Saturday, January 09, 2010
800 hours TV method Chinese
And is it working? Yes, I am increasingly getting better at following the language and understanding more and more of what is actually being said. I am picking up more vocabulary as well.
Where was I a year ago? Well, let's see...
A year ago, I was at about 175 hours. During the last year, I took a full 6-month break due to extenuating circumstances. It was my decision to take that break. Of course, if I hadn't taken a break, I would be at about 1400 or 1500 hours now.
Since I came off the break, I have done 246 more hours. 6 months is a pretty long time when you consider that I had only been doing the TV method for about 6 months when I started the break. But did I lose all my knowledge during the hiatus? Did my progress back-track? No, not at all. I just picked-up where I left off.
Lately, I've noticed that the more I follow the dialogue, the more I am into the story. And I know that this will only increase with time. So it's like going from trying to learn the language to just watching the show and understanding what's being said. At some point, there won't be much left to learn.
For now, all I need to do is look back and compare the past with the present. If I know I've made progress then I'm satisfied. I'm sure all language learners feel that way. It's only when learners feel they aren't making progress and think they have hit a plateau or are stuck in a rut and not going anywhere that they become dissatisfied with what they are doing. This most likely comes from trying too hard and expecting too much.
One of the things the TV method has going for it is that there isn't any real trying. I don't try to read a book. I don't try to have a conversation. I don't try to write Chinese characters. I don't try to memorize new vocabulary. I don't try to review learned material. I don't try to understand what I'm hearing.
What? You don't try to understand what you are hearing?
No, I either understand or I don't. And when I don't understand I just guess. And it doesn't matter if I guess wrong. I know it is only a guess, so I haven't told myself that I have obtained absolute understanding. That allows me to be more flexible. I know that my first guess may be way off the mark. I can easily shed that guess if I realize it was wrong, because I only made a loose association. An association based on the circumstances surrounding the use of that word.
When a new word shows up again, I check to see if my guess fits this situation as well. Every time another situation confirms my guess of what that word means, the meaning becomes more solidified. But it's the situations that are creating the meaning of these words for me. A situation is like a feeling.
If you think of a word in your native language, you can feel what most of them mean. Like the word, scary. You learned this word through experiences. You know what it feels like to be scared. When I learn this word in Chinese, I'm going to learn it by hearing it spoken as well as seeing a scary situation several times.
These situations are easier to recall than a translation from English. And then later, when the word is spoken but without any other context which would tell me what it means, I'm going to understand it through the feeling that I'll have associated with it. And some day when I go to use the word, I'll feel the scary feeling and the word will pop into my head.
That is the way we learn words. We can learn them naturally, so why bother studying?