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The 2015 Aims and Objectives Progress Thread

Meng Lelan

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I'm new to this forum and have found a lot of what I've read here so far extremely useful - so thanks to many of you for that. 


I'm now in Beijing and will be spending much of the next 4-5 months here (or elsewhere in China) doing full-time independent study.  I care more about improving my overall language ability than taking exams, but I think it's will be useful to have some measurable goals to aim at, so my short-term goal is to sit HSK5 in April 2015.


Some of the things that I've seen on this forum that I think will be particularly helpful for this (and a couple of requests for assistance) as follows:


 - Tamu's post of February 2014 on independent study.  This includes references to Anki decks of complete sentences with full audio (including of all the sentences in the Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar textbook) which sounds incredibly useful.  It would be great to be able to share these but I'm not sure Tamu's been here recently.  I'm going to get some other full audio sentences prepared and will happily share those, but in the mean time does anyone have any recommendations for Anki decks of sentences?


 - Imron's post just above (here) referencing a description of how to improve your ability to read / listen to news.  However, I couldn't find transcripts for more recent podcasts on the recommended site.  Does anyone have any recommendations for sites providing both news podcasts and transcripts?


 - the discussions above on dontbreakthechain.com, 100% etc..



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1. I bought the Practical Audio-Visual Chinese textbook/workbook series from NTNU, and started to go through volume 1. In 2015, finish through the first 4 books, and maybe the 5th if the still interested, in order to:

  • Learn to read traditional Chinese
  • Remember all vocab, SRS review in Pleco
  • Learn to handwrite in simplified Chinese (do all exercises)
  • Learn new grammar/sentence constructs


2. Finish reading the Chinese Breeze series, the McMillan readers, in order to improve simplified reading skills. I already finished the available Mandarin Companion books.


3. Write reviews that I still owe the Sinolingua Book Give-Away


4. Keep adding new characters encountered for Skritter single-character reading/writing review.


5. Spend time shadowing. I took one step forward, one step back, this year, by speaking a lot more. This has helped my spoken Mandarin improve quite a bit (especially because I ask native speakers to correct my mistakes, which they're happy to), but I also got into a bad habit of overlaying english inflections on top of Mandarin sentences which mutilates my tones. This year I'm going to spend time shadowing dialogues and reader audio in order to develop more natural sounding Mandarin.



6. Learn the remaining 1500 characters in Heisig - Remembering the Simplified Hanzi 2. Then go through traditional differences in Remembering the Traditional Hanzi 1 and 2.

7. Write the Level 3/4 TOCFL in November.

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Please share your goals and expectations about the new year. It might be inspiring for others, also it can be a good reminder for you throughout the year!

Here are my goals:


1.Finishing the novel 家 that I started in November.

2.Spending at least an hour at least three times a week improving my language skills. No lesson plans, no website building, just learning and practicing.

3. I want to improve my pronunciation. I don't have an exact plan on how to do it but it's something I definitely need to work on. (any suggestions?)

4. Reading at least two more of the novels (mostly by Yu Hua) I bought in Beijing last summer.


What are your goals?

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2015 has only started for less than a day so I hope I am not too late to formulate 2015 objectives :-)


My current situation: I have started to study Chinese from the moment I married my Chinese wife in September 2011 (and which has resulted in a beautiful baby girl about one month ago). Last year I passed HSK-4 so that gives you any idea about my Chinese proficiency. My inlaws have been here for over a month now (they do not speak English) and it has enhanced my Chinese speaking although communication is still limited as they speak Sichuanhua.


I have received a lot of compliments on my improved Chinese (note I did not speak any at the wedding) and my efforts have been met with a lot of appreciation from my inlaws which of course encourages me to continue my efforts. However, I feel it's hard to surpass the 'basic-intermediate' level I am currently add. In the past I used a lot of SRS (Memrise and Fluentu) but I have gotten a bit bored by it. Maybe I should revamp up my efforts there. Reading wise I have read nearly all Chinese Breeze books. I feel the level 3 (orange) more or less corresponds with my current proficiency. Still regret there are no level 4 books yet.


