So far in my blog, I’ve already covered two Mandarin language resources that helped me through that tricky beginner’s stage, and within a full year of my arrival in Chongqing. Just in case you haven’t read them, they are the Mandarin pop VCDs and Crazy English Reader magazine.
Another resource that taught me muchaimed at helping useful Chinese back in 2003 was ‘Communicating in Chinese交际汉语,’ a China Central Television production shown on the former English channel CCTV 9, and offered a worldwide audience a course in learning Mandarin.
Before I first came to Chongqing on a then 55 hour train journey from Shanghai, thankfully in a soft sleeper compartment, I attended a three week training course offered by the British Council for incoming ESL teachers. We all stayed in a hotel in Jiading City嘉定, and took an induction about life in China before everyone went their separate ways.
It was during this time I soon found Communicating in Chinese on the television.The host was a Canadian born in 1965 by the name of Mark Rowswell, popularly known as dashan大山 (Big Mountain) in China. To my knowledge, he seems to be virtually unknown outside of China, but is certainly quite a celebrity within China for his mastery of the language.
In fact, as soon as I arrived in Chongqing, students who saw my efforts in learning Mandarin recommended him as an example to strive for.A few striking observations when watching the show for the first time are certainly the low budget visuals, a moderately cheesy stiffness in the acting, and the slight level of difficulty for complete beginners. But despite of these minor shortcomings, I saw the value of following the show on a regular basis from the start.
Each lesson follows the same logical structure, and Dashan guides the audience well as the show progresses. He begins by repeating some key phrases from the last show before playing a video containing new language to study. The dialogues are based on real life situations that viewers can put to use themselves, like having a haircut, riding a taxi, seeing a doctor etc.
Mark explains the dialogues step by step, and rolls off some very slick phrases in Chinese as illustrations. He always takes the opportunity to explain interesting cultural points of great relevance to living in China.Next, the Chinese actors clearly pronounce the key vocabularly, but at a pace I really struggled to note down without help from a Chinese friend. Nowadays, you can just pause the video on Youtube, or buy the same course in paperback with all the notes you should ever need.
After this, Dashan introduces some key phrases before a very cute Chinese presenter reads them out again, but with some vocabularly substituted to help the audience understand them better.The show finishes with a repeat of the dialogue film, including pauses for the viewer to ponder the new language, and finally a Zaijian再见 from the host.
Overall, a resource well worth considering if you are beginner or lower intermediate learner of Chinese.Below, I have found a two hour Youtube video featuring a good few episodes of Communicating in Chinese. There doesn’t seem to be a full course from start to finish on the platform, but it will hopefully give you plenty of viewing pleasure and Chinese to work on.
It is also possible to find the entire course on the official CCTV website, but you might have to read a little Chinese in order to navigate it smoothly.
I hope you enjoy it, and wish you good luck!