So here's a thing: I haven't been listening to CPod dialogues for the past two weeks. This might not seem like much, but considering my usual pace of a lesson a day, it's pretty big. Is it because of holiday stress? No, actually I've found myself having more time to study during the holidays. It's because I've been able to use native material in my study.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm by no means at the Advanced level. I'm quite comfortable at UI, but switching on the webradio on a Chinese language station gives me a big challenge to understand more than the gist of what is being discussed. Formal language is completely incomprehensible. However, watching a Chinese TV series with Chinese subtitles, I can follow the story pretty well, and I'm good enough to identify the parts I don't understand, look them up if I feel I'm missing a crucial point, and add them to my personal vocab list if I feel it's stuff I want to learn right now.
This way, I get new words to study every day and I'm getting lots and lots of input, thus exposure to grammar patterns. And in all of this I'm not using CPod as anything but a vocab manager (adding the words in CPod and then syncronizing with my iPhone is easier than adding them directly in my iPhone). I sometimes use the Skritter tool, but as most often it doesn't recognize half of the words I study (or more, as I'm often adding entire phrases), it's not very useful to me.
ChinesePod seems to be of little use to me. This is, of course, not because of some failing of ChinesePod (quite the opposite, in fact). It's certainly the best program out there and it has massive amounts of interesting lessons. But those massive amounts pale in comparison to the native language material I can now use as a base in my studies. A single TV series has more input than all the UI dialogues put together! Of course CPod cannot compete with that. It can't and shouldn't. Its very purpose is to get people to access these materials.
So my question to people at my level or above is: how are you using the 'Pod? What value does CPod offer you if you can access and make sense of native material? 'Cause I must admit, if my subscription was about to expire right now, I might not resubscribe (ironically, it won't expire until November 2011).
Please note: I'm certainly not fluent; I have serious trouble with reading any kind of website in Chinese and a newspaper would certainly be out of my league. But I can understand enough to be able to use these things to improve on my own. I know enough so that if I look up the words I don't know, I can understand the sentences. I might encounter some weird patterns that are hard to guess at, but then there's free forums like Chinese-Forums of Polyglot Forums where I could ask questions and get answers (and anyway, I could ask them here with a free account).
This is a post of questions and ponderings, and not accusations. I love ChinesePod and it's brought me to this point much faster than any other method could have. But at this point I feel like I can make do on my own. I feel like I'm ready to try my wings. However, there are obviously greater heights in ChinesePod that I could aspire to (the Advanced and Media levels), so I'm wondering how people use them. Are they there for people with a learning style different from mine, or is there some benefit that I'm missing? Because, as I said, even though I'm not at that level, I feel I no longer really need ChinesePod.
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