https://www.digmandarin.com Sun, 21 Jun 2020 10:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.7 Amazing Books for Kids Learning Chinese https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-books-for-kids.html https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-books-for-kids.html#comments_reply Sun, 21 Jun 2020 09:44:16 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=13287 All of us agree that reading gives us joy, beauty, and education. By  exposing ourselves to a wide range of words, we build our vocabulary. By working out what happens in stories, we train our comprehension skills. Additionally, books give…

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All of us agree that reading gives us joy, beauty, and education. By  exposing ourselves to a wide range of words, we build our vocabulary. By working out what happens in stories, we train our comprehension skills. Additionally, books give us a path to a fun and bigger world.

For those who are learning a foreign language like Chinese, reading definitely accelerates overall progress. People not only learn Chinese grammar along with vocabulary from books, but also Chinese culture. So, here comes the question:  how do you choose Chinese books for your kids?

Before answering this question, think about which stage your child is at:

  1. Beginner Stage: just started learning Chinese, able to recognize Pinyin, can understand simple words or phrases
  2. Intermediate Stage: able to recognize Pinyin and basic Chinese characters, have no problem expressing themselves with simple sentences
  3. Advanced Stage: able to read independently, understand advanced grammar and syntax

For beginner stage children, a Pinyin book with pictures will be a good choice. For intermediate stage children, go for books with both characters and Pinyin, and  for advanced stage children, books with  higher-level words and more complex sentences are required.

Every kid has their own needs. To cater to these different needs, here are some amazing Chinese books for kids:

1. Chineasy for Children: Learn 100 Words

Difficulty level

  • Beginner Stage
  • Intermediate Stage

This is a book written by a woman called “ShaoLan” who wanted to inspire her children to learn Chinese in a fun and easy way. She developed a groundbreaking visual method for learning Chinese characters.

Chineasy is aesthetically pleasing book with that uses a novel approach to learning Chinese characters. In this book, you will see Chinese characters transformed into beautiful and interesting pictograms. These colorful pictograms explain the meaning and origins of Chinese characters. Kids always find it easier to memorize Chinese characters using this book because they see characters as diverse meaningful symbols. The book is organized by theme, such as numbers, family, animals, and food. Vocabulary is introduced based on each theme.

Please note that this book is mainly for picking up Chinese characters. Some of the characters used in this books are in “traditional” forms.

This book is for those who would like to:

  • Reinforce Chinese characters
  • Build vocabulary
  • Understand Chinese culture

Other Chineasy books to  consider:

2. Easy Peasy Chinese: Mandarin Chinese for Beginners – 走向中文

Difficulty level

  • Beginner Stage
  • Intermediate Stage

The author of “Easy Peasy Chinese,” Elinor Greenwood, is a writer and editor of children’s books. She has a Chinese degree from Leeds University and is eager to promote Mandarin Chinese. She likes to motivate Chinese learners with fun activities and teaching aids, such as stickers and pictures.

If your kid has just started learning Chinese and wants to learn about self-introduction, numbers and dates, telling the time, talking about food and interests, and knowing more about Chinese culture, try this book! “Easy Peasy Chinese” is a fun-filled book with an attractive layout. It covers the basics for  beginners and is based on Pinyin. Your kids will learn the most common words and phrases and then be able to form simple sentences in Chinese.

The book comes with a CD , so that your kids will learn to pronounce Chinese phrases correctly.

This book is for those who would like to:

  • Reinforce Chinese characters
  • Build vocabulary
  • Understand Chinese culture
  • Improve pronunciation
  • Have simple conversations

Workbook for practicing Chinese:

Easy Peasy Chinese Workbook: Mandarin Chinese Practice for Beginners

3. Mina’s First Day of School – 米娜上学的第一天

(Simplified version; Traditional Version)

Difficulty level

  • Intermediate Stage

Katrina Liu, an American-born-Chinese author, wanted to raise her daughter to become bilingual. So, she created a Chinese picture book series called “Mina Learns Chinese,” based on her daughter’s life. All her books are especially designed for young audiences.

“Mina’s First Day of School” is a very helpful picture book with an adorable story and engaging illustrations. Following along with Mina on her first day of school, your kids get to read  some easy-to-grasp dialogues and learn common phrases in Chinese.

The book includes Pinyin, Chinese characters, and English. It also comes with an audio book. Even if you are unable to read the book to your kids, the audio book will.

Also, Mina’s story helps you to get your kids mentally ready for school. Isn’t that great?

This book is for those who would like to:

  • Build vocabulary
  • Learn daily conversations
  • Reinforce pronunciation
  • Improve listening skills

More stories about Mina

4. Father and Son – 父与子

Difficulty level

  • Intermediate Stage

“Father and Son”, a well-known comic, was created by German cartoonist E.O. Plauen in 1934. His masterfully drawn scenes show the affection between a father and son in a vivid and artistically attractive way. Interestingly, this version of “Father and Son” is printed with beautiful colors and includes Chinese characters and Pinyin.

