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Summer 2021 Study Goals & Plan




I have an extended summer holiday this year and plan to make the most of it in regards to Chinese learning. First off, I'll set some goals, for what I hope to have accomplished by the end of summer (the start of September). Then, I'll outline some more granular details, such as what I plan to do each day and how I intend to achieve my goals. This post will help me stay accountable and serve as a space to go back and compare my progress to (throughout and at the end of the summer).


Summer Statistics

Time: June 11, 2021 - September 1, 2021

Length: 82 days

Notes: Roughly half (5.5 weeks) will be spent on holiday going back to the US, and another week in a forest cabin with friends - though I still hope to use this time to learn. The rest of the time is so far without major plans, making it ideal for Chinese study.



  • (Optimistic) learn all HSK 5 vocab | (Pessimistic) learn half of the HSK 5 vocab
    • Chosen as this would be a great achievement that is possible according to other learners, and I plan on learning HSK 5 regardless because of the structure and ease in finding audio/visual resources. This post on the forum has helped me in solidifying how I'm going to approach learning the vocab.
    • Currently, I know all HSK vocab and then a few hundred more words from novels, graded readers, DuChinese, Anki and so on.
    • If I achieve the optimistic goal, a secondary goal would be to pass an HSK 5 mock test in early September.
    • After HSK 5, I plan on leaving HSK altogether. To celebrate, I'll also be taking a look at some highly recommended novels that I'd like to enjoy more extensively, namely 《活着》and 《 许三观卖血记》.
  • Keep up daily LangCorrect journaling - this is a small thing that only takes 10-15 minutes a day, but requires dedicated focus that makes it a good goal to have.
  • Watch the equivalent of one season of the children's cartoon 喜洋洋 (halfway through one now, so finish this and half of another).
  • Read 《小布头奇遇记》- would be my 8th novel, and the 2nd hardest to date. Quite long. Likewise, read two-three other novels around the same difficulty - from my Dushu369 novels list (which it would be nice to update if I have time over the summer as well). If I can get my hands on SinoLingua's 1.5k unique word graded readers, then read those as well.
  • Add and learn at least 300 new words from novels, webnovels, TV, etc. - basically immersion.


Study Plan

While I have (for at least half the summer) the full day available to me for study, I know there's an upper limit to the time I can spend on Chinese - especially on more active learning activities. However, from my past experiences, I estimate that I can put in 4-5 hours a day normally and perhaps 2 hours daily whilst in the US. This is around the 275h mark for the entire timeframe. At a little over four new HSK words an hour, this'll be a challenge (especially as it won't be pure learning the HSK, or even mostly) - but I'm confident I should be able to at least get halfway through HSK 5 with this plan:

  • Daily LangCorrect journal entry - using new vocabs and a textbook or workbook-provided topic (~15 mins/day)
  • Daily Anki (Spoonfed sentences for speaking + listening practice), Pleco (HSK, tone catchup, handwriting and novel flashcards) (~45 mins/day). I'm planning on looking up new vocab in context (sentences that have the word or textbook dialogues), so this number may grow larger (June 2021, still not implemented, not sure how to approach doing this)
  • an XYY cartoon episode daily (~15 mins/day)
  • Speaking practice, language exchange - an hour or so a week
  • Self-study through 1-2 HSK 5 textbook chapters a week, including doing workbook exercises. Listen along with the free MP3s and do the activities. Add new words as HSK words to flashcard deck. Learn pronunciation of new words, and go back every once in a while to ensure it is learnt.
  • Try to spend at least an hour a day, though more if I have time, reading: aforementioned novels, advanced graded readers, newsletter messages. Listen along with audio if possible. I reckon this is where I'll spend most of my time. Will continue to use the excellent Readibu app for reading novels.
  • Listen to Chinese podcasts (aimed at learners) while walking the dog etc. - turn dead time into Chinese time - (30 mins/day)
  • Shadow 3 level-appropriate articles a day (~15 mins/day)



The things mentioned as daily I'll try to do each day. Generally, I'll be reading in the evening to decompress or on public transportation, with a chunk of free time, and so on. I'm aiming to do the meat of the studying - namely the HSK textbook + workbook and flashcards - in the morning, with some time between the two to take a break. Afternoon - if not otherwise occupied - will be more leisurely with podcasts, cartoons, speaking and writing; this is the timeframe where I'll most likely be doing something not Chinese related for my own pleasure in order not to burn out and have a more relaxing few hours to my summer.


This adds up to around 3h45m a day of active exercises (i.e. not passive podcast listening, audiobook listening, random speaking and so on).


If I come up with any new goals, or the situation changes, I'll update the post to reflect that. Equally, I'll be looking back on these goals and my routine after the summer holiday ends.


Wish me luck! If you have any comments or suggestions to add to the goals, improve the plan, etc. please let me know!



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Update June 21 2021: 1/6 of the way through HSK 5. Keeping up with vocabulary has been a challenge, but doable, as I already know many from having encountered them in novels. I've also been able to keep up with my routine thus far.


What's been more difficult is the HSK 5 workbook - its quite demotivating to be honest. Chapter 5, as an example, will use words from chapter 19 - there doesn't seem to rhyme or reason to the words used, as if all the chapters were made using all HSK 5 words (and quite a few HSK 6 one besides) and then randomly assigned numbers.


From what I've seen online, there's a split in how to use this workbook. On the one hand, it is good practice in context that you'll have trouble finding anywhere else. On the other hand, content is hard. Half the people only go back through the workbook after completing HSK 5, while the other half struggles through it in pace.


Tomorrow, I'll be going through an entire chapter without Pleco OCR or any tools, as I usually do because of the content difficulty. If I get 70% or more overall, I'll stick with the workbook - I'd like to stick with it since it adds hours to the amount of Chinese learning I can do a day.


But if that number is lower, I'll be putting aside the workbook until I complete my studies for this level.


Or any other suggestions? If you used the HSK 5 workbook while studying, how exactly did you make use of it?


Edit next day: I've decided to take the "struggle through it" route. There are plenty of mock exams that I can use to ensure my HSK 5 understanding is high, and the listening + writing practice from the chapters isn't something to be looked over.

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