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mackie1402

Weekly Intermediate Study Updates - join in!

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roddy

Lots of you posting in here might be interested in the new Beginner Writing thing that xuefang is running. Take a look, see if you can join in. 

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mackie1402

It’s nice to be back!

 

I’ve had a month or so of internet free life. I had a few things I wanted to get right in my life and didn’t want to waste too much time browsing social media.

I can honestly say I haven’t even touched my Chinese books since my last post. Not that I didn’t want  to, but I wanted to get into some good routines before I even tried to focus on studying again.

 

So since my last post I’ve been hitting the gym regularly and lost just over 10kg. I’ve changed my diet and eating a healthy and colourful selection of natural foods. I’ve been working on my business which has grown by about 40% in the last 6 weeks. Suddenly there’s been a huge demand. Finally my wife and I have set a date for our wedding in September, so with only 5 months to go we have been pretty busy!

 

My healthy eating is no longer healthy eating, but simply just ‘eating’. It’s normal for me now! That’s one habit ticked off my list. Great!

My daily trips to the gym are no different than brushing my teeth! Now I wake up and think ‘I need to do this and this today… after the gym of course.’

The wedding venue is booked, photography is booked and business is going well.

That’s why today I’ve decided to get back to some old habits like Chinese!

I’ve changed the first post. It no longer has a ‘list of contributors’. I feel the honor system works well. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do reading the latest posts!

 

Here my latest update from today:

Got up and did an hour reading “Representation of Chinese Grammar with Diagrams”. My first step was to learn the parts of speech in Chinese in both English and Chinese. I’ve made a few different diagrams to make them easier to remember. Next I’m moving onto breaking down each part of speech and looking at the examples in the book. 

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Cid

Welcome back! 

 

Not really sure if there's anything I can add that's different from last week's honestly, haha. I've just been continuing going through the intermediate ChinesePod audio and video lessons and doing the written exercises. Though one thing i should note is that i'm not 100% able to pick up on everything that's going on the dialogue the first time around so i end up going through the same lessons multiple times. That way, i can give myself some time to absorb the information then go back to anything i may have missed or didn't completely understand. It's been a bit of a repetitive week but the good thing is, the written exercises get randomized so you kinda have to know what you're doing to get through them. So it pretty much forces you to learn! 

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xit

Uh, haven't posted in a while...I'll just write about this week's work and progress.

 

I started reading regularly 8)  Before, I would be 'reading' a book online, but actually spend most of the time copy pasting words and expressions just to look them up. It was ridiculous. So, either way, I decided to actually start reading. Every morning, after breakfast, i start the app and just read. I was aiming for an hour at first, but the last two day have gone for and hour and a half. I understand enough to follow the plot AND find it interesting (the leads have finally become a couple~~~) and I'm really enjoying it. The only problem is, I'm so slow. I read about 3-4 A4 pages of 10.5 size font in an hour (I somehow failed to notice that some chapters are different font size :wall ). Either way, it's a snail's pace. I'm thinking of adding a before-bed session, so hopefully with the increased amount, I'll get used to it. My aim for next week will be 10 pages per day. Hope I survive that...

 

I did some textbook study, felt easy, but was great that it forced me to write sentences and actually do some active studying. I write in my journal daily, but those are just random brain-dumps, with probably many many mistakes. I neglected adding new words. Listened to some basic biology lectures, was relatively easy and I guess it counts as listening practice? Need to start keeping a detailed study journal...

 

Goals for next week:

  • read 10 pages per day
  • keep a study journal
  • catch up with the audio book
  • get to and finish chapter 10 of the textbook
  • add 10 new words per day
  • basic cell structure in Chinese
  • chemistry

 

Uh seems like a lot...I'll see how it goes. Since it is the holiday season, maybe I just make it.

 

Edit:

 

Oh, yeah, I forgot to add one last thing. I've decided to take the HSK 5 exam this December, I actually did a practice test some time ago and it felt relatively easy, despite not knowing all the vocab. I got 41/45 in listening, 37/45 in reading and 8/10 in the put-the-words-in-order-or-something part of writing. The essay part I felt was bad tho...Overall, the biggest issue is definitely the lack of vocab and the reading speed, didn't have time for the last 4 questions.....My biggest worry is that it's all thanks to luck, because somehow it felt way too easy, and I would put my level at A2 tops, so it makes zero sense. Also I really need to work on my writing, and, well, all active aspects of my Chinese.....