I wonder if I should shoot for HSK-5 (I feel I already forgot a lot from the HSK-4). I really like to have measurable milestones like the HSK but I start to doubt whether it really helps increasing my Chinese proficiency. I tried watching some TV shows but even 家有儿女 was still beyond me. I printed out the transcripts (thx btw) but I still find it hard. Is there no audiovisual Chinese Breeze ?


Also sometimes motivation is lacking because I am almost the only one out here studying Chinese. It would be nice to have peers at the same level as me (for support and some competition ;-))


So in fact, I find it even hard to establish any formal objectives that meet the SMART-principle...

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Also sometimes motivation is lacking because I am almost the only one out here studying Chinese. It would be nice to have peers at the same level as me (for support and some competition ;-))


I think you nailed it: motivation. You need to find something to motivate you. Trust me, I feel for you, I married into a Spanish family that speaks not a word of English. Yes, Spanish is easier of course, but when your native language is English and you've been studying Chinese for years, are fluent in French, and live in Germany (after I got to B1 in 4 months here I quit because German grammar was kiling me while trying to deal with things in English and Chinese all day for my PhD work). Honestly, I lack motivation for learning Spanish not because I don't like the language or want to speak it better but because I'm not in an environment conducive for it... My current plan is to spend most of March in Spain with the grandparents and study formally in the morning while they watch the baby. I don't practice it at home other than when we speak to them on Skype, or when my husband speaks to our daughter.


If I was in your situation I'd probably do something similar - next time in China ship yourself off to a local language school or language tutor and then spend the rest of the time speaking with family members in the language... at least, this is what will work for the speaking and comprehenson bits IMO. It always works for me in Chinese... just put me in China for a solid time - full immersion - and don't give me any other language. If you have other interests - if you like to play basketball, are interested in taichi, enjoy history or other cultural things, or heck just like eating - you should socialize with other Chinese people as much as possible. I'm working on this myself right now, actually, it turns out there's a Chinese family in my daughter's music class and we've spoken in Chinese about meeting up sometime soon... I hope it becomes regular because I too need more of these opportunities now that I'm not in China.


Reading and writing - as I'm sure you've read on here and know - is a whole other story. I only surpassed the low intermediate level after bootcamp Chinese at ICLP in Taipei, and honestly the one thing that kept me going at the low points was the carrot on the stick: I NEEDED to be able to read my research topic in Chinese, plus I desperately wanted to know what Chinese authors (journalists, scholars, etc) had written about it. The first visit to a library in my second quarter at ICLP I suddenly realized I could read newspaper articles related to my topic - I was so ecstatic and that alone motivated me to keep going. Prior to that and even now, if someone gives me something boring (to me) to read in Chinese (or any language really) I just won't retain anything after slogging through it. So my advice to you is to pick something that truly interests you and start there. For example, if you like history or technology, start following a website or printing newspaper articles and going through them slowly. You would need a tutor to help you understand the formal language, however, and that is NOT an easy task. But using a site like italki.com maybe you can locate someone on Skype to do this with you once per week.

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Anki decks for sentences?  The Mastering Chinese Characters deck is available in the Anki shared decks and includes lots of vocabulary and sentences.

Although the sentences are all very boring like "He is afraid of spiders" and "There is a spider on his wrist".  

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Goals for 2015

·        Get from studying HSK-5-ish, to studying HSK-6-ish in terms of vocab and grammar, reading speed, listening skill. Consider taking the level 5 test. 

·        Kick the subtitle habit when watching TV and movies – improve listening speed & comprehension speed so subtitles are only used for new words.

·        Keep working on reading articles, computer game text, comics and books – as a stretch goal I’d like to finish a novel in 2015.

·        Improve pronunciation – iron out remaining pronunciation difficulties, try to approach a more native speaker accent, improve fluency & correctness in speech

·        Improve writing of sentences and passages – be able to write work emails & short passages



·        Continue 4 hours a week of 1:1 lessons.  Continue having free conversation (storytelling) 50% and following textbook 50%.

