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imron

Getting out of a listening rut

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imron
1 hour ago, AdamD said:

I can’t be ruthlessly optimistic forever.

You can't be ruthlessly pessimistic forever either.

 

Previously you were 'crushing' Chinese, understanding most of what was said in conversation and in your own words Chinese "didn't feel like a foreign language at all, it just felt like I was just talking to people. No mental translation, no stopping to ponder words I didn't know, no checking Pleco every 20 seconds, just listening and speaking."

 

I guess that based on this, your expectations for this trip were that you'd be able to enjoy Taiwan without language being a barrier.  Unfortunately language was still a barrier and that's put a severe dint in your confidence.  I can't promise you'll be able to get over this hump within 10 years, but I do know that you definitely won't be able to get over it if you give it up.

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AdamD

@imron: There’s no point in going back to that one post where I thought I was getting somewhere, because I really think I just guessed most of what was being said, and they’re kind enough people that they dropped what they actually said and carried on with my reply. I’m having to guess from context all the time. I was then and I am now, and most of the time I’m wrong. That’s become painfully obvious.

 

@roddy: I’ve listened to as many conversations as I can. Apart from the occasional basic word I have no idea what they’re saying.

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Flickserve
32 minutes ago, AdamD said:

I’ve listened to as many conversations as I can. Apart from the occasional basic word I have no idea what they’re saying.

 

You have some sort of tuning in issue and it's taking time to get used to the language around you. By your own reports you have been taking part in conversations before in Taiwan so there is definitely the ability to listen and to pick it up more quickly than before.

 

Did you stop listening to Chinese for a period of time ? 

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AdamD

Not in at least four years.

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wibr

You could try to take a break from learning Chinese, like a vacation. Right now it seems like you are not seeing any progress anyway, so let your brain relax a bit, maybe it will sort some things out for you.

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AdamD

@wibr: Maybe you’re right. I’ve accumulated 3.5 years of unbroken daily chains but maybe it’s time to break one. It’ll also help me decide whether I want to keep doing this.

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Flickserve
16 hours ago, AdamD said:

Not in at least four years.

 

I could definitely do with some of that tenacity.

 

 

You need to chill and not get worked up over what you can't understand. If you can't understand, slowly work it out again and just say "oh yeah, didn't get that, reminded now" type of attitude. Then carry on and not dwell on it. 

 

 

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imron

In other words, find this mindset again.

 

On 1/20/2018 at 8:20 AM, AdamD said:

Yes, and a big recent change in my attitude is that I'm no longer scared to make mistakes, or apologetic when I make them. In fact I'm now far more likely to charge forth knowing what I'm saying is incorrect, just so I can scramble together the meaning and worry about the mistakes afterwards.

 

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AdamD

@imron: That mindset is stronger than ever. I’ve been making mistakes all day every day. It’s understanding what’s said back that’s been the problem.

 

@Flickserve: I’m not worked up, I’m just over it.

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AdamD
On 10/04/2018 at 5:35 AM, eddyf said:

Didn't you say earlier that you had noticed significant progress in understanding those? How far did you get?

 

I was doing well with the intermediate and playing with the upper intermediate, but that's gone downhill as well. I just don't get it.

 

On 10/04/2018 at 5:35 AM, eddyf said:

So if you can't understand the Advanced lessons easily then you shouldn't expect to understand native speech.

 

The problem is that I couldn't understand basic single-word sentences.

 

On 10/04/2018 at 5:35 AM, eddyf said:

And find some objective way to measure your progress so you can actually see that you're getting somewhere.

 

That's fine, but if I only improve in certain measurable aspects and still can't understand basic speech, it doesn't leave me with anything practical. As I mentioned above, for me it's not about whether I can improve slowly and incrementally, it's about (a) why the hell I've gone backwards this year and (b) whether I'll die of old age before I reach a vaguely functional (not even fluent) level.

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DavyJonesLocker

Hi Adam, how are you getting on now a month later, any better?

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Flickserve

Just wondering if the expectations are being set a little too high?

 

It's quite often that even in English or in Cantonese, I ask people to repeat things if I didn't catch what they say. If I don't get it Cantonese, I just move on.

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Moshen
Quote

A woman in a shop just said ‘85’ to me several times and I couldn’t understand her. She had to point to ‘85’. This is where I’m at

 

I've had this experience with English, and I am a native English speaker!