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laurenth

Not sure I'll post regularly in this thread, but I can imagine I qualify as an intermediate learner, whatever that means, so why not try. Maybe this thread just could help me reach the next level, wherever it's been hiding all this time.

 

A word about where I stand, as far as my Chinese level is concerned.

 

Reading is my strongest point. Listening is my most frustrating point.  As for speaking - I don't live in a Chinese speaking environment and have no Chinese relative or friend, so speaking leaves a lot to be desired. Writing is definitely not a priority for the moment.

 

I passed the HSK4 three years ago. I had contemplated trying the HSK5 this year but a few mock tests (and a conversion with imron on this forum) have shown that:

 

  • my reading speed is far too slow: after the allotted 40 minutes, I'd managed to answer 28 of the 45 questions of the reading part of the mock test. I timed myself on a dozen texts and discovered that my average reading speed is about 125 cpm.
  • my listening comprehension remains very poor: I did three mock test and got 20/45 on average. Note that, three years ago, just after I took the HSK4, I also did three HSK5 mock tests and scored 23.6/45 on average. It is often said that, when you think you are plateauing, it's fun to listen again to material that seemed hard a few weeks/months before and rejoice at the fact that it now seems ridiculously easy… Bummer.  So, for me, pure native material  remains inaccessible without much pausing, looking up vocab, repeating and looping.

As for my "study routine", for a number of years it's been revolving around:

 

  • reading native literature - usually on an e-reader and, at times, on paper. I'd love to rely less and less on e-readers, and more and more on my brains. Chinese Text Analyser  could help - unfortunately most of my studying/reading happens in the metro/office cafeteria and on my phone. So, imron, if you ever feel bored one of these rainy Sundays, please think about an Android version :)
  • listening to and trying to make sense of a variety of podcasts using WorkAudioBook: Slow Chinese, ChinesePod, ChineseLearnOnline (literally dozens of each),  原来是这样?!, random mp3s of abridged books, short stories, text books, shows, etc. These last few months, I've been working more and more on writing full transcriptions in pinyin, as it forces me to really listen very carefully. My impression is that such work could be useful in the long term.
  • studying vocab and reviewing it with either Pleco or Skritter.

Therefore, here are important tools I haven't used these last few years: actual lessons, authentic textbooks, real conversations with genuine teachers.

 

--

 

That said, what did I do last week?

 

- READING: I kept on reading 平凡的世界, from chapter 45 to 49. There were chapters that were quite easy (and moving. That book is a gem).

 

- LISTENING:

I studied the listening part of an HSK5 mock test I'd done the week before and started lesson 3 of Intermediate Chinese Listening/终极汉语听力.

Watching a single episode of 大耳朵图图 should not deserve to be mentioned, but actually it's one of a handful of Chinese cartoons for kids I find interesting and enjoyable (not to mention "roughly at my level").

I continued transcribing a "原来是这样?!" show about germs, microbes, bacteria and co. May sound tedious (it is) or just strange, and yet, I remain convinced that the whole exercise could actually be useful in order to improve my listening comprehension.

According to my goal tracker app, I've done some intensive listening exercises on 4 days out of 7.

On top of that, every time I have to drive or walk for more than 5 minutes, I also listen to podcasts, so in reality not a single day passes without *some* Chinese listening.

 

- VOCAB: Every day, I use Skritter to review characters (I use the 'mnemonic' field to list, among other things, words in which I've seen the character I'm studying).

Every day, I use Pleco to review words I collect while reading or listening.

 

--

 

Again, I dont know whether I'll post regularly, but at least this thread helped me take stock. Thanks OP!

 

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mackie1402

 

 

 It's been a bit of a repetitive week but the good thing is, the written exercises get randomized so you kinda have to know what you're doing to get through them. So it pretty much forces you to learn! 

