One of the most challenging things I have encountered while learning Chinese these past months is being able to form and comprehend long-ish sentences, even with simple vocabulary. If I compare how I have studied Chinese until now (even with Flexiclasses) with how I learned English as a kid/teenager (English is not my native language), I can see a difference in the amount of sentences I practice on each study session or class is very different. I remember having notebooks and notebooks full of sentences and fill in the blank exercises each course year, but with Chinese I’m lucky if I make 20-30 sentences in a whole lesson. Usually the PDF’s for the lessons have a couple of dialogues with very nice sentences that feature that lesson’s grammar and new words perfectly, but I feel like I would need 10 of those dialogues to be able to actually become “fluent” with those words or grammar patterns (which is not feasable on those class resources).
Maybe the way I learned English 15-20 years ago (lots of homework, exams and continuity of teachers and topics between classes) and the way I’m learning Chinese today is just different and I need to get used to this. The only way I can think of doing this with Flexi Classes is booking the same lesson several times but the content of the PDF would be the same so it wouldn’t be too different than just studying it at home.
What would you recommend me to improve on this? Do you have any resources that I could take a look at? Maybe textbooks that use this “lots of sentences and repeated writing” kind of approach to use along Flexi Classes? One of my main issues is that I have never been a good “student” meaning I don’t have a solid study method, I just remember things after repeating them a lot for a long time… so maybe that’s where I need to improve lol
Good morning and thanks a lot for that question.
English and Mandarin are quite different learning experiences for a European language speaker, so they are very hard to compare. I studied Engish back then and today I wouldn’t say anymore I was learning a foreign language, but more a dialect of my native tongue (German) because they are so incredibly similar. A bit less so, but in the end also the same with French and Italian. Learning Mandarin is a completely different ballgame.
My first thought would be to try to study Mandarin with the same intensity you studied English back then. The more intensively you study the more automatic repetition you get in. Vocab you learned in one class with naturally be repeated in the next lesson. If you study the same 100 Flexi Classes in 6 months or 2 months, you will make much more progress with the two months program because you do not forget as fast due to the frequent repetition.
Mastering 20-30 sentences in one lesson is a lot for Mandarin, so I would not worry that you are not doing enough sentences per class.
Another one is practicting sentences with spaced repetition, for example with Anki. Practicing whole sentences (not just words). Have a look at the LTL Anki decks on Anki Decks Chinese (Download Now) // FREE Decks For Anki
The third point would be to use your Mandarin in real life. In the end thats the only way to really practice Chinese a lot. I am not sure how much in your environment this is possible, but movies, changing your phone into Mandarin, chatting etc. are all helpful.
If you cannot get native speakers to talk to, booking a 1on1 class to just “talk freely” about a topic you are interested in is a great way to get more practice in.
I hope those help - hang in there, learning Mandarin is frustrating and literally every fluent Mandarin speaker I know at some point (more likely at dozens) thought was 100% convinced that they are physically not capable of learning this language and it is simply impossible to do this.
That definitely included me…
Great question - a year or so ago I started investigating “Sentence Mining” as a way to learn and everyone online gave it great reviews. I think that logically it seems a really great way to learn, but I gave up after not finding many easy to use resources.
If you try searching for “Chinese sentence mining” you might find some good stuff. I used some Anki flashcard sets you could look up: “Chinese sentence mining” and “Yoyo chinese 50 common chinese phrases”
Our colleague Alex speaks about 20 languages and always credits sentence mining with tools like Anki as a reason for his success.
I still haven’t actually downloaded Anki which is lazy of me but I must admit I’ve found with Italian learning sentences helped me understand their incredibly difficult grammar!!
The last time I spoke to my English language exchange partner (British English @Max ), he showed me Brainscape. He enters all my German sentences there. I found this software very convincing right away, so I am trying out Brainscape today. To use all the functions, it costs though. So maybe I will have a look at Anki as well. I tried it a few decades ago and found it too much work to enter all my vocabulary words, but had never thought of sentences. And I really recommend chinesimple HSKx PRO. There is a lot of sentence and stories exercises.
A full list of all the LTL Anki decks (created by Alex, our language Wunderkind who after working all day in a language school goes home and studies more languages and speaks now some 20 of them), have a look at Shared by Author - AnkiWeb
He will keep adding more there in the next few days too.
Looks like sentence mining and Anki it is! Thanks everyone!
Thank you for the Link to Alex’s Anki deck! It looks like a good collection for sentence mining.
I found LTL’s own blog on basic Chinese grammar Basic Chinese Grammar // A Simple Guide To Grammar (With Quiz) (ltl-xian.com). I might recommend drilling sentences and reviewing the basic rules. A little theory and a lot of practice go a long way.
I also like some of the resources on AllSet’s Chinese Grammar Wiki. Here is the page on basic grammar. Sentence Patterns - Chinese Grammar Wiki (allsetlearning.com). The charts show to build sentences using different elements of Chinese grammar. However, there is no pinyin, so if you do not recognize the characters it will take longer to work through the examples.
Yes, we are spending quite a lot of time creating Anki decks for sentence mining at the moment. If you like them, please give a thumbs up and maybe leave a comment.
Its quite a lot of work and its very motivating to see positive comments on there for the people who are doing them (mainly Alex).
We are currently building a Chinese grammar bank too. A lot of stuff to come.
Really cool! I just downloaded it and found that some cards are in traditional characters is there a quick way to fix this to have only simplified ones? I am not that familiar with Anki yet, so maybe there is a quick fix I do not know. Or a workaround (e.g., download transform in excel, upload to Anki again). Any ideas?
Update: I exported it as CSV, however importing it to Excel always leads to some mess as regardless which origin region you choose it misinterprets more or less characters. Do you have the original raw data? cause transforming traditional to simplified characters should not be too difficult…
Welcome to Flexi Forum. It’s great to have you with us.
We are gradually change the decks to be only in Simplified when possible. As there are quite a few cards, some might fall through, so any notice for which cards have traditional would be appreciated, and we are happy to change those.
If you are looking for a way to do this on your own, you can also export the deck into an Excel, and then using a Traditional to Simplified convert online, change all of them to Simplified and them upload again as a deck to Anki (make sure that you keep all the fields, including the audio ones, as otherwise you might lose it if you only upload an Excel with Front and Back fields)
cool! I can send you a couple of examples if you like. I did not manage to properly import them into excel, do you have any tips or tricks how to do that? I exported from Anki to CSV, but when importing into excel you have to choose the “origin” (I think is the term they use) when using European it is only question marks (understandably as there is a limited number of Chinese characters used in every day German/English/French… ) However, even when I tried all the other versions of Chinese (traditional/simplified/ISO this/ISO that), none would yield something without weird characters in between once in a while (most entries are fine). And in that case I’d still prefer to have traditional characters rather than gibberish. Hope I explained this in a way others can understand - let me know if not!
There’s an Export Notes option in the Browser. Exporting to CSV is correct, although keep in mind that in certain computers it might not automatically show correctly. In this case, another workaround is to export into text, and open that text inside Chrome or another browser first, and then save it as a new file with a Unicode/UTF-8 format, so that it can keep the Asian fonts.
Alternatively, if the examples you found are not a huge amount, you can just let me know a few examples, and I can adjust from here for all cards that have those characters and reupload almost immediately