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Some progress.

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Trying to improve listening skills is a tedious process. Humans being naturally impatient skip over listening skills. Yes. Guilty as charged. 

 

Over the last month, I have been reviewing my anki cards made from Growing Up With Chinese 成长汉语. (See my earlier blog post). It's also an exercise in tidying up the cards with timings of sounds and clarifying some of the translations cards.

 

I try to intensely concentrate on each sound and try to mentally note down each softer, harder and dropped sounds. Mentally, it's very tiring. I try to do at least a few cards each time I open anki and then over one day, I give it a go perhaps three times.

 

It's hard to give objective measures of development but definitely random listening seems much easier than before, mainly applied to standard Mandarin There's also serms to be a slightly better feel for the language 语感 which enables me to guess at the overall meaning of a sentence even without knowing all the individual words. All in all, it's very encouraging.

 

Do I actually know more vocabulary? I don't think so at least not on an active recall basis. I haven't been actively learning vocabulary. I just look up words in the card that I don't know but don't write them down nor store them.

 

Intermediate level spoken Mandarin is easier to understand (YouTube videos). Increasingly, range of vocabulary, is starting to feel like the rate limiting step.

 

Spoken drama is still out of my range. My eyes are irresistibly drawn to the subtitles similar to rocket locked on target.

 

Talking with people is very interesting. In practice, I speak very little to other people using Mandarin. I don't do weekly chats, my chats are on an ad hoc basis and less than once a week. Like really random. It's not an area that I am focussing on at present. However, with the better listening,  I can follow the speed of speech much better and work out parts which I am unsure about much faster. 

 

When it actually comes to myself speaking, my fluency seems to have improved. Words that I know are coming into my head faster and coming out better. I am not sure if my pronunciation has improved or whether the better flow and intonation is helping the other party understand me better. It's probably a greater proportion of the latter. 

 

Future directions?

 

1) continue with 成长汉语 up to about episode 70

 

2) go through some Chinesepod lower intermediate with the same methodology. I.e. create flashcards and create listening practice cards. When do flashcards for listening stop being useful. Maybe at upper intermediate level? Someway to go for that.

 

3) I discovered I like instructional videos I.e. those that teach a skill, so cooking is a good one. At some point, I will need to sit down and fully concentrate on a five minute segment and learn all the sentences. That is, if the background music isn't too intrusive. 

 

4) dramas - lots of learning materials but it looks like I am not at the level to make them appealing. 

 

5) discipline myself to go through the lessons in my listening comprehension books of 发展汉语

 

6) sort of unrelated but maybe six months time really having a blast at pronunciation accuracy within spoken sentences. This will definitely need a tutor. I have my methodology but that is for another post.

 

 

Edit: forgot to mention, for the listening practice, I am trying to practically memorise each sentence. Good results have been reported by other forum members using this methodology. 



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Interesting write-up, thanks.

 

I used to put something over subtitles - bit of paper taped to the screen, whatever. Didn't do it as much as I should, but made it much easier to get an idea of where your listening's at. Even if you don't read subtitles, you spend effort ignoring them. 

 

I was trying to think of dramas that might be a gentler start. Back in my day I've have suggested 空镜子 or 中国式离婚 for slower-paced relationship / family stuff which might be easier to follow than a fast-paced legal drama. But they're so old you might struggle to find them in an acceptable resolution. 一切都好 got some discussion recently, and while I only watched an episode or two it might suit. 

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道艺黄帝

Posted

Nothing against this particular poster, but one thing that continues to puzzle me is the phenomenon of people who spend hours upon hours of training, reviewing, flash carding, and studying, yet rarely (if ever) put it into practice. 

 

OP mentioned this being that he/she may interact in Chinese once a week. 

 

May I ask, you are putting in so much time to practice a skill, why do you not wish to actually use it? Is the Chinese media that interesting that you want to enjoy it in its original form? Is it your field of study? Is it a form of masochism? Sorry, I don't mean to come off like a jerk, I just see so many laoway here in China get trapped in this routine all for seemingly naught, even moreso with posters here. 

 

I am asking as someone who genuinely wants to know. 

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not only I agree wit you, but I dare say, why spending any effort doing anything at all, when we are all doomed to succumb to the cold bony hands of death long before our efforts achieve any semblance of perfection, or any usefulness for that matter. 

 

I'm chucking my running shoes first thing as soon as I stand up from this chair.