Unlike the other books listed here, “Father and Son” is a comic book series. Some parents tend to disapprove of comic books. I truly understand that children could rely too heavily on the pictures, but there are two sides to every coin. If you use comic books smartly, they can still educate your children. The images in the books help children understand the language easier. And honestly, students are often eager to read comic books, even when they  are written in a language they are unfamiliar with.

If you loved this comic book series when you were young, your kids will love it, too. If your kids are interested in the stories, they will try their best to find out what the comics say.

This book is for those who would like to:

  • Build vocabulary
  • Learn daily conversations

More popular comic books with Pinyin

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid – 小屁孩日记

Difficulty level

  • Advanced Stage

The author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, Jeff Kinney, came up with the idea for this book series in 1998. It’s a collection of the unique diaries of a middle-school boy. The series was posted online in 2004 and published in 2007. There are more than 200 million copies of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books available in 65 languages. You might be surprised that there are even bilingual versions of this widely popular series.

Bilingual books are certainly more accessible to non-native speakers. It allows your kids to read and compare the Chinese and English texts. The translation provides readers with clarification when they come across words that they are not familiar with. It helps to read a relatively easy version of a popular children’s story because it teaches new words (and sometimes, students learn more about English too).

What’s more important: it’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid!” Children love these stories!

This book is for those who would like to

  • Build vocabulary
  • Improve reading comprehension

Other Diary of a Wimpy Kid books

We believe that parents play an important role in helping their kids forming habit of reading. Choose a book and enjoy your family reading time today!

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Things that you should know about the Singapore PSLE Chinese Oral Exam https://www.digmandarin.com/singapore-psle-chinese-oral-exam.html https://www.digmandarin.com/singapore-psle-chinese-oral-exam.html#comments_reply Mon, 25 May 2020 08:37:32 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=13172 What is the PSLE Chinese Oral Exam? The Singapore PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) Chinese Oral Examination makes up 25% of the PSLE Chinese Examination score (100%). There are two parts of the Oral Exam: Passage reading and Conversation. How is the…

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What is the PSLE Chinese Oral Exam?

The Singapore PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) Chinese Oral Examination makes up 25% of the PSLE Chinese Examination score (100%). There are two parts of the Oral Exam: Passage reading and Conversation.

How is the PSLE Oral Examination conducted?

Since 2017, the Singapore PSLE Mother Tongue Examinations use an E-oral exam format.

Before stepping into the examination room, students are given 10 minutes to read the passage and prepare for their conversation, which is based on a 1-minute video, at a preparation station with a laptop. During those 10 minutes, students may pause, fast-forward, or rewind the video.

After 10 minutes, students will then proceed to the examination room. They will read the passage to the examiners first and then watch the video from start to finish once again before doing the conversation portion.

1. Passage reading

Examiners give scores based on “accuracy” and “fluency”. Chinese characters used in the passage are all from Singapore Primary School textbooks.

2. Conversation

Examiners ask questions based on the video topic and the video itself, and students express their views and opinions accordingly. Examiners give scores based on the content. pronunciation, grammar, and fluency.

What questions will the examiners ask (during the conversation)?

To secure a high mark on the oral exam, students need to know what types of questions the examiners would like to ask. With this in the mind, students will be able to use their 10-min preparation time more effectively and then have better conversations with the examiners later.

Type 1: Video-related questions

Most of the time, the examiners ask questions regarding the video first. They would like to know how much of the video you understoond,  including what happened in the video and what you think about it.

For example:

Tell me about an event related to “being friendly” that you saw in the video.

Do you think the boy in the video is doing the right thing, why?

For this type of question, students could use the 5W1H(What, When, Where, Who, Why, How)technique to help them plan what they are going to say.

5W1H Technic (六何法)
When 何时 When does this thing happen? 这件事是什么时候发生的?
What 何事 What is this thing? 这是什么事?
Where 何地 Where does this thing happen? 这件事是在哪里发生的?
Who 何人 This thing happens to whom? 这件事发生在什么人身上?
How 如何 How is this thing developing? 这件事是怎么发展的?
Why 为何 Why this thing happens? 这件事为什么会发生?

Example:

例:请你谈谈在录像中看到的一个不卫生的行为。
简单答案 高分答案
在录像中,我看到一个男孩子上完体育课,没有洗手,就去食堂吃午餐。 在录像中,我看到一个刚上完体育课的高年级男孩子去食堂买午餐。他的双手看起来很不干净,可能在体育课的时候摸过篮球。他看起来非常饿,焦急地在印度煎饼和水果摊前排着队。当他买完午餐,找到桌子坐下后,便马上抓起食物狼吞虎咽起来,完全不在意有没有做到“饭前洗手”。

Type 2: Personal experience

The examiners also ask students to talk about relevant personal experiences. It’s better if the experience that the student shares is not the same as what was shown in the video. Other than sharing a story, students need to make some comments including what they learned from that experience.

