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What about me? :puppy dog eyes:

 

Yes, you too! :) If you are where Shahi is then i'll definitely want to meet you.

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Ameena: You could totally crash at my place, girl. And I'm going to Malaysia next month to visit. So excited! Can't wait to see you, then. Who knows, I may come to New Zealand sooner than you think. ;)

 

SAY WHAT?????

unsure.gif It was home.

 

 

GuerillaRadio: Like "BaaRkh", with an emphasis on the 'r'? The One always disagrees with me quite a number of things, which is understandable, considering the fact that we're siblings. An MM trip is great, but I'm not good at planning things. About the introductions, I'll get back to you on that one. But JazakAllah for the offer. I can understand a smattering of Cantonese, can't really speak it, and definitely can't write it. However, we have a little surprise for you. In Cantonese. Give me a bit, and I'll put it up here, InshaAllah.

 

And your Chinese vision is so true. At the rate China's doing things, they have their manpower in place, a language in place, and a stable economy. Looks like some countries have done their homework.

 

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My main problem with Mandarin or Putonghua is that it's a tonal language. I am extremely bad with tonal languages.

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Sorry guys, as you know I'm kind of ghetto and only hang out in my hood on the Current Affairs & Politics corner, doing my slanging and tagging. Sometimes for business purposes I might ventured out of my hood, and came to this thread. Had I known there was athread like this I would have joined long time ago. First when you speak of learning Chinese you have to distinguish which you want to learn Mandarin or Cantonese. The first being the older and richer of the two, however both of them have many diverse dialects.

 

I will drop some secrets that I learned in the language that should give you all a jump start. Realize that geopolitically English is neing lapped by three other languages internationally: Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin. By 2035 these three languages will be on a par with English in usage in science, business and international communication. Thus, a true internationalists will be the person who can communicate in these four languages.

 

As I said I ONLT venture from my 'hood' in MM when I got 'business' to tend to. So lets make a deal. I am about to create a thread in the language section which I need the help from everyone on MM. It will be a scientific experiment which will have academic, social and political implications. If you guys help me in that thread I will do what I can to assist you guys to grasp the basics of standardized Mandarin. What do you say?

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When I first started to learn Mandarin I started out from two perspectives, which are the two ways that a language is approached: [1] learning it; and [2] acquiring it.

Learning the language is when you enrole in a class or get a tutor to teach you basis of the language, its grammar (if there is any), its alpahbets, intonations, syntax etc. This is the hardest way and is the manner in which a language is taught in garde school, high school and in higher education. Acquiring the language is when you delve deep into the direct usage of the language as a means to an end. In other words you go shopping, talk and intereact in a social transaction utilizing the language. This is much faster and practical and is the way that children acquire language.

 

The person that really helped me in the latter was an American guy by the name of Bryan Todd with whom I communicated with over a period of three years by email. I will post some of the advice he gave me which may prove helpful for you guys who are serious about learning Mandarin. Remember, in the next 10 years Mandarin will be an essential tool for those who want to do international business, and in some extent diplomacy, due to the hemispheric shift in the geopolitical situation around the world. Only you guys who are completely domestically colonized by eurocentric.western civilization or are suffering from the century's old psychosis of intellectual apartheid will miss the present megatrend of learning Mandarin. I assure you that some of the 'rats' of western civilization have already jumped ship and have already snuck on board the linguistic ship of sino-civiliztion, in an attempt, like most 'ship rats' in order to survive the sinking of their civilization.

 

I know you guys are probably sucking your teeth right now because here I go 'politicizing' something as trivial as a language. But the fact is your language or languages is/are your politics. If you only speak one language then you are stuck within the linguistic diameter/cirumference of that language in defining yourself and the creation around you. In fact, as Chomsky, the master linguist, so often reiterates, your political reality is the result of a lexicon of discourse not established by you, but is given to you by others. They set the diameter and framework for your discourse, and you can never escape the circumference of that discourse. Thus, your oppinions which you think are yours were already manufactured and then imperceptably bequeathed to you during the commercial breaks or perhaps during the media transmission, the game, the talk show, the animation, the movie, the song, the blog, the social studies class, the initiation, the party, the club, the election campaign or the social network. Like the rat in the proverbial maze, you have only one way to go, but you dont know it, which is what is admirable about the system, is that you think your opinions are yours.

 

I realized how importance this was when a friend of mine in the US informed me that the FBI came to him and asked him about why I had gone to China and did I speak Mandarin or was I learning Mandarin. That series of questions by the FBI woke me up to the reality and the importance of being able to escape the linguistic plantation of ameriKKKan/western culture. Anyway, here are some tips based upon what Byran Todd told me for learning the language.

