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12 Logical Reasons Why Rock's Taiwan Claims Can't Be True

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Postby ph_visitor » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:48 am

Rock wrote:Well I have to disagree with you as I do not fall within 1-3 above. You don't need to have a native command of the language to use it effectively for meeting girls. There are many short cuts. I can tell you with conviction that I picked-up enough conversational Mandarin in 12-18 months so that I was able to use it effectively for meeting girls face-to-face and working them over the phone.


Well, I cannot and all of the people I know cannot. When people do not travel, or travel only with someone who is Chinese who acts as an interpreter, and they have been here for years...

Within 2 years, I was able to use it for sales, business presentations, and radio interviews. And I am certainly no language genius like Ladislav.


Perhaps, but I suggest that you have an unknown talent for Chinese, or that you live, work and speak in Taiwan or one of the large major coastal cities or only speak to educated audiences. If you were to drop into a suburb of Zhengzhou, they would not understand you at all.

You seem to have experience with Taiwan and Guangdong variants.

That is nothing compared to the language on the Mainland.

The most challenging aspect to practical verbal Mandarin for a native English speaking American are the tones.


Incorrect.

Once you learn the tones, you then speak and discover that in every Chinese town, village and city, there are variations on pronunciation and tonal usage. The Chinese repeat themselves all the time to each other, because they do not understand what was said. And they are L1. The tones are too large or 'gross' in effect to describe the subtleties of the actual speech. The only way to hear these and learn them is to live in country, in the area that you will be for many years, and speak only to those locals.

So if you learn to speak Mandarin from a tape series, you will find out that your pronunciation is not accurate to local standards, and they simply do not understand you, at all.

In China, speaking with an accent is speaking another language. The Chinese, LITERALLY cannot hear accented speech. It's just a buzzing sound of gibberish, and you believe you are clearly speaking.

They simply won't understand a single thing you say.

This has happened to me, and others I know, dozens of times travelling in country.

Fortunately, Mandarin is extremely simple grammar wise (no verb conjugations, articles, subject dependence, etc. The word order is mostly intuitive to us.


Only for absolute beginners. Chinese grammar becomes more complex as you learn more of the language. If you want to talk like a 3 year old child, then it is simple. If you wish to converse like an educated adult it is not.

Adults speak in parables and metaphors, referencing one of the hundreds of Chinese texts they learned in school as a means of referring to a concept or situation.

If you do not know the story behind 'Kadir beneath Mo Moteh' or 'Shaka, when the walls fell', it's meaningless to you even with an accurate translation.

And almost all the sounds used have a direct equivalent or very close approximation from American English.


Many of the sounds are entirely different and some that do not exist. q, c, t, s, sh, x etc. B is not 'bee' it is 'bwuh'. And so on.

But generally, if you get a handle on a standard version of Mandarin, you got China covered.


Your assessment is simply incorrect. If you learn to speak so that locals understand you and you take a trip anywhere and get into a cab or try to purchase a bus or train ticket, you are speaking absolute gibberish to the local ear.

Many do not speak Standard Mandarin, and the local version of Mandarin differs from what you learn as Beijing/Office Dialect. Then there is the local village language, that you haven't a clue about. Local Slang, Local Mandarin Slang, Standard Dialect Slang, and then any regional language such as Sichuanese or Cantonese.

It's a nightmare.

China does NOT have 55 dialects.

It has THOUSAND'S.

Each village town and city, and in large cities there are many old areas that were separate towns long ago, has its own local language. This changes if you travel as few as 20 km. In some cities there are many areas. Wuhan is Wuhan, Hankou, Wuchang. And so on. Each with different local languages, accents, variations on Mandarin.

Again, I must point out that your standard is one of illiteracy as a goal.

Illiteracy being defined as not being able to read or write at a functional level.

That speaks volumes as to the difficulty of learning Chinese.

There are then several dozen other aspects of the language that you need to learn.

Chinese spend 10,000 hours from ages 3 to 23 learning Chinese.

You spent 1,500 hours from ages 6 to 16 learning English.

Language Exchange Partner:

In my experience, and the experience of ALL foreigners living in the local area, the Chinese never follow through. You cannot get anyone to commit to LE, they don't show up, they flake, they lie, they make excuses, they stop coming, they say that they will do it and then they just do...nothing. Nothing happens.

It doesn't matter how much money you offer them, they simply don't do it.

Big City China and Taiwan are very much different than the non-urban parts of the PRC.
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Postby Rock » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:41 am

ph_visitor wrote:
Rock wrote:Well I have to disagree with you as I do not fall within 1-3 above. You don't need to have a native command of the language to use it effectively for meeting girls. There are many short cuts. I can tell you with conviction that I picked-up enough conversational Mandarin in 12-18 months so that I was able to use it effectively for meeting girls face-to-face and working them over the phone.


Well, I cannot and all of the people I know cannot. When people do not travel, or travel only with someone who is Chinese who acts as an interpreter, and they have been here for years...

Within 2 years, I was able to use it for sales, business presentations, and radio interviews. And I am certainly no language genius like Ladislav.


