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PerpetualChange

Discouraged by my inability to understand movies/TV

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Flickserve
7 hours ago, jannesan said:

I also really like Learning Chinese Through Stories, but I think you should also try some native podcasts.

I currently listen to:

  • 狗熊有话说 (very self-help centered, easy language, repetitive content: perfect for learning :D)
  • 兩個女生的聊天記錄  (quite a bit harder, they speak quite fast + Taiwanese accent, but content and language is also quite easy)

Depending on the episode my understanding can be anywhere between 70%-95%, but I believe even if there are many details I miss out on,

 

Better be a little careful about what you want to train. After having a quick listen, these two podcasts are definitely spoken quite clearly and slowed down. Naturally so as they are targeted for a large audience. For building vocabulary via listening, they are good. 

 

However, if we are trying to train listening skills for films where we know the vocabulary but not used to the speed or accents, going straight to film type of dialogue straight away is the way to go. Short term pain, long term gain.

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jannesan
4 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:
9 hours ago, jannesan said:

狗熊有话说 (very self-help centered, easy language, repetitive content: perfect for learning :D)

Are there transcripts? 

 

No, but the host speaks clear and slow with many pauses.

 

2 hours ago, Flickserve said:

After having a quick listen, these two podcasts are definitely spoken quite clearly and slowed down. Naturally so as they are targeted for a large audience. For building vocabulary via listening, they are good. 

 

For the first one "狗熊有话说" I agree, it's much slower than dialogues. The second one "兩個女生的聊天記錄" is actually two women talking with each other,

sometimes slow, sometimes fast. Pretty much the same as some dialogue I have seen in TV shows (e.g in 都挺好).

 

Even though it may not be as effective as the other approaches mentioned before (e.g listening and repeating sentence by sentence),

it is also much lower effort and can be done in a more passive way. You can only do so many draining tasks per day.

 

@PerpetualChange

I think you should do both, the more repetitive drilling down sentence by sentence, and then to relax listen to some podcasts:)

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PerpetualChange
11 hours ago, jannesan said:

兩個女生的聊天記錄  (quite a bit harder, they speak quite fast + Taiwanese accent, but content and language is also quite easy

 

Spent a half hour listening to the first 5 minutes of an episode today. Was pretty manageable! I do wish their were transcripts, though, because I spent at least 1/2 of this time listening for words that I wouldn't be able to catch anyway (maybe some Taiwan slang that's not in Pleco?). Good stuff though, I had fun. 

 

5 hours ago, imron said:

would recommend not listening to slowed down audio.

 

You've already said that with Chinese subs or the same content written out, you'd have been fine, so you know you can understand things when you have enough time to process them.

 

ASD actually can loop audio from Spotify, which is the main draw. It also slows down and speeds audio up while retaining the same pitch which is neat for music but not really necessary here. 

 

I should clarify that "would have been fine" means "would have been able to enjoy said content at some level of working comprehensions" not something like 100% comprehension. With dramas especially, the subtitles + the obvious visual cues is enough to get me through. But, they're dramas... my wife can usually understand them to an enjoyable degree, with no subtitles on, despite knowing no Chinese 😂

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Flickserve
19 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

But, they're dramas... my wife can usually understand them to an enjoyable degree, with no subtitles on, despite knowing no Chinese 


An admirable quality for language learning. How do people do that?

 

If you don’t mind, let us know on your progress. I, for one, would be keen to hear how it goes. 

 

 

 

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PerpetualChange

OK, figured I'd give a brief update on my listening this week, since it was the first week of a new routine for me:

 

