Saturday, September 6, 2008

Level 4 -bring it on.

New book explaining grammar

Old book explaining grammar (spot any differnce?)

I went to pick up the books for my new uni course yesterday.... that was, ehum, interesting. Except for one Indonesian girl that I studied with last semester I didn't recognize any of the other students lining up to register/ask questions/buy books/complain about the characters in their books being too hard (?).

Eventually it was my turn to sign up to a class (there were only 2 classes to choose from for level 4, last semester there were 3 -I guess the students are getting less and less the higher the level u study) and get my books. When I later came home I flicked through some pages of my grammar book just to get an idea of what I was getting into, and I noticed the following:

Bad news number 1: there is no English explanations in my new books. (except for the list of new words that obviously has an English translation). In terms of texts this shouldn't be any problem, but in terms of grammar I think it's going to be really hard only to have new grammatical terms explained in Chinese.

Bad news number 2: I have to take another essay writing class (I reluctantly took one last semester) as this class is part of the program. This just feels so meaningless. If they'd let us use the computers when writing it wouldn't be so terrible, but handwriting?! Seriously? It's just too hard, not to mention time consuming?!

Bad news number 3: All books are heavy and thick: that means we'll be studying quite fast. Yikes!

Bad news number 4: In the 'speaking class' text book there's about 35-40 new words per chapter. In the grammar text book there's at least 70 (!) new words for every chapter. One word often consist of at least 2 characters. That adds up to being quite a hefty sum of characters to learn. For every chapter. Whoa.

So, these are all the bad news I can think of a.t.m.

Good news, however (because there has to be some good news... right? Or so I tell myself): I am moving forward in this slow, and painful 'learning Mandarin process' and I'll probably be able to pick up heaps of new stuff this semester. (It's all about attitude, right?)


Tina said...

I can tell you from my semesters at Xia Da, there wasn't a lick of English in our classes. All the lessons were in Chinese including the grammar.

The only thing scarier than that, was the fact that we would go through two lessons per week. That being said, you will be amazed how much you do learn and retain.

Hang in there!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Tina -the no English part is not a problem. It's been like that since level 2 I believe, much becasue the teachers don't know any English so however much they want to explain to you they can't. Therefore I'm used to turning to my dictionary. It's just the fact that the text books have no single English explanation that scares me a but. Luckily I have one of those thick 'Chinese grammar' books (that also has English) that I once bought and never opened. I bet that one will come in handy now!!!

Two chapters/week was also the case in the speaking class last semester, but not in the grammar class... I hope this stays!!! How on earth would you otherwise cope with 140 (!) -or more- characters/week?! (Seriously, how would u do it?! Your secret is safe with me! :) ) How many levels did u study at Xia Da?

Aw Guo said...

Cool. :)

Another great blog of China

Geoff said...

In general, are the fees to study subjects/courses in Chinese universities "cheap" when compared to Western countries' universities?

Also, is it difficult to win a place in a Chinese universtity?

On a different topic, are you hearing very much about the paralympics? Are they being promoted widely in China?


Anonymous said...

The sample sentences in the new textbook in your post are full of propaganda. Please post some more pages of sample sentences for grammar learning in your new Chinese textbook. I want to see how much propaganda are in them. This is very shocking. China has stepped back another 30 years, IMO. Your new textbook reminds me of the ones that I studied while growing up in China in the 60's and 70's. Comrade Jonna, please, please post a few more pages. I am very curious.

Anonymous said...

BTW, sample sentence 1 reads:

1. To help 900 million farmers in China to get rich is a very difficult task. Therefore, Chinese government has made it the most important priority.

Sample sentence #2 may tout another Beijing propaganda of pollution control. The sentence is cut off.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Comrade Jonna? Have I missed something?

Posting more extrats from my text books? Naaah, I don't think so. If you are so interested in my text books maybe u should buy them and write a blog post of your own of how much propaganda you think that they are?

Little Tiger said...

Hi Jonna!

Good luck with your new class.
I think it's a good idea that your textbook is all in Chinese. This gets your mind working and thinking in Chinese which can only be a good thing. Also looking up words in your dictionary rather than them being handed to you will make you remember them more.
Chinese technical language is somewhat repetitive as well so you will come across the same terms in the explanations and this will only boost your confidence.

I suggest you buy a medium sized paper dictionary (I use an Oxford one). Mark off the words you have learned as you go along so you have a record of what you have learned. I find this works well for me (Just to let you know my level :I'm just finishing the advanced coursebooks)

When I was in China I used to have a private teacher for 2 hours, twice a week. This was better than a class for me. Is there any reason why you want to study at universities (diploma?)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Little tiger -thanks for your advices! I use a electronic dictionary so I can't really cross of words, but I guess that could be a quite good idea. Will be tried!

Private lessons are good and all but I have found it really hard to find a good teacher. I think the teachers at the uni are quite good, not to mention harsh, and I also like that I have classes every single day. It forces me to study rather than being slack. I am not studying for any kind of diploma -just to learn the language and later use it when I eventually land my top job (dreaming now as u can hear!).

I think if I only had a private teacher I wouldn't know half of all the characters I know now. Studying together with Koreans and Japanse that can read very well, have really pushed me to also learn characters.. as I hate sitting in class and not being able to read from the text books.

How far along are you with your studies? How long have u studied for?

Anonymous said...

Jonna, I think you misunderstood me when I mentioned the propaganda in your Chinese textbook. You are in China to learn the language, not to be brainwashed. Agree? My kids are learning Chinese in America. They got new textbooks this year as well. The textbooks are published by a Chinese university for foreigners who learn Chinese Mandarin distributed by Chinese embassy free of charge. The new textbooks have way more progangada than the old ones. The very first lesson for 5th grade textbook is about going back to school. The topic sounds so appropriate for the first week of a new school year. The lesson is about a young girl going shopping for scholl supplies with her mom. She is so excited about a new school year, blah, blah... All sounds good until the last paragraph when the girl asked her mom about the label "Made in China" on every item they bought. There, the mother launched into a subtle "discussion" about how China has become the greatest nation on earth and how they should be proud of China. If that is not nationalism, I don't know what it is.

BTW, that was what Imperial Japan did with their kids before WWII.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonna,

I came across your blog while googling dentistry in Shanghai :)

I'm not quite in the same boat as you, as I am an ABC studying Cantonese at Level 3 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong full time, but I know what you mean about full on lessons!

Our term/semester started last week. Our writing/reading lesson is on Friday, and they taught us 20 new words. But since each word comes with examples of it's use, which adds another 30-40 words, it's like woah....that's enough for this term...but it's only week one!

I heard Shangahi was becoming popular with Westerners, but from what you've written, it sounds like there are hundreds of thousands of Caucasians there. Is this the case?

Kind regards,

Adrian Cheung

Jonna Wibelius said...

Adrian -there are tonnes of expats in Shanghai. In suzhou there are less but of course it feels like loads since I spend my days at the foreign student's campus.
I feel your pain with the characters. I had a rather painful experience today when we spent 5 minutes on reading the 40 new words for the chapers (meaning more than 80 characters in total) and then went straight on to the text... and the 'worse' thing is that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT in my class can read, fluently... except for me. I don't understand how they do it? Either they have some amazing memory or they have just spent hours reviewing before class. I know that I will be doing the latter from now on.