The second semester of my first year is now over, and I have final exams over this next two weeks. Following that is a short final semester of 4 weeks. The first week is a full week of class, and then each of the following 3 weeks consists of going out somewhere on one day, and then having some sort of exam about the place we went to on another day. So all in all we only have to go in twice a week, which makes it sound like a very laid back semester.
I've really enjoyed this semester, and feel like it has gone by incredibly quickly. I think there has been a noticeable improvement in my Chinese across the board, and I say this mainly from an outside of the classroom perspective. I feel more confident in talking to people, and more able to communicate effectively. Of course there is still a very long way to go, but it really does feel good to have made at least a little headway.
My biggest area of struggle is still listening, and realistically I think time is going to be key here. I'm going to keep working on this by trying to increase the amount of Chinese listening input I get. I will try and hit this hard over my summer break, but I'd like to find something to watch/listen to a little bit every day, to get some focused/concentrated input. Perhaps a podcast, news segment or Youtube clip. While I realize the news is far beyond me, I still thinking slowing it down and repeatedly listening to/processing a short clip could be beneficial (I read a thread about it somewhere on here)!
I'd also like to try and build my known character base over the break. I have some textbooks which are still above my level (and not ones that we will study next year), and so I think I will try and read at least one text each day from any given book, and then familiarize myself with the new hanzi. This will be helpful for many reasons, not least of which is that it will give me a head start for next year, and ultimately for third/fourth year where we deal with a lot more native content.
Speaking is much the same as listening I think, in that the only way to get better is to simply spend more time doing it! Following my last post I realized that I have been, in a sense, 'trying too hard'. What I mean is that I have been trying to make my speaking better by using more conjunctions and whatnot, only to discover that they are basically all only used in written Chinese. Thankfully they will still be useful to me for my writing, but I am now trying my best to adopt the 'normal' way of saying these things. As was suggested to me, lots of imitation is the key right now!
That's all for now, there will be a post following my exams in two weeks!