For example:

Have you ever been friendly to someone?

Have you ever encountered someone being very friendly to you?

For this type of question, students can also use the 5W1H technic to help them plan what they are going to say.

Example:

例:你是如何注意个人卫生的,请你谈一谈。
简单答案 高分答案
我每次吃饭前和回家后都会洗手,每天起床后和睡觉前也会刷牙。 我每次吃饭之前,用完洗手间后,还有从外面回到家后都会用洗手液按照“七步洗手法”把双手干干净净地洗一遍,清除手上的细菌;除此之外,每天起床后、睡觉前,我也都会记得刷牙。我每次都会对着洗手间的镜子认真、仔细地把牙齿里里外外都刷到,不让蛀牙影响我的生活。

Type 3: Suggestions

Sometimes, the examiners are interested in knowing how you could further expand on the topic/theme of the video by talking about society (school / family / community).

For example:

Is there anything that parents/the school can do to encourage their kids/students to show friendliness to others?

Based on previous exams, examiners ask students to give suggestions from the school’s perspective more often.

Example:

例:你认为学校可以怎么做来鼓励大家关注个人卫生?
简单答案 高分答案
我认为学校可以在校会上宣传个人卫生很重要,也开始开展一些以“关注个人卫生”为主题的海报设计活动。 我认为学校可以在每周一的校会上向同学们宣传我们应该如何关注个人卫生,比如:饭前洗手、洗手的正确方法、勤换衣服等。老师也可以邀请做得好的同学分享一下他们的故事。其次,学校可以举办“关注个人卫生”为主题的海报设计比赛。学生可以把注意卫生的小贴士画在海报上。学校收集了同学的作品后,可以张贴在学校各处。精美的海报一定能吸引同学们,这样就可以帮助大家培养“注意卫生”的良好习惯。

Other tips:

Many students find it difficult to provide rich content while doing their conversations. Using the “ACT” technique might help you:

ACT Technic
A: Adjectives = using more adjectives
C: Conversations = adding what did/will people say/respond. For Type 3 questions, you may also share how people responded after your suggestions/advices.
T: Thoughts = talking about what people are thinking before/after their actions

Know more about the E-oral examination, look at SEAB 1 and SEAB 2. For more professional one-on-one training on Chinese language, you can consult TouchChinese for more information. 

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Chinese Etymology – Learning the Origins of Chinese Characters Makes Them Impossible to Forget https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-etymology-learn-the-origins.html https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-etymology-learn-the-origins.html#view_comments Thu, 16 Apr 2020 07:22:31 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=13073 The number one rule for truly learning something is understanding it. Chinese Etymology is the study of the origin of Chinese characters. The more knowledge you can apply to a character, such as 泉, the more you understand that character.…

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The number one rule for truly learning something is understanding it.

Chinese Etymology is the study of the origin of Chinese characters. The more knowledge you can apply to a character, such as 泉, the more you understand that character.

The more likely you are to never forget it.

In this article, we’ll break down 水, 泉, 冰, 永 and analyse the etymology of these characters.

You’ll never get them confused again!

Chinese Etymology in Practice

The formation of Chinese characters has been a long process, thousands of years in the making.

Ancient Chinese scripts relied much more heavily on pictographs: visual representations of a word, similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Over time, ancient Chinese scripts were corrupted and simplified into their modern-day equivalents.

By undoing the corruption and simplification of ancient Chinese scripts, you can see that, actually, the modern day version makes perfect sense.

A Chinese character’s origin is often the key to understanding its true meaning.

Ancient men didn’t get water from a tap. They collected it from rivers and streams.

At a glance, has absolutely no relation to the word water.

Whoever invented a character to represent the word ‘water’ had to rely on imagery common at that time.

Depicted on the far left of the image above is the earliest representation of a Chinese character for ‘water’. It’s a pictograph of a river.

The middle line represents the deeper middle section of a river. The edges represent the shallower areas where water rushes over rocks or other obstacles, creating waves and white water.

Over time, these attributes have been simplified. By comparing the origin of this Chinese character to the modern-day version, 水 becomes a very meaningful symbol.

The deep, rushing core of the river and its turbulent outer edges.

Pretty neat.

Etymology of Chinese character 泉

Let’s consider the character (quán) spring.

There are a few ways to deepen your understanding of this character.

For example, we can break it into its components:

(bái) white

(shuǐ) water

White water alone gives us a clue to the combined meaning. After all, a spring in nature is a clean, pure (white) source of water.

Let’s dive deeper.

The history of the character 白 also gives us a clue to its meaning.

In the ancient 甲骨文 (jiǎ gǔ wén) oracle bone script, 白 is drawn as 日 (rì) sun with a drop on top.

Despite 3000+ years of meddling, it has pretty much stayed like that.

Some think the ancient Chinese script symbolises the time just before the sun peeps over the horizon when the area of sky above the sun is briefly cast a brilliant white.

It could also represent the bright white light cast at the entrance of a cave.

