I know Japanese so when I started learning Korean, 6 years ago, even though I couldn’t even read hangul well, I could use Google Translate to translate Korean articles on K-pop into Japanese, and even though the machine translation wasn’t perfect, I could understand about 80 % because Japanese and Korean have similar word order and they share similar words. So when people said there was no way I could learn Korean on my own without migrating to Korea, I wasn’t worried that much because I was already ‘reading’ Korean news.
But for Chinese, sadly, I can’t start learning from reading the news. I also tried starting from translating pop songs in Chinese that I liked but it wasn’t working well, either. The tones, the consonants, the word orders, the Chinese characters, they’re all difficult. I only got massive headache and I ended up remembering nothing.
It was hard for me to accept that there was no other way for me than to memorize one by one from ‘easy words’ and hope that I could build up my skills from there.
Those people who can speak Chinese after just learning it for few hours… they must have special talents, at least talents for differentiating Chinese sounds and also very good memory. If you think about it, speaking Chinese in 2 hours is easy… if you can remember and pronounce what you’ve just learned, right? I mean, if you can remember 你好 (hello), you can say 你好. Even a long sentence actually consists of small chunks. If you can remember the small chunks, you can make a long sentence… and impress people.
I can’t even say 你好 properly and I keep making Papago confused.
When people ask me how to start learning Japanese or Korean, I tell them to just start, from wherever they are, and now I will follow my own advice with Chinese.
I’m trying not working too hard (because willpower doesn’t last very long) but it doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything to learn Chinese. The memorization tips book says that brain remembers things that are repeated… ‘effortlessly’. So all I need to do is find a new routine that will make sure the repetition happens, right?
So this is my new routine…
Tools I use:
- a Chinese word book for introductory level, from which I learn 8 words a day
- Chinese – Korean dictionary app on my Samsung tablet, to make flashcards (got it free from Samsung app market) so I can ‘recall’ and see those words again when I have spare time during the day
- Google music player on my tablet, to make playlist of audio files of word I have learned
- Naver Translate http://translate.naver.com (something similar to Google Translate, with better audio)
Basically, every morning, I make new flashcards on the dictionary app, add 1 audio to my music playlist and play the playlist on repeat and say the words out loud when I wash the dishes or do the ironing, and later, I quiz myself while watching TV or before bed.
It’s day 4 and I have memorized 32 Chinese words ‘effortlessly’. I do make effort to memorize but it doesn’t feel hard.
The word book doesn’t provide audio for the sample sentences. I don’t have the ability yet to listen to sentences anyway so it’s OK. But I think, even though I can’t pronounce the sentences correctly, to be able to type them is cool, too, so when I have time to sit down in front of the computer, I type the Chinese sentences on Naver Translate and click Listen to make it read them to me.
I’m just glad I enjoy studying Chinese again.
That’s all. 再见。###