Perhaps, but I suggest that you have an unknown talent for Chinese, or that you live, work and speak in Taiwan or one of the large major coastal cities or only speak to educated audiences. If you were to drop into a suburb of Zhengzhou, they would not understand you at all.

You seem to have experience with Taiwan and Guangdong variants.

That is nothing compared to the language on the Mainland.

The most challenging aspect to practical verbal Mandarin for a native English speaking American are the tones.


Incorrect.

Once you learn the tones, you then speak and discover that in every Chinese town, village and city, there are variations on pronunciation and tonal usage. The Chinese repeat themselves all the time to each other, because they do not understand what was said. And they are L1. The tones are too large or 'gross' in effect to describe the subtleties of the actual speech. The only way to hear these and learn them is to live in country, in the area that you will be for many years, and speak only to those locals.

So if you learn to speak Mandarin from a tape series, you will find out that your pronunciation is not accurate to local standards, and they simply do not understand you, at all.

In China, speaking with an accent is speaking another language. The Chinese, LITERALLY cannot hear accented speech. It's just a buzzing sound of gibberish, and you believe you are clearly speaking.

They simply won't understand a single thing you say.

This has happened to me, and others I know, dozens of times travelling in country.

Fortunately, Mandarin is extremely simple grammar wise (no verb conjugations, articles, subject dependence, etc. The word order is mostly intuitive to us.


Only for absolute beginners. Chinese grammar becomes more complex as you learn more of the language. If you want to talk like a 3 year old child, then it is simple. If you wish to converse like an educated adult it is not.

Adults speak in parables and metaphors, referencing one of the hundreds of Chinese texts they learned in school as a means of referring to a concept or situation.

If you do not know the story behind 'Kadir beneath Mo Moteh' or 'Shaka, when the walls fell', it's meaningless to you even with an accurate translation.

And almost all the sounds used have a direct equivalent or very close approximation from American English.


Many of the sounds are entirely different and some that do not exist. q, c, t, s, sh, x etc. B is not 'bee' it is 'bwuh'. And so on.

But generally, if you get a handle on a standard version of Mandarin, you got China covered.


Your assessment is simply incorrect. If you learn to speak so that locals understand you and you take a trip anywhere and get into a cab or try to purchase a bus or train ticket, you are speaking absolute gibberish to the local ear.

Many do not speak Standard Mandarin, and the local version of Mandarin differs from what you learn as Beijing/Office Dialect. Then there is the local village language, that you haven't a clue about. Local Slang, Local Mandarin Slang, Standard Dialect Slang, and then any regional language such as Sichuanese or Cantonese.

It's a nightmare.

China does NOT have 55 dialects.

It has THOUSAND'S.

Each village town and city, and in large cities there are many old areas that were separate towns long ago, has its own local language. This changes if you travel as few as 20 km. In some cities there are many areas. Wuhan is Wuhan, Hankou, Wuchang. And so on. Each with different local languages, accents, variations on Mandarin.

Again, I must point out that your standard is one of illiteracy as a goal.

Illiteracy being defined as not being able to read or write at a functional level.

That speaks volumes as to the difficulty of learning Chinese.

There are then several dozen other aspects of the language that you need to learn.

Chinese spend 10,000 hours from ages 3 to 23 learning Chinese.

You spent 1,500 hours from ages 6 to 16 learning English.

Language Exchange Partner:

In my experience, and the experience of ALL foreigners living in the local area, the Chinese never follow through. You cannot get anyone to commit to LE, they don't show up, they flake, they lie, they make excuses, they stop coming, they say that they will do it and then they just do...nothing. Nothing happens.

It doesn't matter how much money you offer them, they simply don't do it.

Big City China and Taiwan are very much different than the non-urban parts of the PRC.



1. Yes, I've lived in Taiwan where I picked-up most of the Mandarin I know. I do speak to educated people but also speak to relatively uneducated ones sometimes. I've travelled extensively through China having stayed in Liuzhou (3rd tier) in Guangxi, Guangzhou, Dong Guan, and Shenzhen in Guangdong, Mianyang (3rd tier), Chengdu, and Zi Gong (3rd tier) in Sichuan, Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Haikou in Hainan Dao, Qinhuangdao in Hebei, Qingdao in Shandong, Changchun in Jilin, and Harbin in Heilongjiang. I've gotten around easily in trains, planes, and automobiles (taxis), booked and stayed in hotels and hostels, conducted business over the phone, and spoken with dozens of girls and countless other locals. I've never needed a translator and if I ever had to speak to a very old person or minority group member (say Tibetan) who did not understand standard Mandarin well, others around would jump in and take over. But that was rare.

Globe, perhaps your view on Mandarin in China has been influenced by your immediate environment and personal circumstances - a 4th tier Chinese village where you have spent most if not all your 2+ years in China as a non-Chinese speaking foreigner who never set foot there until around age 50. I believe most Chinese speaking western visitors and expats focus on 1st-3rd tier China where Mandarin will serve them very well as a tool for meeting people and interacting well with locals as it has done for me.

2. If Chinese cannot understand accented speech, how is it that people from Sichuan, Guangdong, Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing, and say Hunan can verbally communicate with each other in a place like Shenzhen? People in China have all heard a lot of standard Mandarin as spoken on TV and radio. The regional accented versions all approach that standard, very different from the dialects. Even myself, as a foreigner, am widely understood in all the parts of China I've travelled to. In areas NE of Beijing I've visited, I almost detect no accent. For example, my friends Shenyang wife sounds almost accentless to me even though her city is so far from Taiwan.

