I finished my 5th viewing of 雍正王朝, a Chinese drama in Mandarin. This time took 9 days to complete the 30 hours. It feels like I've watched it 20 times already. There are still some characters whose names I don't know that I feel like I should know by now. I guess they do not appear as frequently as the ones whose names I do know, and they are probably not addressed by name as often.
I have stated before, my intention to not think about the words I hear and to try not to figure out the meaning or wonder about the meaning of the words. It is actually very difficult to do that. I find myself trying to figure out the meanings quite often. But there are a few words that I know I am not going to try to figure out what they mean. For example, when someone enters the room, kneels and greets the king. I often hear this same greeting. Well I know that it is a greeting. I can see what is going on. It doesn't really matter what the words mean. I just know that when they come in and do this and say that, it's the kind of greeting they use for the king. That's all I need to know.
All these other words that I had studied before starting the TV method, the words that I could translate, I tend to do just that. I'm trying not to, but when there is a pause, I can hear my mind translating. I wish I hadn't studied Chinese. Not even a little bit. For words I have never looked up, I don't automatically translate them. Translations are like an anchor. They slow you down. When you hear a word and you translate it, that's like throwing an anchor overboard. It's easier to throw the anchor overboard than to bring it back up. If you're throwing dozens of anchors overboard while listening, you're never going to be able to keep up.
Just listening attentively, but not thinking and analyzing is difficult to do. It's very difficult to control yourself. Just try listening to Steve Kaufmann talk about how long it takes to become fluent in a language and see if you can sit there and listen without agreeing or disagreeing with what he says. Can you just listen and not react to what he says? Or are you always coming up with something in your head? I find myself disagreeing with a lot of points he makes. When he says something I don't agree with, I think of exceptions or reasons why he is wrong. Even when I tried to stop doing that and just listen, I couldn't!
I studied French in High School. Since French word order is so similar to English, if I translate all of the words as I read a sentence, I can understand what it means. If I just read the sentence and don't translate anything, I don't know what it means. It's exactly like the example Jerry Dai gave.
So I definitely feel that translation is a bad bad thing. Looking up words in a bilingual dictionary is bad. Flashcards are bad. Textbooks are bad. Teachers who speak your language are bad. Study is bad. Being in a hurry is bad. It's all bad bad bad. Speaking early is definitely bad. Slowly spoken language learning material is bad. Grammar is bad.