Some useful methods of studying Mandarin Chinese

Today Dai and I spoke about different methods I use to improve my Mandarin Chinese level and the main focus was on watching Chinese TV and in particular watching a Chinese TV series. I am currently watching “Beijing Love Story” which is roughly 45 episodes and I have viewed it at least 8 times now. On every cycle I pick up more and more of the sentences and recognise more and more Chinese characters from the subtitles to help me re-enforce that what I think I’m understanding is actually what they are saying! – I don’t watch Chinese TV with English subtitles as if you want to learn Chinese properly in my opinion you want to be learning to think in Chinese and I’m not sure English Subtitles is going to help you much with that. If you would like to watch the same series copy and paste this into youtube: 北京爱情故事1 as the links keep changing. The link here should get you to episode 1. I wouldn’t normally watch this type of TV series but it seems to contain alot of useful everyday speech and all the main actors and actresses seem to speak with a very standard Chinese pronunciation which I personally find easy to follow. Also I like the soundtrack in the drama series which helps as it is quite catchy so you also get to practice your Mandarin Chinese song listening skills!

Another thing we discussed which I have probably been over before is how I think my listening ability is much higher then my speaking ability in Mandarin Chinese. I actually posted the youtube video on a forum before writing this blog post and this was the word for word feedback I got from another Mandarin Chinese learner at https://www.reddit.com/r/Chinese/ below:

—–

Disclaimer: studied Chinese for a year and a half in the US and have been in China for six months. This is also my third time in the country. Your grammar and vocabulary are solid! You said in the vid that your listening is much better than your speaking, so you already know where to improve, I think.

Your tones and pronunciation have some pretty big problems that should be focused on. I think if you went to China for a bit, because you already have a decent framework for handling the language, your pronunciation and intonation problems would be ironed out quickly. Barring that, just keep listening to native speakers and try to imitate their sounds. It helps to look at their mouths when they say words to get closer to sounding more natural.

When I was an undergraduate, I bought a large anthology of Tang poetry that had the pinyin written beside the poems, and would practice reading these poems out loud a bit every day. It was a great way to practice stringing together more difficult sounds and unexpected tones in a coherent and regular flow, and it helped me in the classroom a ton. (My teachers have commented that when I speak Chinese, unlike most foreigners, they can’t tell which country I’m from. Obviously it’s a foreigner speaking, but the accent is diminished enough to hide my identity.)

I wish you the best of luck in your language progress!

—–

The feedback was quite accurate and about the same as a Chinese teacher would tell me so it was really appreciated!

Other things discussed in dot point as I’m not a big writer and if you are intermediate level you should be able to understand by watching the included video below anyway:

*Mentioned Chinese subtitles are very accurate to the point of being word for word on what they are saying compared to English Subtitles that in my opinion are not word for word. Dai mentioned when he watches hollywood movies he thinks those English subtitles are quite accurate.

*I asked Dai some questions such as how long he has studied English and he mentioned when he started studying he mainly studied “silent English” at school as it was mainly for passing the exam and not so much focused on speaking or listening.

*Dai uses English at home with his wife who is also an English teacher (Dai teaches Chinese and English) to help his daughter with her English level and it is paying off as his daughter can speak English at a much higher level than any of her classmates.

Hope you enjoy the video from March 14th 2016.

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