Sunday, June 10, 2007

Video pt.1

Been very busy recently, language learning has not taken a back-seat (still remains a high priority) but blogging certainly has.

Increasingly I am looking to video materials for learning resources. Partly because it is a change of pace, and partly because as my Chinese improves I can actually watch things to relax (and learn at the time, you can't get better than that :)).

Looking at video from a strictly learning point of view, apart from the above, what can video offer over listening or reading? I knew there was another element but it was difficult to explain. Recently I got hold of the Disney film Mulan, very useful as it has Cantonese and Mandarin soundtracks. I skipped through it quickly and played a couple of bits just to see how accessible the Mandarin was. One place I stopped on was a scene that has been played out in lots of films. The invading army captures a couple of enemy scouts. The scouts are mocked and scared a little and then released to deliver a message to their leader. At this point you are thinking "Hmmm usually it is considered good practice to just send one enemy scout back" At this point the leader of the Huns scratches his beard and says "送信需要多少人?" a rather evil looking henchman replies "一个" with a murderous look and draws back his huge bow.

OK so what is my point? well the Hun says "Hmmm how many people does it take to deliver a letter", his henchman replies "one person". Simple language and with the right visual information you can enjoy lots of comprehensible input. Perhaps you are thinking that it is somewhat relative whether the language is simple or not, however consider the same story written down, I can guarantee that I am going to stumble over the language and have to resort to a dictionary at the moment ("drawing a bow" etc. etc.) I wouldn't have a clue". The same scene couldn't have been rendered as just sound either without considerably more information.

Video gives me more learning modes and more options and sometimes I can hit a sweet spot where I am still learning but in a fairly relaxed way (if audio content becomes so easy that I don't have to concentrate much, is also usually stops teaching me anything). The video acts a little prompt to help me absorb new patterns of speech.

I want to speak more about video soon, but for now: you probably know about watching Mandarin video on youtube, however there is much more available on Chinese sites. This page has a load of links.