 

Repetition is still exposure! It might not feel like too much extra work, but I always see any repetition as consolidating some of that simple stuff a few more times. 

 

 

Goals for next week:

  • read 10 pages per day
  • keep a study journal
  • catch up with the audio book
  • get to and finish chapter 10 of the textbook
  • add 10 new words per day
  • basic cell structure in Chinese
  • chemistry

 

Wow! Looks like you're really going for it, ha! Good luck! I want to do a bit more reading like yourself, but find there's a lack of resources for where I am. How many hours of studying do you think it'll take next week to finish that list?

 

 

 

 I've decided to take the HSK 5 exam this December, I actually did a practice test some time ago and it felt relatively easy, despite not knowing all the vocab. I got 41/45 in listening, 37/45 in reading and 8/10 in the put-the-words-in-order-or-something part of writing. The essay part I felt was bad tho...Overall, the biggest issue is definitely the lack of vocab and the reading speed, didn't have time for the last 4 questions.....My biggest worry is that it's all thanks to luck, because somehow it felt way too easy, and I would put my level at A2 tops, so it makes zero sense. Also I really need to work on my writing, and, well, all active aspects of my Chinese.....

 

Firstly, great that you've set a date! It's nice to have a specific time to aim for (for me, completely unrelated to Chinese, it's the pre-wedding photography in July, never felt so much pressure haha). I've always heard the practice tests you see in books can vary greatly, so maybe you could try a couple of different books if they're easy to get hold of. Regarding the A2 and HSK5 feeling, I understand. Previously I mentioned some books I follow called 'Elementary Chinese' and have 8 books with a total of about 5500 words, yet HSK6 is about 5000 words. I like to use the HSK tests to see how much I'm progressing (Oh, now I can actually do these questions easier than before, etc). I don't take them too seriously compared to my level. I've met far too many HSK 6ers who still struggle to communicate some of the basics. 

 

 

 

Not sure I'll post regularly in this thread, but I can imagine I qualify as an intermediate learner, whatever that means, so why not try. Maybe this thread just could help me reach the next level, wherever it's been hiding all this time.

 

Welcome! I think one post makes you think about where you are with your studies and what you want to work on, so a simple update can really push everyone in the right direction. The whole "Intermediate Study" is more of a 'come back later if you've just begun' thing. I see it as 'not too easy, but not too difficult' level  :lol:

 

I would say my listening is my strongest right now. This is down to the fact that I've lived in China for a few years now and I am extremely nosy. Every conversation I try and listen to on the metro, in the coffee shop, even at the gym. Plus since my wife is usually with me I usually just listen and nod while my wife replies.

 

I wouldn't say speaking is my biggest weakness (that's definitely my writing!), but it's my biggest disappointment. So that's why:

 

This week I have:

- Listened to many many elementary ChinesePod lessons in the background. I would say I knew 95% of everything I listened to, just the odd word here and there. 

- I've now started shadowing these lessons using the Pomodoro Technique. (Working for 25mins no distractions , 5 mins break, repeat etc). I've done about 4 lessons per days. I don't listen to the lesson itself, only the dialogue on repeat. I'm listening for every detail regarding sentence stress, making notes. Then replicating these. My wife has noticed a big difference in my speaking. 

 

I think I'm going to be doing this for a while. Yeah it's a lot of repetition but like I said before, it's a lot of consolidating and still some exposure. I'm happy to be speaking outloud for 2 hours a day when I can understand everything. If I jumped up to a level where I'm struggling with new vocab at the same time, I'd probably stop after half hour. Slowly but surely! 

 

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Cid

Not gonna lie, i've been slacking a bit these week. But i felt like i should still check in! Like mackie, i've been continuing with ChinesePod lessons. Intermediate lessons are becoming easier and easier to understand. Yes, slowly but surely indeed!. Since i haven't put that much time this week, i don't feel like i've made THAT much of an improvement, but there are words that i didn't recognize before that i'm starting to pick up on now so that's good! Since i'm on the go quite a bit, i don't really have time to sit down with workbooks and such, so i spend what little time i have listening to lessons from the app. Then when i have time to do the written exercises, i try to do them without having to listen to the lesson again, which kinda forces me to absorb it the first time around. 

