I want to record my first Chinese conversation

Are any of the Chinese tutors willing to let my record a video conversation and post it on YouTube?

Hi Keith,

This must be the conversation after your 2000 hours. Congrats, by the way :slight_smile:
It might be best to contact the tutors with times already posted, as they may not see this thread:

Good luck!

Yes, you are right, Alex.
I have contacted Rony and he will let me record and post on YouTube.

Here is a link to the conversation I attempted with Rony. Thanks much to Rony!

I will be signing up for more conversations with him.
I will also ask other Chinese tutors if they are interested in the same.

Cool I don’t know chinese (…yet) but that sounded good! On your profile it says you are studying Japanese as well- would you like to record a similar skype discussion with me in Japanese? (I’m of an “advanced beginner” level)

Good job, Keith! That was impressive!


I really respect your courage and I know how hard Chinese is, I have been studying it now for two and a half years but that was almost unbearable to watch. And I don’t mean the fact that you did not have a lot of vocabulary, I mean the fact that you understood almost nothing, and that’s not your fault. Chinese is full of tonal ambiguities. So I wouldn’t worry too much about output. Put your time into listening a lot. I recommend that you work on comprehension by repeated listenening using transcripts. In Chinese you really need to dissect the audio because of all these homophones. I also recommend you learn to read Chinese characters so that you can read the transcripts of recorded material. I am sorry but there are no shortcuts!

Good luck with your studies!

When I was a child, I used to listen to chinese a lot using radio stations radion lessons etc, so I was familialize with this pronounciation, but now I had to learn grammar, too.

I will listen to your first conversation later.

Listening activity is really nice but it may be better to learn a little grammar, to read a little bit difficult stories, to write characters by hand, type letters, write a diary, etc a various activity. Now I am doing that.

But I appreciate your courage. I will check up your list of listening. Maybe I will try to listen to what you ever listened to. Yes, 1000 hours is too long for me, but I will do my best.

“that was almost unbearable to watch”

From the guy who says I’m impolite and an insensitive teacher…

This was very courageous. I honestly didn’t expect much from this first attempt (I don’t know any musician who learned to play by listening only), but the pronunciation wasn’t THAT bad for somebody who hasn’t studied Mandarin formally.

I’ve only had one Skype conversation myself, and it didn’t go that well either. Lack of vocabulary, not having enough “grammar” in the brain to be able to say what I want, the usual panic when it comes to such things as conversations with people I don’t know - in a foreign language I don’t really know that well… and so on.

As Friedemann said - there are no shortcuts. The thing here is that the TV method is said to be that kind of shortcut regarding natural understanding, visual cues, accent etc. and this Youtube clip didn’t exactly prove anything of that.

On Keith’s blog, Alexandre wrote:
“If you HAD been studying for 2000 hours, or supplementing your listening with study and oral practice, you most certainly WOULD know what to say in a conversation. And that’s just plain obvious.”

But I still think it was very brave to post this conversation on Youtube.

I just had a quick look and am checking out of my Nagoya hotel to catch an early morning train. I will look again and comment more later.

Initial reaction:

Excellent pronunciation, good tones, I suspect that this comes from listening a lot before speaking.
Rony spoke a little quickly in my opinion, but it does not matter. The first conversation is where you break the ice. I went two years in Russian without speaking, and would never have put my first conversation on youtube.

You have to learn to speak, but if you have listened a lot, the introduction to speaking goes quickly. Armed with vocabulary, however passive, and a familiarity with the language, you will progress. Try speaking a few hours a week for a month or so and you will see considerable progress in my view.

More later.

I am surprised at Friedemann’s comments, and have to say that Keith already has better control of tones than Friedemann. These things are individual, but it might have to do with focusing on listening rather than speaking at an early stage.

Alexandre’s comment is just silly. If Keith “had had more oral practice he would speak more”, of course he would. But then he would have had to sit in a classroom or have someone spend that time with him. The listening is something he can do on his own whenever and wherever he wants. This is the first conversation.

The question is wold he have put in 2000 hours of traditional study. What would that have cost, in time and money. In the long run, would he be further ahead?

C’mon guys, when we see a doctor, we want an honest appraisal of our situation. What’s the point in calling someone’s level “impressive” when it is not? I think I have given constructive advice (working on comprehension) and also said that I did respect Keith. Still it was very awkward to watch.

I hereby re-state for the records that I have always found my own progress in Chinese painfully slow, so I am not saying that it is Keith’s fault or anything. If Keith’s tones are better than mine, I don’t really know and I don’t really care. I use Chinese in my job everyday, I give speeches at conferences, maybe it is not pretty, I don’t know, but I can have conversations on a wide range of topics.

But again, my own level in comparison to Keith’s is not really relevant here. The point is that the video exposed some unique difficulties of learning Chinese, which I have encountered myself. The other point is that we shouldn’t put ourselves in an awkward position when we are not ready yet to speak because it may lead to frustration and oss of motivation. Maybe Keith felt ready I don’t know, but he certainly didn’t seem ready to me.

Was Keith looking for “a doctor”?

I am learning Mandarin and I don’t find the tones to be that hard. What is hard about them? Am I missing something?

Well, maybe I should wait until I’m more advanced, maybe that’s when it gets to be difficult.


I agree that “unbearable to watch” was a blunt statement to make, but all my other remarks were quite constructive. Keith is no ordinary learner, he has a blog about language learning and has even developed his own method (the TV approach) and is quite vocal about it. I think he can take it.

Besides, this is in fact quite an interesting discussion because according to my experience, watching Chinese TV without a transcript is not very effective because of the Chinese-specific comprehension issue.

Friedemann was just being honest, I don’t think he meant it in a mean-spirited way. The question is whether Keith is asking for comments or just mentioning his language experiment.

I think Keith is doing something fun-testing a “method”.

I think 2000 hours of listening without speaking would not be a good use of my time, but I’m not Keith.

I think people need to listen a lot, but not at the expense of speaking.