“Dada, your experiment is not scientific.” That was my daughter’s initial reaction when I told her about my Mandarin language acquisition project. When I insisted on an explanation, she said something about mixing different colored liquids in tubes. Since I wasn’t doing that, my experiment was not scientific.
Camila Daya watched just over an hour of Chinese with me the first week, and none at all on the second and third weeks. This fourth week, however, she got into it. For six days, between February 8 and 13, she averaged over 30 minutes viewing per day. She watched Boonie Bears almost exclusively. She actually enjoys it! I doubt she’s understanding much of any Chinese—I certainly don’t—but it’s entertaining nonetheless. And best of all, she now says that she agrees with me, that the experiment IS scientific.
So here’s a comparison of how much each of us has watched in our first four weeks.
Though it seems improbable, it would be awesome if Daya were to keep up with me from now on. Her participation would make the experiment doubly interesting. Would she learn more quickly and effectively than me, due to greater neuroplasticity? That outcome would be the natural hypothesis. It is possible that I will fail to obtain comprehension, and she would succeed, which would be particularly elucidating.
It is nearly impossible to measure my progress at this early stage objectively or accurately. Perhaps after a year it will be more feasible. As a fun exercise, however, I’ve decided to estimate the percentage of communication that I can understand, on average, in the various sources I watch. I’ll update the estimate about once a month. After this first month, I feel confident that I’m understanding at least 1% of what I watch. If nothing else, I’m certain that at least 1 out of 100 words is either “how” or “ni,” both of which I’m confident I understand well. The following fun graph compares my estimated percentage of understanding to the time that I have spent viewing/listening to Mandarin as a percentage of the 1,200 hours stipulated in my hypothesis.