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Learning Mandarin Chinese

Discussion in 'Education, Learning, Books' started by GuestUser112, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. GuestUser112
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    GuestUser112 Guest

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    Hello y'all

    I never, ever say that, but this place just makes me feel friendly. I've decided it would be very beneficial to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese, not only for connecting better with Chinese manufacturers but also to get better acquainted with the Chinese stock market. I'm wondering if anybody here has pursued this, and if those people may be able to help point me in the right direction when it comes to the better resources they may have encountered?

    Also, I've chosen Mandarin because it seems to be the more popular language, but if anybody has any thoughts as to why it may be better to learn Cantonese instead I would be interested in hearing them.

    I'm not going to be pursuing this full-time, probably 30 minutes or so every night before bed - with where I am in my FASTLANE journey it isn't immediately relevant, although I expect it could be within a year from now and I would like to begin preparations.

    Adieu.

    P.S. This is completely off topic but I'm halfway through my third bottle of carbonated mineral water tonight and if anybody else is trying to kick sugary drinks/alcohol - this is the way to go (I drink naturally lemon-flavored Perrier, and I can't get enough). Apparently there are many health benefits as well.
     
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  2. Prototype
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    Prototype Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Don't bother. 30 minutes before bed isn't going to be good enough with that sort of language.
     
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    It's a starting point. Once I become more acquainted with what I'm learning I can always choose to bump my study time up to 60 - 90 minutes per night if I deem it necessary. More to the point though, don't assume that what you can accomplish with your time is equal to what I can accomplish with my time. Not to be arrogant, of course - I just don't appreciate your definition of 'advice'. Consider it unsolicited and unheeded.
     
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    Zuckerberg learnt chinese because his wife is (I think)
    But this video is an example of the advantages learning such a language can have.

    Saying something like this is exactly the opposite of what this forum is about really.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  5. GuestUser112
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    For anybody else who wants to do this I found this:

    http://www.learnchineseez.com/fsi/mandarin/

    For a free resource it seems pretty great. I've already learned how tones/pronunciation affects the meaning of the word! Apparently this is how the CIA used to train personnel to speak Mandarin. I'd recommend printing the whole book and using it alongside the audio recordings - it seems like it would be difficult to read on most monitors. Impossible on my laptop.
     
  6. Durete
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    Durete Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Mandarin chinese is actually not that hard as several other languages. (Russian or German anyone?)
    They don't have that many forms of verbs, and words. the only hard part is the correct pronounciation and writing their signs.
    The words and grammer in themselves are quite simplistic.
     
  7. firmwear
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_Language_Aptitude_Battery
    http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty

    Supposing that your native language is English, you can see that Chinese is up there in difficulty.

    Short of actually moving and living there for a few years, you should first find a native Chinese person to practice with and/or hire a tutor. If you are serious about learning Chinese, I recommend an actual class.

    The 4 parts of knowing a language is reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I know this sounds obvious, but for some reason everybody I know who is trying to learn a language severely neglect the latter 2 parts.

    For study materials, I recommend a non-gimmicky book that is broken into sections each with a short dialogue, the new grammar, new vocabulary, and then short exercises. Do not bother buying a book that does not include audio tapes. Whatever the medium, convert it to mp3 and put it everywhere. You will probably need to commit more than 30 minutes per day if you want to make real progress. You should also convert your computer to be able to type Chinese.

    If you join a class or language institute, they will probably have the study materials already selected for you. That is probably the best way to start.

    Starting out, building your vocabulary and learning the simple grammars are important. Just remember that you do not really know a word until you can also easily hear it and speak it. If you can find audio tapes with both men and women speakers, that is a bonus.

    Other than that, just practice person-to-person as often as you can. I do not think you will be able to learn the language so well just from self-study.

    I know my advice is not that insightful but that is all I have. Good luck on your learning.
     
  8. cautiouscapy
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    cautiouscapy Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Even if you just learn a word of vocabulary, it all adds up.

    I have done OK in many countries with "I don't speak [language]" plus the words for coffee, beer and a few foodstuffs. Plus please and thank you of course.

    I realise that it's not that simple sometimes, Chinese would be a good example where the social structure means you need to be careful not to offend, but hey, you're a Westener so you would get some slack.

    I looked into learning rudimentary Mandarin a couple of months ago, but decided not to pursue it for now (other priorities).

    Here are the notes I took when looking into it, just cut-and-pasted from my notes:


    Mandarin Resources


    A TEDx talk " How to learn any language in six months"


    http://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-21f-003-learning-chinese-a-foundation-course-in-mandarin-spring-2011/online-textbook/part-i-introduction-units-1-4-character-lessons-1-3/


    http://eastasiastudent.net/china/mandarin/best-free-resources

    http://www.chineseboost.com/concepts/understanding-numbers

    I don't' know if this will be accessible Stateside:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/real_chinese/


    A tip - different courses use different learning styles – so change if you don't like the course your'e trying.

    Youtube FFS!!!


