Popular Post OneEye Posted May 13, 2013 at 03:02 PM Popular Post Report Share Posted May 13, 2013 at 03:02 PM This post sums up what I've been doing with movies recently. It's been very helpful for me, so I thought it might be worth posting. I first started using movies to improve my Chinese a few months ago. Before that, it was too frustrating because my comprehension was too low for it not to feel like work. For some reason, I don't mind work if it's a textbook. Those are supposed to be work, after all. But when it's something normally done for pleasure like a movie or novel, I prefer my comprehension to be high enough that I can focus on the content or story rather than the language. Then my tutor assigned a movie for me to watch so we could discuss it at our next meeting. What's more, she gave me a copy with no subtitles. So I watched it, and followed the basic story, but there were a lot of parts I didn't get. Determined not to be defeated by a sappy movie (it was 那些年，我們一起追的女孩), I put it on my phone and watched it a few more times. I also ripped the audio using Handbrake, so I could listen to it even when I didn't have time to watch. I downloaded subtitles (I don't remember where I found them, but this site is great for finding subs), and started going through the movie one chunk at a time, looking up all the words I didn't know so I'd understand everything. If you do sentence flashcards, having the subtitle file makes it easy to copy/paste into Anki or whatever you use. Then I listened to each chunk over and over until I understood everything easily. I ended up memorizing big chunks of the movie in the process, much the same as you do when you're a kid and watch the same few movies dozens of times. There were a few spots where I couldn't seem to make what I was hearing match up with what was on the page due to the speaker slurring sounds together, so I made individual mp3 files those sentences using Audacity. I put each one on repeat and said the sentence aloud in unison with the recording until I could say it just like the speaker. A side effect of this step was that I am now able to understand lazy native speakers much better than before. This method is the best way I know of to improve your pronunciation and intonation, and I'd recommend giving it a shot. It's called "chorusing," and is different from shadowing in that you speak short chunks (a sentence or so) in unison with the recording, whereas shadowing is done with longer passages, trailing behind the speaker a bit. With chorusing, you can hear where you differ from the recording in real time, and since you're repeating the same few seconds of audio over and over, you can adjust your own pronunciation as you go, until you have it just right. OK, so I only did all this with the first 45 minutes or so of the movie before I got bored with the movie. But with that portion of the movie I went all out, printing the subtitles and making notes all over them, asking my tutor about parts I couldn't figure out, listening to each chunk of the movie dozens of times over, shadowing, chorusing, etc. The whole process took a few weeks, maybe an hour per day. I noticed a big difference in my listening in everyday life after the whole thing was over. It was like my brain had to do less processing in order for me to understand what I was hearing. I don't know to describe it other than saying there used to be a sort of wall between sound and comprehension, and the wall has come down now, or at least it's much less noticeable. My accent became more authentic as a result of the chorusing practice (before, I had only done it with textbook recordings). Of course, I also learned new ways of saying things, along with some 髒話, and learned some about Taiwanese culture. But the main thing was that the process turned incomprehensible input into comprehensible input, and then drilled it into my head. But perhaps the biggest thing was that other movies and TV shows became much more accessible after doing this. For a long time I had focused on reading more than anything else, so my listening and speaking lagged behind. This process helped my speaking some because of the chorusing and unintentional memorization that occurred, but it helped tremendously with listening, to the point that now I think I'm better at listening than anything else. So, this process allowed me to use other movies and TV shows much more easily, because I can generally just watch now and get almost all of it. The parts I don't get, I can iron out using these techniques, but it's much less intensive than the first time around. I can generally just enjoy the movie, and just pick out a few parts that need work. I generally spend a lot of time in cafes either working or studying, so I bring a movie or two with me to play in the background. I find that doing this keeps my brain in "Chinese mode," which is hard for me to do while I'm translating because I easily slip into English mode. So that's the other thing I do with movies, is to keep an "immersion environment" going, even though I live in Taiwan. Because eavesdropping gets old, and is generally much less interesting and varied. I find that aural input is much more effective than reading in maintaining the "din in the head" that Stephen Krashen and others have talked about as being very important to language acquisition. This matches up with my experience, that having this involuntary Chinese chatter going on in my head correlates highly with increased fluency, confidence, and willingness to speak as opposed to trepidation. Having a movie playing in the background has proven to be extremely helpful as far as all that goes, so I've been watching a bunch of movies over and over lately (I'm currently on a 讓子彈飛 kick). Anyway, this post isn't as organized as I was hoping, but maybe it will be helpful. This stuff has made a huge impact on my Chinese, so hopefully someone else will find it useful too. Really, you can do this with any kind of audio content, especially if you have a transcript, but I find it much more enjoyable, and therefore more effective, to do it with movies. If you have more ideas that have worked for you, please share them! 21 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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