Tuesday, May 17, 2011

why all the drama?

As detailed in my previous post, after trying several different ways to learn Chinese spread out over a millenia, I settled on and stuck with the TV method. That's right, I stuck with something. Even without having any evidence of whether it would work or not, I enjoyed it and kept going. I made a commitment to watch 2,000 hours of Chinese.

I never set any expectations for what I might achieve in 2,000 hours, so I was certainly not disappointed. One reason for taking up the challenge was just to show that it can be done. Yes, you can learn a language just by watching TV. In fact, I still am! I have a ways to go before I get to understanding 100% and I'll let you know when I get there. In the meantime, I'm slowly accumulating more hours of watching TV in Chinese.

All of my time has been spent on TV dramas. But why? Well, it was not a decision, nor even a focus on dramas. It was just that it was the easiest thing to find. Once I find a drama to watch, I'm all set for 16 to 30 hours. Choosing the next thing to watch takes time. If I had used cable TV, I'd have been spending a lot of time finding a good channel with something good on. There also were not any reliable TV broadcasts on the internet when I started. So that's why I started buying dramas. But nowadays, things are different. There are several good sites for Chinese TV programming, and the streaming is getting better and better all the time. I recommend tv.sohu.com.

Other excellent types of TV content, as Bakunin has shared with us, are instructional videos and children's programming. You would probably need some help to find those, unless you can read Chinese. But if you can read Chinese then you probably aren't looking to learn the language. I can't read Chinese either. I can recognize some characters that are used in Japanese, but I can't read the description of anything. I'm just like a kid. I have to choose what to watch based on the cover picture.

One of the good things about learning from authentic content like this, is that I am never shocked. Classroom learners or those using learner content never get used to watching TV in the target language. It's just too discouraging to realize that you can't understand the real language yet. However, using the TV method, I never noticed a sudden difference in the difficulty level. There's no sudden jump. I just gradually understand more and more. And when I look back, I realize that I am improving.

Now if only I could retire so I could devote more time to watching TV. I mean, learning languages.


  1. I've recently decided to corrupt your method :o) and use it along with extensive reading. Now I try to watch one Czech movie every evening. Unfortunately :o) I have the subtitles of most of the movies so probably I will corrupt your method even more. :o)

  2. Then that is not my method. You are creating something new.


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