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xit

I'm canceling all of my plans. This is way too inefficient. I feel like I've finally woken up.

 

The first few days of the week I barely did anything. Even after realizing that, I kept procrastinating. I feel like the only thing that i actually managed to do is to read every day for one and a half hours or a bit more. Completely failed at the 10 pages per day thing, managed about 5-6, right now I'm at page 133, by the end of the week it was supposed to be 170, clearly this isn't happening. I have completely failed at studying new words, as I seem to have been doing for quite a while now. My lack of vocab is simply embarrassing. Study journal was a failure too, other then specifying that I was reading in Chinese, everything else was just labeled as 'Chinese', and as such I have no idea how much time I spent doing a specific thing. I didn't listen to the audio book either, but I have started a new Chinese drama which I really really like, but ended up relying on the English subtitles. I did study a bit about cells, but I've merely scratched the surface, so it doesn't count. Overall, this entire week I didn't do anything.

 

After realizing this, I took out an HSK 5 exam that I had printed out, looked at the shady quality of the print, noticed that the time for reading part didn't match, turned on a timer and tried to do just the reading section. I knew that I didn't know the vocab, but I was hoping that at least my reading speed has increased a bit. It was horrible!!!!!!!! There were too many words I didn't know, my reading was super slow, didn't even get to finish reading everything thoroughly, and I ended up with 28 points out of 45  :wall  :wall  :( The last time I did it, I was lucky enough that the vocab I'm familiar with was also playing the crucial role in the questions. This time, however, I felt like I run out of luck. I only have a few months before the exam, I really need to do well, I can't let my laziness win. And I need to change my study plan accordingly.

 

First off, I need to cut down my reading time to one hour a day. I'm reading a romance novel, that's hardly gonna help me with the exam. The leftover time, I'll use for reading texts from a textbook, or some short news articles or texts online. I really need some advice on this.

 

Gonna go through the entire vocab list and highlight the words I know. This will give me an idea of what to do next.

 

Studying vocab is my priority from now on. So far, first thing I did after breakfast was reading. Now it's gonna be vocab.

 

Lastly, I'm gonna start keeping a super detailed diary. Exactly what I did and how long it took.

 

I'll update once again at the end of the week how these changes have worked out. If anyone has some advice about how to prepare for the HSK 5 exam, please help, I'm desperate now. :help

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stapler

how did you go xit?

 

---

 

Like everyone else I've experienced a bit of a slow down. But it cannot be helped. Have too many other commitments. I really look forward to getting back into my textbooks again however.

 

Some things I've done the last few weeks that I like:

 

Glossika

I skipped the first 1000 sentences. Way too boring, "你在哪裏?" etc. and started from 2000. I've really been enjoying Glossika for the speaking practice. I've been following the routine as suggested in the PDF, but with more recording

 

1) I'll listen to the A file. Right after the English I pause and try to say the sentence in Chinese (I really like this "productive" Chinese exercise. I've been doing it with my flashcards where I put all the sentences I find interesting in my textbook with English on the front then try to say it in Chinese. Listening to the sentences in Chinese or reading them in Chinese is way too  easy so not very helpful). Afterwards I'll pause again after each time the sentence is spoken in Chinese and repeat it aloud to make sure I can say it correctly and with confidence

 

2) I'll play the C file and write down each sentence in a big notebook. I love writing Chinese characters so I really enjoy this exercise. Also, as my notebook fills up I get a real sense of achievement/progress. Having pages and pages of written Chinese looks impressive when other people see it :P

 

3) Each day I'll record all the sentences I have written down in my notebook on my phone's default sound recording app, then play it back listening for when my tones or intonation are bit crappy. I can't believe how helpful listening to your own speaking is! I'll do this 5 times in total. Each day I record all the sentences I haven't already listened to 5 times and put a mark next to them (like a prison wall calendar!). (I really love speaking Chinese into my phone. Every other time speak it's to a native speaker so I only associate speaking with dread. Doing it with the Glossika sentences is blast).

 

4) When I see a cluster of sentences have been recorded on 5 different days I cross them off then play the corresponding B file, pausing to produce the Chinese sentence after the English prompt for one final "have the sentence sunk in" check.

