Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chinese: 20% done, 80% to go

At the end of March, I had studied Chinese for 7 months. Yesterday I scored 750 recognized characters at Chinese character recognition test. (By the way, that is the only super-realistic test that I know of.)

They say that you need 3000-4000 characters to read Chinese newspapers, but educated Chinese need to know 6000 characters. By linear interpolation, 7 months for 750 translates to 3 years for 3750 characters, which should be enough for reading newspapers.

Of course the approximation is quite rough. On the one hand, learning may be slower since the amount of new characters should start to drop at some point, slowing down the character learning but vastly speeding up word learning. On the other hand, it may may faster since I now know how to write the radicals (building-blocks of the sinograms) and also have some routine in memorizing new characters.

Tampere University has 5 Chinese courses, and I've completed the 4th one. (The 5th is a paid summer course.) A girl in that course said that she has a Chinese newspaper and her goal is to find one sentence that she understands. She didn't reach that goal. I wonder if there are other languages where after 2 years of courses you are still at the "elementary" level instead of "satisfactory".

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