Friday, September 26, 2008

Shifting my goal from mastery to enjoyment

Recent ways of learning Chinese. Actually I find it rather stressful to set myself a mastery goal. The problem is that I find it very difficult to recognise Chinese characters once they are out of the context in which I had learned them.

Everytime I watch TV, I try to read the subtitles. I was happy to just be able to recognise the words. But they do not stay long on the screen as the dialogues are usually very fast. So I have decided to change my goal from mastery to enjoyment of the language. With this new goal, I do not get angry or upset with myself for forgetting characters I have seen or learnt before. Instead I am diversifying my reading materials so that I get to enjoy what I read.

An excellent tool I acquired recently is the Besta CD-627 Electronic Dictionary/language learning aid. It is not cheap at around $500 but it is the best thing I have ever bought in my life because its usefulness is unsurpassed! Even my son was so impressed that he said that if he had something like that while he was in school, he would certainly have done better in his Chinese examinations.
Now I rely less on the internet tools because I carry this dictionary that is the size of a wallet in my handbag everywhere. I copy the text of my learning material onto a notebook, look up words I do not know and write down the meaning as well as the hanyu pinyin of the characters. In this way I have got to enjoy reading in Chinese less laboriously. Recent endeavours include:

1 Jay Chou's songs from his Album 'Nocturne' (I obtained the entire lyrics from the internet, printed it out and hand-copied them onto a notebook)
2 Jimmy Liao's 'Love in the Cards'
3. Wakin Chou's songs.

Today, I bought a small pocket-size dictionary (Berlitz Mandarin Chinese Pocket Dictonary) that gives the hanyu pinyin for paired words as well as their meanings. I will carry this with me so that at any time when I have time to spare while waiting for people, I will look at the words at random or according to alphabet because I believe that word recognition is the result of constantly looking at the words and associating the meaning to them. When I have time I shall copy those words a few times to help them get into my long-term memory so that I will be able to recognise them if I were to see them elsewhere.

So it is not that I have lost interest in learning Chinese because I have not updated my blog for quite a number of weeks. I have just redefined my goal in learning shifting the focus from mastery to enjoyment of the language. I believe that as I get to enjoy the language, learning will gradually become a more natural and less stressful process.

No comments: