Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore ... here I come in March

In the second half of March I will be visiting Hong Kong, Taipei & Singapore on business.

I'm guessing that I'll only be in those cities for about 3 days each - but I'm hoping I'll have a little bit of spare time in the evenings, or weekends (depending where I am) to meet up with some of you.

So if you live there, and you'd like to meet up, please drop me a note at the following address (I'm sure you can work it out):

   greg ((at)) Mandarin Segments ((dot)) com

I look forward to meeting some of you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Heisig - wherefore art thou now?

Nearly three months ago, I announced that I had finished working  my way through Heisig's "Book 1" on learning to read & write the first 1500 characters Chinese characters. I just wanted to update you on what I've been doing since them in terms of reading/writing.

Whether you're interested because deep down inside you're a voyeur, or because you're curious what may be in store for you when you finish book 1,  please keep reading ...

This is an update on my experiment to learn to read Chinese. You can also read my original post on this topic, or check out all other posts on my experiment. After a bit of research I settled on Heisig's "Remembering the Simplified Hanzi" method - which is progressing really well.

The observations are quite simple:
  • I have done almost no revision using the Heisig book (although I did try for the first week after completing the book). I have not used any Heisig flashcards either.
  • I did become increasingly aware, while doing Heisig, of the importance of knowing lots of compound words, and have since put lots of effort into that - instead of revising Heisig.
  • I do try to read some tweets in Chinese, the odd Chinese website, and some Chinese cartoon & children's books I bought a few months ago.
  • Of the 1500 hanzi that I learned, I would guess that I know 500 really well so that I can read them without having to work out what it means, 500 I have to work out using the Heisig image system, and 500 I have probably forgotten and will have to re-learn (although that will be pretty quick I'm sure).
So basically, there has been a "polarisation" of those 1500 characters. Some of the characters have become increasingly firmly embedded, and others have faded away.

Of course I'm disappointed to have forgotten anything at all, but sometimes that's the reality of living in the Real World (tm) - and not having enough time to do what you want. However, don't confuse forgetting some characters with having wasted my time.

This has not been a waste of time. In fact, my time with Heisig still feels like a massive success.

I am now very comfortable using instant chat with my Chinese friends (Skype, QQ, Sametime), communicating only in hanzi. There is very little more satisfying for me at the moment than closing down a Skype window, for example, staring at dozens of lines of pure Chinese characters.  (Even now, a little self-satisfied shiver runs down my spine :-)

I'm sure I will spend time with Heisig Book 1 in future, actively revising. I just don't have time. Bit by bit, when I come across hanzi I don't recognise, I will look them up, remember the Heisig image, and they will become firmly embedded too.

And eventually, I'll take up Book 2. (Although at this rate, I might be ready for Book 2 before Book 2 is ready for me!)