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The 2011 Aims and Objectives Progress Thread


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See also:

2010, 2009 and 2008 (and now you can look into the future, with 2012

I'm studying on my own, because I live somewhere there are no Chinese classes or courses. I'm retired, and studying very part-time because there are several other things I spend as much of my time on. I have an interest in Chinese that goes back a long, long way, spent several years living in China, and I decided to carry on with some language study even though I'm no longer there. I do go back on trips at least once a year.

My biggest problem is setting realistic goals! I want the moon!

Because I realised I would need some sort of external target or deadline, plus some sort of relatively objective feedback on my development, I've taken an exam each of the 3 years I've now been working like this. In 2011 my aim is HSK level 4 (new HSK) - which I plan to take in May, in the UK. This means my target for May is the characters and grammar for level 4, plus the reading, writing and and listening levels that exam will demand. I've been using the BLCU 汉语教程 / Hànyǔ Jiàochéng coursebooks, and I have those to cover (I think) up to around HSK level 4.

I plan before then on a trip to China, March-April time, and I plan to spend around 3 weeks of that on a language course. I've not yet made a decision where to go, or how many hours of classes to sign up for. I need to think a lot more about this and head towards a decision and booking things up, sooner rather than later. I need to think about my personal priorities as regards what sort of classes I pay up for. For me, the HSK exam isn't the be all and end all.

I know that after taking the exam, and while I wait for the results, I'll lose any sense of direction with all this - and this year will plan ahead for that, rather than assuming I'm just going to plod on with the coursebook while I wait for the results (and in fact do no studying at all).

I came home from my last trip to China with several of the Chinese Breeze readers. I have one level 1, and five level 2, sitting on the shelf unread. Do I aim to read one a month? I've found reading the level 1 books I've already finished really helpful - and despite the crazy stories in some of them, I've actually enjoyed the experience of reading longer texts. But because these are not 'coursebooks', I never seem to sit down and get on with them. Or is that what I plan for in the gap between the HSK exam and the results?

I also study Chinese painting and calligraphy (again, very part-time), and this year, I'd like to try and integrate that a bit with the Chinese language study. I do link the two, of course, but think I could maybe make a bit more of that, if I thought about it.

I recently got a copy of Wang Fang Yu's 'Chinese Cursive Script: An Introduction to Handwriting in Chinese', and I really want to start working through that. It's a book of 20 lessons, but I think each lesson is more than a month's worth of activity for me, given my very part-time studying. But it's something I've wanted to learn more about for a long time. And it would tie in with the calligraphy, too.

That's as far as I can go for now!

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@JenniferW, thanks for stepping up to the plate and starting the 2011 thread!

I have two primary goals for 2011: prepare for a possible trip to China in 2012, and improve comfort speaking Chinese.

  • Prepare for a possible trip to China in 2012.

I think this will mostly involve learning food words, unless I get a better idea.

  • Improve comfort speaking Chinese

The basic problem is that I don't feel comfortable being able to form decently-phrased Chinese sentences. This is getting quite frustrating to me: I used to be able to spend an entire weekend speaking nothing but Chinese (when going to my roommate's home, for example) and felt comfortable doing it; now even simple sentences trip me up. Unfortunately, I think the only real way to fix this is to practice speaking a lot, an opportunity I don't have, and I'm not exactly sure what to do.

I've starting reading out-loud heifengs 朗读-a-day; I've only done a handful, so it's too soon to see if that helps.

As a way of teaching English, someone recommended having the students read a simple Chinese book (e.g. Chinese Breeze) and translate it into English out-loud on-the-fly. I'm thinking of trying that, except, of course, translating one my daughter's (English) books into Chinese.

If that doesn't work out, I may end up having to pay for lessons. I'm a bit loath to go that path. Not really due to the money, but rather due to the commitment that would involve. Right now I've managed to keep myself interested in learning Chinese by treating it as a hobby, so if I don't want to study, I don't. If I start paying, it will change the dynamics in a way that I'm not sure I like.

Beyond that, my goals are a bit nebulous.

  • Reading

Continue reading comics, but without letting it get out of hand. I usually read them right before going to bed, and it's all to easy to keep saying "just one more chapter, then I REALLY WILL go to bed" until it's near midnight...

  • Vocabulary

Learn about 500 new vocabulary words, not including food words for my trip.

