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Creating Your Own Fun Chinese Homework – Chinese Dictation with FluentU Videos

It’s really all homework for me. I don’t have any classes or tests. But I’m talking about exercises or practicing that I do on my own volition. Yes, I have a tutor, but it’s not like she has to report to my parents or I have to follow a set program. As a self-directed learner, I have both the option and the responsibility to myself to find ways to enhance my learning.

I wrote about this some when I wrote up this list of YouTube videos that I have found fun and interesting to listen to. This week, I spent some time listening to videos from another language learning company, called FluentU. I have not used any of their services, but I have listened to several of their YouTube videos. This week, I took it to a new level and transcribed this video:

The process I used was three part:

First, I just listened to the whole thing. I didn’t stop it, but made an effort to comprehend as much as I could without looking anything up.

Next, I listened to it again, but stopped it to repeat what I was hearing. In a couple of places, I had to listen more than once to know for sure what was being said. In one place in particular, I had to listen a few times before I confirmed that they were using a country name I was unfamiliar with. However, since they showed a map, I could look that up on my KTdict Chinese-English dictionary app.

Finally, I listened again, typing in Chinese characters everything I heard. At this point, I needed to put in earbuds because of other household events. I noticed I could hear the video much more distinctly with earbuds. I’m sure this typing step was as smooth as it was because of how much Chinese typing I do during my Skype lessons. During my lessons, I also make it a point to try to type much of what my tutor says before she can type it. It began as a game when I noticed that her archaic keyboard was slow, plus she was typing everything in pinyin, which takes a while. I think it is likely I can type Chinese faster than I can speak it, which is kind of backwards, but I will use it to my advantage. (I can’t tell you what I heard, or you won’t get the same practice value from it! But I will include my transcript in my next newsletter, so sign up if you want to know! The sign up is under the search bar, in the upper right, under the Fun Learning Chinese logo.)

My tutor will correct anything that I choose to work on, so I sent her a Skype message with the transcribed dictation and a link to the video. She pointed out one place where I had a bit of Chinese dyslexia, and reaffirmed I had gotten the country name correct. Woohoo! Of course, I had chosen a video that I thought would be manageable for me, especially for a first time trying this procedure. If you don’t have a tutor, perhaps you can find a Chinese speaking acquaintance who wouldn’t mind looking over something that simple once in a while. Or you might find an exchange student who is wanting to perfect their English and do a trade. Or, as I said, you can sign up for the newsletter.

It’s fun to write all my stories, using vocabulary I have been studying. These stories are a good way for me to stimulate my Chinese thinking. However, a little low-key transcription was just the thing on a day when I wanted to practice, but my brain was a little worn out for creative writing. However, it wasn’t just barely useful. I could tell that typing what I was hearing was engaging my brain on a deeper level.