Hey buddy, wanna hang out?!
Gosh, why did you guys tell me to start watching Chinese TV?! I mean, sure, I have known I should do it for the last year or so, as it is supposed to be a really good way to practice your Chinese listening skills. But to be quite honest, I haven't got around to do it. And why? Well, for starters, I don't like to watch TV. I get all restless when I have to sit still for a long time without being productive. Also, I find Chinese TV programs to be.... quite... ehum... cheesy. But, nevertheless, I have now started watching. And I am hooked. On children's shows. Yesterday I spent 1 hour in front of the TV watching a show about a little boy who was experiencing difficulties as his mom got angry for everything. Someone 'above' must have heard his prayers because then he ended up getting a 'happy mom magic water' from some Chinese children living in space (gotta love shows with space kids!) that he sprayed on his mom, and then she was happy, DESPITE him only scoring 99% on his exam (instead of 100%). I loooooved this show. We are talking cheesy, but simple conversations, exaggerated acting, ridiculous plot and big, bold hanzi subtitles. Actually, I never thought I would say this, but I found myself constantly glancing on the hanzi, as I almost understand MORE of the characters than the speech?! Hm.. how did that happen? Only one year ago I remember naming 'reading characters' as my biggest problem. Funny when you improve without really noticing it.
As for the TV shows, I know I should probably move on from watching space kids handing out 'magic water' to help kid's unhappy mothers, but the sad truth is that after the kid's show came the news, and then my newly won gosh-I-am-quite-smart-confidence dropped like a penny in a lucky fountain. The news show used all 'grown up' Chinese and also, they spoke so faaaaast. Impossible for me to follow. I guess I'll stick to the kid's shows for now.
Some years ago I met a European girl in Shanghai who spoke perfect Chinese. She told me she'd only studied at the university for one year, then she got a job at a local kindergarten where she'd worked for 2 years. Being constantly surrounded by Chinese children, her Chinese improved and she was now fluent, although she admitted that her Chinese friends sometimes raised their eyebrows when they heard her 'highly childish' expressions.