 

Of course the advice Bryan gave me was based upon my living in China. In your cases you can substitute living in China by simply joining a Chinese martial arts school, going to drink tea at a Chinese restaurant (if you are lucky like in the Bay Area of California, there are two Chinese Muslim restaurants where you can go), go shopping in your local china town, or visit as often as you can the local Traditional Chinese Acupuncture or Herbal Mecidine Shop; or do all of the above.

 

As you began to pick up the language you might want to pretend in the beginning that you know nothing about the language. This way you can try and descern what Mandarin speakers around you are saying about you. If they know you speak Mandarin they will be guarded in what they say about, and you will end up not knowing the 'essence' of the language, which are nuances, emotions and culture which the passengers of the Mandarin language.

 

You guys are absolutely RIGHT, Mandarin is a TONAL language and its meanings are conveyed in its intonation, similar to Arabic inflection or syntax. Anyway the following is the first email I got from Bryan which set me on the right track for learning the leanguage:

 

Hi shareef,

 

Thanks for signing up for five days of sound principles on how to master Chinese faster. Even though I'm not the one teaching you Chinese, I'm going to talk you through the five most important concepts you need to know to be effective at mastering this tough language. These combine to form a complete Whole-Life strategy that will permeate every part of your day-to-day living.

 

Let's get started. This first principle is the single most important language "lesson" I ever learned, and I can't begin to tell you how

liberating it was.

 

My language tutor Richard had tried absolutely everything with me. We had tried using children's books. I had burnt out my brain cells trying to memorize ten characters a day to make him happy. We had gone over pin yin readings and standard pronunciation drills until my mouth ached. He had tried lecturing me on grammar. I had copied down characters and practiced them until my hand couldn't write anymore.

 

After several months we even switched textbooks and I started it all over again. Finally one day he gave up. Just completely gave up. Told me straight to my face that he couldn't work with me anymore. I wasn't learning fast enough. It was costing him enormous amounts of time and effort, and, he explained, he was just not a teacher to begin with.

 

"Maybe you should just learn Chinese on your own," he told me. That was all I needed. I grabbed my books, headed back to my apartment, popped in the tapes, and got cracking. Again, I cannot tell you how liberating this was. For the very first time in my months and months of living in a Chinese-speaking culture, I now had complete and total control of my learning.

 

That's when it took off. Now for the first time I could decide for myself how much time to spend on everything. I could be the judge of what order to learn in, when to practice my reading skills, when and where to tweak my own pronunciation, how much attention to give just to repeated listening, and when to finally pick up my pencil and start writing. Nobody else was pushing me; I was doing it all myself, setting my own pace, and

controlling what I learned, how much I tried to digest at one time, and when to do each little thing.

 

Richard, my language helper, was still there to help out, but now I was in the driver's seat, not him.

 

My learning pace doubled. I could let out the throttle on my own time, and run at the speed I needed to run at giving the right attention to

the stuff that I knew was by far the most important. My vocabulary grew and grew. I got endless compliments from friends, and occasionally even looks of bewilderment as I'd open my mouth and articulate thoughts and ideas that they thought should have been far too advanced for my limited abilities. And I had good, well-trained ears that understood clearly when people spoke to me.

 

No doubt you've already come across countless books and programs and methods, all supposedly new, all supposedly fresh and revolutionary, all

designed to teach you Chinese. And many of them do a fine job - you'll learn what you need to learn more or less the right way, you'll get the

basic content and probably do okay.

 

But they're all lacking one thing. All those books, all those CD-ROM courses, all those tape sets, all those expensive paid programs run by Ph.Ds and business gurus, all those fee-based tutor/helper arrangements - they do a fine job of telling you WHAT to learn.

 

But they never actually tell you HOW you should learn Chinese. That, of course, is what I'm doing for you now: showing you HOW to step out and learn Chinese for yourself. (By day five you'll know exactly, precisely how to take charge of everything in your world - what is top priority and what isn't, what order you should be doing things in - I can't tell you how important that is! - how you learn best by learning the way a child learns, and how to break down your time to be the most effective.)

 

But for today, the most important lesson for you to learn is this: When it's all up to you to make the learning happen yourself, you'll

learn so much faster. And you'll love it. You really will love it.

 

So teach yourself Chinese, using the environment around you. Be your very own student. Here are three simple ways to get started:

 

(1) The Notebook. Head out and buy a simple pocket notebook and pen, and as you're out every day in the community, keep a running account of

everything you could possibly want to learn, or need to learn. Then go back and sit down with your language helper or tutor, and pull out your

list of things you want to talk through. With your notebook in hand, you now have an immediately relevant list of real-life Chinese questions that you need answers to. And your language partner will know the answers. Go into every session prepared with questions like these, and you'll have so much to talk about - your successes, your embarrassments, key cultural nuances, and all the important, relevant, useful vocabulary you could ever need.

