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Learning by reading – David’s Chinese learning method

Posted by Grace Feng on November 11, 2015

Learning by reading - David's Chinese learning methodThis is a guest post by David, the owner of clozecards.com. He will share with you the challenges he experienced in learning Chinese and the method he developed to help him to achieve success in his study. I fully believe it will benefit other learners with similar challenges.

My name is David and like many others, I struggled to get the grasp of the Chinese language. Frustrated with lack of progress from studying on my own, I turned to online tutors. Speaking to another human helped tremendously but even with my tutor’s valiant efforts at explaining grammar and word meanings, I still struggled to get a deep understanding of the material we covered. Seeing examples seemed to be the best way of cementing words into my brain and I often said “Don’t just tell how this word is used, show me!” A deeper understanding of characters is often required when reading. For example, this next sentence uses ‘谢’ to mean ‘wither’ instead of the much more common ‘thanks’ meaning.

花都谢了。 The flowers have all withered.

In the above sentence, ‘花’ mean ‘flowers’ but it can also mean ‘to spend’:

你一共花了多少钱? What is the total amount of money you spent?

For me, seeing such examples helped much more than just being told the different meanings of a word.
What’s more, after each lesson, a lot of what I had just learned drained from my brain like water through a sieve. I would be lucky if I could remember half of the vocabulary when I reviewed previous lessons. Fortunately, I’m not the first with this problem and utilizing flashcard software is a popular solution. Anki, the flashcard program, became my trusty companion for a while but the number of cards I wanted to study quickly grew unmanageable. I tried other software — like iKnow.jp — but nothing felt right. This is when I decided to find my own path. I knew I wanted something with these features:

  • Massive number of examples. Words and grammar should always be taught in the context of a complete sentence.
  • Seamless reviews. Learning a word just to forget it tomorrow is no good; review should therefore be interspersed with study.
  • Goal directed learning. Learning Chinese is a monumental task. Working towards smaller, tangible goals (such as reading a short story or moving up an HSK level) is paramount.
  • Skill appropriate examples. Seeing an example you cannot read is no good. Examples should be chosen based on your current vocabulary.

As of writing this, I’ve collected more than 50,000 examples, created courses covering short stories (like “The Little Red Riding Hood”) and HSK levels 1 to 6, and you can use it for free at: https://clozecards.com/.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Learning by reading – David’s Chinese learning method”

  1. nothing

    Caroline Lee:

    04-03-2016 11:36 am

    Wow! Clozecards is amazing. I just looked at it today. I will use this every day now. I’m truly grateful that this amazing tool is free and so accessible. :)

    Reply

  2. nothing

    Choco:

    05-03-2016 3:43 am

    Thanks for this amazing resource. You have given me hope of mastering Mandarin as this is how I learn best, too :)

    Reply

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