3. What Chinese grammar are you talking about? Parables and metaphors are difficult because they allude to a story or have hidden meaning, not because they contain complex grammar or structures out of the ordinary. The majority are just 4 or 8 characters long. More importantly, not many come-up a lot in colloquial speech commonly used with young people of average education or lower. I used to know of a foreigner who was a walking encyclopedia of Chinese idioms. He loved to show use them a lot in his speech. But to many, he sounded kinda ridiculous, as if he was trying to show-off and prove that his Chinese was better than that of most local people who sometimes didn't even understand him. Perhaps he impressed some, but generally, I don't think his showy style endeared him to very many.

4. q sound in Pinyin can be approximated by chee in cheese but will be more accurate if you put your tongue right behind your lower teeth instead of curling it to roof of mouth. You can come very close to c sound if you make a t sound immediately followed by s sound and try to blend them (one right after the other), essentially a ts sound. t sound is practically the same as in English. Sh sound is practically the same as in English. X sound can be produced by making sh sound but adjusting tongue so it starts right behind lower front teeth instead of curled to roof of mouth (as with q sound). The other special sound which comes to mind is the r sound which is probably most different of all. Besides some of these, most sounds in Mandarin have close equivalents in American English. This is the reason Chinese who speak a form of standard Mandarin well can usually pick-up English with fairly accurate pronunciation. Most of their problems lie in grammar issues. This is not true for many who primarily speak certain dialects such as Canto.

5. You claim, "If you learn to speak so that locals understand you and you take a trip anywhere and get into a cab or try to purchase a bus or train ticket, you are speaking absolute gibberish to the local ear." But as I've written above, that is just not my experience. Same goes for Taiwanese frequent visitors to various parts of China I know.

Globe, just how many days have you spent traveling more than 100 km or so from your village around China? Dialects are dialects But these days, a large number of Chinese travel the country extensively for business and pleasure. They communicate to one-another in Mandarin. While many may speak with an accent influenced by their own region, they are still able to communicate effectively, conduct business, and interact well with their countrymen from all over. That sort of situation is common in countries all over the world. You mention Wuhan, Hankou, and Wuchang. I could go to any of those places and make myself understood by the majority.

6. People are people. Some will flake, some won't. Find someone who is reliable or else get with multiple and changing partners. It's not hard to find people who like to speak a lot. If need be, get with someone who is older and more stable. Where there is a will, there is a way for something so simple as finding a Chinese local who will speak to you for an extended period in one of their native tongues.
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Postby ph_visitor » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:00 pm

Rock wrote:1. Yes, I've lived in Taiwan where I picked-up most of the Mandarin I know.


This is not trivial and means that you learned a different accent in another country.

You have apparently been working in China for 10+ years. Thus you learned Chinese while you were young. It is very deceptive to tell anyone that 'I believe you can do this in one year' when you have been in China for 15+. You learned it at a young age, and even then the younger people I know (20-25) all report the exact same difficulties.

I do speak to educated people but also speak to relatively uneducated ones sometimes.


Q.E.D.

Business presentations self-select for language, education and sophistication.

Mandarin in China has been influenced by your immediate environment and personal circumstances - a 4th tier Chinese village where you have spent most if not all your 2+ years in China as a non-Chinese speaking foreigner who never set foot there until around age 50. I believe most Chinese speaking western visitors and expats focus on 1st-3rd tier China where Mandarin will serve them very well as a tool for meeting people and interacting well with locals as it has done for me.


Thus your advice is incorrect.

Unless they stick to BSG and the provincial capitals (maybe...) and are young (under 40) then they are not going to able to speak it. It will take years. Years. To speak as a toddler.

Thus my point stands and is valid.

Last time I went to Xi'an, no one understood me when I got there. Total mind f**k. 'Shen ma?' Nothing. Not even the most basic phrases.

I know PhD's in Engineering who are here working on the trains. Chinese is impossible for them, because they are 50+.

IMPOSSIBLE. They cannot hear it, and thus cannot speak it because they think and believe they are speaking as instructed but the locals just hear Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

These are Europeans who speak German English and other multiple languages.

2. If Chinese cannot understand accented speech, how is it that people from Sichuan, Guangdong, Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing, and say Hunan can verbally communicate with each other in a place like Shenzhen?


You repeatedly cite from large cities like Shenzhen. That's like going to Hong Kong.

Rural China, where the other 700 million live, is nothing like Shenzhen.

Wuhan is nothing like Shenzhen...

They can't communicate with each other. Listen to a phone conversation sometimes between friends. Most of the conversation consists of grunts (uh uh uh AH ah uh) or repetition of statements multiple (3 to 12) times.

People in China have all heard a lot of standard Mandarin as spoken on TV and radio.


Look at the TV. What do you see?

-Upper Left is the channel logo
-Bottom Right is the show logo
-Top scroll are ads
-Right and left panes: more ads.

And on the bottom: CAPTIONS. For ALL programs.

