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Shenzhen University
Shenzhen University is the most important university in Shenzhen. It is located in Nanshan district, close to the border with Futian district and has it's own campus. Previously Shenzhen University used to be regarded as quite a mediocre university in China by Chinese students, but I believe in recent years the quality has increased. Although it's possible to study for a Master of Phd at the university, most foreigners will obviously go to Shenzhen University to study Chinese. The university offers two full-time Chinese language classes each year. They start at March and September and a semester lasts 4 months. Every morning (except on weekends) there are four classes of 40 minutes each from 08:30 and to 11:50. There are five different levels, depending on your Chinese skills. Shenzhen University also runs full-time winter (February) and summer (August) classes.
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Remembering Chinese characters

I was reading Hacker News today and found an (old) article about a Polish guy who created a software called SuperMemo. This software helps you to remember anything, but I am using it to learn Chinese words and characters.

It works based on scientific research last century that people tend to forget things at different rates. In the beginning you should repeat stuff often, but later you can repeat it at larger intervals. If you later repeat too often, you would waste your time; if you don't repeat early enough, you would have forgotten it.

Supermemo costs money, but luckily there are free alternatives, the best one I've found is The Mnemosyne Project. UPDATE I have found an even better alternative called 'Anki'. It works on the same principle as Mnemosyne, but is a bit easier to use and has nice statistics builtin. When you start the program, you can "download" (via a button I think) lots of free Chinese lessons. I am currently using "Chinese characters level 1 and 2".


Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 December 2009 )
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Learn Chinese

Chinese is very difficult to learn. Why?

  1. Because the writing system is ridiculous.
  2. Because the language doesn't have the common sense to use an alphabet.
  3. Because the writing system just ain't very phonetic.
  4. Because you can't cheat by using cognates.
  5. Because even looking up a word in the dictionary is complicated.
  6. Because there is simplified AND traditional Chinese
  7. Because there are too many romanization methods and they all suck.
  8. Because tonal languages are weird.
  9. Because east is east and west is west, and the twain have only recently met.

Thanks to pinyin.info for this great list. Visit their site to read the detailed explanation of the list above. Sinosplice also has some great graphs about the difficulty of Chinese compared to Japanese:

chinese_vs_japanese


So how should you go about learning Chinese?

Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 November 2008 )
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Chinese translation

Chinese language is hard and for official purposes you need to use a professional translator. For everyday use, you can also use some automated tools. For example at work I often receive e-mails in Chinese and then I translate those using Google Translate.

 

My favorite tools for translating long Chinese texts:

Google Translate : Chinese - English

I have bookmarked Google Translate at work and everytime I need to translate a large amount of Chinese, I will just copy/paste it to Google Translate and get the rough meaning of the text. It does often make silly mistakes obviously, but at least you will be able to understand it in general.

Yahoo Babelfish : Chinese - English

I used this before Google Translate was released, but in my opinion Google Translate is easier and has better translations.

 

To translate individual characters, I use these tools:

Nciku : Chinese - English

On this website you can draw Chinese characters and translate them. This is very useful when you for example have a photo with some Chinese characters and don't know how to type them. Instead you can just 'write' the character and get the translation.

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 November 2008 )
 
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