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Standing up from your chair? Why bother? Let the shoes rot and decay by the door, and they can watch you do the same. I'm not even typing this comment, the cats are doing it.

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Posted

7 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

hours of training, reviewing, flash carding, and studying, yet rarely (if ever) put it into practice. 

 

OP mentioned this being that he/she may interact in Chinese once a week. 

 

May I ask, you are putting in so much time to practice a skill, why do you not wish to actually use it?


good point. 
 

I spent many hours on martial arts. I don’t enter competitions. I have rarely been in situations where I need to use them. 
 

what is the point of still training when I don’t want to actually fight?

 

(Well even at my age I am still getting in the ring and semi-sparring. There is a political situation in HK and I nearly accidentally got caught in it last weekend).

 

7 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

May I ask, you are putting in so much time to practice a skill, why do you not wish to actually use it?


the skill is listening skills. In order to interact, I need to understand input. If I can speak but not understand the input, then I have no chance to communicate. I have been in that situation many times before. If I can understand but not articulate very well, I can still get by when I need to use mandarin.

 

Much earlier, I used to do a lot of interaction with italki community tutors. Lots of it. The progress was ok but not totally satisfying. For me, perhaps my own learning style is a preference to understand which I didn’t appreciate in previous years. My experiences of going to Shenzhen, Beijing and Qingdao last year reaffirmed that my listening skills are the main limitation. I can ask questions but not deal with many of the answers and therefore the utility of speaking at this point in time, is of lower priority. For me, those sexy promises of getting the student to talk in mandarin as quickly as possible didn’t work out very well. 

 

In this blog, I am actually only concerned with listening skills for handling people situations. It is not concerned with speaking skills, grammar skills etc. I.e. just focussed on one aspect. That probably gives an impression of single mindedness over other aspects of learning a language. I just haven’t got to the other stages yet! Southern Mandarin accents are easier for me but I do want to balance it out with understanding northern accents. Listening to standard mandarin is ok for me so long as it’s not too fast. For example, I can listen to the radio in mandarin and follow (with vocabulary limitations). 

 

I have my materials for speaking setup for the future. I just want to train my ears better to deal with the vast input and at some point, I will decrease the time on listening with an increase in time on the other skills. 
 

I think most people like to move up each skill in tandem. After all things considered, at present, I think I prefer to focus on certain areas at different times and have decided listening is the priority. Then sentences and pronunciation, then examining grammar (having hopefully had the benefit of lots of aural comprehension as a base). 
 

My own basis for practicing like this was from @OneEye describing how he wasn’t going to be beaten by not understanding a sappy film, and then after practically learning  the dialogue by heart, he noticed other associated benefits. The flashcard technique works well for me allowing to carry around material on my phone and doing a quick listen during different parts of the day and also getting lots of reps in. 

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Posted

What I haven’t really stated before is how satisfied I am with my progress. 
 

Previously I felt I wasn’t progressing very happily. Lots of stops. However, I still come on to Chineseforums which should be a good thing. Haha.

 

I feel much happier with my progress. Yes. A boring and tedious work but genuinely happier with better listening comprehension. 

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道艺黄帝

Posted

7 hours ago, matteo said:

not only I agree wit you, but I dare say, why spending any effort doing anything at all, when we are all doomed to succumb to the cold bony hands of death long before our efforts achieve any semblance of perfection, or any usefulness for that matter. 

 

I'm chucking my running shoes first thing as soon as I stand up from this chair.

never mentioned perfection, just curious why someone who spends hours practicing a 3 pt shot would only want to play a game 1ce a year. OP answered well, may have to do with avoiding the socially awkward situation of constantly having to ask X 是什么意思

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Flickserve

Posted

23 minutes ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

socially awkward situation of constantly having to ask X 是什么意思

 

Very true with the ubiquitous 请你再说一遍。

 

I edited my reply to you for greater clarity. I have a tendency to push the reply button early. Good discussion point and thanks for asking.

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道艺黄帝

Posted

Hey I appreciate your attitude towards my questioning. Cool I see you using it as a point if discussion - something I don't get enough on this subject from the laoway->Chinese viewpoint. 

 

I've definitely noticed when focusing in on completely grasping one thing, like a movie (or video game dialogue in my case 😂)  you notice some of it leak over into other domains of Chinese speaking. Those moments are very rewarding and really help solidify language points

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