Now ask yourself this:

Why would all the channels on CCTV and other wise have captions on ALL SHOWS. ALL?

Because people cannot understand the SPOKEN WORD.
Because everyone needs the written word in order to understand, because the accent is incomprehensible to most who watch TV. Because everyone has a hard time hearing accents and understanding when someone speaks.

Illiteracy is the inability to read and write. The Chinese have something else - the inability to hear the spoken language when accented speech is present.

3. What Chinese grammar are you talking about?


The one taught to High School and University students. Chinese learn 2-3 hours A DAY per year of education. So they are learning Chinese if they get a Masters or PhD, all that time to get them up to speed on the language.

Parables and metaphors are difficult because they allude to a story or have hidden meaning.


Which is what I pointed out in my OP. If you do not know the story the reference is meaningless. It's like speaking in code.

4. q sound in Pinyin can be ...This is not true for many who primarily speak certain dialects such as Canto.


The point is that I cannot speak so that locals understand me, and it's due to age and the Chinese language.

Again, your statements are wrong. Not everyone is young, nor in a 1st tier city, thus they WILL NOT be able to learn it functionally in one year. Not even close.

How many days have you spent travelling more than 100 km or so from your village around China?


Months. Two summer holidays, two spring festivals, the usual holidays. The train or bus stations in:

Lanzhou, Zhengzhou, XinXiang, Huixian, Taiyuan, Beijing, Xian, Wuhan, Dengfeng, Kaifeng, Qufu, Wuhan, Changsha, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Pingyao, Shenzhen and every place in between.

I go by local bus or slow train. Ticket takers in all cities, just cannot understand me. Hotel clerks - nothing.

Hell, in some places they don't understand when I say 'Xie Xie'.

So I use pictures of hanzi and do not speak. This after living in China for 3 years and speaking the language on a daily basis. Still, nothing.

Everywhere I go, chaos, disorder, confusion, blank stares and incomprehension when I speak.

You mention Wuhan, Hankou, and Wuchang. I could go to any of those places and make myself understood by the majority.


I cannot and everyone I know here (scores of people) reports the exact same situation in those places.

6. People are people. Some will flake, some won't. Find someone who is reliable or else get with multiple and changing partners.


I am not talking about 'some'.

This is a 100% occurrence to date, and YES the other teachers in town report the precise, exact same thing. NO ONE can find someone who will do this as you suggest.

NO ONE.

Am I making myself clear?

I AM REFERRING TO A 100% FLAKE RATE BY EVERYONE.
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Postby ph_visitor » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:21 pm

Here is the best example I can come up with.

I have lived in China for 3 years, non-stop.

I eat twice a day. I have ordered tea 1,000 times. No exaggeration - literally 1,000 times.

"I will have the mar shi and Lǜchá'

I have ordered tea over 1,000 times and I still cannot pronounce it so that anyone understands me.

Now think about this.

If repetition of 1,000 times or more is required to learn ONE WORD of a language, then that qualifies as 'impossible' in my book.

I simply do not have a long enough life to learn this.
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Postby momopi » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:09 pm

http://www.montereylanguagecapital.org/dli.htm

With a faculty of over 1700, DLIFLC today offers courses in two dozen languages and dialects. Basic course lengths are from 26 to 64 weeks, depending upon the difficulty of the language taught. While a basic Romance language program lasts 26 weeks, language instruction in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic lasts eighteen months.
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Postby Rock » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:23 pm

ph_visitor wrote:Here is the best example I can come up with.

I have lived in China for 3 years, non-stop.

I eat twice a day. I have ordered tea 1,000 times. No exaggeration - literally 1,000 times.

"I will have the mar shi and Lǜchá'

I have ordered tea over 1,000 times and I still cannot pronounce it so that anyone understands me.

Now think about this.

If repetition of 1,000 times or more is required to learn ONE WORD of a language, then that qualifies as 'impossible' in my book.

I simply do not have a long enough life to learn this.


Well yes, after a certain age, it becomes very difficult for most people to learn a language which they've had neglibile prior expsosure to, especially if they are monolingual and that language is very distant from their own. I have seen guys in their early 30s do what I'm talking about in Mandarin with no prior background. But after that, I imagine it gets prett difficult for most. Perhaps someone like Lad could still swing it though cus he has learned such a diverse set of languages as an adult and probably has figured out the most effective ways and shorcuts which work best for him.

Just reading between the lines of much of what you written, it sounds like you are beyond your own critical age for learning to a tonal language effectively. Even if you could live 10,000 more years, it still probably wouldn't matter. If you can't get it right the first time, what use is it to repeat it countless more times incorrectly.
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Postby Rock » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:29 pm

ph_visitor wrote: I am not talking about 'some'.

This is a 100% occurrence to date, and YES the other teachers in town report the precise, exact same thing. NO ONE can find someone who will do this as you suggest.

NO ONE.

Am I making myself clear?

I AM REFERRING TO A 100% FLAKE RATE BY EVERYONE.


