I felt it necessary to mention that ChinesePod really does work. What prompted me to say this? Well, here is the story. This summer I only had one part-time job that gave me a lot of free time to study Chinese on my own. This is why for the past few months I have been everywhere on the message board. Now I am working at a university. They have a modest size Mandarin program here. I decided to pull some strings and sit in on as many classes as possible. They placed me in their highest level class. To my surprise, I felt totally comfortable in there, and discovered that my level was at least somewhere in the middle. Then I entered listening class. In the past, no matter how hard I tried, I had not been able to match the level of my Asian classmates. This time I was the best (at least I was during our only class so far). There are probably several reasons that contribute to my advancement, but I suspect constantly having ChinesePod lessons blaring in my ears for a few months was probably the biggest factor.
So if you feel like you are getting nowhere fast at this website, I assure you that if you stick with it you will progress. Because believe me, I definitely have no special talent for learning languages.
xiaophilSeptember 18, 2009, 12:58 PM
Well guys, the problem is I really have no idea how many lessons I took before I jumped to the next level (and besides, I skip randomly around from level to level), and I wasn't solely using ChinesePod as my method for studying. I can only give my assurance that ChinesePod's impact was quite significant. A feeling, yes, but a feeling I'm confident is right. Wish I could answer better.
xiaophilSeptember 15, 2009, 06:25 AM
I have wandered in and out of ChinesePod under two or three different aliases since her inception. And yes, I guess I definitely was a newbie back then when I first discovered her. That was four years ago.
oranginaSeptember 15, 2009, 07:16 AM
yay xiaophil! What a great feeling... I haven't been around as long so of course have not progressed that much, but I often am asked by my friends "Did you learn that on Chinesepod?" when I say something new. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story!
xiaophilSeptember 15, 2009, 10:02 AM
Yeah, it is a great feeling. Although I guarantee there is much for me to be learned, it is comforting knowing that my position is good relative to others.
I actually forgot my past names except for 'craniumsoftener'. Craniumsoftener has a benign meaning (it's a personal thing), but I knew that it sounded quite violent, so I didn't carry on with it. The other one or two names I forgot because I didn't keep them long. I didn't participate much back then. Anyway, I think I remember listening to your first podcast. (Don't worry. I was impressed.)
zhenlijiangSeptember 15, 2009, 11:54 AM
Xiaophil yeah thanks for sharing, and congratulations. I don't know yet how that kind of advancement feels in Chinese studies (sigh), but hope to put in the work and have my moment sometime not too far in the future. Am inspired now!
pretzellogicSeptember 16, 2009, 12:57 PM
xiaophil, just curious about any quantifiable metrics you might have about either the number of lessons you listened to, or the amount of time that you actually spent listening to cpod lessons. You've implied you've been listening (on and off I suppose) for 4 years.
The metrics help get around the usual discussion about "everyone is different, has different learning styles, abilities, etc..." or is able to allocate different amounts of time to chinese studies and other disclaimers.
xiaophilSeptember 17, 2009, 05:49 AM
To be honest, I have no idea. I listened to a lot of lessons while on the subway, running or in transit in general. My theory has been if my hands can't do anything else at the moment, listen to a CPod lesson. Some people work out a neat studying plan for learning Chinese, which I think is a good idea for many. Myself, I just study Chinese any chance I get and by any method that appeals to me (ChinesePod being the prefered one in recent months). So, the degree of help recieved from the podcasts cannot be known in any scientific way. Alas, a disappointing answer, I guess.
To everybody else
Thanks for the nice words. I have to admit my Chinese is far from being where I want it (and is possibly worse than what this post impies). I still say 再说一遍 far too often, but it is a good feeling knowing I am getting somewhere.
JohnSeptember 17, 2009, 09:02 AM
Here's somethng you might be able to quantify:
How many Newbie lessons do you think it took you to start on Elementary, and how many Elementary lessons do you think it took you to start on Intermediate?
sebireSeptember 17, 2009, 07:09 PM
I reckon... a month's worth of Newbie lessons, so that would be about 12-15, if you did three or four a week, and then overlapping Ellie and Newbies for around 2 months, so that would be around Ellies a week, so 15 lessons, and around 8-10 Newbies, then I dropped Newbies and continued with Ellies probably for another couple of months before starting to overlap with Intermediates. So I reckon 30 Newbie and 30-40 Ellies with weekly Qing Wens can get you in a position where you can begin to understand Intermediate (though not much). Howzat?
pretzellogicSeptember 18, 2009, 04:53 AM
For all, cpod has also been a tremendous help for me. Those 1000+ lessons on numerous topics have been a godsend. I know I would struggle with even more language instances here in Beijing were it not for cpod having the "taxi taking you the long way" or "at the bike shop" lessons. Personally, I think the greater variety of topics, the more cpod makes itself valuable to customers (hint: CPOD has enough food lessons, and now maybe time for a few more star trek, or more arcane lessons to broaden vocabulary and situations that subscribers can call on).
But my focus on metrics is because i'm realizing that it would have been helpful to focus my Chinese studies around quantifiable ways to measure progress. More important would have been to suggest that for those of us that are using cpod as a university class substitute, there is a minimum amount of time that you want to spend studying mandarin, else the benefits won't stay with you.
Personal metrics to force my progress that i'm now starting to use include:
1) 10 hours/week.
2) 40 new sentence words/week
3) 10 characters/day.
The idea is to have around 4000 words in my vocabulary within a year. Not that 4000 words makes you "fluent", but with 4000 words, you've got decent command of everyday situations, and when you encounter new words or situations, if someone simplifies the explanation around the new situation or word(s), you'll understand the explanation.
This need for measurable, quantifiable progress has become really apparent to me since i've moved to Beijing. I've talked to a few other expats here who I later found out were cpod subscribers. Our situations are similar; moving here for 2-4 years, and now must pick up mandarin without the benefit of a university class, and lack the time to take a university class, since we're now working adults with school-age children.
I really don't want to be in China for 3 years, and then say that I don't really know mandarin. Without these metrics, I haven't been forcing myself to spend the MINIMUM time necessary to learn mandarin.