 

(2) When Other People are Tuning Out, You Stay Tuned In. At some point you're inevitably going to find yourself in some situation where you're

stuck in some dumb meeting, listening to some awful speech or lecture, or watching a show or film where you don't understand what's going on

or what people are saying. Don't shut off your brain! Have a plan instead. Pull out your trusty notebook and listen to pick out these things from what people are talking about:

 

• Write down all of the isolated words and phrases that you hear that you already know • Listen for the tones. Can you pick them out? Can you tell how they morph slightly from sentence to sentence?

• Pick out all the adjectives, or verbs, or all of the nouns

• Can you get the gist of what's being talked about? Can you tell when the subject changes?

• Write down the 3 words and phrases that you hear most often but don't know yet

• Bring your MP3 recorder or tape player, if you have one, and record the talk.

 

Later on you can sit down with your language helper and discuss in detail everything you wrote down and recorded.

 

(3) The Power of Doing Nothing. My friend Erika had been living in China for several months, and for whatever reason just could not hear the four

tones. She drilled and drilled and listened to her tapes ad nauseam, endured no end of pounding and harassment from her teachers, but still couldn't get it.

 

So she left China and went home for two or three months. Then she came back. Suddenly, for the first time ever, and for whatever bizarre and inexplicable reason, she could hear the tones. Hear them exactly. She could suddenly understand people when they talked to her. And all she needed was a good solid chunk of time away.

 

This is part of the strategy. Time away. Take it whenever you need it - whether it's an afternoon, or a week, or a month or more. If it means leaving the country, then do it.

 

I do this myself all the time. I turn off my MP3 player, put away my Chinese CDs and close my books, and immerse myself for a while - sometimes several days or even several weeks - doing something else, anything to get my mind off Chinese. And it always, always, always manages to work: some word or phrase or concept that I just could not seem to get my mind around, suddenly begins to gel when I get away for awhile and come back to it.

 

If you're completely on your own and in charge of your own learning, then you can do this at the strategic times when you most need it - and you'll find it to be absolutely invaluable.

 

These three tips are just the first step in taking control of your own learning.

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That is really good advice. I actually learned a pretty good amount of Japanese in the same way without really trying, just listening and paying attention. If something was said that I was curious about, such as the grammar or wording, I would look into it and then I would know, and this would just be a process that happens. Sometimes I catch myself thinking or saying something in Japanese. Thanks for the post though, I was always interested in learning Mandarin, I'm so intimidated by it though, but your advice really helps. Would you use the same advice for learning Arabic?

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As I said I ONLT venture from my 'hood' in MM when I got 'business' to tend to. So lets make a deal. I am about to create a thread in the language section which I need the help from everyone on MM. It will be a scientific experiment which will have academic, social and political implications. If you guys help me in that thread I will do what I can to assist you guys to grasp the basics of standardized Mandarin. What do you say?

 

I'm in.

 

Some people have been pressuring me to learn Chinese for these very same reasons and I know some brothers who have also done the same and its really boosted their business. One brother I know took a class and learned it in a year. Its hard not to imagine him as an animate cartoon character when he talks...

 

The reason the FBI probably were onto you is what Noam Chomsky mentioned (by the way, you are spot on, language shapes the boundaries of our thoughts- poets encourage learning a language for these same reasons) that America's foreign policy with China has been very different than it has with other nations. He mentioned a book I plan to read soon which is one of the only books around that gives a inside look into the American national security culture called, "Washington's China" by James Peck.

 

I'm getting started on the tips you put up there.

 

QUESTION: I'm taking an Arabic course on Ajrumiyya currently, so would the tips you mentioned above help with learning Arabic as well? What methods would be appropriate for learning Arabic, Hadith and other related things...?

 

Sheshe.

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I'm in.

 

Some people have been pressuring me to learn Chinese for these very same reasons and I know some brothers who have also done the same and its really boosted their business. One brother I know took a class and learned it in a year. Its hard not to imagine him as an animate cartoon character when he talks...

 

The reason the FBI probably were onto you is what Noam Chomsky mentioned (by the way, you are spot on, language shapes the boundaries of our thoughts- poets encourage learning a language for these same reasons) that America's foreign policy with China has been very different than it has with other nations. He mentioned a book I plan to read soon which is one of the only books around that gives a inside look into the American national security culture called, "Washington's China" by James Peck.

 

I'm getting started on the tips you put up there.

 

QUESTION: I'm taking an Arabic course on Ajrumiyya currently, so would the tips you mentioned above help with learning Arabic as well? What methods would be appropriate for learning Arabic, Hadith and other related things...?

 

Sheshe.

 

Buuke qi! (no need to thank).

 

Whoa Nelly! This is a thread about learning Chinese, not Arabic. I suggest you go to another thread for that! However you are intelligent enough to be able to extract what you can from this thread to help you in that one! use your intelligence! LOL By the way the al-Ajurumiyya was one of the first texts I memorized by heart back in the days!

