你好 ni hao
I need some input advice after 1 and 1/2 years of self study. Basically I first started using chinese pod a year and 1/2 ago, I would try to memorize and write one lesson per week. I found that I was not understanding each word very well, so I just try to comprehend 1 pod lesson at a time now and give myself no deadline. The only problem now is I am not trying as hard and get tired of the same 12 pod lessons that I have been reviewing for 6 months.
我需要帮助学习. wo xuyao bangzhu xuexi.
markFebruary 11, 2012, 11:05 PM
I think it took me about a year and a half before I could parse Chinese phonemes. Before that, even if I knew what was in a dialog, I just couldn't pick out the words, if it was spoken anything close to natural speed. It seemed to help to memorize dialogs and listen to them over and over and over. For this one thing, the transition from not getting it to getting it, was quite sudden. Quite a contrast to everything else about studying Chinese, which has been a slow slog for me.
I do think that my rate of progress is roughly proportional to the effort I put in, though.
I think many of us share mark's experience that language ability is not linear. More like long dry spells punctuated by quantum leaps. But please tell me that you have not restricted yourself to just 12 podcasts in the last 6 months. Don't feel like you have to master everything. Listen to some of them just for the fun of it.
You might also want to try increasing the time you spend weekly - honestly, once one gets to even a basic level, I think the first couple of hours spent in any given week just serve as maintenance (and it might get worse as one goes up in skill). You could look for ways to bring into play time that is otherwise not being fully used - ie, make a playlist of the lessons you've studied, listen to it while brushing teeth, in the car, walking, in the bathroom, etc. And maybe cut down on the time you spend listening to the podcasts themselves, and instead focus on the dialogues. In the low level lessons, the english chatting may be fun to listen to, but I think listening to it rates pretty low on time-efficiency for studying (its probably useful at the very begining to hear their explanations of things like a few tones, but after that just learn the new vocab from the transcript, it gets you 80% of the effect in about 5% of the time). I think the lower level podcast dialogues are great for creating a fun experience and getting people excited, but if you can be self-motivated, they aren't terribly efficient.
This might apply especially to those of us who are not living in China: one thing that helped me was giving myself "permission" to not understand everything. Just try for quantity over quality for a couple of months (of course, make a real effort with what you do expose yourself too; just don't let "not getting it" get you down). And make sure you're regularly taking in lessons one level above your comfort zone.
You might be surprised to find yourself skipping out of a rut. If nothing else, it might help you re-engage by just changing up your rhythm. But also it will simply give you exposure to more content, which gives your brain more data points to start drawing new connections, recognize patterns, etc.
Once you're out of school and learning for yourself instead of learning to score well on an exam, I think focusing on mastery can be a trap, especially in the early years. People say that nothing works like immersion, but the way I see it, surely most folks who jump in the deep end by living in China aren't focusing on mastery (at least at first): they're relentlessly bombarded with language outside their comfort zone all day long.
"one thing that helped me was giving myself "permission" to not understand everything."
- I live in China, and I do this same thing. It turns out that in practice, there are too many accents for me to get everything that every single person says to me anyway. Getting the gist of what people says allows you to function in China. Going for perfection is nice in theory, but I'm not sure who has the time to go for perfection. At least I don't.
I am for sure trying too much for perfection, as i will listen to the same podcasts on the way to and from work, and during the day i try to find time to write the pinyin and simplified. It has got so i avoid it because it is non stimulating. Anyways,with all this great advice, i think i might just listen to different podcasts with possibly less english chatting. See how this goes for a few months. Thank you all!
I try to bounce what I know off my chinese friends whenever I see them, I struggle with tones, so maybe I just need to listen and repeat podcasts for awhile.
It sounds a bit like you're doing what I used to do on the commute to work. I would listen ONLY to the newbie and elementary dialogues (dialogues only, not Jenny/John/Ken's helpful lesson discussion), and try and repeat them out loud in the car. That worked very well. I think I ate up lots of newbie dialogues doing that, and still stayed interested, because I would be able to repeat a newbie dialogue verbatim in about a week. It also helped that I had a 1 hour commute to work every day ;-)