    Suggestions From www.fluentin3months.com (excellent website)

    http://www.memrise.com/ Peer-created lessons...Looks really good!

    http://www.forvo.com/languages/arn/


    http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/11...t-master-any-language-in-1-hour-plus-a-favor/
    http://fourhourworkweek.com/2009/01/20/learning-language/

    A useful point about Chinese – Subject, Verb, Object order is the same as English.
     
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  9. Phones
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    Phones Break your boundaries Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I'm having 8 hours / week of classes in Mandarin.

    I recommend memrise to start, once you've tackled the most basic vocabulary it is way easier to learn because you can start having decent/basic conversations.
     
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  10. pickeringmt
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    pickeringmt Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Very cool my friend

    This is what life is all about to me - doing it because you can

    Most people spend that time playing candy crush or some crap
     
  11. Chapas
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    Chapas New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Good thread!

    I want to move to Shanghai by the end of next summer, so will also start to learn basic Chinese online very soon. Just looking for the right course.

    Thanks for the different links guys.
     
  12. Prototype
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    Okay, my comment sounded a lot more negative than I intended. For the OP's sake, I'd like to give some actual advice he can act on. From someone who'd call himself fluent in Japanese to someone just starting out with Chinese:

    The Chinese have a writing system called Hanzi with over 20,000 known distinct characters. Here is an example of 3 different ones: 未末来. No, I didn't cherry pick the only 3 that look basically the same. Most of them are like that. 水氷永. Each character has a meaning and a reading. Some of them have multiple readings. You will probably have to learn a good 2 - 3,000 to be functionally proficient. You will also need to learn vocabulary and basic grammar, which isn't nearly as intuitive as it is with European languages because the fundamentals themselves are completely different.

    Here are some excerpts from a forum for Chinese learners:

    This is not a 30-minute-before-bed thing. You need to be listening to Chinese. You need to be speaking Chinese to someone at least every other day (after you get the basics down). You need to be writing it. You need to be reading it. If you wanna squeeze that into 30 minutes, you need a strategy. Mark Zuckerberg's "speech" wasn't that great if you watch it. East Asian people are usually very impressed by westerners with any sort of proficiency because it's actually quite rare. And, of course, he has something I can only guess you don't have (I dunno), a Chinese wife.

    Here's a quote from someone who doesn't think Chinese is as hard as I say it is:

    That article is here: http://www.fluentin3months.com/chinese/

    If you still wanna do this and you're serious about doing it for just 30 minutes, try reading 4-hour-chef by Tim Ferriss, and some of his blogs on language learning. He has some tricks that can help speed you up, though they're not standard practice.

    Here's a good hanzi website I use sometimes: http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php

    Good luck. And if you can learn Mandarin by studying 30 minutes a day in less than 5 years, write a book and price it at $30. I'll be the first customer.
     
  13. RogueInnovation
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    Did you watch the latest shark tank by any chance?
    The one with the chemical cooker flask and the chinese lady?

    I ask that because when I watched it I had a similar fleeting thought and I dismissed it as "she's just boasting that she is chinese".

    Here are some cons:
    You ever learnt a language before?
    Usually it requires living there for a few years to get fluent

    Here are some pros:
    You ever try to work in a country without knowing the language?
    Its terrible. Until of course you are reasonably fluent and then it all opens up.


    In the end, those two facts rules out chinese for me because I don't want to work there. I'd prefer to make a bilingual chinese friend and ask him to help me out on deals, rather than learn.

    If you just thought of this cuz of the lady on shark tank, or something like that, she is steering you wrong. Working with suppliers there isn't so bad. I'm sourcing from there now and its ok. I might brush up on some chinese if I run a factory there, but then again I'll probably employ a translator on a casual basis for my walk throughs of the factory.


    Chinese was firmly scratched off my list. But I get the idea, and if you have the time, it won't waste all of your time. It is just. I've lived abroad for 5 years in foriegn countries, and I always push back my language focus cuz I feel its mostly vanity, and its HARD. I'm fluent in another language now, and it IS nice... But thats all :)

    Your choice
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  14. TedM
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    TedM Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I just bought Pimsleur's course for German. $119 or so for 30 lessons, each about 30 minutes. MP3.

    I've only done 4 lessons so far, but I'm really enjoying it.

    Note: if you focus on speaking only, then 30 minutes a day, daily, for a few months, will be amazing for you.

    reading and writing are a whole different thing.
     
  15. GuestUser112
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    Alright that was very gentlemanly of you and I apologize. Yes, Hanzi intimidates me a lot. But I've wanted to learn Chinese for years and I never even got started and now I'm just gonna do it. The resource I've started with (posted above) has audio tapes included so I think speaking and understanding won't be impossible. And I don't plan on being super proficient in it within a year from now, I know it will be a large undertaking. But 20 years from now, when I'm partnering with Chinese investors to buy up land in Africa (I'm thinking natural resources) I don't want to give them any extra advantages that might screw me over.

