Monday, June 9, 2008

Chinese learning update

Chinese update:

I've got bopomofo down, and have memorized about 30 characters and combination of characters. I'm using a book, Chinese Characters For Beginners, to learn the first 100 most common ones. I try to add a new word each day. I chose this book because it gives the traditional characters prominence, plus gives the pronunciation in both bopomofo and pinyin. I'm trying to rely on bopomofo because the children's books written for Taiwanese youngsters use bopomofo to aid in pronunciation.

The book also shows the historical development of the characters, stroke order, and 5 sample words for each character. For example, when I learn 大 "big" [ㄉㄚˋ], I also learn 大家 "everyone" [ㄉㄚˋㄐㄧㄚ], 大學 "university" [ㄉㄚˋㄒㄩㄝˊ], etc.

So I started to read a very simple children's book that I had bought a couple of weeks ago: 桃太郎 Momotaro (Peach Boy) [ㄊㄠˊㄊㄞˋㄌㄤˊ]. I like this book because there is only one sentence per page (plus I can color the pictures if I want, lol). I also felt a fondness for this story because I remember it from when I studied Japanese, plus Momotaro's name contains the character for "peach", just like Taoyuan, my city.

I hope to learn more vocabulary this way, and how the words are used, not just random words on flashcards.

The story opens:

老夫婦生活很艱苦。The old couple lived a hard life.

[ㄌㄠˇ ㄈㄨㄈㄨˋ ㄕㄥㄏㄨㄛˊ ㄏㄣˇ ㄐㄧㄢㄎㄨˇ。]

The only word that I already knew was 老"old" so I have a nice bit of extra vocabulary to learn. Additionally, I noted that I need to be careful to differentiate between 天"sky/day" and 夫"man/husband."

My goal is to learn or memorize a sentence or two per week. At that rate, it'll take more than 4 months just to learn this short story. It seems slow; however, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.

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