Let's take a closer look at what listening ability really is and what you need to do in order to understand what people aresaying to you.
1.Distinguish and identify different sounds and tones accurately.
2.Associate sounds to meaningful words.
3.Combine these meaningful words into sentences.
We can understand that listening is anything but simple although this is a simple analysis. If you're suffering problems with your listening ability, it's most probably that you have problems with any or all of the above processes.Identifying which one is your problem and which you should focus on then figure out a way to do that is necessary if you want to improve.I'm not saying these are sequential or separate processes. A beginner in Chinese might have problems with any aspect or any combination of aspects at any time.
Problems in distinction and identification
Since Chinese is a language with very few distinct sounds,it is a problem which should be most relevant for beginners and also more advanced students.
Symptoms:You don't seem to hear what people say.You’ll be confused of what to write when people asks you to write down what they say in pinyin.All syllables sound the same to you and the tones are just a mess.If you are faced with this problem,it's important for you to understand the sounds and the differences between them.Make sure you know the difference in pronunciation.
Problems in association
This is a problem for both native speakers and second language learners.They have a larger passive than active vocabulary. This means that we know words we can't use. Being able to associate a sound in Chinese with a word is hard and requires time. If you have never heard the word before, you will fail. Even though you do remember the word, the time required to do this may lead to a failure to understand what's being said. This is a matter of listening speed.
Symptoms: You seem to understand many words, but you still don't know what somebody is saying. It seems to be a jumble of random words that doesn't make any sense.You need to solve the other two kinds of problems first before you get over this problem.Then,you also need a nice grasp of grammar, because the problem you're facing is that you can't connect the parts ofa sentence to a whole.The words used to do this is often grammar words like conjunctions linking sentences and sentence elements together.You need to know these words intimately.
Now you see, the remedy for most of these problems is simply to listen more. It will allow you to become more familiar withthe sounds, to associate sounds with words faster and to connect parts of a sentence into a meaningful whole.However,key vocabulary is another method to enhance listening ability in learning Chinese.