Either way, it’s clear that the sun here is used to depict white light.

Our brains like patterns. They don’t like randomness. We’re building stories and meaning (understandable patterns) into these characters.

They are no longer squiggles on a page, or even a sequence of strokes. Chinese etymology helps build a stronger story for our mind.

So we now know both components of 泉 (quán) spring. Cool.

How do they work together?

Well actually, they don’t.

I mentioned corruption earlier. This can be seen in the history of the character 泉.

If we look at the oracle bone script here, 泉 is beautifully depicted as a river or stream (notice the same oracle bone character as 水) running out of an opening or cave in the ground.

This makes perfect sense.

A spring begins life as rainwater. Once fallen, it finds its way underground, eventually reemerging from an underground opening.

This opening is often seen from above as cracks between rocks, which water appears to rise up (or spring) from.

So here you can see a cavern-like opening which water flows out from: a spring.

Understanding both the modern components (水 and 白) and their origins gives your brain multiple stories to work with, understand and remember.

It also allows you to undo history and return 泉 to its original picture-like essence.

Using Chinese Etymology to Distinguish Similar Characters

Let’s quickly look at two more characters.

(bīng) ice

This character is composed of two elements.

The 甲骨文 (jiǎ gǔ wén) oracle bone script uses two arrow-like strokes representing cracks formed in ice (think of ice in its natural form in nature).

The addition of a river, or water (水) was later used to indicate the relationship between ice and water.

If we apply this to the modern-day character, 冫is actually cracks within 水 water.

You could read it as ’cracked water’: ice.

(yǒng) eternal/perpetual

Here the transformation over time has been a trade-off between how easy the character is to understand and how easy it is to write.

The ancient scripts depict two rivers converging, ultimately joining to become a raging torrent.

Because of the merging of the two rivers, the main river is able to flow out the other side continuously, uninterrupted.

This has connotations of something stretching out into the future and simultaneously connected to the past.

The drop above 水 represents this: one continuous river, flowing eternally.

Seeing the Origin of Chinese Characters In Modern Day Script

水   泉   冰   永

水 is a river with a strong, deep core and turbulent edges.

泉 is pure white water coming from the mouth of an underground cavern.

冰 is the cracks in ice – frozen water.

永 is two rivers converging into one.

Chinese etymology breaks down these ancient script’s modern-day equivalents and turns meaningless strokes into powerful, memorable stories.

Apply this story-making technique to your Chinese studies, and you’ll make each character stick in your mind for much, much longer.

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Full Chinese Character Strokes List https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-strokes-list.html https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-strokes-list.html#comments_reply Tue, 17 Mar 2020 08:59:23 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=12979 A lot of Chinese learners may think that Chinese characters just look like a bunch of lines and squares that makes no sense to them. For most beginners, writing Chinese characters is more like drawing rather than writing. But, if…

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A lot of Chinese learners may think that Chinese characters just look like a bunch of lines and squares that makes no sense to them. For most beginners, writing Chinese characters is more like drawing rather than writing. But, if you learn a little more about the structure of Chinese characters, you will understand the basic logic and rules about how these “lines” and “squares” are different from each other. Once you can separate and analyze the strokes of Chinese characters, those incredibly complex characters won’t freak you out anymore. The following is a list of all the essential Chinese strokes and their corresponding variations. There is also a downloadable Chinese strokes list PDF.

#1 Main Stroke: “一”(横) Horizontal

Stroke VariationsNames of StrokesExamples
1横 (héng) Horizontal一,二,三,王,工
2提 (tí) Rising Stroke习,地,冷,冰,刁

#2 Main Stroke: “丨”(竖) Vertical

Stroke VariationName of StrokeExamples
1长竖(cháng shù) Long vertical书,快,师,十,市
2短竖 (duǎn shù) Short vertical刊,修,候,刚,利
3竖钩 (shù gōu) Vertical hook小,水,求,寸,找

#3 Main Stroke: “丿”(撇)Left falling

Stroke VariationName of StrokeExamples
1撇(piě) Left falling月,木,大,人,个
2横撇 (héng piě) Shorter and more horizontal left falling千,舌,毛,白,禾

#4 Main Stroke: “丶”(点)Dot

Stroke VariationName of StrokeExamples
1短点(duǎn diǎn) Short dot主,广,心,注,文
2长点(cháng diǎn) Long dot双,不,贝,头
3左点 (zuǒ diǎn) Left dot办,刃,心,必,小
4平捺 (píng nà) horizontal right falling之,延,这,走
5斜捺 (xié nà) slanted right falling又,义,个,人,大