So why do you wanna stay in a 4th tier Chinese hick town where nobody understands you, everyone flakes on you, and you are continuously mocked??? Perhaps the Philippines was better for you after all in spite of all your rants to the contrary, lol.
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Postby Rock » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:37 pm

momopi wrote:http://www.montereylanguagecapital.org/dli.htm

With a faculty of over 1700, DLIFLC today offers courses in two dozen languages and dialects. Basic course lengths are from 26 to 64 weeks, depending upon the difficulty of the language taught. While a basic Romance language program lasts 26 weeks, language instruction in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic lasts eighteen months.


If you cut-out reading and writing, learning practical spoken Mandarin takes much less time. There are some other effective shorcuts if you primary goal is to communicate well in everyday life travelling around China or spending time there in one area there as an expat. But as Globetrotter has mentioned, starting age is an important variable to consider. After a certain age which varies to some extent depending on the indiviual, it does become extremely difficult to impossible for most.
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Postby ph_visitor » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:09 am

Rock wrote:Well yes, after a certain age, it becomes very difficult for most people to learn a language which they've had neglibile prior expsosure to, especially if they are monolingual and that language is very distant from their own.


I speak Spanish, French, some Italian and Hebrew.

I get f***ing tired of arguing with you guys, and then days later you post:

'Oh, yeah. Well of course if you... then you cannot. Sorry, I did not mention/concede that.'

You all have this intellectual blind spot and it is damn annoying.

I have seen guys in their early 30s do what I'm talking about in Mandarin with no prior background. But after that, I imagine it gets pretty difficult for most.


Really? No f***ing kidding?! You think someone who is 32 might learn easier than someone who is 52? Get a grip!

Maybe then you can re-read my posts about one having to be YOUNG to learn Chinese.

Just reading between the lines of much of what you written, it sounds like you are beyond your own critical age for learning to a tonal language effectively.


Between the lines? I have been posting this explicitly the whole thread!

Wake up! Stop seeing what you want to see and read what people write.

Why are you guys so dense when someone posts something you disagree with, and then a week later you are posting 'Well, yes. Um of course...'

Even if you could live 10,000 more years, it still probably wouldn't matter. If you can't get it right the first time, what use is it to repeat it countless more times incorrectly.


Q.E.D.

You say things correctly THE FIRST TIME?

Maybe then you can re-read my posts about one having to be TALENTED to learn Chinese.

Uh, no.

My students say words incorrectly the first time most of the time.

I mis-pronounced Spanish and French when I first learnt it. Then I adjusted.

Learning is about:

1) Making errors
2) Adjusting.

Thank you for being dense, myopic, assuming that everyone is like you and not reading what I wrote.

starting age is an important variable to consider. After a certain age which varies to some extent depending on the indiviual, it does become extremely difficult to impossible for most.


Are you blind?

I have been attempting to tell you this for several posts and you continued to ignore my experience and the experience of other, older, educated and intelligent L2's of Chinese.

Perhaps the Philippines was better for you after all in spite of all your rants to the contrary, lol.


...and here we return to the core value set of most posters to HA. Juvenile, immature, "lol-ing" boys.
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Postby momopi » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:07 am

Rock wrote:
momopi wrote:http://www.montereylanguagecapital.org/dli.htm

With a faculty of over 1700, DLIFLC today offers courses in two dozen languages and dialects. Basic course lengths are from 26 to 64 weeks, depending upon the difficulty of the language taught. While a basic Romance language program lasts 26 weeks, language instruction in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic lasts eighteen months.


If you cut-out reading and writing, learning practical spoken Mandarin takes much less time. There are some other effective shortcuts if you primary goal is to communicate well in everyday life traveling around China or spending time there in one area there as an expat. But as Globetrotter has mentioned, starting age is an important variable to consider. After a certain age which varies to some extent depending on the individual, it does become extremely difficult to impossible for most.



The US State Department / Foreign Service Institute has 3 categories for foreign language (ranked by difficulty to native English speaker):

Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 class hours)
Afrikaans Danish
Dutch
French
Italian
Norwegian
Portuguese
Romanian
Spanish
Swedish

Category II: 44 weeks (1100 class hours)
Albanian
Amharic
Armenian
Azerbaijani
Bengali
Bosnian
Bulgarian
Burmese
Croatian
Czech
* Estonian
* Finnish
* Georgian
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
* Hungarian
Icelandic
Khmer
Lao
Latvian Lithuanian
Macedonian
* Mongolian
Nepali
Pashto
Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
Polish
Russian
Serbian
Sinhalese
Slovak
Slovenian
Tagalog
* Thai
Turkish
Ukrainian
Urdu
Uzbek
* Vietnamese
Xhosa
Zulu

Category III: 88 weeks (2200 class hours)
Arabic
Cantonese
Mandarin
* Japanese
Korean

Other languages (Category 1.5?)
German 30 weeks (750 class hours)
Indonesian, Malaysian, Swahili 36 weeks (900 class hours)

================================

The US Department of Defense / Defense Language Institute use 4 categories:

Category I, 26 weeks class (7 months): French, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), and Spanish
Category II, 34 weeks class (10 months): German, Romanian, Indonesian
Category III, 47 weeks class (13 months): Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Persian-Farsi, Polish, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese
Category IV, 63 weeks (18 months): Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean

================================

The difficulty level is ranked for a native English speaker. i.e. if you're Vietnamese, learning how to speak Cantonese will require less effort than a native English speaker. The number of hours specified is instruction for adults who wish to work for the State Department's foreign service branch, or folks who sign up to join the military. I have a friend who joined the US Army and learned Chinese -- his thinking was that he should maximize the free education opportunities offered, so why be cheap and learn an easier language. ;p

Learning a foreign language well requires both language-learning aptitude and motivation. I was a poor student in Taiwan and left while I was still in elementary school. But I taught myself how to read Chinese with comic book in one hand and dictionary in the other. I've also spent a few years doing subtitle work for Japanese animation, and knew many non-Japanese who became very skilled in the language simply because they liked anime and manga.

