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Giving yourself a break and reverting to using your first language


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Ok- so studying Chinese in China means serious hours on memorisation, reading, listing, getting out and using the language.

Do you give yourself an 'allowance' of say a time during a day/week when you give yourself a break and revert back to English etc, or should you battle on and use try and use Chinese 24/7? Do you 'relax' using Mandarin e.g. books/comics/tv or do you take a break at saturation point?

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I always needed small breaks. Taking 4 hours of class and completing 4+ hours of homework 5-6 days per week leaves anyone exhausted.

Everyone works differently, but I found that the intensive programs I've attended (especially the one in Taiwan where all my classes were one-on-one and very small-3-4 people max), combined with being flooded with Chinese all day long always left me completely exhausted. Actually, I still feel like anytime I leave the house in China to do something bureaucratic leaves me wiped out in the end. I don't think you need to allocate small breaks because you'll find yourself doing it anyways probably at the end of long day -- whether with foreign friends, family or friends over Skype, internet forums like this one, reading online, or watching pirated western movies and TV shows, you'll get plenty of English if you so choose.

As for taking a longer break... this is just how I feel, and again everyone is different, so take it with a grain of salt. I find that after intensively studying Chinese for 2-3 months I have needed at least one full 1-2 week break in order to recharge my batteries: relax, sleep, and do whatever. In fact, some of my best moments and feelings about learning Chinese have been during these breaks, when I suddenly realize I can read or say something I couldn't before. (So, I guess I needed this to boost my motivation because usually, in intensive classes, I got frustrated on a daily basis. :-) ) Random tangent: One of the most memorable experiences was going on a hiking trip to Taroko Gorge (Taiwan) with two American friends (also in the program) during our 10 days off from classes - it happened to fall during a weird time in the Spring, and so we ended up going to the national park when no other people had vacation and it was practically deserted. We stayed in the park youth center and made small talk with the owners for entertainment, ate meals with them, etc. One morning, while out jogging nearby on a deserted trail, I came across a group of monkeys in the wild.

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That's great to know. I didn't know if I should feel guilty if I felt saturated. And I can see they'll be lots of times I will be using English to contact folks back at home and probably with English speaking friends.

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