·        Watch TV and movies even more frequently – lookup and mine sentences from sentence bank on unknown but frequent vocabulary.  Keep using SUBTLEX-CH as reference on frequency.

·        Use Chinese Text Analyzer to read articles from TechCrunch Chinese edition, Financial Times, etc.  Lookup and mine sentences based on unknown vocab, or use the articles themselves as the basis.

·        Establish a shadowing habit (haven’t exactly decided how to do this)

·        Try to do around 100 cards of Anki per day based on sentence clozes (MCDs) – this is my basic revision routine.

·        Mentally translate English TV/movies while watching, lookup words that I don’t know how to translate (I sometimes do this during long meetings and phone calls too).

·        Select and read a novel.

·        Investigate using lang-8 for writing and getting feedback.  Try an exercise such as writing a passage every week describing what happened that week.


This is quite a lot of stuff, and even though a year sounds like a long time to do it all, I’m quite aware that I might have to tackle different goals at different time (e.g. a month focusing on shadowing, or a month focused on reading articles, or a month focused on reading a novel).

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  • Learn a majority of HSK5 vocab
  • Write a short essay at least once a week 
  • Get back in contact with language partner(s)
  • Read at least 3 translated novels - probably Harry Potter 
  • Develop listening skills by watching TV shows
  • Apply for a masters in Chinese Studies

My biggest problem is developing structured habits. I think I've managed to crack the "expose yourself to the language everyday habit," mainly because I like to watch TV shows in Chinese and it's easy to go through a few flash cards, I enjoy this kind of study. But I know that structured study on particular skills is the most efficient way to advance. Part of the problem may be that I don't get enough out of it. I'm very lucky to be taking a free class at university but unfortunately it's the highest level they offer and it's still a little too easy.I really need to push myself if I'm going to break through to upper intermediate.


  • I shall start with the easy goals. Reading a page a day shouldn't be difficult and I can increase it as my confidence grows.
  • Writing essays about topics I'm interested in should be possible but I've never managed to successfully keep a diary (my life is way too monotonous for weekly entries, let alone daily  :shock: ), controversial topics and news events might work.
  • Language partners are nice but I'm too shy/nice to get down to business and strictly implement an agenda and 50/50 exchange, just goes back to English, hopefully this year I can change this. If I have my short essays to go over with them then I think that will help, it adds structure.
  • Actually studying TV shows may be a little hard because I get swept up in the story and end up reading the subtitles to supplement my (poor :mrgreen: ) listening skills. But I'll just have to not do that this year.
  • HSK5 is something I plan to reach mainly through my other goals, I started HSK 4 this year but realised that I knew most of the words already thanks to my (oh so unstructured) previous studies, massive ego boost I can tell you. I've found that studying vocab lists is incredibly boring so I'm hoping by the end of the year this one will have worked itself out, but if I'm only half way there that's fine too.
  • Applying for a masters, I'm hoping to make a transition from the natural sciences to the humanities and pursue a career studying Chinese. The entry requirements are HSK4 reading ability which I (pretty much) have but I'm hoping my above goals will allow me to surpass that. Reading skills aside I'm going to have to do a little studying (in English) on Chinese history and politics etc. but that should be fine because I love the subject anyway.

Thanks to everyone who posted before me as you helped me refine and tweak my own goals. I'm now going to print them out and stick them all over the house where I can't avoid seeing them. I wish you guys all the best and hope you can accomplish your goals this year. 加油!  :D

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I want to learn how to read / write enough Chinese characters to be able to chat in QQ chat groups since I usually send voice messages  :mrgreen: . Any suggestions of how many characters are actually needed for short chit-chats?


short chit-chats according to me: introductions,

understanding your background and someone else's,

talking about hobbies, the weather, family, things you'd like to do in the future


I always want to be able to speak twice as much words than I can write in general.