Currently I'm reading (Chinese version) of Bakuman manga:

Image


My parents knew that I disliked the Chinese classes back in Taiwan, so they never sent me to Chinese school (on weekends) in the US. Instead, whenever they flew back to Taiwan, they brought back a suitcase full of comic books for me. Years later, when I was taking French in high school, I had a teacher who taught French history, art, culture, cinema, etc. really well, but not the language itself. To this day I cannot hold a decent conversation in French, but I still watch Astérix animated films en français.

Compared to my parents and grandparents, I'm pretty fortunate. My grandparents escaped from the Chinese civil war to TW and didn't speak a word in Taiwanese. So they learned how to ask "what is this" in Taiwanese, went to the local street markets, pointed at the products and asked "what is this?" "carrot" "...carrot" That is how they learned enough Taiwanese to buy food in 1950. By my generation, the ROC government had imposed anti-patois policy and forced everyone to speak standardized mandarin in school. When I was visiting the factory in China, I had to explain the acceptable ranges for the peninsula test (load bearing on a metal drawer piece). China is behind Taiwan in terms of standardizing spoken mandarin across the country (much bigger and more diverse place), but you can bet that everyone present understood what I was talking about, or else they won't have a job later. Call it economic motivation.

When my mother went to work for Panda Express in the US as a store manager, the owner of the chain is a big fan of "7 habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. Actually that is one of their interview questions. As management staff you had to read the book, attend seminars, and take exams -- all in English. Just as I learned how to read comic books with dictionary in hand, my mother read the book with English-Chinese dictionary in hand, word by word, page by page. She made regional manager before she retired and moved back to Taiwan. My parents are not highly educated folk, they never attended university in TW or school in the US. My mother learned how to converse in English by working as a waitress in 1980's and chatting with the customers. She could also converse in simple Spanish, because the kitchen help were often Mexican.

=============================

IMO, if you're going to put in the effort to learn a foreign language, you should at least learn how to read restaurant menus and street signs. For those having trouble learning how to speak Chinese from pinyin, consider learning with bopomofo (traditional) instead. There are many ways to go pass a wall, you can climb over it, go around it, get a ladder, etc.

Image

Image
Last edited by momopi on Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:30 am, edited 4 times in total.
momopi
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Postby Repatriate » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:09 am

Rock wrote:
ph_visitor wrote: I am not talking about 'some'.

This is a 100% occurrence to date, and YES the other teachers in town report the precise, exact same thing. NO ONE can find someone who will do this as you suggest.

NO ONE.

Am I making myself clear?

I AM REFERRING TO A 100% FLAKE RATE BY EVERYONE.


So why do you wanna stay in a 4th tier Chinese hick town where nobody understands you, everyone flakes on you, and you are continuously mocked??? Perhaps the Philippines was better for you after all in spite of all your rants to the contrary, lol.


He sounds like a grouchy old man who spends his time bitching about how the "natives" don't cater towards his language demands. Since he's not intelligent enough to learn mandarin at a basic level his frustration grows everyday as he can't get across basic requests. It's no wonder that the "beauties" in his 4th tier Chinese city part like the red sea when he approaches. I bet he walks around with a perma-frown and an enormous chip on the shoulder visible from outer space like I see a lot of western expats in Thailand do.

:lol:
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Postby davewe » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:26 am

ph_visitor wrote:
...and here we return to the core value set of most posters to HA. Juvenile, immature, "lol-ing" boys.


You've pitched such a fat, juicy, gigantic softball here that I don't even feel like slugging it.

What's the beef? You have struggled to learn conversational Chinese, feel it's impossible to communicate and connect, and want to share that experience. Rock says that he learned enough conversational Mandarin to get along with girls in various parts of the country and that it is doable with some hard work and motivation. Why not deal with the reality that you weren't able to do it and he has been. Hey it happens. As a kid I wanted to play in the NBA; some people actually get to do that - just not me at 5'7":)

I value those who have traveled extensively abroad and want to hear their experiences. The problem is that often the posters on HA assume that their experience is a universal experience. It's not. So Chinese is tough to learn but clearly some people learn it. Chinese people are often xenophobic, but some end up liking and even marrying Westerners. Filipinas are according to you and Rock unattractive but some of us have lucked onto a few hot and sweet ones.