  • Day 1: Spent 30 minutes listening to the first 5 minutes of the first episode of 兩個女生的聊天記錄. It was pretty easy to understand, but tough to figure out words that I didn't get the first time around. Maybe it was the Taiwanese accent, or special Taiwanese words? 
  • Day 2: Listened to recordings my online tutor gives me. These are kind of easy compared to the podcasts but they speed seems close to authentic, just enunciated clearly and without characters talking over one another like they did in 兩個女生的聊天記錄. Anyway I have to do it for homework. 
  • Day 3: Back to 兩個女生的聊天記錄. This time, I just listened to the rest of the 25 podcast. Overall, I found it pretty understandable. I would say I inferred what they were talking about most of the time, and could grasp each hosts different points of view. I would put myself maybe at 50-60% comprehension (50% being the benchmark of 'I know what they are talking about, and can follow it clearly). 
  • Day 4: Over 20-30 minutes, Listened to the first half of the 兩個女生的聊天記錄 episode 1 again, this type stopping every minute or so to loop back, and see if I could get gain a clearer understanding by listening again or looking up words. I feel like I could only find at least half the words I thought I was hearing in the dictionary (sometimes they're too fast, sometimes I just can't hear them clearly or must be mishearing), 
  • Day 5: Over 20-30 minutes, listened to remainder of the podcast. Same as above. There were some things I never really grasped totally, and without transcripts, there wasn't much I could do about it. 
  • Day 6: Did more homework. Back to the tutor's recordings. 
  • Day 7: Listened to the first episode of  狗熊有话说. This was MUCH harder than the Taiwanese podcast for me. I was having trouble following anything but the general direction or what he was saying. Especially in the middle, where he starts talking about the history of why he's making this podcast. Will go back in further detail today and see if I can get a better understanding with word lookups. 
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matteo

Well done mate, keep up with the good work!

I am definitely experiencing the same kind of challenges that you are on the road to improve my listening comprehension. 

It sounds like you are doing really well (much better than me at any rate) so you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. 

I am now getting to a level where I can start to read and enjoy (with some difficulty) native material, and would like to get there with listening too but feel like I'm lagging behind.

 

I'm also finding the slow progress quite frustrating, in particular I notice that my listening performance varies a lot based (among other things) on:

 

1) how tired I am. When I listen to something first thing in the morning, my ability to pick things up is sooo much better. I notice big variations even from day to day on similar or even the same audio. Sometimes after a long day's work when I listen to a podcast on my way home I'm so tired I understand nothing at all.

2) how much attention I can pay. My ability to understand is different when sitting on a chair with my headphones, when slouching on the couch, when stretching, when driving. For example, I realized that driving sneakily takes up a much larger slice of my attention than what I thought, and as a result I often feel bad about my listening skills when I listen to something in the car. 

3) the quality of the audio. I realized this is hugely important recently as I had lots of driving to do and my girlfriend would call me up to practice listening/speaking. The quality of the device and the surrounding noises change radically what I can understand from the other side of the phone. 

 

I know these might all sound like obvious points, but I think it's worth mentioning as I find these factors to have a much greater influence on listening than any other activity.  My learning curve is so contaminated by all this "background noise" that it is really hard to understand at any given point in time how much progress I'm making. I can only see improvement when "averaging" my performance over long periods of time (say 6 months). 

 

As for the material I'm using at the moment:

1) Chinesepod upper intermediate lessons, some of them are really enjoyable, some not so much. They are not too hard as the new vocabulary is always limited and translated to english. When I have time I trascribe the dialogues without looking at the transcript, find this really useful although time consuming.

2) TV series, always with English subtitles. May or may not be useful, I reckon it's better than nothing and it keeps you motivated and entertained. 

3) animated series. These are easier and shorter so I can watch them with Chinese subtitles first and then re-watch them with the english subs if theyre too hard

 

Any suggestion or comment will be appreciated! Good luck everyone with your studies! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PerpetualChange
13 hours ago, matteo said:

1) how tired I am. When I listen to something first thing in the morning, my ability to pick things up is sooo much better. I notice big variations even from day to day on similar or even the same audio. Sometimes after a long day's work when I listen to a podcast on my way home I'm so tired I understand nothing at all.

 

I here you. Sometimes, I don't want to listen at all. This is why putting a timer on it is important for me. I.e., last night, it was already something like 8:40 by the time I could get to listening practice. I told myself, "fine, I'm just gonna do it until 9, just to say I did it

". I wound up doing it until 9:15. This kind of bargaining with myself generally works well. 

