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suMMit

My crazy(?) idea for extra listening/speaking practice

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suMMit

Ok, I had this crazy(for me anyway) idea to get more opportunities to practice speaking and listening/speaking. I live in China, but do not get as many chances as I'd like to speak.

 

I'm thinking about ordering a DRD recorder and in my free time, going to different places in my city, go up to people and say in Chinese "Excuse me, my hobby is studying Chinese. My teacher has asked me to interview people and ask a few questions. Im very interested Chinese language and culture, so I hope you can help me". I then would ask them some questions relevant to what I'm learning at the moment. For now, they'd be quite simple: What do you do on the weekends?, What do you like about your work?, How much do apartments in this area cost? etc. I also travel a fair bit around China, so I think it would be fun and interesting to do in other cities as well.

 

I would then take the recording and send it to an Italki teacher to give me feedback on my pronunciation/grammar etc,  and transcribe their answers for me, or tell me any important new words I don't know.  Why a drd? I think it'd be less 麻烦 then my phone and people would be more willing to speak into it.

 

*Is this a good idea? Any possible problems? I know a lot of people wouldn't be willing to talk into a recorder, but I'm confident some will. 

 

**Also, If anyone could suggest a good opening sentence, that would be great, I was thinking:你好,打扰一下。 我的爱好是学中文。老师 is requiring me to(I don't know how to say this) 面试中国人一些简单的问题。你可以帮我吗?

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Moshen

This is great practice even without the recorder!

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Flickserve

Great idea!

 

Any chance others (like me) can eavesdrop on the interviews?

 

2 hours ago, suMMit said:

 I also travel a fair bit around China, so I think it would be fun and interesting to do in other cities as well.

 

Fantastic.

 

This is not a problem as such but if you are a Chinese learner, people tend to speak more standard mandarin designed for a chinese learner. It would be the same way I would speak English to ESL learners.

 

If you get a chinese native doing the interview, the interviewee would be more likely to use their own natural accent.

 

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Lu
15 minutes ago, Flickserve said:

if you are a Chinese learner, people tend to speak more standard Mandarin designed for a Chinese learner.

I don't think that's really a problem. I think many people will adjust to what OP appears to understand, and that is a good thing (because then OP will understand a larger amount of what is said). And some people are just incapable of speaking slowly or clearly or more simply, even if they are theoretically willing to do so, so OP will get the higher difficulty setting as well.

 

I think one concern is that you shouldn't post these interviews publicly, unless the interviewee agrees to that beforehand. It shouldn't be a problem to share it with an Italki teacher or a classmate, but I don't think you should post recordings of other people to these forums, for example.

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Flickserve
19 minutes ago, Lu said:

don't think that's really a problem.

 

As stated in my post, I don’t regard it as a problem.

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Publius
3 hours ago, suMMit said:

你好,打扰一下。 我的爱好是学中文。老师 is requiring me to(I don't know how to say this) 面试中国人一些简单的问题。你可以帮我吗?

你好,打扰一下。 我的爱好是学中文。老师布置作业让我采访中国人并提一些简单的问题。你可以帮我吗?(It's not a 面试 unless there's a job opportunity. 面试 = 当面考查测试 = audition. There's a word for random street interview, by the way: 街访.)

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大肚男

I'm super serious and not trying to be clever.

 

But wouldn't walking up to people with a recorder make them uncomfortable, and believe you are some sort of a slick spy or journalist, and may raise the ire of local authorities.

 

I have heard stories about the government asking the public to keep an eye out for foreign spies, and don't want this to cause you any problems. Especially if you are doing it while city hopping.

 

justbe careful either way.

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suMMit

@大肚男 Dang, this is a very good point :(

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mackie1402
2 hours ago, 大肚男 said:

I have heard stories about the government asking the public to keep an eye out for foreign spies, and don't want this to cause you any problems. Especially if you are doing it while city hopping.

