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Thread: Learning Mandarin

  1. #1

    Learning Mandarin

    For those of you that have self-taught Mandarin, what resources have you found invaluable to your studies (websites, books, etc?)

    I have found MIT's OpenCourseWare Initiative to have quite a few Chinese language classes:
    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Foreign-La...Home/index.htm

  2. #2
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    Teach Yourself Series

    I tutor a couple of my shi hsiungs in class, and one of them has progressed very quickly with the "Teach Yourself Series". He started with "Beginner's Chinese" and is currently on "Chinese" (both by Elizabeth Scurfield, Lianyi Song). I'm sure the accompanying audio help a great deal, especially if you listen and study the vocabulary on a daily basis. It's important to note that most commercial study aids for Mandarin teach the standard Beijing dialect, but keep in mind if you intend to move to Singapore, Taiwan, or other non-mainland Mandarin speaking countries, there are significant nuances in the accents, vocabulary utilized or expressions heard between mainland and non-mainland people.

    If you are comfortable enough with the tones to the point that you no longer need audio help, then http://www.zhongwen.com is a great resource for looking up vocabulary.

    I think the quickest way to become conversant (other than moving to Asia) is to practice with someone who already is! You must immerse yourself into speaking naturally and learn the fluidity of the language.

    Hope this helps.

    ~annibelle~

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    Pimsleur system.

    Used by the FBI and CIA for learning any foreign language for many years.

    audio cd's

    the system begins with several steps. the idea is taking a couple thousand of the most commonly used words and phrases in any language and repeating them at specific intervals (the timing is supposed to have been developed according to memory retention based on many studies)

    you speak aloud no reading, which helps keep away the accent. check it out. its a great aid for any language.
    A man has only one death. That death may be as weighty as Mt. Tai, or it may be as light as a goose feather. It all depends upon the way he uses it....
    ~Sima Qian

    Master pain, or pain will master you.
    ~PangQuan

    "Just do your practice. Who cares if someone else's practice is not traditional, or even fake? What does that have to do with you?"
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    agreed - pimsleur is also a great tool, i am currently learning Cantonese through Pimsleur and feel the lessons are very thorough.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PangQuan
    Pimsleur system.

    Used by the FBI and CIA for learning any foreign language for many years.

    audio cd's

    the system begins with several steps. the idea is taking a couple thousand of the most commonly used words and phrases in any language and repeating them at specific intervals (the timing is supposed to have been developed according to memory retention based on many studies)

    you speak aloud no reading, which helps keep away the accent. check it out. its a great aid for any language.
    I second Pang Quan. I have the Pimsleur Cantonese downloaded on my iPod...high quality stuff.
    ------
    Jason

    --Keep talking and I'm gonna serve you dinner...by opening up a can of "whoop-ass" and for dessert, a slice of Lama Pai!

    God gave us free will. Therefore he is pro-choice.

  6. #6
    I'm also learning Mandarin from Pimsleur. Its a great method, however, it won't help you reading anything.

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    true, but you will learn how to tell people you can speak mandarin even before you can.
    A man has only one death. That death may be as weighty as Mt. Tai, or it may be as light as a goose feather. It all depends upon the way he uses it....
    ~Sima Qian

    Master pain, or pain will master you.
    ~PangQuan

    "Just do your practice. Who cares if someone else's practice is not traditional, or even fake? What does that have to do with you?"
    ~Gene "The Crotch Master" Ching

    You know you want to click me!!

  8. #8
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    PQ,

    I thought that was funny. The first thing I learned to say was that I spoke Cantonese...I was like ummm...I don't yet. But it worked out well, setting me up for some good stuff.
    ------
    Jason

    --Keep talking and I'm gonna serve you dinner...by opening up a can of "whoop-ass" and for dessert, a slice of Lama Pai!

    God gave us free will. Therefore he is pro-choice.

  9. #9
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    Is anyone trying to learn Mandarin or Cantonese?

