mjb1971 wrote:Adding new post because I will take this in a more Mandarin-specific direction.
In my experience, parsing unknown meanings and WORDS in Mandarin is more difficult than in Romance or German languages (especially words, I am native English speaker BTW. Also my levels in Romance reading are ILR 2 or above, so there is that. But that score is not orthogonal from reading and parsing strategies!). In my opinion this is because “cant parse a picture.” (Simplification, I know character MIGHT contain clues to either meaning or sound or both. But still.)
So my ability to gist meanings in Mandarin versus Romance languages is qualitatively different. I wonder what implications this has for ER and need to shift between ER and IR or more formal vocabulary grinding?
A shot in the dark here as a FWIW.
Many many years ago, I tried an experiment in listening in a language I knew nothing about, Hebrew. This was over Christmas vacation so I put in about 1/2 hour twice per day for a couple weeks. I found a recording of Genesis 1 and an interlinear (Hebrew/English). I pulled the audio into Audacity and tried to follow along with no knowledge of Hebrew or the Hebrew alphabet. I'd listen in chunks of what seemed to be phrases and sentences. At first it was gibberish, but then some words started jumping out at me. I was mostly looking at the English and associating that with the spoken Hebrew words. At the end of the couple weeks, I could look at perhaps the first 1/3 to so of the chapter in Hebrew text and mostly comprehend it. What was interesting is that I still didn't know the alphabet very well (nor the vowel markings) but looking at the Hebrew words in context prompted the memory of the sound and meaning.
A number of years ago, I picked up the Assimil Chinese course when Schoenhof's had a sale. I decided to prime the pump so to speak by spending about 10 minutes per day at a pace of one lesson per week listening and following along. I edited out silence and duplications and was left with perhaps a minute or so per lesson. My main purpose was just to get my brain and ears attuned to the rhythm and sound of the language and get my eyes accustomed to looking at characters so that I'd have a nice head start for when I started working on it seriously. Life happened and I only did this for a few months. The one thing I found was that this repetition created an association between the sounds, characters, and meanings in my brain where I could look at a character and sort of "hear" it and know it. I also found the characters all started looking different even if I had no clue what all but a few meant or sounded like. I decided that when I was going to get serious about Chinese (maybe never at this point), I was going to work through Assimil as well as in parallel find an audiobook or poems or music or something I would like to binge listen to until it was familiar. So basically Assimil in the morning and listening/following-along to something I like in the evening. In other words, I was going to do much of my initial vocabulary acquisition (oral and written) via repetition of passages in real materials.
Again, this is FWIW and reflects what is my best guess for what would work for me and be enjoyable so that I'd keep it up.