 

Thoughts: Nothing in Glossika is mentally taxing. But it's really helpful for assisting my speaking - by far my least develop skilled. I've noticed I'm starting to use a lot of grammar more spontaneously that I wouldn't have used before (eg 被). I think the method is solid, but I feel like I need even more sentences than what's provided by Glossika. I'm getting through around 200 sentences a week so I'm quickly going to run out soon. And the problem is its very high in terms of time cost to produce thousands more sentences with audio on my own.

 

Reading

 

Always my drug of choice. I couldn't help relapse into some reading this week. My vocabulary is really starting to get to the level where looking up words isn't an every-single-sentence routine. God it's enjoyable. And as always that's the problem. Reading is the ultimate distraction from improving the skills I need to work on. Ugh. I'll try to stop again next week and fill in this time with some Chinesepod or something similar.

 

Pokemon

 

I saw a Chinese video on Facebook about Pokemon (神奇寶貝) and thought "I should watch it!". The sad truth is Pokemon is much more interesting than Chinese TV. So gunna stick with this for my Chinese TV listening practice. I'm also wondering if I should start looking for more Western/Japanese shows that have been dubbed into Mandarin rather than waste my time on entirely Chinese productions.

 

Working in the Morning

 

As I've been so busy with work, school, sport, friends, etc. my Chinese practice time has been squeezed hard. The way I've overcome this is getting up earlier. For the last 2 weeks I've been getting up an hour earlier to do Chinese practice. It's great. It's quiet, and no one is around so I can do my speaking practice without embarrassment or upsetting other people (I often feel like I get dirty looks from people If I speak (Chinese) on the bus). Before I tried to do it at night but my mental faculties were always drained by then. I think this is going to be a really positive change.

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laurenth

Working in the Morning

 

Fond memories. I did that for about two years. I had a teacher in Beijing, a very good one. Twice a week, thanks to the time difference, I would wake up by 5 am, and I would afford the luxury of spending one hour chatting and studying with a Chinese friend before the kids would wake up and I had to go about my day. However, after 2 years of such a diet, and one more kid crying all night, I just ran out of steam. But I do believe that the early morning is quality time for studying.

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艾墨本

 

Pokemon

 

I saw a Chinese video on Facebook about Pokemon (神奇寶貝) and thought "I should watch it!". The sad truth is Pokemon is much more interesting than Chinese TV. So gunna stick with this for my Chinese TV listening practice. I'm also wondering if I should start looking for more Western/Japanese shows that have been dubbed into Mandarin rather than waste my time on entirely Chinese productions.

 

I sympathize with this. Finding solid TV in Chinese is a big challenge. The two that i've enjoyed after scouring this website: 1) 魔幻手机, which is widely available. The first episode is bad. It gets good quickly, though. I enjoyed episode 5-10ish the most. 2) Avatar the last airbender and legend of Korra (降世神通,科拉传奇) dubbed into Chinese. There are five seasons and it uses a lot of the same vocabulary through out. Also, since the characters age through the seasons, their vocabulary does as well. It got more and more difficult the further into it I went. 

 

Another one I've seen a lot of people use is Conan dubbed in Chinese. I believe there is a Anki deck for it floating around somewhere, as well. 

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laurenth

I must admit I was on the "slow down" bandwagon too, recently, because I took a few days off to be with the kids, so had little time for Chinese, and after that because I had to play catch-up at the office... Here's what I managed to do:

 

READING

 

I finished reading 平凡的世界. What a fascinating book! Be it for the psychology of the characters, the history of the cultural revolution or the depiction of the culture and the way of life of Chinese peasants, everything's interesting. It's not an action movie: you are following simple citizens through their hardship towards the end of the cultural revolution. Nothing much happens, but you truly have the impression to get to know China and its people.  As I said in the "What are you reading?" thread, it's extremely rewarding to be able to read good books about that period written by foreigners (e.g. those of Pierre Ryckmans) as well as by Chinese people, such as this novel.

