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Say It Right Series

"Imprinting errors in your brain?" The case for corrected written homework!

Posted by henning December 11, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

This is actually a reaction to furyougaijin's post in the "CPod users can't read" thread. I think it needs a place of its own.

On the subject of producting Chinese posts without native speaker correction furyougaijin writes:

"[Without correction] it becomes an exercise of inventing your own Chinese language and imprinting your own (and other people's) errors in your brain."


Although I hate to admit it there is some truth to that point. Let me give "anecdotal evidence": 

I recently posted this in the 中国八大菜系 thread:

我的妻子看这种节目的时候,一直抱怨 "他们做得错", "这样不太好吃"等等 。 然后起来表演怎么做,证明她做的饭是独一无二的那么好。 因此我越来越胖。

When my wife read that she surprisingly became very angry - although I thought I made her a compliment with that message. "So I am only *trying* to cook better than those TV-clowns?". "No - as I wrote you *prove* you do better"! 证明 = prove - isn't it?".

It took a while to find out the source of the misunderstanding.
It was one of those beloved 了s that was missing.

The evidence is only valid if it reads: 证明了 [...]. Without a 了 the proving is not yet completed and therefore left in the state of just trying.

Point here: I learned a lot. But I made a serious grammar mistake that I did not recognize without native-speaker-input. 


But even in daily speech or CPod Practice Plan sessions this would probably have stayed unnoticed - below the waterline of recognition, buried under several layers of real-time-language-processing challenges.


My conclusion: There is a case for a written homework correction service that is independent of the Practice Plan. Although that might come costly for its users it might be worth it. 


By the way: Yes, I will indeed continue posting Chinese comments. Actively (!) remembering or looking up vocab, trying to piece sentences together and Google-checking expressions imprints lots of good and correct language into my brain that outweights all the errors. I am not making up a whole new language, I just make mistakes . I learned most of my faulty English that way.

But I hope you are all warned now.  :P

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