#5 Main Stroke: “乛”(折)Turning

Stroke VariationName of StrokeExamples
1横折(héng zhé) Horizontal turning口,问
2横折提(héng zhé tí) Horizontal turning and rising说,话,讨,论,讲
3横撇(héng piě) Horizontal and left-falling又,反
4横折钩 (héng zhé gōu) Horizontal turning and hook刀,门,也
5横钩(héng gōu) Horizontal hook买,皮,卖
6横折斜钩 (héng zhé xié gōu) Horizontal and slanted hook飞,风,凤,凰
7横折弯钩 (héng zhé wān gōu) Horizontal turning and curved hook几,九,匹
8横折弯 (héng zhé wān) Horizontal turning and curved turning  朵,铅
9横折折 (héng zhé zhé) Horizontal turning and turning  
10横折折撇 (héng zhé zhé piě) Horizontal turning and turning left-falling  廷,建
11横折折折 (héng zhé zhé zhé)
12横折撇弯钩 (héng zhé piě wān gōu)阵,队,除
13横折折折钩 (héng zhé zhé zhé gōu)乃,奶
14竖折 (shù zhé) Vertical turning山,匹
15竖弯 (shù wān) Vertical curved turning
16竖提 (shù tí) Vertical and rising民,切
17竖折折 (shù zhé zhé) Vertical turning and vertical
18竖折折撇 (shù zhé zhé piě) Vertical turning and left-falling专,传
19竖弯钩 (shù wān gōu) Vertical curved hook儿,乱
20竖折折钩 (shù zhé zhé gōu) Vertical turning and turning hook与,马
21撇折 (piě zhé) Left falling and turning么,公
22撇点 (piě diǎn) Left-falling and dot女,巡
23弯钩 (wān gōu) Curved hook家,了,子
24斜钩 (xié gōu) Slanted hook戈,我,伐

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Jim Kwik’s Quick Tips for Chinese Language Learning https://www.digmandarin.com/jim-kwik-tips-for-chinese-language-learning.html https://www.digmandarin.com/jim-kwik-tips-for-chinese-language-learning.html#view_comments Sun, 15 Mar 2020 09:27:46 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=12859 The “Language Learning Tips” series taps into the rich knowledge of learning and recall experts to help you learn Chinese faster. As a child, Jim Kwik was known as the boy with the broken brain. A head injury at age…

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The “Language Learning Tips” series taps into the rich knowledge of learning and recall experts to help you learn Chinese faster.

As a child, Jim Kwik was known as the boy with the broken brain. A head injury at age five left him struggling in school. He recounts that:

As the years wore on, I undertook a journey to learn about my brain – why it was broken and what I could do to fix it. That journey led me to discovering different learning habits, including accelerated learning systems and tactics. I discovered that, no matter the circumstances, we can rebuild our brains. And after working on myself, I realized my brain was not broken…it just needed a better owner’s manual. This shattered my own limiting beliefs – and over time, it became my passion to help others do the same.

Now Jim is a highly sought-after international speaker and coach on memory and learning. Fortunately for us Chinese learners, Jim has some useful tips for improving our recall skills.

THE F.A.S.T. LEARNING TECHNIQUE

One of the techniques Jim developed for fast learning is conveniently called “F.A.S.T.”, which stands for Forget, Active, State, Teach. Let’s expand on each one.

Forget everything you have learned

Jim explains that many people often don’t fully absorb information when they think they already know it. Have you experienced that when you learn Chinese in China ? I have plenty of times. I remember having a poster of vegetables names on my wall, and I assumed I knew all the words because I passively glanced at it every day. However, when I tried to order food at a restaurant, I had difficulty actively recalling the names for what I wanted to eat. This was ultimately due to the fact that every time I looked at my vegetable chart, I didn’t approach it with a beginner’s mindset. With a beginner’s mindset, you have the chance to absorb information like a sponge. So, the trick is, whenever you are revising, pretend you are actually learning the content for the very first time.

You can’t passively learn, you can only actively learn

Jim says that many of us grew up with a 20th-century education that prepared us for a 20th-century world. He means that our schools have trained us to learn passively by sitting quietly, being lectured to, and consuming information. But learning is not a spectator sport; you learn through creation, not consumption. You have to get involved, take notes, ask questions, and solve problems. You need teachers that will create communicative scenarios that force you to use what you’ve learned, so your brain sees it as useful. This is why it is so important to have a Chinese teacher who will cultivate your curiosity and encourage your participation and questions. I have first-hand experience of how important this is: I once attended a Chinese school that specifically instructed me to not ask questions and to not participate in the design of my learning. I was required to sit quietly, listen to the teacher, and repeat what she said. I didn’t learn much as a result and I was miserable in classes, which brings me to our next point.

Your emotional state matters

When you study Chinese, how do you feel? Refreshed and energised? or tired and bored? If it’s the latter, beware, because Jim says:

Information + Emotion = Long Term Memory

The second part of that equation is highly dependent on positive emotions, so you need to control your emotional state when studying. Jim recommends being a thermostat, not a thermometer. A thermostat sets the bar, making the environment rise to that standard. A thermometer, on the other hand, reacts to the environment. One way to control your learning environment is to be visibly enthusiastic in class. As a language teacher myself, I know that even when I have just one student who enjoys engaging with me, is easily excitable, and is eagerly competitive, I feed off that energy and raise my standard of teaching. When I’m faced with a class of students who lack in spirit and show no reaction, I get bored and do the minimum needed to get by.

