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Learn Chinese in China

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3Q 2022




Basically I did nothing for three months. 

I went to no listening and no exposure from July onwards. I was in Malaysia and used English or Cantonese there, possibly more Cantonese. Just the odd smattering of mandarin here and there when I need to. There, many of the 20’s and under group only speak mandarin. Their knowledge of dialects is decreasing markedly.


I went back to Hellotalk a couple of weeks ago for some random chats and my tones were very Cantonese. I could recalibrate fairly quickly when the person on the other end corrected me.


 I got a bit tired of electronic flash cards. Decided to go old school and write characters and notes on a paper card. Picked up a few characters and the vocabulary I pick up from one language exchange I recite with another partner. It’s a nice change to physically write characters. Hopefully, there is some benefit on the imprinting in the brain process. 


One conversation was quite unproductive. I spent more than half an hour listening to one lady’s marital (mainly childcare) issues in her English but very little Chinese coming back. The good thing is, the topic is a great ice breaker during language exchange. I can gradually build up more vocabulary with repetition when speaking to different people using the same topic. Seems quite an enjoyable topic for those who have children. Limited English doesn’t seem to be an impediment to expressing one’s feelings on this topic.


Maybe what I should do is take new vocabulary from lessons or past notes and just try to use them on language partners in a very informal way. Not just have random conversations and hope what comes up commonly will come round again. 



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Had two lessons which revised the HSK 4 lessons I had before. Revision is good and it helps me get back into the mindset. My tones are off. I need more listening to particular words. I started to make a list of the words and then get different HT language partners to make short conversations speaking those words as a type of spaced repetition exercise. It's a bit boring for the language partner as they are all setup for practicing English conversation and wanting to talk about the complexities of Chinese culture. 


Just a bit about that language partner thing. Language partners have a very big range of ability in English. Getting together is useless from my point of view because my chinese vocabulary and knowledge is very small. Conversations end up entirely in English wasting my time. Giving the partner a short list of chinese vocabulary with a bit of explanation is uninteresting for them but very useful for me. A useful crutch for short term learning and helps keep the language partner focussed to what I need. 


The flash cards are OK for vocabulary but I do find myself looking blankly at them after a few days. I seem to remember the vocabulary better and keep a better sense of the tone when having asked a language partner to use the word in conversation or sentence building. 

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