Reverse Mandarin Tree! (I love my owl)
I cannot believe I finished this tree. It looked like the biggest mountain when I started it. According to Duo, it took about 7 months, and I spent a month or two before that looking at some basics, which turned out to be necessary to do a reverse course in a new writing system. I didn't do lessons regularly: several times my brain got so overloaded with new vocabulary that I had to go off and study from other sources until I was ready to continue. But it is an amazing course. I have learned so much – thank you to the contributors for all your hard work and for sharing your knowledge.
I kept several files of notes as I worked through this one, partly for sentences that I couldn't quite follow the grammar on, partly to have a record of measure words or classifiers that I'd seen used with different nouns, and other odds and ends. You need to know the classifiers, and while there are books and other references out there for them, they can feel like wading into a jungle of information that you can't connect with. Having a list words I'd learned and notes on classifiers I'd seen with them helped me start pulling some of that together. Now when I look at those tables and lists etc., it's easier to connect to things I've learned in context.
Much of the undeciphered grammar has fallen into place over time, sometimes with the help of other resources, but there are still things I'm not certain about, and lots of vocabulary I don't yet have a confident command over, so I'm going to continue to regild my tree as I keep studying and practicing Mandarin.
I consider this my first real tree because while I did the Spanish and reverse Spanish, I knew lots of Spanish upon arriving here. With Mandarin though, I feel like I really went through the program.
The only thing I really regret is not having kept a journal. I would love to go back and see which resources I started using when. Maybe I'll get that together for my next major project.
Thanks again to the course contributors and all the Mandarin speakers who've answered questions I've had (so far!) along the way!
Congratulations my friend. As more and more people begin to request the Mandarin course for English speakers, you actually utilized what the site already has, the reverse tree, to supplement your learning. No excuses now :P! But seriously, you must have worked hard to connect the points of knowledge from Duolingo and other resources all on yourself. I certainly hope the Mandarin course come about ASAP, so that people who are interested can have an easier time. I, for one, cannot imagine to learn e.g., French starting with the English course for French speakers. Kudos!
Thanks yangluphil! Both for your comment here and your helpful explanations. I actually really liked working from multiple sources. Between listening to a Peking U MOOC (in Mandarin, with a transcript, also in Mandarin, hahahaha...) on intermediate grammar, drilling vocabulary at Cerego, and a long list of other resources, each with its own approach, drilling skills and building understanding in different ways, they all seemed to support each other. There's something really satisfying about recognizing or using a word or structure in one place that you picked up somewhere else, especially if you didn't feel that it had totally soaked into your brain yet. Very exciting! The hardest part was in the very beginning, so many unfamiliar characters, I was drawing things into my pleco app and all kinds of other crazy things to figure out what was going on. But the learning curve wasn't that steep for too long, and then you get some light practice sections when they covered things like English tenses;) Thanks again!
How did you type the characters? I suppose you could use the radicals for typing, but how did you learn the pronunciation?
I typed in the characters using pinyin. How to do that depends on what you're typing on. I'm using a windows laptop, and for me that meant going into my control panel, into the languages section, and selecting a Chinese keyboard. (There are lots of tutorials on the details of that, depending on your operating system.) You can easily toggle between English and Chinese when you need to. On my android I use google pinyin input when I want to type Chinese characters.
Learning pronunciation had two stages for me. The first was just getting comfortable with how to pronounce some basic Mandarin words and phrases, how to pronounce the tones, vowels and consonants, and how to read pinyin. (lots of sources on this - let me know if you want any of the ones I used) The second step, which I think you're asking about is "when you learn a new character, how do you know how to pronounce it, how do you know what its pinyin spelling is?" and for that you can just keep another program open and pop it in to see the pinyin. Google translate is very convenient for that although there is the occasional incorrect tone there. Another good option is the dictionary at writtenchinese.com.
Actually most Chinese people use pinyin to type. There's another method based on radicals/components, which is faster than pinyin, but it takes much more work to learn (you need to memorize which components correspond to each key), so not many people use it.
Thanks flootzavut! You've got an impressive number of flags there - and I really like that run of levels: 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 - I have a fantasy (granted a silly one) of trying to build things like that.
Hahaha that is neat, I had not only not done it on purpose, but hadn't even noticed! 8-o :-D
(Weirdly, my German level is fifteen on some posts and 7 on others, and I cannot figure out why...)
I'm only really actively learning/practising German, Esperanto, Russian and Ukrainian (with the occasional dabble in Norwegian), but I do like to dabble...
Only those, huh? (!)
Have you worked on German from more than one language? I've done English from Spanish and Chinese, and the display of my English level varies.
Not on purpose. Ok. You probably don't try to draw things with your XP progress graph either...
I have worked on German from Russian, but I think my level there is ten... and I did a tiny bit from French but didn't get very far. So where level 7 came from I can't imagine!
I probably would try to draw things with my progress graph except my OCD gets more obsessed about finishing things than shapes. But I do get it. Frankly, if I had thought of making a nice neat run of levels, I would have done, it just didn't occur to me. Now I will at some point I will probably feel compelled to fill in level 9 as well, maybe that'll be Dutch... 8-o ;-p LOL
Congrats! I'm always wavering on whether or not to try to learn Mandarin (for a lot of reasons) but your post has pushed me a few steps further towards the, "you should really just try to do this..." side.
Thanks! and glad to hear it! If you decide to do it and want to gab about it, drop me a line. I don't have all the answers, but I'm continuing to work on it and it's sometimes nice to have someone to share frustrations and excitement with.