Ondrej Gardaky, from Czech Republic, tells us about his experience learning Chinese: “Although modernization has brought us benefits, computers and high technology cannot completely take the place of a student’s own effort. The most important thing is the learning attitude.”
Ondrej Gardaky, Palacky University, Czech
The Confucius said, “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant practice?” This is the first sentence of The Analects, meaning that it is a pleasure to constantly learn and practice what you have learned. More than two thousand years have passed, yet instead of sitting there as a pleasant antique purely for show, these words continue to inspire. I, for one, have followed this principle in my Chinese learning.
Learning a foreign language well means being proficient in listening, speaking, reading, and writing, all inseparable from vocabulary. Pronunciation and grammar are just as important, of course. However, without enough vocabulary, it would be very difficult to demonstrate your language skills. This is especially true with the Chinese language. The relative simplicity of its grammar does not make it an easy language to learn, for its long history and development have given it a sea of vocabulary much richer than other languages.
How to master that many words and their usage seems to be a formidable task. However, I have found an effective way: flash card. Originally, this referred to a small paper card with a question written on one side and the answer on the other. We used to use it a lot in the past. When I first used it, it appeared to be very efficient; after one year, however, I found myself overwhelmed by a few thousand cards, not knowing which ones to review.
Now I have solved this problem with the help of a software called FLASHCARDS. Every time I run into a new word, I enter it into the software’s database so that the computer will make arrangements for my study and reviews. Based on the study tests, the computer will let me know which words have already been mastered and which ones need further reviews. Daily reappearances of words are in the hundreds instead of thousands, with error-prone words reappearing more frequently than those that have been used correctly. Such process involves not just “learning”, but also the “constant practice” that Confucius referred to. Through persistence, my vocabulary has been growing steadily, which has made my life full and immensely gratifying.
With such efficiency, this study and review method can be considered a symbol of high technology. Although modernization has brought us benefits such as this one, computers and high technology cannot completely take the place of a student’s own effort. The most important thing is the learning attitude. I believe that a positive learning attitude and a proper learning method, combined with constant practice, will surely make Chinese learning easy!
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 4. Volume IV. September 2009.
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