I’ve read that listening to a language, even if you don’t understand it, increases your ability to learn that language. So with only a few weeks of Pimsleur Chinese lessons several years ago, I set out to accelerate my learning of Mandarin by listening.
I asked my friends for suggestions of tech talks and inspiring voices, and also sought out kid’s songs which tend to be helpful for learning language:
- RailsGirls workshop
- Taiwanese Folk Music 橄欖樹 by Chyi Yu
- Open Source Enlightenment
- Happy nursery rhymes by Four daughters
Over the past few weeks, I spent about 6 hours listening to videos of people speaking and singing Mandarin. In that relatively short time, these transformed from a blur of sounds into a pattern of phonemes where every now and then I can hear words that I recognize, like shì (是) which is the verb to be, which might mean is, are, or am, since Mandarin has no subject verb conjugation. I’m still far from speaking much, but it’s fun to be in Taiwan and feel like this language is not completely strange to me, and its fun to hear people speak.