The first semester of year two is officially over, although I still have two finals left to sit. My first 5 finals were quite difficult. Especially challenging was listening, as there were questions to which we had to give written answers (rather than multiple choice), and I blanked on how to write lots of the characters that I don't use that often.
I feel that I have progressed a lot this semester. Before starting I had bought a book for kids and tried to read it, and I found it very challenging. A lot of the grammar constructions were new to me, and there were many characters that I didn't recognize. I have just picked up that book again, and found it far easier. New characters are appearing much less frequently, and the grammar that I can specifically remember not understanding, I now understand. One of my goals for this year is to try and read at least one book each month. As books for young adults are still too far above my level, I am starting with kids books. Right now I am reading from the 淘气包马小跳 series. I want to be reading something that's actually native, and not completely boring, and this is perfect. The story is actually quite entertaining, and it feels so good to be able to get through some paragraphs without having to stop to check a word. I am also reading out loud as I figure this will only help my pronunciation.
I think the above is my biggest goal for the year, and will also benefit my areas of weakness the most. Of course my listening needs to improve, but I get that almost every day in class, and I really do find general listening to be far easier than listening exam type questions! I'd like to spend more time speaking with native speakers also, and I have found a language partner specifically for that, which will give me some good, focused time each week. I'm also really trying to make the effort to speak to my wife in Chinese. It's a bit easier now that it doesn't take me 10 minutes to string a sentence together, but it's so easy to revert back to the languages we normally use. I will try harder!
The highlight for me from this semester was 汉字学， it was a fantastic class. Unfortunately we don't have it next semester, but I have the textbook and I will definitely be going back to it. It really changed the way I look at characters and brought me a lot of new understanding.
We have a couple of different classes next semester, but I am not yet sure of all the details. I will update in a couple of months once the new semester starts. I am really excited about continuing to grow my Chinese over 2019!