I want to start learning some Korean and make progress videos as well  :D

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@imron. Haha, yeah.

To learn Characters, so far I've been using: NCPR vol 1, Remembering Simplified Hanzi, book 1, and I haven't opened Tuttle's 800 character book (which has 1,033 compound words)

Chances are I'll see a lot of funny terms if I try to talk about Chinese pop-culture. 

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My rule of thumb is roughly:

1000 characters / 2000 words: very basic writing

2000 characters / 4000 words: intermediate writing

3000 characters / 7000 words: getting there

4000 characters / 10000 words: now you're talking

That said, it's never too early to start trying and practicing your chats, it can be enjoyable even with less.

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I enjoyed and appreciated reading about everyone's goals for this year. My goals may seem rather odd, but that is because of the peculiar nature of the language acquisition experiment I am undertaking. I would like to:


1. Watch about 40 minutes of Mandarin movies and TV shows per day, or a total of about 245 hours.


2. Have at least 50% of that viewing time be without subtitles.


3. When watching an entirely new episode of a soap opera (a genre I never ordinarily watch) without subtitles, be able to pick out and understand perhaps 15% of the words that are uttered (including repeats - each "wo", "ni", and "hao" counts hahaha). That may sound really easy and unambitious to more advanced students, but it would feel like a great accomplishment to me.


4. Be able to sing at least one entire song from the movies or shows that I watch. This has proven surprisingly difficult! I have worked a bit on the Boonie Bears' intro song and a lot on Nan Zi Han from Mulan, but with little to show for it.


5. Be able to understand at least 50% of the dialogue in a new Boonie Bears or Qiao Hu episode and be able to watch at least one or two of my favorite Chinese movies such as Dragon and Hero and understand most of the dialogue without subtitles (after many, many repetitions).

6. Continue blogging about my experiment on a weekly basis and engage more with other students of Mandarin and language enthusiasts in general through my blog and on this and other forums.


Good luck to all of us in 2015!

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Goals for 2015

Don't get stressed out. Have fun if possible, else relax/rest.

Keep learning Chinese.
I'd like to reach these specific goals (from least to most unlikely):
- keep my subscription to Chinese TV channels and keep using it daily. (this should be easy?)
- complete a mock HSK5 test.
- keep 90% compliance on daily SRS.
- listen at least once to every imandarinpod podcast released in 2015. (ideally, I should also study the level-appropriate ones in-depth...)
- write in Chinese daily, even if it's just a 2' question or answer on 百度知道.
- keep a regular weekly group activity related to the Chinese language or culture (i.e. newspaper reading class, and when not in session, find some other activity such as Chinese corner etc.)
- finally read a Sci-Fi novel in Chinese.
- complete a systematic review of Chinese grammar (either with a book or the EdX course)
- finish a technical Chinese textbook. It doesn't need to be 科普汉语听记. (this sounds unlikely but I might suprise myself, who knows?)
- drill the 3000 most common characters even if it takes getting a skritter account (hmmm...)

Keep other languages active.
Ideally I'd study or practice each language at least once a week. By order of priority:
English: focus on pronunciation, conversation, professional topics.
French: professional and special topics.
Spanish: grammar, reading, professional topics, movies... anything goes. And read a novel and some fanfiction.
Others: textbooks or podcasts and TV.

Report in here once a month.
And perhaps give myself a small achievable goal or focus for the next month.

January focus:
Get back to it.


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For 2015, I'm aiming for 3 hours of Chinese a day, whether that's listening to TV or podcasts, or reading, or talking on Skype. If I manage that most days of the week, I hope the other stuff will take care of itself.


Edit: and if I manage that it would consitute a lot more Chinese than I managed the last year or two. 

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I love these topics, even if I don't participate. I've added links to past years to the first post, so you can all check out how you and others did - this is the EIGHTH year, that's pretty impressive. 


Right, I'm going to spend some time poring over your posts and seeing who can be encouraged to start new topics about the cool stuff they're doing. 

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