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hatapota
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Hi everyone, I'm new here and was after a little bit of advice. I've studied Mandarin on and off for the last few years, and at my peak I knew about 800 characters and had a very good grasp of grammar (my lessons were very grammar intensive).

I'm now trying to drag myself slowly up to that level again - I think currently I could confidently write about 400 characters and read about 100 more. I used Colloquial Chinese and am working my way through it again. I also have the Yip Po-Ching and Don Rimmington basic and intermediate grammar books, which I really like. I've signed up for some classes beginning in september, but am looking to improve over the summer.

As my studies previously were focused on reading and writing, and I can work on these things using the books I already have, I'm trying to find a way to improve my listening skills. I have a language exchange partner but I'm so unconfident about listening and speaking that I panic easily and I'd like to be able have some suitable chinese audio to listen to. Are there any particular audio books/textbooks that anyone would recommend for my current level? And what would people recommend after this?

Thanks in advance!

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The New Practical Chinese Reader series include quite a bit of listening material. Make sure to get the 2nd edition since the Textbook and Workbook each come with an MP3 CD, instead of having to buy the Audio CD's separately like you had to do with the first edition. For added listening practice you can get the videos of the dialogues for the first 3 volumes for free on the publishers website here http://www.hanyu.com.cn/oldedition/en/htm_newlesson/mulu.htm . The dialogue on the videos is also spoken much faster so it will be more challenging.

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deathtrap is correct. Be sure you listen to the CD for the textbook lesson, maybe listen to it twice. Then listen to the CD for the corresponding workbook lesson. They do have listening exercises for the workbook which progress in difficulty as you work your way up through the books.

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The links to the videos are broken on that site but you can still access them by going to:

"http://unclp.org/oneword/xinBOOK#/LESSON#-SECTION#.wmv"

So for example the first lesson of the first book is here:

http://unclp.org/oneword/xin1/1-1.wmv

and lesson 29 section 2 from book 3 is here:

http://unclp.org/oneword/xin3/29-2.wmv

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Yeah I just used wget to download them all. I didn't actually bother trying to watch them on the site. Oops :P

The 4th volumes DVD is available through other means, but I won't link it since I'm not sure if that's legal or not. I'm not sure if the publisher forgot about that video site and just didn't bother to update it with the other 3 volumes, or whether they didn't want to put them up and force people to buy them.

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I think that most modern quality textbooks will have listening materials with them. In general, it's good to follow a textbook to make sure that you're not missing some important aspects of the language and having your skills lag in some areas. It's a good idea to use other resources at the same time, like you are doing with character study and grammar books.

You can look for NPCR videos on youtube if you want to have a sample. Alternatively, podcasts are a good source of listening (do search the forum here for lots of podcast suggestions).

In the long run, you want to start watching TV shows. It might be a bit overwhelming at this moment, but as soon as you have a couple of thousand vocabulary items and around 1000 characters under your belt, you should give the easy one a try. Listening practice is extremely important with Chinese. The first few episodes will be taxing, and you'll need to pause a lot and consult a dictionary. But as soon as you can roughly follow, you will have an inexhaustible source of listening materials.

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NPCR looks really good. I had a watch of some of the videos for book 2 and I can sort-of follow what's going on but not properly, so I'll start there. I've ordered the textbook and workbook so hopefully I can get started on them soon! Thanks for your help!

I do try to listen to radio broadcasts sometimes but I am always dismayed at how little I can understand - I definitely need to start easier and work my way up, for my confidence's sake if nothing else! I look forward to the day when I can watch a TV show :)

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You mention a sense of panic. I'd recommend addressing that - if you can. I'm sure the panic makes it worse.

I used to feel like that and for some reason almost never feel it now even though my overall level's not high. I think there was a day when the penny dropped - why on earth am I feeling like this? Apart from exams, it rarely matters if your listening's less than you wish it were. In real life you can ask people to repeat things, and to say them more slowly, and it pushes them to move towards you as regards making their language come within your level rather than pushing you always into the situation where you don't stand much chance of coping. When people repeat things I often end up learning more from the interaction than I would otherwise - and it's learning from real conversations, not lesson material. I think I eventually realised that feeling panic about listening to a tape, CD, radio or televison was just bonkers, pathetic.

My listening now is not bad, for the level I'm at (just got new HSK level 3), and now I've given up on the panic I get much more of a buzz out of it.

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Maybe you should sign up for chinapod. http://chinesepod.com/ . They have regular podcasts for all levels and you can get a good, very useful dialogue for any level along with the transcript and vocab!

I usually find that once you have some good level of chinese you get easily bored with normal textbooks, but these guys will keep you interested! Plus they have a free trial so if you don't like it you can just stop using it!

Other than that listening to chinese pop could help you a lot with listening. Download a few songs and their lyrics and liste to them. Then dowload songs and try to figure out the pinyin and the characters when you feel ready for it. It sounds difficult, but it will teach you some good vocab!

Good luck!

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JenniferW – I definitely agree that I need to do something about my levels of panic when it comes to listening to Chinese. I tend to fixate on the one word that I didn’t understand, rather than the ones I do and picking up the rest from context etc. I know that worrying and panicking only makes things worse, and if I chill out then I will understand more, learn more and be happier, but it’s difficult! I think (or I hope?) that with more practice I will gain in confidence and can stop beating myself up for every little mistake or unknown word!

baixue_vasiliki – good call about listening to Chinese music. I find that translating songs that I like really helpful (translating German rock songs was one of the ways I learnt German, although it did leave me with slightly odd vocabulary…). I don’t have a lot of Chinese music at the moment but I will download some more and see how I get on. I’ll also look into chinesepod.

Thanks for all your help! :)

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