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Hi everybody!

中文版本 (in Chinese)

Since I started studying Chinese, I’ve realised that there are many things to learn that no textbook and few teachers will tell you. I’m not talking about things in ordinary books here, but on how to study Chinese. As you probably know, I’ve written extensively about this on my website for many years, but I’ve now decided that it’s time to write something more serious about it. To start with, I’m going to launch a new website called Hacking Chinese, but my goal is ultimately to write a book about learning Chinese.

This is something I can’t and won’t do alone, I need your help! You don’t need to do much, in fact you don’t need to do anything at all. However, if you think that you might be able to help me (you don’t have to promise!) with any of the following, please let me know!

• Cheer me on
• Read updates
• Comment on ideas
• Ask questions
• Answer questions
• Discuss learning
• Suggest resources
• Tell me I’m wrong
• Tell me I’m right
• Provide other perspectives
• Proof read texts
• Edit texts

You don’t need to be interested in all these things! The only thing that will happen if you tell me that you’re interested is that I will write down your e-mail address and what you’re interested in, so you will be able to see what’s going on with this project. Here are some examples of what I will write about:

• How to organise your studying
• How to learn lots of words really fast
• How to polish pronunciation beyond the basics
• How to improve reading ability
• What tools and resources are available
• What research exists concerning learning Chinese

I hope you’re willing to share you experiences and help me writing this book. It will be written in English and anybody is welcome to help, even if you don’t speak a single word of Chinese!

Sincerely,

Olle Linge
olle [at] linge [dot] se
http://www.snigel.nu
http://www.hackingchinese.com

大家好!
從我開始學中文以來,我發現有很多跟中文學習有關的東西是許多課本與大多數老師不會提到的。我是說,這些概念是跟一般課本的內容無關,比較偏重在如何學中文上。也許您知道,這幾年以來,我在我網站上已經發表過一些關於學中文的文章,不過現在我想要擴大這些概念,將內容合起來,寫成一本書。

我一個人的確不能完成寫書這項任務,所以我需要您的幫忙!您不需要幫我做很多事,其實您什麼都不需要做。但是,如果您覺得底下的一些項目您可以幫得上忙(您不必承諾;說有興趣就夠了),就請您協助我:

跟我說加油
觀察我寫的更新
對我寫的文章作評論
問問題
回答我的問題
和我討論如何學中文
推薦教材,資料等等
跟我說我的想法是錯的
跟我說我的想法是對的
提供其他的看法
校對文章
編織編輯內容

別以為您得對以上所有的話題都感興趣喔!如果您告訴我您有興趣,我只會將您的電子郵件地址與您對哪一個部分有興趣寫下來,之後您就能看到整個任務的進度、過程、以及我需不需要任何幫助。如果您只想要看到這些更新,也可以,您並不需要幫我,可是我希望有一些人願意幫我完成這本書!在這本書裡我會提到很多不同的題目,例如:

怎麼安排您的學習
怎麼很快地擴充詞彙
怎麼加強發音
怎麼加強閱讀
有哪些有用的工具
有哪些對學中文的研究

我希望您願意分享您的學習經驗以及協助我完成這本書。歡迎任何人協助我,即使您連簡單的英文都不會講,我還是會很高興地跟您用中文討論您提供寶貴的意見!

凌雲龍
olle [小老鼠] linge [點] se
http://www.snigel.nu
http://www.hackingchinese.com


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By On September 19, 2010 · 5 Comments · In About Hacking Chinese
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5 Responses to A pre-launch plea for help

  1. Thomas says:

    Hello,

    I think you’ve done a pretty good job to this point. Here are a few problems which I’ve encountered and which I don’t think you’ve talked about yet.

    One which I’ve just mentioned in another post is tone pronunciation, and how different it is from what books tell you (pitch, speed, the tone of the previous character, and the relative frequency of other tones for that particular sound all seem to come into play, in addition to local accents). However, I’ve found that speaking really slowly, and exaggerating the tones, is a good exercise, and won’t even get you laughed at. The Chinese sometimes do it themselves, unlike westerners.