It’s also important to have a teacher that creates a positive learning environment. In China, you need to be careful when choosing a language school because some teachers still hold on to the old way of thinking that putting down their students will motivate them to improve. This technique may work on some Eastern students, but it rarely works on Western students.

Learn as if you are going to teach what you’ve learned to someone else

When you think this way, you end up paying attention to the small details and also learn how to simplify what you’ve learned to make it easier to remember. When you teach something, you get to learn it twice.

THE T.I.P. LEARNING TECHNIQUE

“T.I.P.”, which stands for Turn Into a Picture, is a practical learning technique for building vocabulary. Jim explains that you tend to remember the things you see more than the things you hear, so you should try seeing things you want to remember through the following steps:

Step 1: Turn the word you want to learn into a picture.

Step 2: Turn the definition into a “sound-a-like” picture.

Step 3: Connect the pictures in a memorable story.

This process is a means to an end. Once you know what the word means, the picture disappears. It also helps you overcome 6-second syndrome: when you learn something you need to remember, you have 6 seconds to do something with it so you remember it.

Here are some examples of how I’ve used this technique:

Fēng Mì 蜂蜜  VS  Mì Fēng 蜜蜂 (Honey VS Bee)

I used to mix up the words for honey and bee due their similarities until I came up with the following T.I.P. : I pictured someone handing me a jar of honey, and as I took it, I said “For me?” which sounds a little like “Fēng Mì”.

Lèi Sì 类似 (Similar)

The first time I heard this word, I thought it sounded like “lace”. So, I came up with a picture of an old woman comparing the similarities of a silk lace doily with a cotton lace doily.

Mén Wèi 门卫 (Entrance guard)

If you live in the English-speaking world, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ve seen Fawlty Towers. In that series, there is a concierge and waiter called Manuel, which sounds a bit like “mén wèi”. When recalling the word for “entrance guard” I would picture Manuel in a guard’s uniform

WANT MORE?

If you are looking for more brain hacks to learning Chinese, Jim Kwik has a module devoted to memorizing foreign languages. It goes into much more advanced and extremely fun ways to quickly learn another language. Just go to his website – jimkwik.com – to learn more.

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Recommended Chinese Characters Books https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-characters-books.html https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-characters-books.html#comments_reply Fri, 28 Feb 2020 10:30:03 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=13237 Finding the right Chinese Characters book can be difficult. There are so many different options, and it can be hard to tell at a glance if a certain book will have the right approach for you. This article covers several…

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Finding the right Chinese Characters book can be difficult. There are so many different options, and it can be hard to tell at a glance if a certain book will have the right approach for you. This article covers several recommended books and series that focus on teaching Chinese characters and vocabulary. From storytelling and visual aids to flashcards and more, these books all utilize different teaching methods to teach characters in an effective and in-depth way.

1. Learning Chinese Characters

The way this book works is that it uses stories to help you remember both the meanings and pronunciations of Chinese characters. It first distinguishes the difference between ‘basic building blocks’ and ‘composite’ characters. Basic building blocks on their own mean one thing but when it’s combined with another basic building block it forms a new meaning and this new character thus becomes a composite character. The characters are listed one by one in the book and the character, pinyin and English meaning is given. Then the story to help you remember this is written next to it. If you are struggling with your reading skills this is definitely a book worth investing in. Get to know more about it here.

2. Chinese Flash Cards Kit

  • Volume 1  HSK Levels 1 & 2 Elementary Level (1-349 most basic Chinese characters; 2000 words and phrases)
  • Volume 2  HSK Levels 3 & 4 Intermediate Level (350-622 characters;1360 words and phrases)
  • Volume 3 HSK Upper Intermediate Level  (623-1070 characters;2240 words and phrases)
  • Volume 4 Tuttle Flash Cards  (448 main words; 1792 compounds – 2700 basic vocabulary items)

Developed with HSK study and AP test-prep in mind, the front of Tuttle’s Chinese Flash Cards give one Chinese character, a stroke order guide, four words and phrases, and look-alike alerts to help avoid confusion. On the reverse is as much information as a dictionary entry: Romanized pronunciation and English meanings, sample sentences for correct usage, plus helpful mnemonics and learning tips. An audio CD gives native-speaker pronunciations, and a handy organizing ring is the perfect way to keep the cards together when you’re on the go. Whether at home or on the go, you can use these cards to learn several new characters every day and watch your knowledge develop rapidly over time.

