How do you study Chinese?

#1
Hi all!

My name is Luciano, I come from Italy. I have been studying Chinese for 3 years.

I am HSK 6 now and I have learn Chinese in a variety of ways, including following online websites, going through books, downloading various apps. And then I studied 1 year in Shanghai.

I talked to many other students, and realise that there are so many ways out there that you can learn Chinese now. I have become very interested in the answes.

It would be great if you could answer the below questions and share your experiences! Thank you!

  • What is your HSK Level (approximately)

  • Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)


  • How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?



  • What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?



  • Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?



  • How do you keep studying interesting?



  • Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
 
#2
Hi Luciano

I think that's a good idea; however, you can already find many answers to your questions by reading posts on the forums.

  • What is your HSK Level (approximately)
Should be between levels 5 and 6, though I don't like to study for HSK or take the HSK test (I just did some mock tests), simply because it's designed to test for speed, not for a more profound feeling for the language.

  • Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
I prefer to study on my own, don't really need a school, similar to you. :)

  • How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?
Used to be about 15-20 hours, now it's much less, since my curiosity about the Chinese language has been satisfied. Now it's less about that. Since I don't need the language much currently, I'm just keeping it alive until there's a real, practical need for me to study it more.

  • What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?
Only Pleco and Wenlin. Don't really like the Podcast sites, I find them mostly too superficial, and they're impossible to concentrate on properly if listened to in the gym, etc.

  • Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?
Well, the New Practical Chinese Reader had exercise books, they were repetitive but useful, so I did them.

  • How do you keep studying interesting?
By doing things you're interested in. Like reading interesting, well-written Chinese texts. For example, I like the author 阎连科, I think I'm going to learn a lot from reading some of his books.

  • Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
I have; some song lyrics, say from Faye Wong or 王菲, I sometimes found a little hard to make sense of. I think the reason is that these song lyrics are a bit like poems, and poems just are information-dense, they skip the context, which you have to fill in with your own (cultural) knowledge, which is of course limited at first. So it's better to watch movies, TV series or read books in prose form because there, you usually do have context that you can use to get a feeling for how words are used.

Now, I suggest you answer some of your questions yourself.

Cheers, Shun
 
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#3
  • What is your HSK Level (approximately)
    Should be around HSK 6 (Taiwan equivalent)
  • Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
    I study by myself.

  • How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?
    About 15-20 hours of actual studying, and maybe as much of passive learning (watching TV, talking with colleagues/friends, etc)

  • What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?
    Pleco for learning new characters.

  • Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?
    For the first 2-3 years, I studied those Chinese books (there are 5 of them) http://www.fluentu.com/blog/chinese...t-chinese-textbooks-for-chinese-learners4.jpg
    Now I read normal books and focus on expending my vocabulary and also improving my reading speed
  • How do you keep studying interesting?
    I have set extremely high goals that I can only reach through hard work

  • Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
Books, reading news on the web, watching movies and going to KTV. I like to do all those!​
 
#4
What is your HSK Level (approximately)
No idea :)
Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
Local church as a child, USC and Fudan.
How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week
0.5 at most :(
What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese
Pleco and Wenlin. mdbg.net on rare occasions.
How do you keep studying interesting?
By carrying on conversations with native Chinese speakers.
Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies?
Mainly Chinese dramas (China and Taiwan). Great way to keep up with modern slang and colloqialisms (depending on the drama).
 
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#5
What is your HSK Level (approximately)
5 at least, but defo not 6.

Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
"Me, myself and I" school with some help from native teachers via iTalki. See http://www.surrendercontrol.com/2017/11/a-nerds-progress-on-learning-chinese.html if you care.

How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?
That's a toughie, never clocked it. When I used Anki, it was at least an hour a day, half an hour of that was Anki. Currently - probably the same, but spent mostly reading textbooks (still cannot read native materials and I believe this isn't possible even past HSK6, so it will be another couple of years :) )

What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?
This year - predominantly Pleco for looking up words. ChinesePod for background listening ("Upper intermediate"/"Advanced").

Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?
Nope, I made sporadic attempts to "learn" to recognise the sound and the most common meanings of single characters, but these efforts never lasted more than a couple of months. It is extremely boring :)

How do you keep studying interesting?
At this stage - by selecting reading texts that are interesting for me, same goes for textbooks. I read textbooks' grammar explanations (in Chinese) mostly because I think they are interesting as well, both the rather 书语 language and the usage examples they come with. Again, my current way of learning is just reading as much in Chinese as I can read without completely losing interest.

Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
Songs - nope. Books - trying to get into comics/teenagers books (they are easier language- and character-wise), but haven't found much interesting stuff in that area - long not a teenager etc. Articles - native ones are too hard, and using crutches like Zhongwen popup dict defeats the purpose very quickly. Movies - tried but gave up - they are both boring if understandable or completely indecipherable even with subs. TBH I located simplified Chinese subs for a series I liked in the past - Stargate SG-1 but still am not able to read the titles at real life speed and pausing every 5 seconds is a killer. Probably in a couple of years movies will become a more plausible avenue of learning for me (my Chinese will improve)
 
#6
What is your HSK Level (approximately)
Somewhere between 2 and 4 reading/writing and about 1-3 listening.
Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
香港中文大学 for the start. Self study now using the Chinese Made Easy 2nd edition textbooks.
How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?
7-14
What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?
Pleco. I don't really use any other websites.
Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?
Various readers of varying difficulties - from 300 words to 1200 words. I'm trying to get a better feel for reading the language by reading actual text. Sinolingua has a lot of great resources for Simplified Chinese learning.
How do you keep studying interesting?
Sheer dogged determination and the thrill of being able to understand something that was completely gibberish and impossible to understand before.
Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
Books, so I can take my time to go through the text. I'm still not good enough at listening to catch the meanings. Stopping and playing back slowly is just annoying. That's my fault for not putting more effort into speaking/listening.
 
#7
What is your HSK Level (approximately) Somewhere between 5 and 6

Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
Studied at 青岛大学 for a year, now self study.

How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?
Probably about 10 hours reading novels and about 15 hours watch TV programs. Actual textbook time maybe a couple of hours.

What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?
Pleco , Chairman's Bao, You Tube.

Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?
Used to use flashcards but not really much anymore.

How do you keep studying interesting?
I'm very stubborn and don't give up easily. You kind of need that to get over the mountain climb of learning vocab. But it does get easier and now I can read novels and understand TV programs it's pretty interesting.

Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
Not really from songs but definitely from books and movies. With books I started off with the Chinese Reader series which helped immensely. It gives you the stepping stones to get to a decent level. I watch the news every day which was initially extremely difficult but now my brain has got used to it and my listening comprehension has gone up enormously.
 
#8
Hi roujiamo,

wow, thank you, this is very candid and motivating! I think one important lesson from this is that studying for long stretches which lie close together is so much better than studying irregularly; it creates an additive effect of being able to remember and combine words one had just recently seen into an ever-larger whole, words which would otherwise have been forgotten again before being remembered/put to use. In my case, it's certainly true that 3-5 hours per week of studying/reading for five yearswould not allow me to reach the same skill level as 15-20 hours per week for one year.

I am currently not studying that much, but would like to pick it up again once. Another example: Some years ago, there was also a young Frenchman called Julien Gaudfroy a.k.a. 朱力安, who said he studied 10 hours a day for 5 years, speaks extremely well, and was in Chinese TV shows all over. This is what concentrated studying, where little is forgotten in the process, can do.

Cheers and thanks again,

Shun
 
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#9
  • What is your HSK Level (approximately)
    Somewhere between 3 and 4 on vocabulary but only 2 or 3 on listening
  • Where do you study Chinese? (which school?)
    Self Study

  • How many hours do you spend studying Chinese per week?
    Recently I have gotten serious about learning Chinese so about 15 to 20 hours


  • What apps/websites do you use for studying Chinese? What do you use them for?
    Though I have had Pleco for a long time I only recently started using it and understanding its strengths. I have been using the TrainChinese app for many years. I now use Du Chinese to read and for listening. I listen to the programs by Slow Chinese on YouTube, for listening comprehension improvement. I have used numerous programs like Chinese Class 101 but I don't really like them all that much though they are useful.


  • Apart from textbooks do you use any other learning materials (eg. worksheets) to study? What do you use and why?
    Just a lot of writing paper to learn to write the characters. I find writing characters has given me a much better understanding of characters and how they are put together.


  • How do you keep studying interesting?
    That is a good question. Just the motivation to learn. It seems the more I learn the more interesting it becomes. Like learning to write the characters, It has really improved my motivation because of the improved understanding but mostly because I always thought that learning the characters would be impossible for me. As it turns out the more you learn the easier it becomes.


  • Have you tried to learn Chinese by using Chinese songs/books/articles/movies? How did it go? If not, why not?
  • Listening has always been a problem. I know the common advice has been to listen to Chinese as much as possible but it was always a waster to sit and listen to something I could not understand. I think you have to reach a certain tipping point in vocabulary before there is benefit. I have just started to watch Chinese films and I am hoping that I will get something out of them now.
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