Listening is very important when you are learning a new language. Many foreigners think Chinese listening is particularly difficult as Chinese is a mono-syllabic language, and there are a plenty of different characters that use the same syllable. It's hard to find the right word in your mind, especially when you don't understand the main meaning. If they speak very fast, you don't have time to figure out even one word, then you can catch nothing. Today, I will introduce some ways to help you improve your Chinese listening skills.
1. Choose the appropriate listening materials for yourself
a. Listen to the Chinese materials which is a bit challenging for you.
It means you should listen to the things a little bit harder than your current level. Not too hard, maybe you can figure our 80% what you heard, that would be appropriate. By listening to challenging Chinese materials, you will learn how to guess what things means, figure out the meaning of something that you don't familiar with.
b. Listen to the relevant and interesting Chinese materials.
Keep yourself motivated and focus what you are listening to. Choose the topic you are really interested in and relevant to your Chinese learning goals. Thus, you would be more concentrated on and really use the Chinese heard.
c. As "native" as possible
If you really want to understand what Chinese people usually say in the real life, you must choose the materials which are closest to life. Spoken Chinese mandarin sounds different from the official news or rehearsed speech on TV. In order to know what Chinese people saying in reality, try to listen to the real Chinese people speaking naturally and spontaneously.
d. Listen to the materials with written transcript (Pinyin or Chinese characters)
Try to find the Chinese materials which come with a transcript, so after you finish your listening, you can check if you are correct or not.
2. Grow your Chinese vocabulary
Vocabulary is the foundation of learning a new language. The more vocabulary you master, the more information you can get when you doing the listening exercise. If your Chinese vocabulary is limited, then you can only get few information when you are listening, not the whole message. Therefore, enrich your vocabulary is necessary for your Chinese listening comprehension.
3. Make your pronunciation as standard as possible
The basis of learning Chinese is learning Chinese pinyin pronunciation. You Chinese pronunciation affects your Chinese listening directly.
Unlike English or other language, Chinese is a single syllable language, which makes listening even harder. You can't guess a given word only according to some sounds. Moreover, Chinese has four different tones, you must pay attention to it and reflect to the correct Chinese characters you hear. If your pronunciation is standard and you have a good accent, you will catch the words easier in listening comprehension, help you understand faster and better.
4. Practice more
Practice makes perfect. The most efficient way to improve your Chinese listening is practice, practice and practice. Well, easier said than done. How to keep practicing Chinese listening consistently? You don't need to understand every word of the listening materials, just try to catch the main ideas. After listening, try to use your own words to repeat the sentences you heard.
5. Use various kinds of media
Nowadays, there are lots of media you can use to listen Chinese. Here are some media you can choose.
a. Practice listening with Chinese native speakers online
This is strongly recommended for the Chinese learning beginners. Firstly, you can start with some simple and basic listening practice. The teachers may know the speed you can catch and control the reading speed. Secondly, you can also practice your Chinese speaking, especially for your pronunciation.
b. Practice Chinese listening online (Audio, Movies, MP3)
You can find lots of Chinese listening materials online, including audio, Chinese movies, MP3 and so on. Here are some good Chinese movies, TV series or TV program recommended for you to practice your Chinese listening:
快乐大本营 Happy Camp
家有儿女 Home with Kids
6. Be patient
It is never easy to learn a new language, so as Chinese. During the practice of listening Chinese, you may meet a lot of difficulties. When you can't figure out what you are listening, just be patient and listen again. Don't lose your patience and confidence, keep practicing, one day you will see your effort turn to a good result!