Back in March, I started to transcribe as a listening exercise, but life happened, and I had to stop. Now I'm doing this again, this time with these rules:
1) I'm doing it for 2 hours every day:
- For one hour, I work with slow, clearly spoken material (Slow Chinese)
- For one hour I struggle with a Chinese TV drama (Great Marriage).
I might rethink this mix, but I stuck with it for the first month.
2) I use WorkAudioBook for Slow Chinese and Lingual Media Player for the drama. The drama has .srt subtitles and I prepare subtitles for Slow Chinese days before using each episode for this listening exercise. I only listen to one subtitle line at a time. Each line is 1-7 seconds long.
3) I can use anything to get the transcription done: Pleco, Google, Baidu, etc, but NOT voice recognition software or looking at the original transcript itself. That would be cheating.
4) I work with paper, mechanical pencil and an eraser in paper with 25 squares per line, with separations to write down corrections and omissions. This makes it easier to compute total characters and count errors/omissions.
5) After each session, I count total characters originally written and subtract double the errors. This is my score. When I reach 1,000 points in one day, I'll go out and celebrate in my favorite pizza restaurant. I subtract errors twice because this way I force myself to try and strike a balance between speed and accuracy: I can't go too fast because my accuracy might fall below 50% and then I get negative scores; I can't linger for too long on difficult parts because then I won't be making more points in easier parts. There's only so much you can do with Pleco and Google when you just can't make out the exact sounds people are saying, so you have to choose when to move on.
So far, I've seen progress. With both Slow Chinese and the drama, the proverbs, quotes and fixed expressions are the most difficult. Of course, the drama is way more difficult than Slow Chinese, so now I'm skipping the parts where several people are talking at the same time/quarreling/shouting/drunk/etc. I find that my handwriting is becoming faster, but sloppier. And I'm learning to understand both a slight Zhejiang accent (Slow Chinese) and Northern accent (Great Marriage), and how sounds are slurred together/omitted/whispered/etc.
I want to sit for the HSK in order to have a clear goal to work for, so I'm considering switching from transcribing Great Marriage to transcribing past recordings of the HSK listening section, to really get used to them. Of course, during the exam you won't have the luxury of replaying, but still, this might be a useful exercise and a break from all the quarreling found in a TV drama. To be honest, I find it disheartening that even pausing and repeating and using Pleco and all that stuff, I can only get around 70% of the drama dialogue right. It can feel like a chore, so I guess I'll take a stroll through the HSK forest and then come back to the TV drama when I have more vocabulary. What do you think?
I'm also attaching a sample of my handwriting. Above the line, it's the drama. Below the line, it's Slow Chinese.
To clarify, the "stopped" information doesn't reflect how much I transcribe in each session, because I sometimes keep watching/listening after finishing the transcribing session. It's just a bookmark.