3. Chinese for Kids

  • Set 1 : 10 themes: Family, Animals, Clothing, Colors, Face/Body, Fruit, Numbers, Shapes, Snacks, Toys.
  • Set 2 : 10 themes: Food, Verbs, Tableware, Art supplies, Feelings, Nature, Jobs, Furniture, Bedtime and a Surprise Delivery

As the Brain Child Award Winner, the set 1 & 2 of Chinese for Kids are good motivating of first readers for children ages 3-8 who are beginning to learn Chinese. Developed with teachers, the Spot Color Immersion Method combines simple sentences, humor, visual cues, repetition and context in just one line of text per page to help beginners learn vocabulary. Children soon read each page by themselves until they proudly finish their first little book in Chinese, then all 20, an achievement that builds confidence and motivates them to continue learning. Kids learn the correct pronunciation by listening to the online audio by a native speaker. 

4. Chineasy Series

Chineasy: 60 Flashcards

This essential companion to Chineasy includes 60 gorgeous full-color flashcards to practice and master the key characters of the revolutionary visual method for learning to read and write Chinese. Each flashcard features one large, bold Chinese character in pictogram on the front, along with its English translation. On the back, the pictogram is “unpicked” to display its actual Chinese character, and includes three compound words that use it.

Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese

In Chineasy, the author teaches the key characters, called radicals, that are the language’s foundation, and then shows how they can be combined to form new words and even phrases. Once you’ve mastered these key characters, you can practice your skills with three stories—a fairy tale, an Asian legend, and a contemporary fable—told using the radicals. With Chineasy, readers of all ages will be able to navigate a Chinese menu, read signs and billboards, and grasp the meaning of most articles in a Chinese newspaper.

Chineasy for Children: Learn 100 Words

The book is organized by themes such as numbers, family, animals, and food, each section covering vocabulary within that topic. Stories about the development of characters and customs provide the perfect introduction to Chinese culture, while games and activities allow children to put into practice what they have learned. Subsequent spreads feature lively scenes that help children to recognize over 100 Chinese characters.

Chineasy Travel

The essential pocket-sized Chineasy guide to characters, phrases, and culture for travelers makes learning Chinese fun and easy. ShaoLan’s visual, building-block-style teaching method makes learning characters simple and fun: by learning common characters, readers can quickly grasp and communicate basic words and phrases while traveling.

Chineasy Workbook

Not only recognizing the characters and words, there is also a workbook to help practicing your handwriting.

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Chinese Characters – How do they work? https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-characters-how-do-they-work.html https://www.digmandarin.com/chinese-characters-how-do-they-work.html#comments_reply Thu, 27 Feb 2020 04:43:53 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=12766 Any student of Mandarin Chinese can agree that at the start of your learning, memorizing characters is a daunting task! Modern dictionaries will have in excess of 50,000 characters where approximately 21,000 of those characters are in contemporary usage. As…

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Any student of Mandarin Chinese can agree that at the start of your learning, memorizing characters is a daunting task! Modern dictionaries will have in excess of 50,000 characters where approximately 21,000 of those characters are in contemporary usage. As native speakers of a language where we only need to know 26 letters, this seems unachievable.

But don’t be afraid! You can read around 99.48% of modern, everyday Chinese if you know approximately 3,500 characters. Obviously, reading complex writings like science textbooks or literature requires a more in-depth knowledge of Chinese characters, but you can cross that bridge when you get to it!

Where to Start

Comparatively with Chinese, English speakers are afforded a shortcut when it comes to learning new words and phrases with the usage of letters and phonetic rules to guide our pronunciation. For instance, a native speaker being well-versed, perhaps unintentionally, in the art of English pronunciation, can pronounce these following made-up words:

Googlet     Barkjump   Champlotterfloogel

Despite having likely never seen either of these words before, you are still able to at least pronounce them and perhaps intuit something about the meaning based on the word roots. Once armed with our knowledge of letters and their pronunciation rules, we can attack texts with confidence and employ strategies to decipher any fresh words we come across.

Differences Learning Chinese and English Words

Chinese presents a new challenge for us: how do we undo the complicated, centuries-old maze of Chinese characters 汉字 (py Hànzì; literally Han characters) and wade through the seemingly never-ending waves of intricate symbols?

The answer is (brace yourself) that it just takes effort to learn and memorize these characters; there is no way around it. Many scholars have attributed the unapproachability of Chinese to foreign learners directly to these characters. We must remember, however, that complaining that a language is more difficult because it is not like our misses the whole point as to why we choose to learn that new language. Yes, these characters present a significant challenge for students, but putting in the time to learn characters as well as strategies to memorizing them will be nothing but an enormous benefit to your Chinese career! While some folks are content learning only the phonetic system of Chinese that uses Latin characters to guide pronunciation (pinyin), this can only get you so far. Once you leave the safety of your classroom and step foot in Shenzhen or the magnificent school campus of Beida surrounded by student’s posters alight with beautifully scribed Hanzi, pinyin will not be your closest ally.

