Learning a new language by yourself can be challenging and dull. Especially if you are studying textbooks, it is hard to make sure you grasp all the language rules at once as your vocabulary is enhanced simultaneously. Due to the pandemic, many language courses have shifted to an online format. Online learning with mobile applications or multimedia effects is a great way to adapt your learning process, even when you are not in the classroom.
We sat down with Kdan Team member Chris Heron, an English native speaker and in the process of learning the Chinese language. Chris often uses multimedia to improve his Mandarin Chinese skills and believes this less-traditional approach has worked in his favor. Read on to learn how to document your learning process with video. Find out how you can document your process with Write-on Video!
1. Would you mind sharing a bit about yourself and why you started learning Chinese?
I came to Taiwan to work for Kdan Mobile. While living here, I became very interested in the culture and people, and I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the mindset of this country in Asia. I figured the best way to connect with Taiwanese people would be to speak with them in their native language. This is the first foreign language I’ve learned, and Mandarin Chinese is known as ‘one of the most difficult foreign languages to learn; I saw this as both an opportunity and a challenge.
I figured making videos of myself for social media in the process would be the best way to motivate myself and document my progress. This approach would also allow me to connect with others on a similar journey.
SSince I am learning independently, I have to set long and short-term goals to keep myself on track. Some of my long-term goals include:
- Finish studying the level 1 textbook in 3 months
- Make 6 videos over the next 3 months
- Have 2 language exchanges with a local Taiwanese person this month
ITo keep track of my progress, I break these down into smaller goals, such as working on one chapter in the book per week, writing one script each week, watching Chinese films, or making a list of people I can do a language exchange with, etc.
2. What are the main differences between learning in a classroom and teaching yourself?
There are many differences. For example, you are not restricted by the time constraints of the class or teacher. You can continue practicing until you feel comfortable. Another example, and my favorite part of self-teaching, is that it’s your job to do the research when you don’t understand a concept. When I do my own research, I can genuinely memorize and understand the idea.
I use various learning methods, such as making videos, language learning tools like Duolingo, and some Chinese courses on YouTube to help practice my speaking and listening skills. Since I work with primarily Chinese speakers, I have the chance to put what I have learned into use. My colleagues have taught me many conversational phrases and common vocabulary.
Being in charge of my own learning process is very motivating, and it makes me excited to learn more every day.
3. What makes Write-on Video cohesive to your Chinese-learning process?
Write-on Video accommodates my Chinese learning process. My primary focus is listening and speaking, so I make videos to help myself practice at home.
This is what my process looks like:
First, I write out what I want to say in Chinese characters and add the Pinyin & tones. Then I film myself practicing the sentences out loud multiple times, making sure I have the correct tone and pronunciation. Finally, after feeling comfortable with the sentences, I put all the pieces together.
After compiling the video clips, I listen to what I’m saying as a single, complete idea. Then, I repeat the sentences aloud to make them sound more natural. Then it’s time to use what I’ve learned in the real world!
4. In particular, which multimedia tools within the app proved to be the most effective for you?
Having a video editor that makes it easy to plan video scripts is very important when practicing my sentences. For example, the Pods feature in Write-on Video helps me structure the video before I start filming. The ability to pin comments throughout the video also comes in handy when I’m writing Chinese subtitles. This tool helps me add text to my video. Lastly, I use social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube to post my videos and document my Chinese-learning process.
5. Can you give some tips to other Chinese language learners?
The first piece of advice I will give is to set goals. Understanding what you want to achieve can give you a better idea of how you should design and prioritize your learning plan. Chinese Mandarin is a tricky language; it has thousands of characters, grammar, and tone rules. For self-taught learners, it just sounds like a rough start. Take me, for instance. My biggest goal is to be able to use Chinese to live and get around in Taiwan. So I prioritized listening and speaking skills. And knowing my key goals helped me decide on my learning methods.
The second piece of advice is to be brave to use the language even if you are still a beginner. I was lucky enough to work with native speakers, so I took every chance to practice with them. It was beneficial for my Chinese tones and pronunciation. Chinese Mandarin is a tonal language, which means different tones with the pronunciation can refer to complete other things. So don’t wait until you are fluent in speaking the language. Instead, take every opportunity to practice common phrases, simple sentences, and various level tones!
6. How did making videos in Write-on Video help you learn Chinese?
Because I planned to post my videos on my social accounts, I felt more obligated to speak with the correct pronunciation and proper tones. As a result, I would spend extra time practicing my script, and in hindsight, I believe it has drastically improved my speaking skills.
Moreover, I gained a great sense of achievement after completing and publishing the video, especially when I received encouragement and compliments from native speakers, which became a strong motivation for me to keep on learning Chinese.
Be Creative with Your Language Learning Process
Whether you’re learning a new skill, or diving deeper into the subjects from school, using multimedia to learn online is a great way to enhance your learning process. Chris’s story helps portray the message of how beneficial a mobile app, such as Write-on Video, can be for a student, such as yourself, who is looking to learn a new topic.