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The best way to turn your Chinese learning into active knowledge – writing a journal!

Posted by Grace Feng on July 5, 2012

I’ve been asked about how to turn newly learned Chinese characters into active knowledge instead of passive knowledge. In another word, how could you recall a Chinese character or word on your own when you need it? The problem my reader has is he can only recognize the character when he actually sees it. However he can’t bring it up in his mind when he needs it.

I believe this is not an isolated case, I’ve seen quite a few other people were asking the same question in other forums. It’s worth a post to talk about it.

As I mentioned in the beginning, passive knowledge is something that you only recognize when you see it. Your brain can build the connection from the shape of the character to its definition. However, if you don’t pay effort to build connection from its definition to its shape, the connection is only one way traffic, not bidirectional.

To build the connection from its definition to its shape, you need to train your brain to get used to that specific traffic. In my opinion, building connections based on a word is much easier than a single character. Building connection based on usage is much easier than on definition.

For example, if you want to remember character 学 xué (learn), it’s much easier to remember 学习 xuéxí (study) as a word. Why? Because that way, you can actually use 学习 xuéxí  to build sentences under various context and practice any way you want. A word usually contains more practical meaning than a character, which will make it easier for you to picture it in your mind and memorize. If you only learn single characters, it’ll be harder for you to build practical sentences to practice and re-enforce your memory.

As I suggested, writing a journal in Chinese can be a practical routine for you to reuse what you’ve learned. One thing you need to remember is: Try to use the knowledge that you just learned and need to be re-enforced desperately. Keep it short and focused. You even can make up some thing in your journal. It doesn’t matter whether your journal is a true reflection of your real life. Let it be creative and study oriented. Keep it in mind that the goal of your journal is a place that you can think and talk in Chinese any way you want.

If you want to make your journal more interactive, you can also register to a free blogging space and publish your journal there so people might drop in and leave some comment to make it more interesting. If you’d like to receive comments in Chinese, go choose logging providers from Chinese
Web sites, such as weibo.com, www.weebly.comblog.hexun.com etc.

The following is a simple example of what a Chinese journal for practicing Chinese would look like. Again, it’s ALL up to you whatever you want to write about.

The best way to turn your Chinese learning into active knowledge - writing a journal!

A friendly reminder: If your journal become “too political “, there is a risk that it’ll be closed by Web Site authorities if it’s hosted on a Chinese Web Site. Therefore, if you’re interested in writing about very political topics, choose a non Chinese blogging provider then.

 

 

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How she coached actress to deliver Chinese lines in "Shanghai Calling" in two weeks
Learning by reading - David's Chinese learning method

 

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4 Responses to “The best way to turn your Chinese learning into active knowledge – writing a journal!”

  1. nothing

    白睿:

    07-06-2012 3:23 pm

    Hi Grace, 我觉得这可能是一个很有效率的建议。虽然到现在我还没用过这个方法,但是近二、三个星期来我也觉得我要开始写一个日志。最近在网上我碰到的这个多语言的网站:http://lang-8.com/它的目的是帮助学外语的人互相交流,互相提高他们的语言水平。
    我同意你的看法对写关于政治的内容,用一台中国网站,写一下关于政治的事情真缺少礼貌呀。另外,如果你能够对政界写出你的看法来,我觉得你的中文水平已经够用了:)

    白睿

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      07-07-2012 4:07 am

      白睿,

      你说的这个网站我看了一下还蛮有意思的. 如果总有人能帮你及时修改文章那真的会很有帮助.

      我个人认为每个人的政治主张都是个人自由, 你在你的博客上发表什么样的政治言论也都是个人的事情, 只要不侵犯他人, 不扰乱社会, 没有什么不可以. 但是中国的网站被政府干预得较多, 所以政治上很敏感的话题很可能会被强行删除. 要避免这种情况就还是用非中国网站安全一些.

      你的中文水平已经足够对政界写出看法了, 如果你阅读了足够多的政论方面的东西, 当然可以写相关的文章. :-)

      Remember, if you always say “Yes, I can!”, then sky is your limit. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  2. nothing

    Mandarin Interpreter:

    07-17-2014 7:18 am

    I decided to go online and add a section which mentioned talking to some friends we met, both of whose parents work for the Governement, about Tibet, Taiwan, the Dalai Lama and Chinese autocracy.

    Reply

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