I think I made a mistake in 2010 in learning vocabulary. Especially with the HSK B list, I wasn't aggressive enough with removing words that I knew, or somewhat knew. They are all important words, so I left them in there to ensure I really did know them, but the net effect was that a pretty high percent of the words I was reviewing didn't result in actual learning. This resulted in my getting bored, and I did very little practicing the last 1/3 of the year (except for a push at the end to meet my 2010 goals :o)

Upon reflection, I think I expected more from SRS (or, at least, how I do SRS) than it can provide. While I never thought I would achieve "really knowing" words via SRS, I was hoping for a "basic knowing" level; looking back, I now think the best one can achieve is "almost somewhat knowing". [At least for me, when trying to learn 1000+ words in a year.] To go beyond this requires reading and conversation practice. Which is not to say that SRS is not useful; on the contrary, I think it's a very time-efficient way to achieve the "almost somewhat knowing" level, which is no mean feat.

This shift will also include a focus more on learning new characters, rather than the most useful new words. In the past, I've felt that learning new characters was not as productive as learning new words. I still feel that way for general learning. However, in reading scanned comics, I've realized that learning characters does have the advantage that it makes it much easier to look-up words I don't know if I know how the characters are pronounced. And, often, if I know one of the two characters in a word, I can scan all the words with that character and usually find the word in question.

  • Studying

Start reading, if not finish, two textbooks I bought, An Introduction to Literary Chinese and Chinese Cursive Script. And maybe, just maybe, get a copy of Streetwise Mandarin Chinese. [Reading it, however, might be a 2012 goal :-) ]

  • Listening

I might dip my toes into the Grand First Episode project. I'm not sure whether I am ready to have my butt kicked this year, but I at least want to give it a try as a gauge of my level.

  • Tools

Think about considering exploring the idea of maybe possibly switching from ZDT to anki. I've been sticking with ZDT because am used to it and have all my scripts working with it. But I really like the feature of anki that you can tell it how strongly you know a word, I think that would make my study more productive.

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my Chinese aim for 2011: start studying again and make Mandarin beautiful to me again.

I speak Chinese every day at work and quite often after work as well. I am fluent and can pretty much express anything I want to in Chinese. However, I often do butcher the grammar and pronounciation because I need to get things done. Its kind of like Chinese turned from the beautiful skill that I spent so much time studying (and loved it) to the work horse of daily communication. Just get the meaning across, never mind the 成语s or tones or if the grammar is correct, as long as they know what I mean.

And so slowly I feel like I am not enjoying Chinese as much as I always used to, its turned into a tool instead of the beautiful butterfly I tried for years to finally catch. And now that I have it (mostly) the beauty just seems to fade.

I want to make it the butterfly again. Speak slowly and correctly. Learn 成语s. Surf the net again looking for the latest internet phrase. Enjoy it.

Because it does matter if you say right or not, not just if they understand it.

At least to me it does. Or should again!

And learn more 汉字 of course..... :P

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I'll keep this realistic, since not 100% of my goals for the Year of the Rabbit are Chinese-related, and some are more artistic in nature.

Finish Fluenz Mandarin

Complete Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar

Memorize 500 traditional characters

Finish undergrad, say goodbye to my job, move to ROC or PRC

Stay off the net for the most part

We'll see how much of this actually gets done. I hope to make it a prolific year.

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Thank you JenniferW.

Good luck everybody.

1. Automatize some real listening/speaking skill. I must arrange to work with someone, ideally in person. I said this a year ago but didn't follow through. I hope to post audio of any progress to the appropriate sub-forum.

2. Continue on my chosen road through children's textbooks (PEP Yuwen 1-6 now with audio/video) through second grade. Or third. (The learning curve in #chars flattens.)

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1. Load 5000 characters in both simpl and trad into Skritter and cycle through all of those in 2011 and win some prize through Skritter at some point.

2. Enter a wushu competition in 2011.

3. Blog more.

4. Travel to Shanghai/Suzhou/Guilin or to Montreal/Quebec City this summer of 2011, can't decide which though, can't do both China and Canada in one summer.

ok ok they aren't all study-study-study goals but they're all goals somehow.

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1. Write at least every month to friends.

2. Learn the rest of the tracks on 崔健 album, well the ones I like anyway.

3. Finish reading advanced Chinese reader, or burn my eyes out whichever happens first. It's good for learning but the material is boring.

