Sunday, November 4, 2018

10/25/18 ALESN Mandarin I Monday night class summary and notes FOR 10/22 CLASS

ALESN Mandarin I Monday night class summary and notes

Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 8:33 AM

Hi Gang,

Thanks to everyone who attended class this past Monday. If you missed class, here is what we covered, as well as the Homework for next week:

As I mentioned, everyone should please read or skim everything from the very beginning of the book up to what we covered in class. People keep asking me for page #s. I will make it very simple: Open up your book, read the very first page inside the cover and keep reading or skimming until you hit what we covered during Monday's class. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. I am asking you all to give yourselves an overview of the textbook by reading the publisher's intro material about how the book is organized and the goals of the book for a college freshman Mandarin Chinese I class, which it was designed for. Please stop asking me what pages to read. READ OR SKIM THE ENTIRE FRONT OF THE BOOK UP TO THE PRONUNCIATION MATERIAL THAT WE COVERED ON MONDAY.

Now to what we covered in class:

We covered pages 1 and 2. That's it. It took an entire hour for me to go over the simple finals and the initial consonant sounds of the BO PO MO FO table. We will review this material next week and going forward as much as we have to. YOUR HOMEWORK IS TO GO ON YOUTUBE AND WATCH AS MANY DIFFERENT BO PO MO FO MANDARIN CHINESE PRONUNCIATION VIDEOS AS YOU HAVE TIME FOR AND CAN FIND. PLEASE SPEND AT LEAST 30 MINUTES DOING THIS. The best ones are usually the very juvenile ones with pink ponies and purple hearts and little baby Mandarin children in high voices pronouncing the syllables. Try to find at least one with an adult voice as well, though, to make sure you are hearing everything clearly. The only way to get these sounds into your mind and mouth is to listen and listen and listen over and over again until you get them.

Several observations:
  1. Nearly every single student in the class was able to almost perfectly parrot back to me the exact sounds that I asked to you repeat on Monday, with few exceptions. Even if certain among you were not perfect, almost everyone pronounced the sounds of the simple finals and the bo po mo fo table WITHIN A WINDOW OF WHAT WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE TO A NATIVE SPEAKER. This means that nearly every one of you has the potential to pronounce this language correctly. The question is, can you eventually do it in slow but real time without repeating after another speaker? Can you eventually take the vocabulary and sentence structures we are going to learn this year and use them to formulate your own basic thoughts in Mandarin and then express these thoughts out loud from scratch and have a native speaker who doesn't know you understand what you are trying to communicate? I would like to suggest that WHILE ALMOST EVERYONE IN THE CLASS DEMONSTRATED THE POTENTIAL ABILITY TO DO THAT ON MONDAY, VERY FEW OF YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS GOAL THIS YEAR. That is ok. Please just realize that YOU (yes, you) have a real potential to speak this language accurately.
  2. I pointed out that you all NEED to approach the sounds of Mandarin Chinese first and foremost as a set of sounds that are NOTHING like English or French or Spanish or Russian or whatever your first language might be. I tell you this, but as the year unfolds, most of you will revert to pronouncing the syllables of pinyin JUST LIKE your first language. Please don't do that to yourself. Allow yourself to learn something new, and keep it new by constantly being aware that it is not supposed to sound ANYTHING like your first language -- even AND ESPECIALLY if your first language is Cantonese or another Chinese dialect!
  3. I pointed out some of the cardinal sins of beginner Mandarin students and explained that you must never EVER pronounce certain syllables this way from the bo po mo fo table or from the list of simple finals. I made a big deal of this. I even went so far as to be borderline insulting to suggest that if some of you make these very basic mistakes and keep making these mistakes over and over again without fixing them, you will sound like AN IDIOT. In spite of my possibly offensive remarks when discussing this, a certain portion OF YOU will start to make these stupid, stupid errors and will continue to make these moronic, moronic errors all year and for the rest of your time that you attempt to study or speak Mandarin. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELVES?! I am giving you everything you need to pronounce this language acceptably to a native speaker. Please do the work and take your time and learn this language properly. Otherwise, some of you are going to feel like an idiot as the year goes by if I keep correcting the same students over and over and over again in order to try to fix these stupid, stupid beginner pronunciation errors. Thanks in advance for being offended enough by me to take this seriously.
Next week, we will review the simple finals and the bo po mo fo table. Then we will plow through pages 3, 4, and 5, beginning the COMPOUND FINALS.

EXTRA CREDIT HOMEWORK: GO ON YOUTUBE AND RESEARCH AND WATCH 30 MINUTES OF MISCELLANEOUS VIDEOS ON THE COMPOUND FINALS OF MANDARIN CHINESE. The stuff at the top of page 6. This will be our focus at the end of next class and then for the following week, all the while reviewing everything we have covered so far.

Put in the time to get these sounds right AND TO KEEP THESE SOUNDS SOUNDING RIGHT. If you get lazy, you are going to make the exact stupid beginner mistakes I just ranted about in number 3 above and both of us are going to feel frustrated. Do yourself a favor and take this pronunciation stuff very, VERY seriously -- RIGHT NOW, before you learn something incorrectly and you need to take even more time to unlearn something you didn't learn properly in the first place.

See everyone next week,

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