While it may still seem daunting, there are many strategies to learning characters rapidly and effectively! Many fellow students of subjects other than Chinese have commented that the characters don’t seem to have anything linking them, they are all random, or even that there is nothing one can do except to memorize them character by character grudgingly. But they were wrong! If you are willing to take the time to learn about the Kangxi radical system, you will quickly be able to break down and interpret new characters with a large degree of accuracy! Much in the way you can determine that Barkjump has something to do with a dog barking and something jumping (my own term for when a dog startles me by barking loudly), this same idea can be applied to Chinese characters!

The Plan of Attack

My recommendation to start on your journey of learning the Kangxi radical system and familiarizing yourself with the structure of Chinese characters would be to start with the essential radicals that you will come across. Memorizing these radicals and their meanings will enable you to interpret new characters you come across. Learn them and learn them well! While this may seem like a pointless task, spending the time to learn these radicals will give you a deeper understanding of the Chinese language beyond simple character memorization!

A helpful learning strategy is to learn and group the radicals of characters you already know! For instance, when learning the radical 女,you could group it with the characters 好 and 她. Remember when we said the radicals could help you glean the meaning of the character? In this case, 女 (this radical means “woman”) is in the character她, which means “she.” Here we can see that there is an excellent logic to Chinese Hanzi!

Where Do We Go From Here?

As always in the course of learning a new language, there are constant challenges and brain gaps we must bridge; not only are we learning to speak and read a different way, but also to construct ideas and images differently in our head so that we can approach the language in the way it is meant to be approached. I will never forget a fellow student asking Ms. Lu what the Mandarin translation of “dude” was, the disappointment when he realized there wasn’t one, and his determination and semester-long struggle to find a suitable replacement. In his words, “If I can’t use dude, I don’t really know how I will be able to speak properly.”

The delicate art of Hanzi cannot be learned overnight! There are many resources across the internet with sharp, pertinent insights that can start to guide you on this mission, such as those found at chinesegrammerwiki or various articles at DigMandarin, which offer a far better explanation to the nature of radicals than I could ever hope to achieve. The important thing is to review the list of Kangxi radicals and their respective meanings, and then apply them to characters that you already know!

Learning this particular system takes patience, hard work, and time. The more you cut away at it, the closer to its heart you get! Happy studying!

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The Tone Changes Rules of “一” https://www.digmandarin.com/the-tone-changes-rules-of-yi.html Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:11:50 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=12698 1. 一 is pronounced as the 1st tone “yī” when it’s by itself, it works as a number, it is put at the end of the word, phrase or sentence. e.g. 一 (yī) 唯一 (wéi  yī) the one and only…

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1. 一 is pronounced as the 1st tone “” when

  • it’s by itself,
  • it works as a number,
  • it is put at the end of the word, phrase or sentence.

e.g.

一 (yī)

唯一 (wéi  yī) the one and only

2. 一 is read as the 4th tone “” when it’s followed by a 1st tone, 2nd tone or 3rd tone syllable.

e.g.

一 + 1st Tone 一斤( jīn)
一 + 2nd Tone 一台( tái)
一 + 3rd Tone 一把( bǎ)

3. 一 becomes the 2nd tone “” when it precedes a 4th tone syllable.

e.g.

一 + 4th Tone 一样 ( yàng)

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The Tone Changes Rules of “不” https://www.digmandarin.com/the-tone-changes-rules-of-bu.html Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:08:49 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=12696 1. 不 is a 4th tone syllable by itself. 不 (bù) 2. The tone doesn’t change when 不 is followed by a 1st tone, 2nd tone or 3rd tone syllable. e.g. 不 + 1st Tone 不吃 (bù chī) 不 +…

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1. 不 is a 4th tone syllable by itself.

不 (bù)

2. The tone doesn’t change when 不 is followed by a 1st tone, 2nd tone or 3rd tone syllable.

e.g.

不 + 1st Tone 不吃 (bù chī)
不 + 2nd Tone 不行 (bù xíng)
不 + 3rd Tone 不想 (bù xiǎng)

3. 不 becomes the 2nd tone when it’s followed by a 4th tone syllable.

e.g.

不 + 4th Tone 不要 (bú yào)

4. When 不 is in the between of “A 不 A” pattern phrase,不 will be the neutral tone.

e.g.

A  不  A 好不好 (hǎo bu hǎo)

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The Third Tone Change Rules in Spoken Chinese https://www.digmandarin.com/the-3rd-tone-change-rules-in-spoken-chinese.html Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:06:59 +0000 https://www.digmandarin.com/?p=12694 In spoken Chinese, when two or more than two 3rd tone syllables get together, only the last third tone keeps the original tone, others should be pronounced as the 2nd tone. Note that this rule is only applied in spoken…

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In spoken Chinese, when two or more than two 3rd tone syllables get together, only the last third tone keeps the original tone, others should be pronounced as the 2nd tone. Note that this rule is only applied in spoken mandarin Chinese while the written form keeps the original tones.

For example:

Chinese Pinyin in Written form Pinyin in Spoken Form
你好 nǐ hǎo ní hǎo
我很好 wǒ hěn hǎo wó hén hǎo
法语 fǎ yǔ fá yǔ

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