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Chinese listening through adventure games

Listening comprehension is probably the most important aspect of learning Chinese. There are several reasons for this, but the two most important ones are:

  1. It accelerates learning, including in other areas. This is because it increases the opportunities for incidental learning and because it expands the amount of time you have available for learning since you can combine listening with almost any activity, which is not true for reading, for example.
  2. Listening is important because it’s socially much more frustrating to have no idea of what’s going on compared to not being very eloquent yourself.

Still, listening is the area students tend to find the most difficult, at least if we exclude the initial confusion when it comes to learning characters. This can probably be attributed to lack of practice; students simply don’t listen enough. However, putting all the responsibility on the student isn’t fair either, because there certainly isn’t a lot of accessible, engaging listening material around. Listening practice is often reduced to passive listening, which can work in large quantities, but can be hard to focus on.

Adventure, audio-only

To address this problem, we have created an audio only mode for our text adventure games, such as, Escape. Instead of reading the text, you hear recordings of each description, action, or conversation. You have to listen very carefully, perhaps more than once, to understand enough to make the right choices in the game.

All this means that the whole game is like a listening comprehension test, with the critical difference that it’s fun and engaging! In audio-only mode, you are not initially shown the text. If you fail to understand a passage, you can always peek at the text version and look up any unfamiliar words, but don’t do this too often if you want to keep is a primarily listening activity. Even if a passage is difficult to start with, listening to it many times will help you break it down and finally understand what it means. Only look at the text if you must!

You can play the text and audio version of the game in any order, but in general, it’s best to focus on listening first since it tends to be harder to find good listening practice than it is to find good reading practice. You can also listen while you read, play part of the game in audio first, then with text and so on. It’s up to you!

When audio-only mode is enabled, the text will only be shown if you request it:

You can enable audio-only mode in the in-app settings:

Enable audio-only mode

Good luck and happy language practicing!

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