Frankly, I believe this is the very definition of maturity; realizing that our individual experiences, while valuable, are not universal, and then realizing that if someone else has a different experience, then we might not always be right.
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Postby Rock » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:33 am

momopi wrote:
Rock wrote:
momopi wrote:http://www.montereylanguagecapital.org/dli.htm

With a faculty of over 1700, DLIFLC today offers courses in two dozen languages and dialects. Basic course lengths are from 26 to 64 weeks, depending upon the difficulty of the language taught. While a basic Romance language program lasts 26 weeks, language instruction in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic lasts eighteen months.


If you cut-out reading and writing, learning practical spoken Mandarin takes much less time. There are some other effective shortcuts if you primary goal is to communicate well in everyday life traveling around China or spending time there in one area there as an expat. But as Globetrotter has mentioned, starting age is an important variable to consider. After a certain age which varies to some extent depending on the individual, it does become extremely difficult to impossible for most.



The US State Department / Foreign Service Institute has 3 categories for foreign language (ranked by difficulty to native English speaker):

Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 class hours)
Afrikaans Danish
Dutch
French
Italian
Norwegian
Portuguese
Romanian
Spanish
Swedish

Category II: 44 weeks (1100 class hours)
Albanian
Amharic
Armenian
Azerbaijani
Bengali
Bosnian
Bulgarian
Burmese
Croatian
Czech
* Estonian
* Finnish
* Georgian
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
* Hungarian
Icelandic
Khmer
Lao
Latvian Lithuanian
Macedonian
* Mongolian
Nepali
Pashto
Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
Polish
Russian
Serbian
Sinhalese
Slovak
Slovenian
Tagalog
* Thai
Turkish
Ukrainian
Urdu
Uzbek
* Vietnamese
Xhosa
Zulu

Category III: 88 weeks (2200 class hours)
Arabic
Cantonese
Mandarin
* Japanese
Korean

Other languages (Category 1.5?)
German 30 weeks (750 class hours)
Indonesian, Malaysian, Swahili 36 weeks (900 class hours)

================================

The US Department of Defense / Defense Language Institute use 4 categories:

Category I, 26 weeks class (7 months): French, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), and Spanish
Category II, 34 weeks class (10 months): German, Romanian, Indonesian
Category III, 47 weeks class (13 months): Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Persian-Farsi, Polish, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese
Category IV, 63 weeks (18 months): Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean

================================

The difficulty level is ranked for a native English speaker. i.e. if you're Vietnamese, learning how to speak Cantonese will require less effort than a native English speaker. The number of hours specified is instruction for adults who wish to work for the State Department's foreign service branch, or folks who sign up to join the military. I have a friend who joined the US Army and learned Chinese -- his thinking was that he should maximize the free education opportunities offered, so why be cheap and learn an easier language. ;p

Learning a foreign language well requires both language-learning aptitude and motivation. I was a poor student in Taiwan and left while I was still in elementary school. But I taught myself how to read Chinese with comic book in one hand and dictionary in the other. I've also spent a few years doing subtitle work for Japanese animation, and knew many non-Japanese who became very skilled in the language simply because they liked anime and manga.

Currently I'm reading (Chinese version) of Bakuman manga:

Image


My parents knew that I disliked the Chinese classes back in Taiwan, so they never sent me to Chinese school (on weekends) in the US. Instead, whenever they flew back to Taiwan, they brought back a suitcase full of comic books for me. Years later, when I was taking French in high school, I had a teacher who taught French history, art, culture, cinema, etc. really well, but not the language itself. To this day I cannot hold a decent conversation in French, but I still watch Astérix animated films en français.

Compared to my parents and grandparents, I'm pretty fortunate. My grandparents escaped from the Chinese civil war to TW and didn't speak a word in Taiwanese. So they learned how to ask "what is this" in Taiwanese, went to the local street markets, pointed at the products and asked "what is this?" "carrot" "...carrot" That is how they learned enough Taiwanese to buy food in 1950. By my generation, the ROC government had imposed anti-patois policy and forced everyone to speak standardized mandarin in school. When I was visiting the factory in China, I had to explain the acceptable ranges for the peninsula test (load bearing on a metal drawer piece). China is behind Taiwan in terms of standardizing spoken mandarin across the country (much bigger and more diverse place), but you can bet that everyone present understood what I was talking about, or else they won't have a job later. Call it economic motivation.

When my mother went to work for Panda Express in the US as a store manager, the owner of the chain is a big fan of "7 habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. Actually that is one of their interview questions. As management staff you had to read the book, attend seminars, and take exams -- all in English. Just as I learned how to read comic books with dictionary in hand, my mother read the book with English-Chinese dictionary in hand, word by word, page by page. She made regional manager before she retired and moved back to Taiwan. My parents are not highly educated folk, they never attended university in TW or school in the US. My mother learned how to converse in English by working as a waitress in 1980's and chatting with the customers. She could also converse in simple Spanish, because the kitchen help were often Mexican.

=============================

IMO, if you're going to put in the effort to learn a foreign language, you should at least learn how to read restaurant menus and street signs. For those having trouble learning how to speak Chinese from pinyin, consider learning with bopomofo (traditional) instead. There are many ways to go pass a wall, you can climb over it, go around it, get a ladder, etc.

Image

Image


Thanks for all that info. Just couple points:

1. I think about every western learner of Chinese I know of much prefers Pinyin over bopomofo as a romanization tool for learing Mandarin. Its just easier for us as we don't have to bother with learning a new group of non-intuitive symbols. And the majority of young people I've met in PRC can communicate with Pinyin if need be, not so for bopomofo which I think is used mainly in Taiwan.

