Listening skill is one of the most important elements in Chinese learning. It leads you to be able to actually communicate with Chinese and make concrete interactions. To help smoothen your communication and knock down the barriers related to listening, we have a few tips for our beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners.
Aim: Understand basic conversations
At beginner stage, learners generally would know a limited range of vocabulary and sentences, therefore, to avoid confusion by adding too many extra words and complicated sentence structures, it’s suggested learners focus mainly on understanding the words and phrases they’ve learned.
Tip 1: Audio learning
Audio learning is especially useful in balancing your ability between reading and listening. As when learning new words, learners usually start with reading, while the listening part may be neglected. So, we suggest you to learn with textbooks, along with audio. Fist, you can start with listening to the text once, then read and learn the new words. Finally, listen to the audio once more, without reading the text. Translate the context to yourself to ensure all is well understood. Repeat this method whenever a new text comes by, and in time, your listening skill will certainly improve.
Apart from textbooks, you can also perform your own audio learning with other materials of your level. For example, in LingQ, all their texts are accompanied by a recorded audio, which you can add to your playlist. In addition, an English translated text is provided. In Edugora, most courses so far are made for beginners, in which they’re taught sentence by sentence. As the courses all come with a short video, it allows you to watch and listen repeatedly.
Tip 2: Real life one on one practices
To further enhance your listening skill, practices are essential. Yet, as a beginner, being able to practice the content you’ve learned would build a stronger base for improving your listening. Therefore, we suggest you to find a native speaker who knows your level well to conduct conversational practices with you. It could be a friend, your tutor, or a language exchange partner. The format can simply be in Q&A, which your partner will ask simple questions and you respond accordingly. This is perceived as a fun and engaging exercise, while giving you a taste of putting your knowledge into real life.
Aim: Understand general topics
As an intermediate learner, you should possess Chinese knowledge covering wider and more general topics. Therefore, it’s time to also make sure your listening skill is up to that level. Apart from continuing to follow the above tips, we have other two tips specifically tailored for our intermediate learners.
Tip 1: Watch Chinese TV with subtitles
At this point, you may be exploring to further move your study from purely just texts, right? It’s a good idea to start from things close to your daily lives. Therefore, it’s good move to start watching Chinese TV, movies or video clips, with the help of subtitles. In practice, it’s suggested that you first watch the full video once, gaining an understanding of the whole story, then choose the parts you particularly enjoy most, and repeat watching it without looking at the subtitles. As such, it not only hones your listening skill, but often, people are able to learn some new words and phrases.
To search for Chinese videos, check out Viki, where it provides free Chinese TV dramas and movies supported by both Chinese and English subtitles. On the other hand, CCTV could also a good platform, which videos are filmed mainly for educational purpose, yet they show real life situations, and are supported by English subtitles.
Tip 2: Real life situational practices
Apart from practicing listening through movies and TVs, you can step beyond and exercise in real life scenarios! Since at this time, you should already be able to comfortably handle a couple of Chinese speaking settings, such as restaurants, shops, etc. If you’re not living in China, find out if there’s a China Town within your area, where most people believably use only Chinese to communicate. So being physically in a Chinese speaking environment is a very direct and effective way to practice your listening.
Aim: Understand wide range of topics
When you’ve reached advanced level, you should be able to interact with people easily under normal daily circumstances, without much listening problem. Therefore, to progress yourself further, you might want to focus your learning on a specific topic of your interest, industry or your professional scope. With that said, you’re looking to expand your Chinese usage to broader coverage or topics, which richer listening skills are required.
Tip1: immersed in the Chinese environment
To do so, you’re highly recommended to immerse yourself in a complete Chinese speaking environment for a certain period of time. This indicates that relocating to China is probably a good option, and the trip can last from a couple of weeks to years. Being fully immersed in China means you’re passively listening to Chinese speaking daily, which you can be exposed to all sort of scenarios, ranging from buying groceries, renting apartments to looking for jobs. Meanwhile, you’re suggested to be open to people and to meet more new friends, in this way, you’d get loads of opportunity to practice Chinese listening.
Tip2: Join Chinese seminars of your scope of interest
Apart from travelling to China, if you’re seeking to expand language skills to a more specific scope, such as your professional field or a topic of your interest, we recommend you to join relevant seminars, webinars, talks or conferences which are conducted in Chinese. As the content discussed would be entirely related to your chosen specialty, therefore, you’ll get much opportunity to enhance listening ability within these areas. To join these events, looking up for groups around your area in Meetup could be a good start. It works best if these events could be joined regularly, which helps to maintain your level.
Next, if you're keen to know about our tips on improving your Chinese reading skill, check out our other post, 'How to Improve Reading Skills Effectively'.