This is How I Study: Tips on Learning Chinese from an Advanced Student [ENG Subs]


All right…my name is Wei Si Ming I’m from Michigan State I live in Grand Rapids but I grew up in Utah Now, I’m in my third year at Yale. I study Chinese Literature and Theory of Literature. Well, when I was in high school, my high school required us to have one year, at least one year where we study a foreign language. so, they had around 4 choices Spanish, French, they had Arabic, and then they had Chinese. I thought… which one of those was most interesting? Of course, it was Chinese. So, I chose Chinese. You can say that the start of my learning was kind of by chance. but I quickly fell in love with the Chinese language. well, I, very quickly got really into Chinese. In my opinion, the Chinese language has a great “artistic value”. also, I found tones fascinating. furthermore, in high school I went on an exchange to Beijing for one semester. I feel that, yes, from that point onwards I found the Chinese language fascinating. moreover, Chinese culture is also very interesting. when compared to “western culture”, one could say that the two cultures are polar opposites. so I felt that that difference was something worth learning about. when I got to Yale, I attended a class on “Dream of Red Mansions ” (we studied) the translation of “Dream of Red Mansions” I fell in love with “”Dream of Red Mansions” so I thought I ought to continue studying Chinese literature and the Chinese language. so…I don’t really like to cram my study time into one chunk I don’t like cramming or staying up late into the night. I feel that it’s not beneficial to long term Chinese study I much rather studying “anytime” I really like using different sources On Facebook, I follow a lot of (Chinese) news…for example… studying all the time, anytime also, for classes at school, I feel that the best method is to take advantage of different opportunities to chat with other students. I’m very luck because Yale has a large population of Chinese students. so I feel that I ought to really take advantage of this opportunity. because I feel that speaking is the most important thing to do. Simply put, Pleco! Of course. yeah, yeah, because I’m always very inquisitive about Chinese so I’m like, “how do I say twerk in Chinese”… I’ll just give it a quick Pleco “what’s the term for twerk”, it’s very interesting… F: I also didn’t think of that. so in my day, Pleco is very useful. but you need to be careful F: why do you say that? don’t rely on Pleco also, when you are using (something you looked up on) Pleco, don’t just use it mindlessly I find that using Pleco as practice is best I often use the character writing tool when I am using Pleco, to practice things like stroke order I think that’s something that’s also very important when I am reading a textbook or different practices in class I think that the most important thing is to “think in Chinese” because, when I’m reading a book and I see that there is a lot of vocabulary rather than saying, (in English) “What does this word mean?” I ask (in Chinese) “what’s the meaning of this word?” so, you’re not learning Chinese through English, you’re learning Chinese with Chinese so I think that’s the best method so, when I’m learning Chinese, I really focus on speaking ability so, I feel like I developed a confidence to speak in Chinese quite early on. I think that’s very important, but you could say that’s I’m not that great at writing Chinese characters. But I think that the foundation to Chinese is the relationship between your ear and the language and I feel that that connection for me, that’s something I think I have a good grasp on I think that’s the foundation to Chinese I think that’s my strong suit but, Chinese characters, have always been difficult for me. remembering how to write them has always been difficult for me but we now have the opportunity to type, and I think that’s great so, I’m not too nervous about that, even though that’s a weak point in my studies. Yes, and when we are at University, the focus is very much on writing characters and writing essays so I ought to do some self study and you should try and find opportunities to discuss things with your classmates if you are just in your room, figuring out to complete your essay that isn’t a great foudnation from that perspective, studying abroad is very important because you are interacting with local people Chinese is their native tongue and they are very friendly to foreigners they find out you are studying Chinese and think it’s great and if you have good pronunciation, they are all very pleasantly surprised so that was something that really gave me the motivation to keep studying Chinese if you are studying Chinese in American you might not come across those opportunities someone giving you feedback on your Chinese I feel that for me, my emphasis is developing a curiosity (for Chinese) so, what I feel that works for me, is to find things that are interesting to me so, if I were to study “business Chinese”, I might find that a bit boring. but my expertise is in literature, I find that I try and utilise any opportunity to look into (Chinese) literature so i think that (studying something you are interested in) is a great method also, if you don’t like studying Chinese, why continue learning it? so I think that developing a genuine interest in Chinese is very important I think that if you focus on talking to people if you are studying business Chinese, you’ll need to use colloquialisms, you’ll need to talk doing business is communicating with others so I think one should focus on opportunities to speak but, some students don’t have these opportunities, it can be rare you should…the internet is a great resource you can find classmates you can find many other people that are studying Chinese and chat to them because I find that studying Chinese by yourself can be quite tough learning anything by yourself could be that way in that respect, I think Chinese is very special because us Chinese students we all face the same challenge it’s a very special challenge tones, Chinese characters can all be very difficult so we are all on the same path so we have a shared sense of identity/acknowledgement it’s like a club a Chinese study club F: “Chinese characters are so difficult, I know…” simply put, “slow down” or, “to have patience” because, often, when you are studying Chinese that process can be quite slow you can’t just, very quickly learn a lot of vocabulary it can be a slow and frustrating process so, patience is very important The first year I was studying Chinese, I realised I couldn’t say anything I was just learning Pinyin or whatever I didn’t know how to introduce myself then, during the second and third year, I still didn’t know how to express myself it did feel somewhat troublesome but, now, I feel that it’s been worth it “wow, your Chinese is excellent” well, there’s been a lot of those, of course… when I was on my exchange in Beijing my teacher, at the beginning of the semester had just got married, she was very happy but, she when she told us, I said… “how’s being divorced?” I wanted to say “hun1li3” for wedding, I wanted to say “How was the wedding?” but I said, “How was the divorce?”, and she said that “I’m not divorced yet!”

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