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学习中文 "Never give up, never surrender!"

Popularity 4Viewed 6971 times 2013-3-22 01:06 |System category:Life| 学习, Chinese

For those of you who have never seen "Galaxy Quest", it's a funny movie that pokes fun at "Star Trek" and the enthusiasm fans have for it. The "Never give up, never surrender!" is the tag-line from Captain Peter Quincy Taggart, the captain of the ship in the TV show.

Sometimes wisdom can come from the strangest places.

Studying Chinese, especially after having learned several other languages, is an exercise in patience with oneself. It is easy to become discouraged and consider giving up, especially when faced with obstacles such as not having a regular teacher, having few opportunities to speak the language, and the overall difficulty of learning your language. Your writing system is enough to drive a man insane.

Please do not misunderstand me. I love your language, your country, and your culture. It is just amazingly frustrating for a man who can learn a language that uses an alphabet, syllabary, or abugida fairly easily. Those types of writing systems have the advantage that you can look at a word and you can usually know how to pronounce it, even if you have never seen the word before. I can't do that with Chinese. There are certain hints about the character pronunciation, such as just about any character with the radical 马 on the right is usually pronounced "ma" in some fashion, while the tone may vary. You can look at words and have a clue about their meaning because of radicals, too... anything with 虫 on the left most likely has something to do with worms or insects, but it doesn't give me a clue on how to pronounce 蝴蝶, for example.

How, then, does one remain motivated to study such a difficult language in the face of so many difficulties?

The first step is to ask yourself why you are studying the language. Does the reason still apply? Do you still need or want to learn the language?

Then you need to look at your approach and see if it needs changing. I had a tutour, but her work schedule changed and are no longer able to meet like we did before. She helped me quite a bit, and we still keep in touch via email, but I no longer have that regular time when I will be with a native speaker and receive help from that native speaker.

What materials do you have that can help you?

What other ways do you have to practice the language? My daughter is in her third year of French in high school and she's reading "The Hunger Games" in French. She uses a dictionary to find words she doesn't know, and learns them through use and repetition. At least she can look at a French word and pronounce it, and she can ask me grammar questions if she's not sure about something. She has resources readily available. I have copies of the Harry Potter books in Chinese as well as The Hunger Games books, but trying to read them is a challenge because there are so many characters that I don't recognize yet.

It goes back to the reason why I want to learn your language. It is because I love your culture and your country. I've been to China many times and I plan to go many more times. I want to be able to experience more of China, and to do that I need to know your language.

I guess I'm feeling a little discouraged right now because I'm struggling with studying. I need to find more opportunities to use the language regularly so I can improve.

I hope this will encourage others who are struggling to learn a foreign language. It's well worth the effort, especially for learning Mandarin Chinese.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

Flowers

Shake hands

Ray
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Reply Report hongjing.jiang 2013-3-22 12:58
Give you some courage to learn Chinese!!!
Reply Report springclover 2013-3-22 14:42
if you can find the regularity then you will find it is not difficuclit as you think."虫"on the left is"偏旁pianpang",if you understand the mean of the word "虫"then you can learn about the general category of a word when it's 虫 on its left,虫:insect,butterfly is a insect,so 蝴蝶has a 虫 as 偏旁。i don't know whether you can understand ,i install a "chinese-english" dictionary on my computer,when i encounter the word i cant spell,i can look up and strenghen my memory.you can try it.by the way an "  copywriting "策划文案 in small company,maybe we can help each othe learn language,Glad to meet you !
Reply Report querist 2013-3-22 20:55
hongjing.jiang: Give you some courage to learn Chinese!!!
Thank you, my friend! I need all the help I can obtain. Yours is a beautiful but difficult language.
Reply Report querist 2013-3-22 20:57
springclover: if you can find the regularity then you will find it is not difficuclit as you think."虫"on the left is"偏旁pianpang",if you under ...
Thank you for reaffirming my understanding of how the compound characters are formed. I have a Chinese-English dictionary that accepts handwriting input so I can look up characters that I don't know, so that helps me. I still struggle to memorize vocabulary, especially words that may be on the HSK but that I do not commonly use, such as 律师.

Thank you for your kind offer, and I am very happy to know you, too!
Reply Report renhuiying 2013-3-23 23:27
i am a student of english major,but i need to learn German which is a challenge for me.actually,a chinese who can speak good english is not special,but a foreign who can speak chinese well deserves reverence.and i believe "有志者事竟成"(where there is a will,there is a way).
Reply Report querist 2013-3-24 03:27
renhuiying: i am a student of english major,but i need to learn German which is a challenge for me.actually,a chinese who can speak good english is not special,bu ...
Hello Huiying!

I appreciate your vote of confidence. I think the word you want is "respect", not "reverence". The word "reverence", in English, has religious connotations and, in my opinion, is too strong of a word to use to refer to another person.

Ich kann auch ein Bißchen Deutcsh sprechen, aber nur ein Bißchen, weil ich habe Deutsch bei Hochschule studiert.
Reply Report renhuiying 2013-3-24 13:41
querist: Hello Huiying!

I appreciate your vote of confidence. I think the word you want is "respect", not "reverence". The word "reve ...
Thanks for your advice!Actually,i am a sophomore,my english is not good now.just like you ,i love english,and i will try my best to learn it.Besides,i just  begin to learn German this semster and have only learned its pronunciation.Studying in a foreign language is always hard at the beginning, but I'll get over it.
Reply Report querist 2013-3-25 20:18
renhuiying: Thanks for your advice!Actually,i am a sophomore,my english is not good now.just like you ,i love english,and i will try my best to learn it.Besides,i ...
Yes, you will make it! I studied German for many years in High School and I still use it frequently. Hard work always pays off.
Reply Report sunnylong 2013-3-28 07:54
well it is said that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages in the world. So living in China may be a best way to learn it well. I have learned English for many years. In fact for us English is not easy, either. We just practise again and again and then one day I found that I could commmunicate with foreigners. so stick to it and finally you will achieve your dream.
Reply Report querist 2013-3-28 20:40
sunnylong: well it is said that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages in the world. So living in China may be a best way to learn it well. I have learn ...
I hope so, Sunny. Thank you for your encouragement!

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querist

Ph.D. in Computer Science (Security) and also a physician, I travel to China on business a few times each year. I am learning Mandarin (and some Cantonese because I travel to HK and GZ) and intend to take the HSK in 2015 (before I turn 50).

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      • Just a short note 2014-5-10 10:24

        Vocabulary seems to be the hardest thing to learn. Chinese grammar is logical, but learning vocabulary (especially to read) is a challenge when I have few opportunities to speak the language. I really wish I could live in China for a while.

      • Just a short note 2014-4-2 12:16

        good luck to you.

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