    So it's really a long-term future thing for me. I also expect that China will come to dominate the renewable energy industry and if that becomes relevant (although I can't see it beating out nuclear energy in my lifetime) I want to have a piece of the action.

    I mean every Chinese person I know can speak English but I know literally nobody who isn't Chinese who can speak Mandarin. So it's a vanity thing too I suppose. Oh well.
     
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    I think it's really cool that you're learning Mandarin.

    If you can speak Mandarin and English, you can probably converse with well over half the world. If you do business in China, being able to converse in Mandarin will definitely be an asset, as most of the population doesn't speak English.

    However I'm not sure if 30 minutes a day will get you far. Chinese grammar is very similar to English, but to become literate, it will take a lot of time and effort on your part. But you can find the method that works best for you.
     
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    ^this. It looks like part of his intention is for business benefits as well. Mark is learning Chinese to bring his business into their market (aka doubling the user base of an existing multibillion dollar company).

    @DreamCreator
    Figure out what your purpose is (who you are trying to target in China). Do you want to speak and negotiate with the majority of manufacturers in China? Or do you want to for ties with those connected to the government who can get you into different types of markets?

    For chooseing the dialect to learn - find the one that plays into your long term goals. This may take years to decades to learn. 10 years from now, what group of people in china do you see yourself wanting to communicate with better?
     
  18. jazb
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    With china going to be a super power within the next 2 decades. it makes sense. i am doing the same. i remember kevin o'leary wants his kids to do the same.
     
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    You know, I really can't decide which dialect to focus on, because it's hard to tell which one will be more relevant ten years from now. I've been giving it some consideration though and I think I might do Cantonese first instead. But in the long term, I think it would be best to learn both. The two dialects are very similar it seems (according to random internet people) and I'm sure that as long as I learn one of them, the other should be relatively easy to pick up as well.

    Cantonese seems to have more 'class' behind it - Mandarin being more common among the poor farmers in China, Cantonese being the traditional language of the richer circles. Although with China seemingly moving towards democracy that may all turn out to be superficial in the future.


    Edit: Also, according to wikipedia, Cantonese seems to be the more dominant language among Chinese communities in other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam.
     
  20. Hong King Kong
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    Go for Mandarin, it is the most widely used one and it is easier to learn. It has 4 tones, where as Cantonese has 6.

    I still suck at Mandarin, but I can speak Canto, and I have a lot of non-Chinese friends who can speak Mandarin, they pick it up real quick.

    Also, most Canto speakers will understand Mandarin, but most Mandarin speakers won't understand Cantonese.
     
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    Jake Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Was going to ask a few questions but this explained it pretty well..

    http://gohongkong.about.com/od/travelplanner/a/mandarin_or_cantonese.htm
     
  22. Mike Kavanagh
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    Mike Kavanagh Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I call bull on anyone telling you that you can learn a language one word at a time.

    No. It's not possible. No matter what someone with a PhD. says.
    While they may have more 'credibility' than I do... They normally don't have the experience required to give information.

    What's going to give you a better grasp of a language, copying the words and the translation or... getting into the guts of a language. Going out there and speaking it.

    I can tell you, I remember more Chinese from going out to China town one evening with my teacher and being required to do everything in Chinese than I ever will remember from class. You are allowed to make mistakes when immersed in the language. Memorization wont allow that. Class wont allow that.

    If anyone wants to test this theory(I should say fact, being as, all children learn language this way)... Look at Rosetta Stone's numbers. They use immersion, not some bullshit memorization tactics.
     
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    Agreed, except on Rosetta being immersion... It's just context memorization... and you should go with memorization on the most basic beginning vocabulary (basic verbs and phrases, easy to learn), that will make you learn from immersion 10x faster than not knowing a single word of what is being said.

    But yes, I chuckle every time I hear "I'm having advanced *insert language* classes", right.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
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    Of course, I highly doubt that Mike would have been able to remember Chinese through immersion if he had not already had a teacher and (I assume) classes. But as the next step, immersion is absolutely necessary; in Ontario we all have to take French class all throughout school but I don't remember any of it because I was never surrounded with French-speaking people, nor did I ever have to speak it. We just copied down pronouns and verbs all day, lol.

    I think I'm going to put this on the back burner for now though. It is a large undertaking, and while I believe it is intrinsically worth it, I think I should focus on creating value so I can move out of my parents house and quit my shitty job first. I don't need to learn it right now, so I should prioritize and focus instead.
     
  25. Mike Kavanagh
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    You are right. You need to understand basic words of any language before you can converse. But anything else is bullshit. You wont learn by writing things down. The basics can be learned without schooling. They can also be learned without expensive ass courses.
    If you have to sit in your head and translate every word to your native tongue... you are wasting your time.


    Tip: If you want to learn a language, make a flash card with pictures of common things.
    Once you have the things down, move on to commonly used phrases.
    HAVE SOMEONE TO LEARN WITH.

    This is very similar to how children learn their native language.
    If you see these pictures
    you know what it is called in relation to your language instantly.
     

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