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Learning Mandarin

Discussion in 'Grown Ups Learning Materials' started by Claire Martin, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Claire Martin

    Claire Martin New Member

    What Mandarin learning materials do you recommend?
  2. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    I'd quite like to know this too!
  3. Teresa

    Teresa New Member

    Try some audio books, online websites, YouTube channels I guess? I can't really recommend anything in particular. I'm sure someone can. BBC website has some free lessons


    I really recommend getting a language buddy. Like a language/skill swap.
  4. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

  5. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Just starting watching this interesting website: Popup Chinese - the idea is to present video clips of films, music, adverts, and it provides the pinyin and translation as it goes: http://popupchinese.com/
  6. flickserve

    flickserve New Member

    I prefer paying somebody rather than language exchange for the initial stages.

    There are lots of people who can speak but can't teach and vice versa. If you are going to language exchange, I suggest that it is in addition to lessons and to try and reinforce lessons.

    I found the first 20 lessons really tough going because the ear is not attuned to hearing different sounds and tones. After that, trying to speak is a another skill in itself because you mouth and tongue hasn't used the muscles in that way before.

    I recommend:

    Pleco: the chinese-english app dictionary. Wonderful app

    Praat: It helps you with tones: you analyse a recording and try and match your voice to the recording - it gives a visual feedback on how close you get. You will need audiocity to chop up to shorter sound files.

    Chinesepod and things like that: I personally don't get much out of it but some people really like it.

    Teachers: - one who really drills the tones into you. You can learn chinese words but if you don't learn the tones properly, you are basically cannot speak mandarin and any person you try to speak to will say "huh?". Remember, producing tones is a skill that needs to be practised repeatedly (and more frequently at the beginning). You will see many chinese learners wish they had spent more time on tones at the beginning. They get to China after 2 years of learning and find they can't be understood. It is frustrating and tedious but when somebody says to you, "You speak quite near standard pronunciation...", it feels worth it! Singing might be a good analogy with singers practising vocal scales.

    - I think the majority of group classes will spend a short time on tones and then move on to vocab. This is why I avoid group classes (YMMV) but they are good for social learning. Not all one to one teachers will spend time on drilling tones or be very strict on it. Screen carefully.

    - Southern accent and Northern accent mandarin is different (much like English is). Northern accent is regarded as being the norm. Personally, I go for Northern accent mandarin as any mandarin I speak will deviate from norm quite a lot! If I learnt Southern accent mandarin, the deviation from norm would be even greater.

    Books: I am a bit bad with books. New Chinese Practical Reader is commonly recommended. The material may seem a little dry and diassociated if you are not living in China.

    Online radio station: try to find an online Mandarin radio station and just have it on in the background. I was rather skeptical of this passive learning technique but no harm done. It's basically to get used to hearing mandarin sounds (aural recognition of sounds). Suddenly, one day, I realised the commentator was talking about the Arsenal - Monaco Champions league second leg match. I never heard "Arsenal" or "Monaco" spoken in Mandarin before but seemed to recognise it. I have the radio on everyday.

    Youtube learning videos. Very difficult because the teacher is not on my pace of learning (hence, I prefer one to one tuition [done over Skype]). I quickly got bored. I do sometimes watch chinese programs on Youtube but I am not up to that level. What I will do in the future is record the mp3 off a Youtube mandarin show, stick it into Praat and then copy it. That would adjust my accent into sounding more natural. Having said that, perhaps more professionally produced videos like this one are the answer.

    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
    Andrew likes this.
  7. Annie Tse

    Annie Tse New Member

    Thanks for sharing Flickserve. Do you have any more youtube video links or teachers that you would personally recommend? I know its different for everyone but recommendations are always a good place to start :)
  8. bamilton

    bamilton New Member

    you can sign-up with any of the Online Courses like hanbridgemandarin.com, it
    provides one-to-one Chinese teaching service on the internet to students, the teachers are
    from China. But some are free, but some change a minimal amount. As long as you dedicate
    time to practice, an online course is as good as a classroom one. The community always
    helps.The best way to learn or test - is to Learn with an Intention to Solve a Problem.
  9. Cindy Lau

    Cindy Lau Member

  10. Fifi Yang

    Fifi Yang New Member

  11. Floriamusica

    Floriamusica New Member

    This is great. Thanks for sharing all this info.

    I have found that using the memrise app has been helpful for me, as it keeps me reviewing some previously learned words. I don't use their official courses, but some if the ones put together by the community.
  12. Amelia Oblongsky

    Amelia Oblongsky New Member

    Hi guys, I am thinking about learning to read and write. Could someone explain to me how a beginner like me should learn? The best ways and what is this traditional simplified, why are there two types. It's very confusing
  13. Calvin W

    Calvin W Member

    Traditional = Hong Kong (Cantonese) & Taiwan (Mandarin)
    Simplified = Mainland China (Mandarin)

    My take is - go to a class; you need to immerse yourself and make sure you talk to people in the language.

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