    I'm trying to learn Mandarin so I can have conversations with the Chinese people (native Chinese speakers) I associate with. I thought it would help with the occasional language barrier... actually it's more often than occasional. I'm using a CD/Textbook package I got and another book for characters. I also found a Chinese school in my area that offeres Mandarin classes for native English speakers at $5-$10 a lesson... but that doesn't start until September.

    Also, there's a Mandarin podcast (Chinesepod) which is pretty helpful.

    Is anyone else doing something similar? If so, how is it going and what method of learning are you using?
    If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.

    Lucky Numbers 11, 8, 39, 46, 5, 17

  10. #10
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    I use the following...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/real_chinese/
    http://www.chinese-lessons.com/

    also I have Pimsleuer. Rosetta Stone (Cd's 1 and 2), Talk Now Deluxe Mandarin, and Instant Immersion Mandarin.

    PM me if you want info.

  11. #11
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    i have the book "Chinese in 10 minutes a day" (Kristine Kershul) & Pimsleur's Mandarin CD's, it's definitely slow going and I don't work every day with the book like i should.

    I have a little CD player on top of the fridge in the kitchen and I will do the Pimsleur lessons while I am washing the dishes (by hand, no dishwasher).
    The book "Chinese In 10 minutes A Day" is pretty good but I have to go slow with it, to truely absorb each lesson before going on to the next. If you just stayed on one lesson for a week, that would be about write. You're not going to be learning and retaining Mandarin from it in say 3 months, by doing a page every day, unless you are already some crazy genius-prodigy type. It is good reference though combined with the Pimsleurs course so that you can see how some of the words are written in pinyin.

    My aim is to learn Mandarin for conversational use, and then if I can learn a few ideograms down the road then that is gravy, I already bashed my head against that in Japanese, and just learning how to write the kanji down with the proper stroke order is a whole discipline of its own IMO... you really have to be committed to doing that. i'm keeping my sights set low...an aspiring illiterate! lol. to my credit I did learn both hiragana and katakana though, memorized all of them and can read and write like a Japanese first grader lol.
    Master...Teach me kung fu.

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    I started with Power Chinese CD-ROM from Transparent Language, which gives the basics of grammar, tones and pronunciation. Only bad thing about this program is that it only has simplified characters.
    I then moved on to Rosetta Stone Mandarin level 1&2 set. The advantage to Rosetta Stone is that it has pinyin, traditional and simplified characters in the workbook and on the CD-ROMs.
    I use Rosetta Stone along with Easy Chinese Mandarin Level 1 by Edward C. Chang to learn to read and write the characacters. This CD-Rom gives the stroke orders and pronunciations of characters.
    I just got Reading and Writing Chinese Traditional Character Edition by William McNaughton and Li Ying.

  13. #13
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    Chizica-thanks for that link, the BBC one seems pretty good.

    Banjos Dad-I know what you mean, I've been doing my lessons for a week or two each, then I ended up going back over them. Lesson 1 in the book I have is easy, I nailed that after practicing it for a week straight.. but for obvious reasons, as I progressed through the book I had more trouble. I haven't done it in a while, but I've been using other methods to at least learn some things I'll really need to say until I get a better grasp on the conversational.

    As far as Rosetta Stone, I borrowed that from a friend. I didn't really like it as much as my Living Language set. It was confusing too because everything seemed different. I also learn better from text books while taking notes... so that might have been the problem.

    I'm also hoping that by being surrounded by native Mandarin speakers 4 days+ every week, I'll begin to pick things up.
    If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.

    Lucky Numbers 11, 8, 39, 46, 5, 17

  14. #14
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    I'm also hoping that by being surrounded by native Mandarin speakers 4 days+ every week, I'll begin to pick things up.
    The total immersion method!! That will definitely accelerate your progress, and improve your accent.
    Master...Teach me kung fu.

  15. #15
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    Yeah, have you ever seen that Simpsons episode when Bart goes to France, and he just starts speaking French out of nowhere? That's what I'm hoping for.
    If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.

    Lucky Numbers 11, 8, 39, 46, 5, 17

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