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My Listening Practice Method

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Hey everyone, just wanted to write a little something to track progress and ideas while I work on my listening skills. The method I am using is based on Imron's recommendation for listening, but I will be trying to iron out some details here as well:


The method:


  • Listen to a piece of audio without reading transcript 1x 
  • Listen to audio while reading along with transcript 1x (I am currently putting the transcripts into Chinese Text Analyzer and marking the words as "known" or "unknown" and looking them up as I go through this as well)
  • Write down all the words on paper up to the first 10 unknown words (+ the context sentence if it is important to understanding the word)
  • Re-listen to audio piece without transcript and pausing/replaying multiple times portions that I cannot clearly hear the individual words or meaning until I am able to
  • Re-listen to the audio piece without transcript and without pausing to see if I can follow along smoothly
  • Add the new words to Anki to review, but just as a side activity to put them into longer-term memory


So that's the general method, but of course I have bumped into more question marks while I work through this as well.


  • What kind of audio clips are best if I want to improve daily speech? As of now (March 23rd, 2020) I am working through street interviews from Mandarin Corner, specifically right now "Leftover Women". I find it relatively easy to follow along with as is, minus a few words I had not heard before, so maybe this is the i+1 that I want? Or I wonder if this will even carry over to being useful for real word application?
  • While working through this audio clip, I am not sure how large of a chunk I should do at once. Right now I am listening to about 5 minutes of audio, then beginning the process I mentioned above, and hoping I get to roughly 10 unknown words in that time-frame. I guess if not I can stop short or listen longer depending on how many words I accumulated.
  • What if I bump into a word where I feel the word is generally not going to come up very often, I guess I can kind of make the call to not worry about learning it?
  • Another interesting phenomenon is I often encounter words that when I listen to the audio, I don't really understand what they are saying (maybe they said it clearly, or maybe I just didn't realize what the word was),but once I see the transcript I know immediately what the word is, or based on the components of the word I can basically say with 95% certainty what the word means (eg from my recent listening session: 闲逛,女权,失衡). Since I did not recognize it while listening to it, does this count as not knowing it? I would think so, but sometimes its hard to mark it as such, since my brain sort of cheats and says, yeah its obvious what it is because I see the characters.
  • Imron also had a thread about how to memorize characters through picturing it in your mind's eye. I have been trying this, but I think I still need practice, and I am wondering if there's a way to suit this more towards listening as well? (although I do think knowing the character is important as well). I wonder if there's anything else I can do to improve my initial studying of the word I listened to?


I am sure there are more things I am not thinking of right now, but these are some of the general question marks I have ran into thus far. Of course I am answering them on my own as I go, but interesting to get input as well. So far I have done 3 days of this method, its going alright, I am planning to do this at least 3 months, so I will update this post as I bump into interesting things or questions that pop up while ironing out the details of this method. 


Another side thing I am doing right now is a mini-speaking project(?) which is a little more straightforward.




  • Just chat like normal with my girlfriend or whoever, and have her correct the first 5 mistakes I make
  • Write the mistakes down (usually couldn't think of how to express something, or maybe a specific word or grammatical error)
  • After I have collected around 5 items, I add them to anki, English on the front (of the expression or word) and Chinese on the back, so I can force myself to reproduce the correct pattern or word next time


I have also been doing this 3 days so far, since its pretty easy (and honestly it doesn't take long to make it to 5 mistakes lol), sometimes they are super simple and kind of annoying I even forgot it in the first place (recently I forgot 会员,and 论坛 when describing this website to my girlfriend, even though I would definitely know those words if I heard them). Or a recent grammar mistake I made was saying "他学汉语学了20年多" but it should be "他学汉语学了20多年", or "Stir A and B together" is “把A和B搅拌在一起" (I forget how I said it wrong, but now I definitely know how to say it right ;)). Anyways there's a lot like that, I am hoping this method will improve my ability to better express myself / express myself more correctly, but I am open to suggestions on this process as well. I imagine it will be pretty slow going since I am only doing 5 ish concepts a day in this manner.


If I think of anything else or start updating my progress I'll post it here. Thanks for reading. :)



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Regarding method, I'd go for Pleco with paid Chinese Guifan dictionary and paid flashcard addon rather than Anki.  It will reduce deck maintenance time to zero, freeing up more time for listening.


I'd also probably avoid loading the transcripts initially in CTA and marking things as known/unknown.  Rather I'd just focus on listening and making sure I could listen without the transcript.  You'll still need to read the transcript, and also look at it for verification, but that's when you pull out Pleco, write the unknown word with handwriting recognition, make a small study of the word in your mind until you understand it, and then tap '+' to add it to your flashcards.  Then, on the second day, before any other study, load the previous day's transcript in to CTA and now go through and mark them as known/unknown.


16 minutes ago, 柯林 said:

What kind of audio clips are best if I want to improve daily speech?

Native speakers speaking at normal speeds.  Mandarin Corner is aimed at learners, but perhaps if it's advanced enough it will just be native speakers speaking normally? i+1 is good, but probably your problem is not just the lack of vocab, but rather being able to process things at speed.  It's the latter skill you really need to develop for listening.


20 minutes ago, 柯林 said:

While working through this audio clip, I am not sure how large of a chunk I should do at once

As much as you can do in the time you have to study, and still do all the things you need to get done.  Start small (a sentence at a time) and then when you can understand the first sentence, extend it to two sentences (including the original sentence), then three sentences and so on, until time is up for the day.  As you get better, you'll be able to start with longer sentences or even paragraphs.  With this activity, I'd aim for 100% accuracy in listening over number of new words learnt, that is, don't try to make sure you get X new words, rather make sure you can fully understand each sentence you hear at speed. 


28 minutes ago, 柯林 said:

What if I bump into a word where I feel the word is generally not going to come up very often, I guess I can kind of make the call to not worry about learning it?

Yup.  Don't feel bad about skipping words - the useful one will appear again soon enough and you can learn them then.  If they don't show up soon enough, then by definition, they are not useful to you so don't worry about skipping them.  You'll be surprised though at how often words you think won't be useful often come up in other contexts.


31 minutes ago, 柯林 said:

Since I did not recognize it while listening to it, does this count as not knowing it?

If it's really obvious, I'd just re-listen several times to a handful of sentences surrounding that word, paying conscious attention to that word and how you didn't hear it/understand it the first time, but now you can both hear it, know what word it is, and understand it easily.  These are free words.



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