Monday, March 23, 2009


I've finished watching yet another Chinese TV drama. It has 24 episodes on 3 discs and is 16 hours long. I watched the first 2 discs yesterday and the 3rd disc today.

This drama had less dialogue in it and it seemed to drag on and on. Therefor, I won't be able to watch this one again for a long, long time. I'll watch it again once I can understand Chinese pretty well and have forgotten most of the story.

I enjoy acquiring Chinese through the TV method. For me, it is more satisfying to know new words from observing how they are used. This method also gives the words real meaning as I acquire the words through feeling. I can feel the meaning of the words and they hold real value to me.

Whenever I have studied and memorized words, they don't feel real. You can say the words and know what they mean but it takes a lot of time to actually feel the meaning of those words. Until then, the words don't mean anything to me.

I consider my TV method to be 99% reinforcing known words and one percent acquiring new words. It's fun because the words I know show up all the time. I hear them again and again and they sink deeper and deeper into me. I think this builds a strong foundation for acquiring more words. I don't think that the one percent of acquiring words is slow because I am acquiring multiple words simultaneously, not one at a time.

I don't consider the acquisition of a word to be a one moment event. What I mean is, a word is not unknown one moment and then suddenly acquired the next moment. The language is gradually acquired. At first you start to recognize a new word. But you are not ready to know what it means. When you are ready, you will be able to start guessing at the possible meanings.

After that, you'll find it in more situations and you'll narrow in on what it means. Your understanding of the word develops gradually from your encounters with it. You'll find it used in unexpected ways and you'll adjust your understanding. You'll be able to adjust because you didn't look it up in a dictionary and get fixed on a definition. When you start using that word yourself, you'll use it just the way you've seen it used. You'll have had a lot of exposure to it and it should feel pretty natural to you when you use it.

That's what I really want; to be able to use the language and for it to feel natural and to have the confidence that I am using it naturally. I'm not comfortable speaking a language when it doesn't feel natural and when I have to wonder if what I am saying is even correct.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. I thought your TV method sounded pretty cool so I started it with Thai recently (well, yesterday). I'm not going as hardcore as you are, but I'm trying to watch at least one drama episode per day.

    Naturally I understand almost zero of what is said in the Thai dramas. My ears are still getting used to the sound and rhythm of the language. I don't expect to pick up many words for a long while yet, so I'm not stressing it. I actually enjoy it. It's mysterious and musical.

    Anyway, I have a question. When I watch, I find myself spacing out a lot from time to time. I try to concentrate and really listen the whole time, but it's my mind's tendency to wander away from the mystery talking and towards thinking about everyday things. Sometimes I'll snap back and realize I wasn't really listening to the drama for the past 5 minutes or so. When you watch your DVDs all in one go like you do, does this happen to you too? Any tips on how to counter this?



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