with little concern for composition. From this experience, I have gradually formulated a proven method, which I would like to share with you...

Jul 1, 2014 12:00 AM
Comments · 13

Teachers like all humans differ in their ability. Personally, I don't have a high verbal ability, but when you get beyond beginner level, you will realize there are people with a vastly contrasting ability to speak fluently, without um's, ah's, pauses. They probably would score 800 on the SAT verbal section. You can easily recognize them on Audacity by the sharp wave patterns, lack of repeats, false starts and quick ability to conjure up examples.

 

>NJStar . . . What is a 'learning program'? Is this something specific to learning written Chinese?

-NJStar is a wordprocessor with a dictionary function. It greatly simplifies the task of looking up words or idioms. Although I haven't checked the software market in a while, at the time, it was the only one which allowed additions to the vocabulary as well as provided pinyin.

 

>During class . . . . Can you describe the other portions?

I have explicit learning objectives in my mind. When looking at any text, I ask my self, and if necessary, teacher.
-Do I understand the sentence?
-Can I parse it correctly so it makes sense?
-What does this word mean?
-What other meanings and contexts, or uses does this word have? Is is formal, written, or casual and oral?
-I usually have a couple of sentences prepared from jukuu.com to review with the teacher.
-How is this word difference or similar in usage from words I already know? Is it Northern versus Southern usage?
Example: 携 versus 带

I expect my teacher to have looked at the prepared class material before class starts.  Some are so good that they can manage on the fly, but that is rare.

 

What MP3 player (hardware/software) do you use while in your car?

-No particular one, but having a button to repeat the last 30 seconds is good.

 

 

February 15, 2015

I like your tips and have been using Audacity for a while. One thing I find useful is to select a short phrase from the teacher's voice, generate a silence of a few seconds after it, and then loop play the phrase and the silence. I then repeat the phrase after the teacher, listening each time and trying to match the sound before the teacher's voice on the loop restarts. Goal is to speak as quickly and clearly as the teacher.

Next step is to record the English translation on my phone so I can play the audio, stop and instantly translate into Mandarin. I am trying to learn phrases and patterns, not just lists of words.

After using audacity, I just use a standard mp3 player on the move - by then I know the recording wellenough. Some days I write nothing, just listen and speak.

 

 

February 20, 2015

My own verbal ability is at best fair to middling. Language has near infinite depth; there's no limit in improving your own mother tongue in style or nuance. Rich cultural depth and rapid societal changes make mastery of Chinese difficult to define or attain. My father prides himself as an ancient Chinese classics scholar, fluent in 文言文, a level which I can never hope to personally attain.


So to answer your question, don't give up. Study in an efficient and effective manner. Proficiency in language is volume dependent. Every lesson hikes you further up the scale, "There is no such thing as good, only better."

February 19, 2015

Finally, do you find yourself using the lesson audio files at a latter date? If so, how do you organize your MP3 collection?

-OK, a key question. You might wish to google "Shadow speaking" This is a linguistic learning technique to develope fluency. In short, you listen and repeat.
-Memory works best if reinforced within a few days and a week later. If you have it down by then, you've remembered it.
-I'm shadow speaking the lesson whenever free.

-At a much later date, schedule a class and see if you can discuss the subject.

February 15, 2015

Hi, tgif. This is an excellent article! Thank you! I am just getting in to the audio file technology, and your recommendation of Audacity and the Skype recorder were very helpful.

 

Of course, I have questions. I apologize if you have answered these elsewhere.

 

First, you mention 350 italki classes and a number of teachers. How many teachers have you worked with?

 

>NJStar is my learning program of choice.

 

What is a 'learning program'? Is this something specific to learning written Chinese?

 

>During the last portion of the class, I will have a freestyle, subject-specific discussion,
>asking the teacher to use the vocabulary words with me in a meaningful conversation.

 

Can you describe the other portions? I am very interested in your class design. It sounds like you have been very specific about how your classes are organized.

 

What MP3 player (hardware/software) do you use while in your car?

 

Finally, do you find yourself using the lesson audio files at a latter date? If so, how do you organize your MP3 collection?

 

Again, thanks for a great article!

 

Mark

February 15, 2015
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