Leanring tips: How to learn new vocabulary?

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bwuw

Senior Member
Spanish (Spain) and Catalan
Hi! 大家好!
我5年以前开始学习汉语。现在我觉得汉语的语法差不多都学过了,但是继续学习新的汉语单词难及了!很多就记不住了!
I've been learning Chinese for 5 years right now and I'm having problems to keep on learning new vocabulary. Every time I hear a new word in class I know I'm likely to forget it just in ten minutes. As all my peers have a similar problem, I know that it's a common obstacle when your level is intermediate or advanced. I was wondering...besides vocabulary lists and flashcards, have you got a good system to learn new words? I have problems especially with abstract or formal terms.
Thanks a lot for your suggestions!
B
 
  • xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Hi bwuw,

    Nice to see your post but I'm sorry to say the forum doesn't accommodate this type of question, and normally it would be deleted on sight. As you can see from the rules (at the top of page), we deal only with questions on specific words or points of grammar. Anyway, I'll leave your thread open for a few days to see if some members would like to help / are able to help you with your question, but the thread will have to be removed eventually. I'm sorry that this is the rule.

    Let's get back to the topic. I'm learning Chinese myself and I find it difficult to remember and to expand my vocabulary also. Since I don't live in a Chinese speaking environment, my only way of expanding and memorising the vocabulary is through books: I read, and when I come across new words I look them up. Looking up words is my main method of remembering them. Of course, through regular reading I'm also likely to see them again and this help reinforcing my memory.

    As you can see, I don't have any magic way to learn the vocabulary at all, but with some determination to keep moving, I think I'm doing allright. :)

    Good luck!
     

    indigoduck

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi! 大家好!
    我5年以前开始学习汉语。现在我觉得汉语的语法差不多都学过了,但是继续学习新的汉语单词难及了!很多就记不住了!
    I've been learning Chinese for 5 years right now and I'm having problems to keep on learning new vocabulary. Every time I hear a new word in class I know I'm likely to forget it just in ten minutes. As all my peers have a similar problem, I know that it's a common obstacle when your level is intermediate or advanced. I was wondering...besides vocabulary lists and flashcards, have you got a good system to learn new words? I have problems especially with abstract or formal terms.
    Thanks a lot for your suggestions!
    B
    Hi bmuw,

    Xiaolijie has excellent suggestions.

    My suggestion is to replicate your life in chinese. I speak mandarin chinese and i have the hardest of time learning cantonese even though i've done so all my life. There is never an easier solution besides immersing yourself in the environment, but when it's not available, determination is the key.

    Transform your life as much as possible. For example in my case, i'll only watch cantonese tv, listen to cantonese music, sing cantonese songs... and try to speak cantonese "in my mind" whenever i'm communicating in english or in mandarin. Many many years ago, this was tough, but with the internet, you can find this stuff pretty hard or easy depending how determined you are. I remember in the beginning, it was tough to find this kind of information, but now with practice, i'm much better at it.

    Like xlj said reading is one, but sometimes books doesn't go very far beyond the basics and isn't practical unless you can find realistic comic books that uses colloquial speech. If that's not all possible, then try imitating the tv. They say you can't believe everything on TV, which is true, but language is real. Vocabulary is one thing, but being able to express yourself is another. Why reinvent the wheel?

    Find an interesting program that talks about daily life and see if you can imitate their sentences, and relate them to your own life. Don't find a program that is taking place in the chinese dynasties or during World war 2 for example. I can imagine the ancient spanish languages would sound out of place in modern Madrid, for example. Find a program that has people going to work in the present time and trying to enjoy life at the same time.
    If you can't find spanish subtitles to go along, go via english. And if you feel your english is a little weak, try to strengthen your english first.

    For example, in my case, it's difficult to relate cantonese using english subtitles so i've really had to spend time learning chinese characters to be able to better relate cantonese with mandarin, because many of the hard-core materials i find seems to explain cantonese much better using chinese characters. In my case, i've had to really really drill deep into chinese characters to be able to learn cantonese. For a canadian born chinese, that's an amazing task and it ain't easy. But as an added bonus, i can read many more chinese characters than before.

    Good luck!
     

    bwuw

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) and Catalan
    Hi xiaolijie,
    Thanks for your quick reply. I wasn't sure whether this kind of question was allowed in wordreference, it's a pity that the forum doesn't allow this type of thread, but I totally understand. I agree with you, reading is the best way to improve vocabulary, I think. I'm still learning English and expanding my vocab and I only need to read texts to do it. But my level of Chinese is not that high now, and I have to look up plenty of words when I'm reading, specialy the newspaper.
    Anyway, thanks for your suggestion and for your warm comments. Don't hesitate to delete these posts whenever you consider it necessary,
    Good luck with your Chinese, 加油! :)
    B
     

    bwuw

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) and Catalan
    Thanks a lot, indigoduck!!
    You're right about watching TV series online, it's probably easier than reading the newspaper. Besides, I already know enough characters to read the subtitles. No Chinese dynasties, I take a note of that to, jajajaja, qué risa!
    Thanks again for your detailed answer, I think it'll work with me :)
    Good luck learning Cantonese!
    B
     

    OneStroke

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    I personally find using some mnemonics useful. For example, to remember the French word mélanger, I pictured smashing some 'melon's together - mixing them. For Chinese, it is even easier because you often don't have to rely on words that sound alike in English. For example, let's say you can't remember the word 绝情. (I just found this word randomly in a dictionary.) 绝 is a homophone of 掘, while 情 is a homophone of 晴. You can imagine digging up a sun without feeling. If you're dealing with a character that you haven't previously learnt, you can break it up. I learnt 澇 a few months ago. I imagined a factory worker spilling his water on an iPhone. The water flooded the whole city and the farmers were very angry when his fields were flooded. Then, a farmer got a net and fished up a piece of rye bread from the water. This is the pronunciation - 撈, and the fourth tone (in the phonetic mnemonic system, 4 is 'rye'.
     
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