Mandarin listening skills

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Brazuzan
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Mandarin listening skills

Postby Brazuzan » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:30 pm

I've been reading this and the older forum for at least 8 years, and this time I decided publish my first topic.

I live in Brazil, I have some background learning English, German and French, and now I would like to hear from you some advice on improving my listening skills on Mandarin.

As for now, I am able to distinguish individual and isolated tones with no problems. Pair tone drills sometimes not as accurate, but surely above 80%. I thought that it was a sufficient level to at least start listening to real material content.

Now my problem starts, because I don't know really how should I proceed. Currently I'm listening to some intermediate listening material while I write down the tones I'm hearing. What makes me confused is what happens when I already know the word, I normally get the tones right. When I don't know the word, I have a pretty difficult time trying to get it properly. In fact: is not my brain tricking me because I know the word already and it is associating in a biased fashion with my previous knowledge? Should not I be able to get the tone out of context and regardless of meaning since I already know all the pinyin chart?

I've heard already some people say that we should listen only what we already know for some time. Do you think that it is a productive approach?

In general: what strategy should I adopt in order to improve my listening skills? Do you have some experience and have something to share?
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Re: Mandarin listening skills

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:41 pm

Here is a link to the old topic posted by forum member leosmith:
Listening Is Everything to a Polyglot

You will find some general information about listening skills there. I'm sure I've read something specific for Mandarin... Ah, another thread, another forum - How to learn Mandarin. (Same author though!)
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Brazuzan
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Re: Mandarin listening skills

Postby Brazuzan » Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:13 pm

Thank you Jeff. I will certainly give a try on his methods, but, I'm not sure how far this can take me. It seems to convey a pressuposition that once one finishes Pimsleur, the listening will be at such a level that it becomes possible to listen more advanced content 'automatically'.

It is well a different approach from Steve Kaufmann who claims to after having studied an intermediate dialogue book, in a non-Mandarin speaking environment, was already capable of listening crosstalks (xiangsheng) and understanding it. And his method is the opposite of Pimsleur's: he says he tries to listen to the phrase as a whole, catching the 'music' of the sentence. Is he maybe relying too much on the context?
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Re: Mandarin listening skills

Postby leosmith » Sun Jan 31, 2021 3:52 am

Brazuzan wrote:It seems to convey a pressuposition that once one finishes Pimsleur, the listening will be at such a level that it becomes possible to listen more advanced content 'automatically'.

I wrote that post. You make it sound like I’m saying if you do Pimsleur you will be able to understand advanced material. I’m not saying that at all. If you follow the method you would have to do everything on the list before Pimsleur in order to do the items on the list after Pimsleur. Eventually you will be able to listen to advanced material, but this ability doesn’t suddenly appear after Pimsleur.

Comparing Synergy:
1) Learn pinyin and pronunciation
2) Study reading, listening, conversing, writing, grammar, vocabulary
with Kaufmann’s current method:
1) Read and listen until you achieve a high level
2) Study reading, listening, conversing and optionally writing, grammar, vocabulary

Both of those methods, as well as many others, have been proven to work. Even though you referred to Kaufmann, I am not sure what your method is (I don’t think Kaufmann wrote out pinyin, but I could be wrong), so if you want more accurate advice please describe it better.

You say you are listening to intermediate material, writing out the pinyin and doing poorly with unknown words. I’m not surprised – that’s a pretty hard task for a beginner. Pinyin proficiency was easier to check with pinyinpractice.com, but it looks like that site is no longer working.

Your results indicate that your pinyin isn’t very good, no offense. How is your pronunciation? I’m sure you know that pronunciation and listening are intimately connected. I found that having good pronunciation was necessary to be able to understand what I was hearing.

Brazuzan wrote:And his method is the opposite of Pimsleur's: he says he tries to listen to the phrase as a whole, catching the 'music' of the sentence.

How is that the “opposite” of Pimsleur? Pimsleur prompts you in your L1, requires you to produce a sentence in L2, has you listen to the sentence in L2, and repeat it in L2. It constantly urges you to note and repeat the “music” of the sentence.
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Re: Mandarin listening skills

Postby lichtrausch » Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:40 pm

Your best friend will be Mandarin audio content with Mandarin subtitles. The good news is that a lot of Chinese TV shows have Mandarin subtitles. The bad news is that you need to get comfortable with Chinese characters in order to profit from this amazing resource.
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