 

I'd like to think spies aren't this obvious. 😀

 

I don't think it'd be a problem. I always see people do it in the street, and it's becoming more and more common on Douyin now. 

 

Either way, whether recording or not, the opportunity to go out and speak to locals is a fantastic way to improve your Chinese. Go for it!

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snowflake

The textbook “Chinese In Motion” basically has this format. Everything revolves around preparing for, doing interviews on particular topics, then writing about it, giving reports, etc.

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anonymoose
21 hours ago, 大肚男 said:

But wouldn't walking up to people with a recorder make them uncomfortable, and believe you are some sort of a slick spy or journalist, and may raise the ire of local authorities.

 

Maybe, but if the first question is whether they would mind being interviewed, they have the opportunity to decline. It may be better, however, to ask this question prior to sticking the recorder in their face.

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abcdefg
On 7/31/2019 at 10:05 PM, suMMit said:

Why a drd? I think it'd be less 麻烦 then my phone and people would be more willing to speak into it.

 

I'll bet you will find that people are less likely to "freeze up" if you just record them on your mobile phone. A mobile phone is much less "threatening," less "intimidating," less "intrusive" than a piece of "specialist equipment" such as a digital recorder. 

 

The way I would probably go about this is to just strike up a conversation without any electronic devices. If you find someone with whom you are comfortable chatting, on some topic of mutual interest, then you can introduce the idea of recording the conversation so you can study it more later.  

 

(Disclaimer: I haven't done this and don't know anyone who has. Not sure it will work no matter what approach you use.) 

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suMMit

@abcdefg Having thought about this, and all things considered, I think you are right. I will try it tomorrow ie. just using my phone.

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abcdefg

Good luck!

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suMMit

Ok so I did it this evening. I'm working in 西安, I went to the park and walked til I saw someone who looked approachable, a late 40s looking guy. I said something like "Excuse me, my hobby is studying Chinese, is it ok if I ask you a question?" He was said "of course", slid over to make space on the bench and offered me a cigarette. I asked him what he did for work, why he chose that kind of work, and the conversation led into lots of other stuff. He really liked to talk and I probably only understood 15 percent, however I got the gist of most of it and was able to answer all his questions. Before I left, I asked him if he would mind recording a little bit about his work onto my phone about his work so that I could listen later, he said no problem and I recorded about 30 seconds worth. It's very clear, normal speed, and a lot of it i don't understand. I will get an Italki teacher to transcribe it. I also talked to a pair of guys in their late 30s, they were equally friendly, but I didn't do the recording. I don't know why, I should have.

 

I really enjoyed this. Somehow it felt a lot different to chatting with a taxi driver, and It made me realize how easy it is to go up to people and chat. I will absolutely do this often and try to record each person.

 

If anyone would like a link to this guy's recording, PM me. I can't say how interesting it is, because its above my level.

 

 

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Lu

Thanks for reporting back here! So glad to see you had such a good experience. Keep it up!

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abcdefg

Nice work! 

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道艺黄帝

Cool man,  in my experience Chinese ppl are generally very approachable and often welcome me to conversation when I tell them I'm learning. I'd be down to give the conversation a listen if you don't mind. 

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suMMit

Traveling for work in 长沙 today and tomorrow, was hoping to do another couple "interviews". Have no time to get to a park, but saw a couple friendly looking people in the mall tonight. Got a 1:45 min recording of a girl. I asked her a few questions about the weather/her favorite season/where she's from/job. I also have me recorded and I sound pretty bad, I made a lot of tone mistakes and/or "weak tones" and stuttering😓. Some were probably because of sheer nerves of being recorded and holding a camera on a total stranger and some just because I need to improve... I think its a good exercise though, I can become aware/correct those mistakes and doing this over again should help me feel more and more comfortable speaking to strangers in Chinese.

 

The recording is pretty elementary stuff, but there are some things she says that I don't understand. Very clear audio/video. If  anyone would like to hear it, PM me and I will send you the Dropbox link (I would be ok just to post it and future ones here if the admin says its ok?).

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