 

As for the political ramifications for learning mandarin it is that you can get access to an entire universe of a world view which is mostly diametrically opposed to the world view that most westerners have been forced fed. Your ability to analyze news events and the real reasons behind them becomes enhanced due to it. Of course as you said the business opportunities are astounding!

 

The fact is the status quo and those who rule and make decisions in the west have long been shuting down factories and industries in the US and the UK and moving them to China since 1979, while making you guys think that they were 'loyal' to the homeland! Had you guys thinking red white and blue while they were thinking 'red' all along!

 

Anyway here are somemore tips from Bryan:

 

Shareef,

 

I have this one Chinese friend who's a voracious reader. Reads everything English he can get his hands on. Devours books, magazines, everything. Reads Hemingway and understands it. Writes, too.

I once asked him in English where I might find the restroom. He had no clue what I was talking about. Didn't understand me.

This baffled me, since the guy could read advanced literature.

I can't tell you how many people just like him I've met all across China. People young and old who have studied English literally for years but who would stare at me with a blank expression when I spoke English to them.

Including, even, my friend Richard's younger sister, who was a primary school English teacher in the town where I lived. In the four-plus years that I made regular visits to Richard's home, never once did she open her mouth to speak so much as a single word of English to me.

Does that sound wrong to you? What is it that has gone so terribly wrong here?

Answer: It has to go in before it ever comes out. You have to see it, hear it, feel it, smell it - and then know what it means, know what it's supposed to look like, supposed to sound like - before you ever try to do it or say it.

This is not just true of language. It's true of music. Of art. Of photography. Dancing.

Basketball. Knitting ... everything.

And it could not be more true of a tonal language like Chinese, where hearing and reproducing the wild sounds is so much like learning to be a musician all over again that the parallels are, frankly, eerie.

But what do most teachers and programs do to you? They start you off - lesson one, day one - plopping material down in front of you and making you perform on the spot.

"This is Middle C. Now play it."

"This is the word for 'cat.' Now say it."

What are you really going to do in a situation like this? Answer: You're going to work yourself into a tizzy trying to pronounce it right, even when you don't know yet what the damn word means or how to use it.

Is there a better way? Yes. My old language teacher Dwight once performed an amazing little experiment on me and a group of friends. Dwight had learned a rare southeast Asian tribal language and he started off our class by standing up and having us listen to and obey a quick, 1-minute series of commands in that language. He never told us why, but he repeated the exercise every day for two weeks, adding new commands every now and then as we went along. And never once did he give us any kind of English translation.

More importantly, never once did he ask us to repeat after him.

By the time the two weeks were up, we knew all of the commands by heart, and could easily perform them on cue.

Finally Dwight explained what was going on.

He had proved to us that you can delve naturally, effortlessly into a new language using only your ears to learn, mastering a host of words and phrases without ever so much as opening your mouth.

Plus, doing it this way he had eliminated 99% of the initial stress and anxiety that comes from trying to pronounce things right and put sentences together with good grammar. Completely eliminated it. All we had to do was simply listen.

And we were so used to hearing it - plus we already knew by heart what every word and phrase meant - that opening our mouths to speak it at the end of the two weeks amazing became 100 times easier, 100 times more natural.

You see, there's an order that governs all of language learning. A natural, almost effortless sequence that you followed yourself when you first started learning your own native language.

Do you realize that you went practically two years, listening and absorbing the world around you before you ever got around to spitting out words? That's right. This process started for you even before you were born.

And nobody expected you to talk before it was your time. No pressure, no one forcing your hand, no stern teachers glaring at you waiting, nobody poised to jump all over you for bad pronuncation - none of that. You started talking long after you started understanding, and only when YOU decided it was time to start.

True musicians are the same way. Their ears do all the work for them well in advance. Even children at age five or six can already begin hearing and recognizing chords and arpeggios and different keys, long before they ever sit down to plink out their very first note.

And all musicians do this. Which is why you'll never meet a deaf musician. Ears are everything.

Even Beethoven, after he lost his hearing, still had the ears in his mind working overtime, composing music long after his physical ears had given out.

What about my Chinese friends who could read and write at an advanced level, but couldn't understand my simple American sentences when I spoke? They had simply done it all in the wrong order.

If they had started listening first, then speaking, and then saved reading, and finally writing, for last, it all would have come out differently.

When you take charge of your learning, this is the very first thing you're going to start doing: Learning new Chinese with your ears alone. Saving your voice until later, taking all of the stress off of yourself to pronounce everything right out of the gate, and just concentrating on what you hear, understanding what it all means, without any worries about how you might sound.

Do you think this sounds freeing? It is.

Everything in its time! Remember: You own the process.

 

Since you asked about Arabic are you willing to work with me in the scientific experiment I mentioned at the beginning of the thread?

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