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Tapes are more useful than any textbooks for beginners


shengmar
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Human beings learn language not only from listening but also learn very fast from listening, which is a fact that we can see from the toddlers. But unfortunately, people could hardly learn from listening before recorder was invented. Furthermore, even after recorder was invented, it had been very expensive and inconvenient to use it to learn languages. Then in 1996, Professor Zhong Daolong, who is both a professor of electronics and a PLA general, came up with an idea of adding a memory chip to a recorder so that the learner needn’t stop the cassettes, rewinds and then he will be able to listen repeated as many times as he wants. The learners’ time will be saved and the learning via listening will be cheap enough for everyone.

The recorder opens a new era of learning foreign languages as it allows people to learn foreign languages as the toddlers do. That is, listen to a sentence repeatedly until he can say the sentence. Books can be a reference but the tapes take the place of a language teacher.

The best example is my Bulgarian student, who is a middle-aged musician and has no prior experience of learning Chinese. She was able to speak very well after listening a lot for only 5 weeks. During the five weeks, we had met online for only 4 hours. However she has got the tones and pinyin perfectly.

So I think for any learner of Chinese at the beginning stage, listen sentence by sentence as much as possible. Let the brain figure out the foreign sounds by itself. Listen a lot and then try to imitate. The recorder has the function of recording your imitation for you to compare the learner’s achievement to the original recording.

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So I think for any learner of Chinese at the beginning stage, listen sentence by sentence as much as possible. Let the brain figure out the foreign sounds by itself. Listen a lot and then try to imitate.

That's what I did in my first two months or so of learning Chinese in 2001. I strongly believe that listening is the most important skill at early stages. I didn't use a recorder then, although I have bought one now (mainly because all the best Chinese speakers of English that I have met have used recorders). Do you have any advice on the best ways to use it?

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