    Another one is the importance of ready-made formulations. After learning enough words, you feel empowered to make your own sentences ; but no one seems to understand. This is because there are so many homophones, so everyone will use the same common phrase to say one particular thing. An example of such phrases is : 你吃过了没有? If you say it with the wrong tones, everyone will understand. However, if you say : 你还没吃过吗?, which has roughly the same meaning, even with all the tones right, it won’t sound as obvious to a native ear : no one ever says it that way!

    I’ve also found this :
    http://blog.lifehacker.com/5738093/why-you-learn-more-effectively-by-writing-than-typing
    After reading it (alongside with :
    http://lifehacker.com/5739299/take-a-break-from-reading-and-test-yourself-to-retain-more-knowledge
    ), I’ve set out to use Anki with “production” cards mostly, and it seems to work wonders. Turning off the music also demonstrably helps memorizing. That’s the kind of tricks you don’t find in books.

    Accents are a pain, because unless you live in Beijing, you can never really get the (older) people around you to speak Mandarin Chinese when they talk to one another. That is, assuming their level is sufficient. And when you’re just beginning, you can’t even tell the difference! Moreover, accents don’t just cover sound differences, but they usually also mix up tones, slightly change the use cases or meaning of some common words, introduce new ready-made phrases or unusual grammar forms. They differ from town to town, and from town to countryside ; and as the Chinese migrate a lot, your two neighbors may not understand each other properly. That’s why just listening to other people can be a waste of time. se bu se?

    Actually, I’ve found that a lot of Chinese manuals are poorly thought-up. They tell you about grammar, incrementally add vocabulary, but give very little reading material to practice on (the 汉语风 series is wonderful if your level isn’t good enough to plunge into newspaper reading. I’m working on a website idea along that line myself). Above all, they never tell you how to learn. Learning Chinese is a skill in and of itself. That’s why this blog is so interesting.

    • Olle Linge says:

      Hi!

      First and foremost, thanks for your input. It’s encouraging to know that someone appreciate what I write enough to post detailed comments such as yours.

      Regarding tones, I’m actually writing a paper about tone instruction at the moment and I have quite a lot to say on the subject. In general, I agree with what you say. Textbooks do a quite lousy job with tone instructions, as do some teacher (although I can’t prove that). Speaking slowly is definitely a good idea. The worst thing you can do is what some people recommend, speak as quickly as possible because then it sounds natural. I can think of few more detrimental approaches to pronunciation.

      Set phrases and expressions are always tricky, I think, but perhaps it’s easier to approach them as pieces of vocabulary and simply learn them until you get a feeling for what is commonly used and what isn’t. There are lots of ways of saying something in any language that is correct but which just isn’t the way people usually say it. I think you are right that the problem in Chinese is aggravated by the high frequency of homophones.

      I will check the links you provided, they both look quite interesting. I have also found that turning off music helps learning tones, but it also makes the process a bit more dull, which might be bad in the long run. I try to review without music most of the time, but if I have to sit for hours, I listen to something.

      Regarding dialects, I agree with your problem analysis, but not the conclusion. My conclusion is that because Chinese is so diverse, you need to listen to lots of different dialects as much as you can, so that you can understand all varieties of Mandarin. I assume you’re not talking about dialects complete different from Mandarin, though, because listening to Cantonese will obviously not help you understand Mandarin.

  2. Gerard John Garvan says:

    Your methods have helped me tremendously. But I think you should narrow the scope of your book idea. For multiple reasons: not everyone is interested in studying chinese(optimal language studying should be the topic of your book),
    you can reach a lot more people this way. Also you are not a native speaker of Chinese so this could also affect the success of the book( who knows?)
    I am Gerard an avid fan of your webpage, everything I have read so far has broadened the way I study Chinese and my mindset.

    cheers,
    Gerard

    • Olle Linge says:

      Thank you for your kind words and I’m happy to hear that you feel that you’ve benefited from what I write. Regarding your thoughts about the book, I’ve sent you an e-mail and perhaps we can continue discussing that way. I started writing here, but it simply became too long. :)

  3. Richard says:

    I am currently trying to learn Chinese and so far I am very behind. I just have not been able to grasp it yet.
    I am really hoping for your help.
    You have my support.

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