One of the goals with Hacking Chinese Challenges is to provide a motivational boost and a sense of direction to students, including myself, This means that I try to arrange the challenges in such a way that if you participated in all of them, you will get a good mix of different kinds of practice.
Based on experience, I know that most students don’t spend enough time just reading or just listening. I don’t mean struggling through Chinese above your level, I mean aiming for sheer volume. At or slightly below your level is preferable.
Extensive listening challenge coming up
The previous listening challenge was held in March and set an all-time record for time logged: 1255 hours with 87 participants. Not bad! While it would be cool to beat that record, the most important thing is that you listen to more Chinese in June than you would have done without the challenge. This is what you should do:
- Sign-up (using your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter)
- View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
- Join the extensive listening challenge
- Set a reasonable goal (see below)
- Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
- Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
- Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
- Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students
Please note: The challenge starts on June 10th, so even if you can join now, you won’t be able to report progress until then.
Extensive listening means that you should listen as much as you can. It’s the opposite of intensive listening where you try to understand everything, stop if you don’t understand something and listen for details. Extensive listening is about breadth, quantity and variety. You probably do intensive listening in class and in real conversations, but you probably don’t do extensive listening enough.
What should you listen to?
Start by looking here:
- The 10 best free listening resource collections for learning Chinese – I wrote this article in connection with the previous challenge. It’s a collection of podcasts, radio shows and much more. Note that I have excluded any paid resources in this post.
- Hacking Chinese Resources – The resource section of Hacking Chinese currently contains 86 resources tagged with “listening”. Many of them are resource collections, where you can find hundreds or even thousands of clips. First select your proficiency level and then listening.
If you have other resources that aren’t shared here already, please leave a comment or contact me in any other way. If you want an invite for Hacking Chinese Resources so you can post your resources directly, just let me know. Just to be on the safe side, here are the basic recommendations I offered last time, sorted by proficiency level:
Setting a reasonable goal
Know what works for each individual learner is impossible, but you should try to set a goal which is as high as possible without feeling unreachable. If this is your first challenge or if you’re not sure what you’re capable of, go for 10 hours or so. If you know what you’re doing, you can easily aim for twice or three times that much. The winner last time listened for 198 hours! Personally, I’m going to aim for an hour a day, so 20 hours. I have lots of other things I want to listen to that aren’t in Chinese.
More about listening comprehension on Hacking Chinese
I’ve written many articles about listening ability and related topics, here are some of the most relevant ones:
- Background listening
- Passive listening
- Active listening
- Listening ability, a matter of practice?
- Make sure listening isn’t a practical problem
- How to find more time to practise listening
- Triggering quantum leaps in listening ability
Preliminary challenge schedule for 2015
To make sure that the challenges cover all major areas, I have created a rough schedule of what challenges will be on for the rest of the year. I might change this somewhat and insert more specific or unusual challenges here and there (if you have any ideas, please let me know). Challenges in italics are preliminary.
January: Characters February: Pronunciation March: Listening April: Reading May: Writing
- June: Listening
- July: Speaking
- August: Reading
- September: Characters
- October: Listening
- November: Writing
- December: Reading