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Challenge 3: Challenge 1: HSK 4 in a month - IN PROGRESS

  • try and sneak in HSK 4, I'm not sure I will actually write the exam but I need to get 80% on at least 3 mocks then move on to HSK 5. I'll write HSK 6 I think
  • I will try and get my reading speed up to 60 char a minute

Challenge 2: Reading and writing level up! - IN PROGRESS FAILED

  • handwriting and typing all HSK3 600 characters in 1 month :) -> target speed of 40 characters per minute
  • and reading well, to read an HSK 3 book by month end -> target speed of 40 characters per minute

Challenge 1: HSK 0 to 3 exam in 1 month - COMPLETE

  • Starting from scratch Getting to HSK 3 in the fastest time possible with a job and life :)

Entries in this blog


HSK4 log and progress at 5 hours (200 cumulative hours)


So I did not manage to study as much as I wanted. Only one thing stuck, working on anki decks
Total study time for the month was less than 10 hours :( 


In between work trips, illnesses, and stresses, Chinese learning just paled and was on the backburner. But I still want to continue. So instead of trying to force learning into time slots and life situations when it is impossible I'm switching to counting how many hours I'm putting in instead, whenever it happens, and record my progress after every 20 hours or so of study. I am also shifting to more reading based learning this month using Lute. I have time off work coming up next week and I'll use that to kick start the learning. I want to get to 300 hours of learning and see how much of HSK 4 I'm ready for by then. Most places say 800 hours is needed to get to HSK 4 ... maybe I'll need all that but I don't know, I'll focus on the first 300 and reassess after that. 
So far I feel the time put in in April and May, about 30 hours, has been revision and that has caught me up to where I was before, and actual HSK 4 work is yet to begin.. I haven't had the energy or time to begin learning anything new other than vocab.




Because I love data I always record my time spent learning, it may be off by a few minutes here and there but I use the same tools to help me track and record in case I forget so I'm more than 98% accurate. I use apps in my learning so it easy to record my time spent either by viewing the app stats or checking time spent per app per day. And when the app doesn't allow for that I use a timer to start and stop a cumulative timer for the other activities such as browser or book reading. For HSK 1 and 2 I focused on learning as much as possible in 40 hours as that was the recommended time, ended up using 96 hours cram time in total with HSK 3. Over the past 3 years I have spent another random unstructured 70 hours or so revising vocab. So I'm around 200 hours of study, about half of that focused. That's two thirds to 300, lets see what changes that 100 hours brings.


So now I will note the running total and note progress that way. 

Tools to track time - web time tracker extension, swipetimes and simple time tracker plus app usage stats on ipad and phone

What I am not recording well is my drama and donghua watching time. Why? For one, I use English subtitles, and two I tend to to watch at 2x speed. I know it's still beneficial to my learning and listening just not sure how much. I will try approximate tracking of the dramas I do watch for estimated hours spent in passive listening, as a separate metric.





May, June 2021 stats and progress - 96 hours
Did HSK1, HSK2 and HSK 3 test, but properly an HSK 2 student


July 2021 stats and progress - 5.5 hours

Tried a reading and writing challenge and failed, spent about 3 hours 50 min reading and 1 hour 40 minutes writing


2022 and 2023 62.86 hours
I did not do any organized learning really other than vocab learning on anki, very sporadically. I got a refold Mandarin deck and began work n learning words in context. I did work on Korean a bit. My anki time spent was 62.86 hours, most of that in early 2022 and mid year 2023


November 2023 - 3 hours with a tutor
I joined a Chinese orchestra and thought I would try a tutor... nah definitely not my style of learning, just was not a good match

April 2024 stats and progress - 21.15 hours

Back to somewhat serious learning. Was hoping to get in 40+ hours of learning, but realising that is not realistic. Relearning a lot of the vocab and tones are quite bad
Anki - 12.2 hours
Lute - 1 hours
Tuttle - 6.7 hours
Du - 1 hour

Falou - 10 min

Beelingua - 5 min


May 2024 stats and progress - 9.4 hours
This month has been brutal emotionally and full of stress.
More revision finally feel like I am getting on with HSK 3 vocab and sentences now. I've been trying to focus on tones, Finally began HSK4 hanzi and vocab, only about 50 done, but do I seem to hear and recognise more words when watching drama. Got bored of Tuttle, it became too much effort so dropped for now. J

Anki - 5.8 hours

Tuttle - 2.3 hours
Lute - 30 minutes
Du - 15 minutes

Sticky study - 28 min
Beelingua - 5 min

June 2024 plans, stats and progress - 2 hours 16 min
I've spent about 5 hours now on HSK$ vocab, only  13 mature words and 24 or so young.

