I’ve been a lingq user for a little over a year now and pretty happy with how it allows me to practice languages in a way that I actually find interesting. My focus up till now has been on simplified Chinese and I guess my level is around HSK 5, but with a large additional passive vocabulary centered around Chinese philosophy and history.
Now recently, I heard I may get the opportunity to study in Taiwan starting in august for a full year. Nothing’s certain yet, but I’d like to prepare as much as possible, since some of my classes will be in Chinese. I’m going to have to work on my reading comprehension of traditional characters, but I’m most worried about my listening comprehension. It’s always been my weakness in language learning that I take way too long to process what’s actually being said, and I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up in my studies, so I’d like to spend the next half a year working hard on getting as close to fluent as possible.
To make the jump from HSK 5 to functional fluency in listening, how much practice time should I expect it to take? And is it possible to learn to read (and to a limited degree, use) traditional characters in the time span of half a year? Are there any particularly effective strategies I could use to improve my ‘processing speed’ of spoken language, especially when it concerns new and specialized vocabulary?
Any advice would be much appreciated!
I can’t really advise you how to reach a high level in Chinese, as my level of Chinese is still rudimentary. But I might have some ideas nonetheless:
In regard to traditional characters: I don’t think this is going to be a problem at all. Here on LingQ, I started on the Chinese simplified side in July, but in the last two months I have added traditional and enjoy it very much. I just listen and read simultaneously. And by now I would say I don’t feel much of a difference between the two varieties, in terms of comprehension.
As for better understanding spoken Mandarin, a smart-aleck might say something like: “If you want to improve your listening comprehension, you should listen more.”
I struggle with this part myself and certainly don’t get enough listening practice in; but time is hard to come by…
You also mention the desire to use traditional characters, if you mean writing by hand then I’d like to caution, it might take an inordinate amount of time to properly develop this skill; time that could be better spent elsewhere… Do you know how much handwriting will be required in your university? Surely assignments can be submitted in digital form?
Anyway, I wish you all the best for your studies!
I personally focus a lot on listening. I took to heart Steve’s approach to chinese and it’s close to “A lot of reading and listening”. All I can say is that the learner should always listen as much as possible. Currently following the AJATT method in which a person should listen as much as possible, but I am not doing it while sleeping as I don’t get a sense of any improvement or perhaps I’m not high level enough. I listen 8+ a day in the condition that I spend 1 hour a day actively reading and listening together to link the words and sound. The other 7+ hours to passively listen to reinforce content that I have already actively listened to. Otherwise it would be pointless unless you can guess by context, which is extremely challenging for a language such as chinese. There’s a whole debate about this topic at
A user here name @Imani gave me advice on listening that “Every 100 hours, you will notice that you have leveled up”. From that I took to heart, but I believe that one promotes every 200 hours of listening. Just an opinion.
I follow the ALG levels to get an idea in terms of listening where I am at: ALG Levels and how we view them - ALG Thai Online, Learn Thai
In terms of reading, Lingq will help you read better but to produce written traditional characters is a bit challenging.
In terms of spoken, shadowing helps a lot with my pronounciation. I only focus on it if I think I need to speak soon. Otherwise, I continuously listen non stop when I’m not doing anything that requires 100% attention.
Based on your word count on simplified chinese, your potential to link those words to your listening ability is high.
To make the jump from HSK 5 to functional fluency in listening, how much practice time should I expect it to take?
800-1000 hours roughly.
And is it possible to learn to read (and to a limited degree, use) traditional characters in the time span of half a year?
Yes, learning traditional is the easy part. I learned traditional when studying cantonese. Hence why i never bothered much with the traditional Chinese on LingQ.
Are there any particularly effective strategies I could use to improve my ‘processing speed’ of spoken language, especially when it concerns new and specialized vocabulary?
You just gotta listen a lot. Listening and reading at the same time is best. Look for mistakes in the transcription (if it’s not a textbook there are probably some).