I've used Pimsleur for a couple of years so I'm looking forward to trying Cpod.
pretzellogicJanuary 18, 2011, 04:01 AM
Boy, considering how quietly Pimsleur has been marketed, it really got around. There have been plenty of other Pimsleur users on this site as well (including me).
If there had been libraries around that had all three Pimsleur sets, I would have used them also. The small town I lived had no Chinese language tapes at all, and Boston was a hassle to get to (if they had them).
I got Pimsleur either for free from the public library or rented it from Books on Tape. I ended up having to pay for Level III though as I could not find another (legitimate) source. I'd say it was money well spent. (Although anyone hearing me speak might disagree ;-)
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you started with Pimsleur early in your Chinese learning process, your tones and pronunciation are fine (or at least good enough). I consistently get feedback from taxi drivers and teachers and others that overall, they understand what I say. I used to think they were just being polite, but there have been too many of them that said my pronunciation was ok over time.
When I decided I wanted to start to learn Chinese I looked around for some options and initially none appealed to me, I could only find books and audio tapes (!) and more books. I was watching my little girl learn to speak; as an infant she didn’t use books or know about grammar or conjugating verbs, she just listened and repeated – a classic “total immersion learner”.
What I then found was “Pimsleur” who promised “no reading, no writing, just listen and repeat”, this sounded good to me, if my nipper could learn English this way then surely I could do it with Chinese … :-)
I didn’t find Chinesepod until I’d completed Pimsleur I, II and III and while I believe I have really benefited from it I have often wondered what it would have been like without Pimsleur and to have used only Cpod. To that end I’m going to follow the Cpod blog “Adventures of a Newbie Part I: What Is This?”
Has anyone tried the Tone Practice with AI Chinese (located under the partners section of the tools tab on Chinese Pod?) How about Rosetta Stone?. My tones are basically a disaster, and at this point I have just about given up. If anybody has a suggestion on how to nail the tones in spoken Chinese I would love to hear it. I seem to have trouble hearing the tones as well. For example, I can do a fairly good job transcribing something I hear into pinyin, but would really struggle with identifying the tones. I had tried a fair bit of Rosetta Stone pronunciation practice, but I'm not sure it helped.
I signed up for AI Chinese, but ended up not using it before my 2 week trial ended. I know RJ commented on it a number of times; you could probably search/click on his user name to get specific thoughts he had around AI Chinese.
I am curious about why you think your tones are bad. I thought your profile said you were in the US. Are Chinese people you speak with not understanding you at all?
I too have a terrible time with tones. Despite my having a Chinese wife, tones still beat me up. Often when listening, my ear thinks it hears one tone when it's something completely different. My wife goes nuts - "can't you hear? It's second tone, not fourth tone!". What's even more frustrating is that it's not unusual when speaking words that I know well, to have tone still come out wrong. This is particularly problematic when asking questions (anything becomes 2nd tone), or admonishing my daughter (everything comes out as 4th tone). What's a guy to do?
My experience is that over a long period of time, the tones are starting to come a bit more easily. I can only hope that over more time, they will become part of the word for me, just as it is for native Mandarin speakers. I expect that it will. But it sure is a slog!
It seems to me that if I speak a sentence then Chinese speakers often understand because they can figure out all the wrong words (incorrect tones) from the context. But if the sentence is short and the context lacking the difficulty in understanding my speech goes up. Lately I have been fooling around with a color scheme for tones, which I have unified across Pleco flash cards and Skritter. It seems like I am getting better at being able to hear the tones in my mind (when I see the written character I can remember the tone often) but I don't think I can necessarily produce the tone correctly when speaking at a normal pace and not stopping to think about every word. Probably I have a lot of bad habits that need to be unlearned.
I was a bit disappointed with AI Chinese when I found out that whereas CPod's description seemed to imply that I could get a free trial to include using CPod lessons in fact one needs to buy a premium service from AI Chinese first before accessing CPod content. I'll have a look for some other CPod subscriber comments on AI Chinese, thanks.