BTW, Pinyin tends to be used for English versions of street signs, place names, addresses, and even some government buildings and venue names in the PRC. It also can be used for text messaging in case you don't have your phone set-up to input Chinese characters. I suspect one of the main reasons it was never adopted in Taiwan is for political reasons (they wanted to differentiate themselves from the mainland).

2. Perhaps I am an ideosyncratic style of language student. But I became more conversationally fluent in Mandarin after my first 3 months in Taiwan than I did in Spanish after my first 3 months in Colombia. Yes, I had a lower starting age in Taiwan which I'm sure helped. But consider, I had a bit of a school background for Spanish but not for Chinese. For some reason, I struggle a lot with western style grammar but not so much with tones used in Mandarin.

I also concede that at higher levels, Spanish is full of great vocab short-cuts (words very similar to their English equivalents) not present in Mandarin. If you add on the burden of learning to write the characters (no alphabet), then learning Mandarin becomes a much more time consuming task than learning Spanish at indermediate to advanced levels.

BTW, I've noticed that a lot of ABCs (depending on generation) seem to learn a lot of practical household Mandarin (or sometimes another dialect) but not any of the writing system. Winston falls into that catagory. But some parents fight this. We used to have one Taiwan family in my small town and when the girls were in junior high and high school, the parents made them learn to read some from elementary school readers (with bopomofo as romanization system).
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Postby Falcon » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:27 am

Some useful tools that make learning Chinese a lot faster and easier:

(1) DimSum software tool ( http://mandarintools.com/dimsum.html )
(2) Zhongwen.com
(3) http://www.iciba.com/
(4) Book: Reading & Writing Chinese by William McNaughton (published by Tuttle)


But Chinese is still relatively easy compared to learning indigenous languages that are either poorly described or completely undocumented. That's because so many cool software tools are available for Chinese now, whereas all those Amerindian languages barely have anything about them on even Wikipedia. For example, many people from Oaxaca (in Mexico) and Guatemala do not speak Spanish. Since virtually every single town has their own variant of some indigenous Amerindian language such as Mixtec or Mam, that makes the situation even more complicated - and fun, if you're into learning about lesser-known languages.
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Postby momopi » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:36 am

Rock wrote:Thanks for all that info. Just couple points:
1. I think about every western learner of Chinese I know of much prefers Pinyin over bopomofo as a romanization tool for learing Mandarin. Its just easier for us as we don't have to bother with learning a new group of non-intuitive symbols. And the majority of young people I've met in PRC can communicate with Pinyin if need be, not so for bopomofo which I think is used mainly in Taiwan.
BTW, Pinyin tends to be used for English versions of street signs, place names, addresses, and even some government buildings and venue names in the PRC. It also can be used for text messaging in case you don't have your phone set-up to input Chinese characters. I suspect one of the main reasons it was never adopted in Taiwan is for political reasons (they wanted to differentiate themselves from the mainland).
2. Perhaps I am an ideosyncratic style of language student. But I became more conversationally fluent in Mandarin after my first 3 months in Taiwan than I did in Spanish after my first 3 months in Colombia. Yes, I had a lower starting age in Taiwan which I'm sure helped. But consider, I had a bit of a school background for Spanish but not for Chinese. For some reason, I struggle a lot with western style grammar but not so much with tones used in Mandarin.
I also concede that at higher levels, Spanish is full of great vocab short-cuts (words very similar to their English equivalents) not present in Mandarin. If you add on the burden of learning to write the characters (no alphabet), then learning Mandarin becomes a much more time consuming task than learning Spanish at indermediate to advanced levels.
BTW, I've noticed that a lot of ABCs (depending on generation) seem to learn a lot of practical household Mandarin (or sometimes another dialect) but not any of the writing system. Winston falls into that catagory. But some parents fight this. We used to have one Taiwan family in my small town and when the girls were in junior high and high school, the parents made them learn to read some from elementary school readers (with bopomofo as romanization system).



The assumption is that, if the person already tried pinyin and it's not working, then try bopomofo instead. What clicks better with the person is up to the individual.

As a non-native English speaker, I'd say that Spanish seems easier and made more sense than English. Just as non-Chinese speakers struggle with spoken Mandarin, non-English speakers struggle with words like "accept" vs "except".

In my generation, it was still relatively rare to find Chinese schools in LA/OC. But since I lived in the Cerritos area, we had a reasonably large Chinese/Taiwanese community, so we hosted Chinese language classes at my HS on weekends, along with various cultural classes like martial arts, Tai-Chi sword, traditional instruments, etc. Today things are very different, my younger cousins in Diamond Bar took Chinese language classes offered as regular curriculum, watch Chinese language programs on TV/internet, and chat with their friends and relatives back in TW in Chinese on the computer over the internet. My youngest cousin here in the US also blogs in Chinese.

In my younger days, taking a trip back to TW was a big deal. Today it seems like regular occurrence and not a big deal for them to just fly back for the Summer, or go back to TW to intern at some company after graduating from college here in the US.
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