Saturday, January 31, 2009

西太后の紫禁城 3

I did it! I finished the third viewing of this Chinese drama before the end of the month. Just an hour to spare! Each episode is 50 minutes long. I had to watch 13 episodes yesterday and the remaining 11 today in order to finish it off this month because unfortunately, I couldn't watch any on Wednesday and Thursday.

I just like to have things wrapped up so that it's easy to calculate numbers. This month, I watched about 106 hours of Chinese. That's 2 viewings of this drama and almost 2 viewings of the other one. Shall we say that's too too much? Even though I watch one whole drama in between each, it feels like there is no time between viewings of the same drama.

I've ordered 2 more Chinese dramas online that I'm waiting for. I don't think either of them is as long as one of these two because they don't have as many discs. But we'll see when they arrive. Neither will have Japanese subtitles. Yaay! They both have Simplified Chinese subtitles, but I hope they can be turned off. It's easy to get the wrong idea when seeing subtitles, especially since I know Japanese Kanji. But also, I'd be likely to think of the meaning of the words if I see their characters.

I've been trying to not think about the meaning of the words I hear and I believe I'm making some progress in that area. You can hear more too, when you don't think about the meaning. It's encouraging for me to hear sentences that I can understand but never picked up on in previous viewings.

I believe the most basic words in a language are the ones that are constantly repeated and that those are the words you should firmly know and easily be able to hear before expecting to add more vocabulary to your knowledge. I also think that natural acquisition is the only way to accomplish this correctly. Any kind of deliberate study would force too many words on you too quickly. Through natural language acquisition, you do more reinforcement than addition. You understand new words when you are ready. Could I have done 106 hours of study in one month? Never! But I did get 106 hours of input. Even though natural methods seems to require a lot of hours, they require less toil than traditional study methods. It's just a matter of priorities.


  1. Just wondering if you've become aware of Khatzumoto from that also uses the input method? I've also been using the input method --although, with some deliberate learning -- to learn German before I go on to learn others. I enjoy your blog. Thanks

  2. Very impressed I have done a lot of similar listening but never been methodical enough to say how much. I find as you have that you can get a lot of input without it seeming too much like hard work. I will start my write ups of progress to date soon and give a better idea of what I have done.

    My thoughts, I have certainly listened to lots of input this way and not be actively attentive (I think though I could be described as inactively attentive otherwise I could be something something else that took my attention span and wouldn't expect to learn anything).

    After a certain point I found myself sometimes deliberately choosing things that were easier, although there are always times when I am happy to listen to something that is mostly not understood (entirely not in the early stages).

    Sometimes I have found that I prefer to get a cache of smaller items (7 minute Chinese cartoons for example) or 10min videos off of Youtube etc. And keep cycling through so I revisit things a lot.

    Occasionally I use more conventional study techniques that add a few new words to mix but I always get bored quickly studying in a more traditional manner.

    Sometimes I will transcribe words or phrases I catch as they wash over me so I can look up the pinyin in online dictionaries to check they mean what I think they might. Or even look up phrases in but I have to be in the mood for this.

    Increasing reading rather than audio or video is bulking up my input, this is inevitable a delayed part of the process though with a non-phonetic language.

    There is much more of course, I can also see that your Kanji knowledge could actually be a hindrance. I learn a lot from watching English videos with Chinese subs when in the mood but I think that would not be so useful in your case picking up on the meanings etc.

    Keep it up 加油!

  3. There's this joke/tale/theory? that if you take, say an English speaker, and put him on a desert island with only a radio broadcasting chinese and say, enough food to last till he dies, he'll never understand what he's hearing. I have been trying to find this story online all day and all night to no avail. The whole idea is you need to have some hooks to get a start on or you'll never get anywhere. Obviously you are at least getting some hooks.

  4. Insightful post, never thought about it like that.

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    I run a website called Leximo, and its a Multilingual User Collaborated Dictionary.

    You can find information on Leximo's vision by reading the Leximo Dictionary Manifesto.

    Here is the link info for my site:


    We also actively blog here: and you're welcome anytime to guest blog if you like. :-)


  5. hsknotes, I think the hooks are the video, you can see what is occurring. With audio only I guess you can get used to the sound of a language and learn to identify words but it would be orders of magnitude harder to start to understand. Even so most radio programs great listeners at the beginning, you may be able to guess from the pace when you are listening to weather reports etc.

  6. It will be interesting to see how good you've gotten once your TV hours are up in the 1000s. Hopefully you keep it up!


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