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Chinese proficiency report 8

Yes, yes, i know, it’s been over two weeks since I wrote something here and the time since I wrote something is actually even longer, because I did have some articles queued. I wish I could say that it was mostly because of a higher level of immersion in Taiwanese society, but even though that’s partly true, laziness is by far a more accurate description of why nothing has been published here fore a while. Not wanting to lag behind too much with the proficiency reports (the last one was written about 50 days ago, see my Studying Chinese page for earlier texts and much more).

So, what’s happened since the end of September? I’ve spent a lot more time speaking Chinese, especially recently (see my post about leaving the surface). I’ve also spent more time working out, which is really nice. This includes badminton, a sport I played a lot when I was younger, but stopped practicing completely for various forgotten reasons. I’ve also gradually tried to improve my reading ability by continuing my study of the 3000 most common characters in Chinese. Going through the dictionary is a huge task and I will probably take a couple of months more to complete it. There are a surprising number of characters I’ve never even seen! Anyway, enough of that and over to the reporting.

Speaking: Regarding pronunciation and speaking, I feel like I’ve made great progress since the beginning of this semester, but it’s been an unexpected kind of development. I’ve found out a lot of problems I weren’t aware of before and done my best to correct them. I seem to have reached a new stage where at least I’m aware of the problems I’m having and try to do my best to remove them. This is very hard and taxes the mind enormously, even when chatting. Still, I think I learn a lot, mostly because I have such nice people in my life that are patient and willing to help me out. Thanks! The road ahead is still arduous and far from straight, but I’m moving in the right direction now at least.

Listening: Although I have recently started to listen to radio a lot, I can’t say I feel any difference yet. I still think it’s super hard to understand Chinese out o f context, but fairly easy once I’m in the conversation or familiar with the speaker. I need to listen a lot more though, but I don’t expect it to pay off until much, much later. Hopefully I’ll be able to say something more positive after a thousand hours listening or so.

Writing: Nothing new here. I think I’m able to write gradually more complicated texts and still get my meaning across, but I feel no big difference, probably because I’ve only written a few thousand characters since the previous report. I keep trying, though, but speaking and listening takes precedence for now.

Reading: It’s difficult to feel reading improve, because I spend so much time doing it. At the same time, course material comes in a wide variety of difficulty levels, which further complicates things. Of course, I’m still improving and probably at a higher tempo than last time I wrote about this. I’ve spent lots of time with characters and learn much more than required by my courses and teachers. Still, I keep being astonished by the sheer number of characters I encounter that I’ve never seen before (usually, new words contain characters I know or have seen, but in new combinations).

In numbers, I have 7600 words in my database now, compared with 6400 last time I reported. That’s 1200 new words in 50 days (or roughly 24/day), which isn’t bad, but still below what I know can handle. Trough studying the dictionary and Practical Audio-Visual Chinese 5 on the side, I expect this figure to increase at a similar rate in the near future. I suppose it has to level off at some point, but not before I can handle basic Chinese.

That’s all for this time, I’ll probably get back to you at the end of this semester, which would be in a month or so!

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