13 hours ago, matteo said:

2) how much attention I can pay. My ability to understand is different when sitting on a chair with my headphones, when slouching on the couch, when stretching, when driving. For example, I realized that driving sneakily takes up a much larger slice of my attention than what I thought, and as a result I often feel bad about my listening skills when I listen to something in the car. 

I don't even really bother with the passive stuff anymore, unless it's for sheer enjoyment (i.e., listening to an album I like). I just don't think I get much out of it. To me, 20 minutes of DEDICATED attention to nothing but listening per day has got to be better than 4 hours of TV on in the background while you work or surf the web. Just my gut feeling. 

 

14 hours ago, matteo said:

1) Chinesepod upper intermediate lessons, some of them are really enjoyable, some not so much. They are not too hard as the new vocabulary is always limited and translated to english. When I have time I trascribe the dialogues without looking at the transcript, find this really useful although time consuming.

2) TV series, always with English subtitles. May or may not be useful, I reckon it's better than nothing and it keeps you motivated and entertained. 

3) animated series. These are easier and shorter so I can watch them with Chinese subtitles first and then re-watch them with the english subs if theyre too hard

It does not seem like you are using any native materials primarily for listening practice. I like Chinese Pod, but the fallacy of that series is that if you keep doing their lessons, you will get to the point where you are ready to try "native" content. At Upper Intermediate you might be as ready for native content as you'll ever be. I'm not saying to stop doing CPod (I think it's good to keep some structure and progression), but maybe you could spend a set amount of time each day trying to watch the drama without subs? Anyway that's similar to the change I have been trying to make in my own habits lately. 

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imron
40 minutes ago, PerpetualChange said:

To me, 20 minutes of DEDICATED attention to nothing but listening per day has got to be better than 4 hours of TV on in the background while you work or surf the web.

100% agree.

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xinoxanu
1 hour ago, PerpetualChange said:
15 hours ago, matteo said:

2) how much attention I can pay. My ability to understand is different when sitting on a chair with my headphones, when slouching on the couch, when stretching, when driving. For example, I realized that driving sneakily takes up a much larger slice of my attention than what I thought, and as a result I often feel bad about my listening skills when I listen to something in the car. 

I don't even really bother with the passive stuff anymore, unless it's for sheer enjoyment (i.e., listening to an album I like). I just don't think I get much out of it. To me, 20 minutes of DEDICATED attention to nothing but listening per day has got to be better than 4 hours of TV on in the background while you work or surf the web. Just my gut feeling. 

 

This is a very important point.

 

Due to its highly homophone and context-based structure, you can't understand Chinese, and let alone learn it, without actively focusing on it. Either partial/full knowledge or simple exposition to the language is not enough to follow a conversation thread, which is even true for native speakers who constantly doze off on Weibo while you talk at them and will get lost if they are not paying attention. This, of course, happens in all languages - but I am still baffled by how many times it has happened around me when Chinese is being used.

 

I once was on a Chengdu taxi with my chinese girlfriend, and the driver, who hailed from a rural area and spoke a mixture of his local dialect/Mandarin was chatting us up. At some point he asked us for some directions to the place we were heading to, but my girlfriend, who was not paying attention, didn't understand him - while I, with only an HSK 3 level, did. She definitely didn't have any issues understanding him beforehand, but being focused or not on the conversation made a difference.

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matteo
8 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

It does not seem like you are using any native materials primarily for listening practice. I like Chinese Pod, but the fallacy of that series is that if you keep doing their lessons, you will get to the point where you are ready to try "native" content. At Upper Intermediate you might be as ready for native content as you'll ever be. I'm not saying to stop doing CPod (I think it's good to keep some structure and progression), but maybe you could spend a set amount of time each day trying to watch the drama without subs? Anyway that's similar to the change I have been trying to make in my own habits lately. 

 

Yeah I think you hit the right chord here. I will try and set aside half an hour a day for very focused practice on a fragment of TV drama (everyday life kind of thing like 好先生) and see how it goes. Or maybe something like 狗熊有话说 . I tried it in the past and had mixed feelings about it, I initially thought it was fairly easy but I think it was just because I started from a few episodes with subjects I'm very familiar with. As soon as I switched to something different I found it much harder and then again, I always listened to it while driving. 