4. Finish watching 愚公移山, it's not exactly Lost, but I am enjoying it.

5. Buy a new dictionary, mines falling apart. It's had a hard life.

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Not necessarily in this order:

1. Do dissertation research, gather enough to write something...

2. Not go insane while completing number 1.

3. Sleep and continue to run, maintain current fitness level despite living in Beijing and just forget about getting back to what it was 3 months ago before the marathon.

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For 2011, I want to keep reading comics but gradually transition more of my reading towards novels. Jin Yong is one of my ultimate goals in terms of Chinese reading, and I feel it's within reach. To prepare myself for Jin Yong, I'll try to read the wuxia comic series The Ravages of Time (火凤燎原) and then a Gu Long novel.

I intend to keep running the Grand Comic Reading Project at least through August 2011. After which, I might take a less active role, since I likely will be reading less comics by that point. To help ensure that the project lives on without my stewardship, I am slowly but steadily compiling a list of legible comics series. It's essentially a list of comics that have decent enough scan quality so that you don't have to guess what characters are on the page. Having such a list drastically reduces the amount of sifting you have to do when deciding on what you want to read (for example, after going through the IIBQ archive of 5000 titles, I only recorded about 280 legible titles). Once I've compiled a decent chunk of the list, I'll post it to the Grand Comic Reading Project wiki so that others can contribute.

In 2010 I started playing some text-heavy Chinese video games, but eventually gave up due to the difficulty of the language. Now that I've drastically improved my vocabulary through comics reading, I'd like to pick them up again, in particular Tantei Saburo Jinguuji, Ace Attorney, Sloane & McHale's Mysterious Story, and Professor Layton.

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I have been thinking what kind of goals to set this year. So they aren't too easy, but still possible to achieve with hard studying. My last year's biggest victory was to get level 4 from old HSK. So here comes the goals for 2011:

- January and February: Despite the holiday read more in Chinese, translate a book about Finland from Chinese to English/Finnish, watch more Chinese movies in Chinese, Skritter a lot, speak with other Chinese people than my boyfriend, listen to ChinesePod Intermediate lessons

- March: Start another new term in Guangzhou university and be prepared to every class, also do homework and study the characters in every lesson, get ready to HSK by doing HSK mock tests

- April: Get the old HSK level 5

- May: Try not to forget the language while in Finland, Chinese boyfriend will come along if gets the visa

- June, July and August: Work in Guangzhou and try to maintain the language with reading, watching movies and speaking to local people

- September: Start Chinese language BA degree in Sun Yat Sen University (with foreign classmates, not with Chinese), be prepared to every class, do homework and learn the characters in every lesson, get ready to HSK by doing HSK mock tests

- November: Get the old HSK level 6

So there are my goals. In order to achieve them I need to study much harder that last year, but I'm ready for that. I want to imrpove little bit faster and get my BA degree as fast as possible. When I start in Sun Yat Sen University they will put me to the right class/year according to my level. So if I study hard now I can skip one year atleast.

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Time to set targets for this year. Started 28 weeks ago (June 2010).

NPCR (now lesson 33): finish book 3 and 4 (lesson 50), this is about 3 weeks per lesson, much slower than before due to below reason

Hanzi (now 1440): 2500, this is about 3 per day due to growing ratio new words / new characters

Anki facts (now 2700): 5500, this is about 8 per day

Review becomes more and more important. I must consider daily review and consolidation as more important than moving forward in the book (after finishing a lesson maybe taking a few days break just to review old stuff). Especially regarding speaking practise. There I am far behind my passive level. Actually being in China is the perfect environment, I should make more use of it. If I have more practise in daily life, maybe I can increase my learning speed again.

And using a food delivery without help is still on my list ;-)

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I don't have any specific language-related objectives for 2011. I will just continue to improve upon my Chinese where I can.

I would like to get my Japanese beyond the 菜鸟 level, but if 2010 was anything to go by, I probably won't have much time for that.

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• Do my thesis for my degree.

• Start freelancing in the second half of the year.

• Finish at least two medical books in the second half of the year.

• Find a girlfriend? Well, I am not sure about this; it depends on God’s will.

• Be healthier.

• Put on some weight (I am too skinny). :oops:

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- Write home more often. (Made this one up at the last moment when I suddenly found myself without good resolutions last night.)

- Keep reading books.

- Improve my spoken Chinese so that I can quit that habit of letting sentences trail off in a 所以~

- Improve my written Chinese.

- Take classes to achieve these latter two.

- Learn more words, and how to use them. (How do you guys use SRS for that? I feed it words and sentences as I come across them, but that adds up to usually less than 10 flashcards on a good day.)

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