Reading and Listening vs. Speaking

I’m pretty far in Chinese learning. I have 7,500 words in my space repetition system. Also, I can read the Chinese New York Times pretty comfortably. The first couple years learning the language I spoke the language enough with my teachers to get me to a decent level. Now, I’m adding 150 words a week to my space repetition software, reading around 1,500 words every other day (one new york times article), listening intensively to 10 minutes worth of material–>authentic news every other day. And passive listening to podcasts in car for 40 minutes every day. At this pace I should have around 13,000 vocab in a year. Whenever I review the words I have in my srs, I both have example sentences on the card and that I look up to make sure my understanding of the word “fit” within the context of the example sentences (before I tell the srs that a given word is ‘remembered’)

I feel like learning 13,000 words and listening and reading to a lot of material, will help me snowball much faster than breaking it up and getting an italki tutor (which I would do my best to record and review for the 2 hours a week I would devote a practice like this) to help with speaking perfection. My goal is to be able to LISTEN better specifically to fast spoken chinese news.

Would you forego speaking practice in my situation for the next year and focus on acquiring more vocab if you were in my shoes, given my goal? Or would you devote a percentage of your attention to some kind of speaking program. Why?

I think people’s opinion on this matter will highlight a critical stage of upper intermediate/lower advanced learner’s most optimal strategy, especially people who are not able to be literally in their target language’s country. Would love to hear some of your experiences/standpoints.

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In general, listening and reading (comprehensible input) is the foundation of everything else. You can never get too much of that, really. Some people suggest delaying output (speaking and writing) until you’ve had enough input (listening and reading), but this is rarely practical as most people also want to be able to say and write things at an early stage too.

You are of course well beyond the beginner stage, but the advice to wait with speaking/writing until you need them still apply. If you don’t need/want to speak in the short term, I see no reason at all to include explicit speaking practice in your routine. If you really want to, do it! If you think it’s fun, do it! If you want to be able to be able to talk about things you can already understand sooner rather than later, by all means focus on speaking!

But if not, sticking to more listening and reading will take you further. This seems to be the situation you describe, so my suggestion is that you try to maximise the amount of Chinese you listen to and read. You already have a mix of intensive and extensive listening, which is good. If possible, try to get more than the 40 minutes of easier listening. Try to incorporate listening with other activities. I’ve written a lot about this on Hacking Chinese, and this is a good place to start: How to find more time to practise Chinese listening:

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This is another great Hacking Chinese article. I read probably a couple year ago. I think what stood out this time is your 30 hours of listening practice a week. That is impressive. What also opened my eyes was you put more stock in easy listening than I once thought.

I could easily bump my “easy listening” up to an hour. Not only podcast in the car, but an easy podcast with subtitles perhaps…
Da Peng

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I make it so easy in fact, I read the subtitles, and stop every minute to collect a new word. The process is still pretty smooth. (feel free to say this is heresy… I would actually be interested to hear what you think about that) but it keeps me at ease and motivates me to do it.

Every other day, I do 10 minutes of “blind listening” to either authentic Chinese news or a relatively more advanced youtube video. And I’ll listen to these twice. And then review the script thoroughly. I’m guessing you probably would advise not to waste my time. But I would be reluctant to abandon this without a decent insight.

I think it’s really impressive when you were at my level you were learning 150 vocab a week approximately like me, AND listening 4 hours a day. And you were probably also reading, and I’m guessing you threw some difficult listening in there as well.

I think we need to stop talking about the Chinese strategies and start talking about the vitamins you take… :slight_smile: you must have hacked the secrets of Chinese herbs as well.

I think your post may help justify boosting the “easy listening” to a couple hours a day if nothing else. Extremely insightful!