Continue with anki, I want to explore adding movies2 anki and ankimorph to begin to use the dramas and donghua i watch as material
Just started up Lute again and enjoying entering the stories and seeing real progress in words I know per story. I have added about 36 short stories, OST lyrics and episode sort to try it out.
Plan on using falou to help with speaking


Anki - 46 min
Lute - 1 hour 30 minutes




HSK4 in 60d -> Day 31 and 32


So first 30 days only had about 20 days of study done

2nd 30 days
It's now May and I'm back home so beginning a new challenge. Have ramped up my vocab learning time to about 1 hour a day.
I've also created a deck in Pleco for the Tuttle characters I'm not yet getting.
So far the rest seems to have helped some characters stick better, others have disappeared.

Aluta continua


HSK4 in 30d -> Day 21 to 30


Not much happened I travelled and had to help my friend in her wedding so I had fun instead :D 

I did use my flight and transit times to cram vocab and characters so in total about 18 hours of study. I got to chapter in Tuttle but not very far in my anki deck, (only increased known vocab by about 20) I keep forgetting the characters, or I know them but tone/ meaning is wrong :(

So next 30 days starts again.


HSK4 in 30d - Day 16 to 20


It’s been hectic with travelling so anti and my tuttle book have been my friends. I am now on chapter 12 in Tuttle. Revision of HSK 1 is complete, HSK 2 and 3 still in progress HSK vocab only at about 50 words in….

I'm attending and helping in a wedding this week, so it will likely be more of the same.


HSK4 in 30d -> Day 10 to 15


No I haven't fallen off the bandwagon... yet lol
day 10 I revised coursera HSK 1 - not sure why i did it was too easy, but I'll believe it was reinforcement, continued with vocab learning


day 11 to 15, vocab on anki, it has been slow going because I'm travelling soon and work is busy. So I plan to sue my transit and waiting for flights time to do the rest of the coursera and start on edex courses so for now just anki, only about 50 words learnt for HSK4 and still have HSK 3 leeches grrr I had hoped to have all my vocab by the 20th... not sure I'll make it so I hope I cover grammar by then and then just keep working on the vocab till month end


HSK4 in 30d -> Day 7, 8 and 9


Still working on the words, taking longer than anticipated, mainly because 3 took longer to review and I'm only spending about 40 minutes a day on vocab. Currently only have time for anki and not much else so have begun to also shadow the speaking phrases and not just focus on characters and vocab.



Life happened and mandarin was a casualty. So challenge 2 was a failure.

But I was reminded that I did want to learn this language properly lol I also recently joined a Chinese orchestra and feel lost lol, so learning is paramount

My personality is that I am competitive and like setting challenges for myself; so this April I'm starting a new challenge -> Get to an HSK 4 level in a month. Why a month? coz I say so...


Day 1 figuring out my materials and resources

  • I have installed lute for my reading and uploaded a ton of books
  • I plan to read at least 15 minutes a day
  • I have loaded my anki decks and will begin with revising HSK 1 and 2 over the next few days
  • I have gotten my text book and character books ready


My main resources

  1. Tuttle Chinese Characters
  2. Lute and Du Chinese for reading
  3. Sticky Study and Anki - refold deck for hanzi and vocab SRS
  4. Grammar book - New Practical Chinese Reader plus Chinese Gramma wiki
  5. Coursera courses on YouTube, EdX Beginner ad Intermediate Chinese
  6. YouTube and Instagram channels that I come across when doom scrolling
  7. anything else that takes my fancy... 30 days is along time lol



Some things to note for this challenge

  • I plan to take a mock test before starting to see what I would score, as a bench mark and to see what I still remember. I don't think it will be that bad because I still watch a ton of Chinese drama so even with subtilties I think some decay has happened but not an astronomical amount. The past year I have done very little study, anki says less than 1 hour same a using mylingua only a handful of times for around 5 minutes
  • figure out how to measure the time used, so trying to create a tracker of sorts on notion or with python just so I see what I really spend time on
  • I will not actively practice writing unless I totally bored and have time to mess around. 
  • I will start practicing to type on PC and not just on my phone
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