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Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Language Learning 2.0

OMG, I love Chinesepod!  It is about time the language learning industry gets a major shake-up.  Major players today carries products developed in the early 90’s using primitive multimedia technology.  Players have sunk so much developmental capital into these products that they spent the past 15 years recuperating the costs.  Last year, I spent $295 on the premium Rosetta Stone Chinese Learning product and am hugely disappointed – not only was I underwhelmed by the technology, I was astounded by how obsolete and impractical the content is.   I barely used it and is still sitting on my shelf.

And here comes Chinesepod, the savior.  Using interactive tools offered by the web as well as other mobile devices, it offers a fun, interactive way of learning the language.  I am hooked to the daily podcasts; quick 10-15mins episodes about one aspect of modern Chinese live.   I think I’m going start learning some Spanish too, with their new product, SpanishSense. 

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Learning Chinese

Some interesting tidbits about learning the Chinese language:

1. In China, kids learn pinyin before they learn to read and write.  Pinyin is a phonetic system based on the alphabets, and the method by which most foreigners learn Chinese.  I find this quite intriguing because that means Chinese kids learn to write and read the alphabets before their native language. 

2. Most Chinese type in pinyin using the western keyboard.  As you might have heard the same pinyin (or, pronounciation) can be converted into more than one character, so after you type the pinyin in, you have to pick from a list of suggested characters.   This certainly makes learning Chinese easier – you won’t ever have to learn how to write the characters; just how to recognize them. 

3. In Hong Kong, we speak Cantonese, which is a dialect.  We learn how to write the same way that Mandarin speakers do – how we write is how Mandarin is spoken.  Which is confusing because we can pronounce all written Chinese in Cantonese but we never speak to one another in that manner.  Thus, when I speak Mandarin, I’d first have to translate it into written Chinese (in terms of sentence structure and vocabulary), then change the pronounciation of each word to Mandarin.  Yep, very confusing.

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