Saturday, November 17, 2007

Learning multiple languages 自相矛盾

A couple of people have asked me about the languages I am learning, because I occaisionally mention Cantonese and Japanese. Well to be honese the Japanese was fun but it is currently on hold. I think I was enticed by the wonderful feeling I was getting as I started to understand basic Mandarin and wanted to extend that into another language. However it now feel that to truly master Mandarin (at least to the extent of my ambition) I need to give it the main focus of my free time. I hope to maintain the first steps I have made in Japanese to return to it at a later date.

Maybe when you get to an intermediate level in a language the dynamics change and the things you have to do to improve change also. It seems very tempting to start an new language from scratch and get the familiar buzz from those early milestones achived. For me though this can only retard my progress in Mandarin.

Now having said all that I am going to confess to still pursuing Cantonese, this is at a slower pace than Mandarin studies and a different style. I have many reasons. Which I will explain in a later post, but in summary it is commonly spoken by many overseas Chinese, it forces me to stay true to my original beliefs of starting from spoken language (learn to read what you already know and don't directly associate sound to hanzi), it eventually puts me in the same position as many Chinese people (able to speak Mandarin and at least one other Chinese language), and lastly it is fun.

The main problem is that there are not the same resources for Cantonese, so after completing the Pimsleur course, I am hoping I can bootstrap from Mandarin (films with subs. and soundtracks for both Mandarin and Cantonese speakers etc.). Also jump in the deepend and use resources like those supplied by Marcelo, for example I know this Chengyu very well in Mandarin and here I have text and audio in Cantonese.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mojiti again

I am returning to Mojiti again. I think it is a great potential resource for language learning. John has also played with it. As John points out it can be a little time consuming particularly at first but I believe it makes a great tool in the learning Chinese arsenal. You can create your own little excercises and projects and at a level that suits you, these are far more powerful and interesting than any homework you might be set in a class or an excercise from a text book.

My next Mojiti project is to finish transcribing the following video, I figure if I post it here I will have to finish it (I have been rather busy recently and only made a quick start so far). I will be fairly hard work, although I know what she is saying (a least a pretty good idea) that is not the same as being able to write a character by character transcript, there are a few areas I am going to find quite sticky. Transcribing in Chinese is most important for me then I will do an English translation set like I did with the last song I did. Basically she is talking about the definition of beauty, the proliforation of beauty products, chat shows talking about dieting beauty products haircuts etc., beauty product adverts, changing yourself this way won't provide deep lasting happiness, if she changed her eyelids (I think) it wouldn't make her any happier in the long run, friends and family will love you for what you are, everyone has their own personal beauty etc. etc.

When I get round to finishing it I will put a transcription on my study materials blog also. This is the nearest thing a self learner like me gets to homework.