You may not know this from all my writing about drive and discipline, but I am actually a really lazy and fun-oriented guy. And that laziness shows in how I learned Japanese and in how I am learning Chinese. Here’s how I watch a movie:
- Get the Chinese version of a movie that I’ve seen before in a language that I’m already good at (generally Japanese, sometimes English)
- Loop the movie. I’m not doing anything, just sitting back and enjoying the pretty pictures. I do this several times.
- Start pausing, listening closely, perhaps mimicking dialogue.
- The main event: start picking out sentences to enter into the SRS (sentence-mining). Again, the pause button receives heavy use. Sometimes I write them down to enter later. Other times I enter them directly — I find direct entry works best, since reading notebooks can be suuuper boring. By the way, I only do this for as long as my energy and concentration allow, which can be anything from hours to minutes.
- You’re tired. Go back to step 2.
- Rip the audio of the DVD movie to mp3. I use Xilisoft DVD Ripper for this. The effect is one of having a radio play where you already know what all is going on, and you can just focus on dialogue mechanics rather than plot or setting — this is true in general of watching or listening to a target language version of something you’ve already seen in base language (assuming your target and base are separate). Like everything on this site, it may not be the most earth-shaking idea ever, but I came up with it as a way to give myself Japanese “radio” at a time when I could neither (a) get, nor (b) meaningfully follow Japanese radio. It’s also a time-management thing: watching a film requires you to stay in one place and use both your sight and hearing; listening to audio only requires hearing.
- Listen to the audio all day while doing other things (and maybe even at night while sleeping), loop, loop, loop.
In each of those repetitions, you will pick up something you didn’t know before. Since you’ll be doing so much repetition, it’s crucial to have fun stuff and lots of it. If you are bored, find something fun. I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did — if you’re bored, do something else, just make sure it’s in the target language.