 

Thanks guys for your suggestions!

 

 

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abcdefg
15 hours ago, matteo said:

I will try and set aside half an hour a day for very focused practice on a fragment of TV drama (everyday life kind of thing like 好先生) and see how it goes.

 

I've watched most of these several times. I think they are fun and provide decent intermediate learning material. 

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matteo

Just a quick update on this, in the last two weeks I've made a point of spending at least half an hour a day listening to native content. 

The material of choice ended up being this podcast: https://storyfm.cn/   

 

At the moment I'm finding the speed really hard to follow, and transcribing is taking a very long time. In half an hour I might write down a minute of speech, with a few holes here and there. 

Let's see how that evolves, I'll try and keep track of the improvements!

 

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Balthazar
1 hour ago, matteo said:

Just a quick update on this, in the last two weeks I've made a point of spending at least half an hour a day listening to native content. 

The material of choice ended up being this podcast: https://storyfm.cn/   

 

At the moment I'm finding the speed really hard to follow, and transcribing is taking a very long time. In half an hour I might write down a minute of speech, with a few holes here and there. 

Let's see how that evolves, I'll try and keep track of the improvements!

 

 

Good luck!

 

I usually listen to this when I take evening walks. It's somewhere in between passive and active listening for me, I'll mostly keep my focus (sometimes walking, not too fast but also not too slow, will actually help me focus, especially later in the day) but occasionally my mind wanders a bit from the sights I encounter as I walk. The comprehension rate can vary a lot based on the topic and the speaker(s) (accent, speed), but the fact that I quite enjoy the background music (gotta love a podcast that extensively plays Fat Jon) and that the topics are almost always interesting makes listening feel like much less of a chore than it would otherwise be.

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imron
2 hours ago, matteo said:

Let's see how that evolves, I'll try and keep track of the improvements!

It takes time, but you should definitely start to see improvements after 1-3 months of doing this daily.

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amytheorangutan

I have no wisdom to impart but I have 2 podcasts that I like to listen to incase the topics are of any interest to you. 
 

打個電話給你 (2 young women talking about various everyday life, interests and light social topics) 

東京模樣 (a Taiwanese guy living in Tokyo talking about various topics, life, interests etc) 

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imron
10 hours ago, matteo said:

Not sure about the improvements, it's really hard to gauge as they are very gradual

Go and find some material from 6 months ago that you found challenging and have a listen. 

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大块头
12 hours ago, matteo said:

Not sure about the improvements, it's really hard to gauge as they are very gradual.

 

If you have accurate measurements of your transcription rate (characters transcribed divided by time spent transcribing) I can help you do a regression analysis that will estimate how quickly your performance is increasing over time.

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timseb
5 hours ago, amytheorangutan said:

打個電話給你

 

Second this. Among the ones I listen to, this is the easiest one and it's quite entertaining. They speak very clearly (I think their native tongue is Cantonese so that might be why?), and they like to throw in a few English expressions from time to time.

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杰.克
On 5/5/2020 at 1:26 PM, PerpetualChange said:

I realized last night just how far behind my listening is lagging from my speaking and reading

 

Please do not be discouraged.

 

Learning Chinese is a very slow process. It's very very very slow. Often we judge ourselves on much too small a window of results. If you took snapshots of your ability, 6 months ago, 1 year ago, 1.5 years ago, 2 years ago would the trend be upwards? Well if you are studying as you say you are, I guarantee you are improving! So why so hard on yourself?...

 

...Well in part I think its very human to be critical of ourselves, and actually in small amounts can drive improvement. So theres that. But also I think the constant onslaught of "Learn Chinese in 6 months", "3 Study hacks to fluency" "How I conquered Chinese in these Easy steps" "Foreigner speaks PERFECT Chinese" suggest that the process is easy, achievable in bitesize chunks, and in a short amount of time. Oh if i just follow this plan, I will be sorted. But it aint, it aint at all. It, takes, time. And it doesn't come in a straight path. 

 

 I'm positive you are improving, and I am positive if you reflect realistically, you yourself, will know you are improving.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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