speak chinese like a native

Reflections on two years of CPOD

Posted by mark March 30, 2008 in the Group General Discussion .

I recently renewed my CPOD subscription for a third year.  The occasion inspires me to reflect on the past two years.


When I first encountered CPOD I had already been studying Chinese for a while using what materials I could get my hands on and the assistance of some native speakers.  I don’t live in China.  So, this in itself is an effort.  In any case, in regard to studying Chinese independently (when there is no one to practice with, which is most of my study time) an audio recording with a transcript is a precious thing, and before CPOD, not an easy thing to come by.  I had been in the habit of getting someone to read a short story while I recorded it.  However, the result wasn’t professionally produced and the vocabulary and word choice in the stories was pretty hit-or-miss as to how current and relevant to spoken Chinese they were.


Anyway, finding CPOD was like hitting a jackpot.  It filled a big gap in what I needed to effectively study Chinese.  I wish it would have existed and I would have known about it when I first started.  I have the feeling I would be further along now than I am.


I’m not a pure experiment, because CPOD is not my only study resource, but for two years it has been my primary resource.  So, it should receive a large share of the credit or blame for my progress, or lack thereof.   I don’t know what rate of progress to expect.  So, it is hard to say whether I’m slow or fast, but here is what it is.


Two years ago, the early Ken and Jenny intermediate lessons were about the right level for me, in the sense that I could listen to them, study the transcripts a bit and learn some new vocabulary and grammar patterns without an overwhelming effort.  When John came, he fairly quickly raised the bar on intermediate lessons, but the timing of the transition worked fairly well for me.  I now put a similar level of effort into the advanced lessons.  Although, I still don’t understand them on a first hearing.


It’s always been hard to decide what level I should say I’m at, though, because speaking, listening, reading and writing all seem to be at different levels.  For me speaking is probably the lowest.  I could probably competently generate most of the elementary level dialogs unrehearsed.  Listening and writing might be about intermediate level.  I usually can understand the intermediate lessons on the first hearing, and with some think time could write something that would be comprehensible at that level, although not free of grammar errors.  Reading, if I’m generous with myself and have a dictionary handy, I could say is advanced.   All were probably one level lower when I first encountered CPOD.


CPOD has unquestionably been great.  There is a fly in the broth, though.  I’ve noticed that recently the amount of new vocabulary in one week’s worth of CPOD lessons is tailing off for me.   So, I presumably need to start augmenting CPOD with additional material, if my rate of progress is to continue.  I haven’t decided, yet, what is the best way to do that though.   Any suggestions there?

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