 

I was at a restaurant in Georgia once, and the waitress asked me, "Do you want rahhhhhs with that?"  I asked her to repeat herself three times and still could not understand.  My husband was laughing because English is his third language and he understood the woman perfectly.  She was asking me if I wanted rice.

 

As someone else advised, Don't be so hard on yourself. 

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AdamD
On 5/16/2018 at 3:30 PM, DavyJonesLocker said:

Hi Adam, how are you getting on now a month later, any better?

 

Thanks for asking. Apart from one time in May when I tried and failed to help some Chinese tourists locally (they didn't understand me, I didn't understand them, the whole thing was a car crash), I've not done anything constructive at all. I've only barely kept up my chains, but only because I don't want to regret breaking them, and I can't understand anything I listen to anyway.

 

Recently I've toyed with the idea of dipping my toes back in, but honestly there's no reason at all to go back to this in any meaningful way — my goals in Chinese led to a prolonged and expensive series of devastating failures which I simply can't bear to go through again. I have no future in this at all, and my progress has proved to be so glacial that I really will be dead before I reach proficiency.

 

On 5/18/2018 at 8:43 AM, Flickserve said:

Just wondering if the expectations are being set a little too high?

 

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, lots of people I know have shot past me in far less time. Wanting to understand single-word answers after seven years of intense and focused study isn't a high expectation at all.

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DanielG

Since you have already invested so much time into Chinese and feel like you are making zero progress in the listening department, it might be a good idea simply to focus on another aspect of the language, for example reading.  Take a break from berating yourself about not understanding spoken Chinese and spend some time with something you are more successful at. There is of course some overlap, so listening to audio of texts that you are familiar with might be a way to transition back into improving your listening skills later down the road. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

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AdamD
11 minutes ago, DanielG said:

it might be a good idea simply to focus on another aspect of the language, for example reading.

 

It’s a good thought, and I have considered just reading, but it’s only half the language, and it’s incredibly embarrassing when people see me reading and completely fail at speech. I also need a reason to keep it up, which I honestly don’t have at the moment.

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Flickserve

@AdamD

 

Good to see you back. 

 

I don't think I do much. I tried going through a few Chinesepod material.

 

I set up listening cards in Anki with them. The sentences repeat about ten times. And I try to work out what is going on. 

 

I felt that worked quite well though I quickly lose interest in making more cards. I have to say that Chinesepod audio is quite clearly spoken. I was recently on a plane and watched a Taiwanese movie. It gave me a shock to discover I couldn't understand any of it except the odd few words. This was like complete non-comprehension. I switched on the subtitles which helped a little bit.

 

I just visited Malaysia and tried to use a bit of Mandarin -  couldn't understand the answers as well. 

 

No matter. I just carry on at my slow pace.

 

I have been through this same experience before with Cantonese. I learnt to shrug it off and just carry on. Even in my daily life in HK, I have to ask people to repeat themselves when I interact in Cantonese. Second language learners of English have the same problems so why not us the other way round learning Mandarin? 

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Flickserve

Since my surprise at the Taiwanese movie about more than a month ago, I have been trying a little more with interacting with people on hellotalk. It's a bit hit and miss. I get them to speak and write down words that I don't know or sometimes there are words that I do know but haven't known the manner they can be used in. Since most of these are recorded messages, I pick out sentences where a couple of key words are missing from my comprehension. I type out the sentence and ask them to fill in the missing word.

 

I am not too concerned about my speaking but I hope to get used to the listening part better. One person who I communicate with on an occasional basis said my speaking has deteriorated but I am not too bothered as I can still be understood. 听力 is the name of the game. 

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AdamD

I'm deliberately not focusing on listening right now because it's frankly soul destroying, but right now I'm on a group call with a few people speaking English and Chinese. One of them suggested I do all the things I've been doing for years (which haven't worked for me but apparently work for everyone else), and then suggested I try something different (which I've also tried doing for years). Now they've all jumped to Chinese and I can't understand enough to know what's going on.

 

Where I'm going with the above is this: it's great that people want to help, but when people who have achieved listening proficiency suggest techniques I've already tried and failed at, it actually makes me feel worse. A lot worse. It's the number one reason I don't want to keep trying.

 

Sorry, I'm not looking for reassurance or sympathy or pep talks, I just wanted to say this.

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