 

I won't start reading vol. 2 and 3 for now. It took me a little over 3 months to read vol. 1 - that's less than I'd feared but, somehow, the idea of spending 10-12 months reading the same saga is too daunting. I need to read something else. And though I have committed to spend less time reading literature and more time exercising my listening comprehension, it's always hard for me to fight my natural addiction to reading books - all the more so taking account of the fact that I I bought three new books last week (Yu Hua's 没有一条道路是重复的; Mo Yan's 白狗秋千架; and Zhang Ailing's 红玫瑰与白玫瑰). In addition, as my reading ability is vastly better than my listening ability, there's always the temptation to stay in my immediately rewarding comfort zone... Anyway, I immediately started reading Yu Hua's collection of stories. I've written some comments about it in the "What are you reading?" thread.

 

LISTENING

 

I did a few listening comprehension exercises: I continued studying lesson 3 of Intermediate Chinese Listening and started lesson 4; I continued transcribing a short section of the "原来是这样?!" show about germs and I listened to as many podcasts as I could while walking or driving, with varying degrees of attention (to the podcasts - not to the road :mrgreen:  ).

 

SRS

 

I've had a hard time staying afloat with my two SRS tools of predilections: Skritter for characters and Pleco for words.

I use Skritter to study and review the 3000 most frequent characters (I use Patrick Zein's list, itself inspired by Jun Da's frequency list) and started working backwards from #3000.

Pleco contains a HSK6 list and words or entire sentences I come across while reading or listening.

Up to now, I've always managed to clear up the review queue each night, with only a slight delay from time to time.

 

See you soon!

 

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艾墨本

I've been reading all of your updates for quite some time. See how other people are approaching the learning process has also helped me progress in my own learning. I thought it was finally time to make a post on my own progress, if only to help my self think more clearly about how I've gotten to where I am. I will also set some of my own goals and benchmarks.

 

Quick context. I moved to China last year in June and have been living here since. I also have a BA in Chinese.

 

READING

 

Reading has been a central goal to my Chinese study for quite some time. Memorizing characters through SRS has helped but I'm finding, more and more, that reading is what helps me remember the new words. Currently, I am reading 《草房子》. Previously I was reading 《撒哈拉的故事》by 三毛 but found I got bored of the short story structure of the book after about page 50. But even getting there took me a long time. 《草房子》has been much kinder to me. Having a continuous story is holding my attention better. I started it about a month ago and am only on page 30, though. The first 10 pages were really slow moving as I was learning so much nature vocabulary. At this point, though, the words are starting to repeat and natural reading-based SRS is kicking in. I'm also just enjoying the story, which is a very satisfying moment in my Chinese learning career. Additionally, I'm trying to use more Chinese language news to get my entertaining fill. When I just want a quick fix I read Engadget's 中国版 and 好奇心日报 as well as The Chairman's Bao. I keep these casual, though.

 

Goal: Continue reading 《草房子》at least 4 days a week, and at least 5 pages per day. So, 20 pages a week. Which means I'll finish the 247 remaining pages in no more than 12 weeks or 3 months. 

 

LISTENING

 

Listening was my weakest skill all through university. It frustrated me and destroyed my confidence, which in turn made it very difficult to practice speaking. Since getting to China, the immersion has helped my listening immensely. I've spent a lot of time watching various TV shows in Chinese (魔幻手机,降世神通,爱情公寓), but always casually. I've never been one to study transcripts, or write down vocabulary from TV. I just wanted to enjoy watching TV. I think this has paid off since now that my vocabulary has grown through other sources watching TV is more enjoyable and doesn't have a tone of "I'm studying" to it. Recently, I've started watching CCTV news more. I am also taking the intermediate grammar course and business Chinese from Peking University on edX.org. I listen to them both at 1.5 % speed to continue working on my listening. I've also worked through the "Graded Reader 2" with 3000词 and spent a lot of time listening to and shadowing the first story. But, the most frequent source of listening practice is life. I regularly go out with Chinese friends and also frequently attend meeting that are entirely in Chinese. When I got here I couldn't understand anything but the pain points during the meetings. Now, I can catch most of what is said spare the idioms and extra formal phrases. 

 

Goal: Continue using daily life as a practice source and go out with Chinese friends at least once a week. Listen to CCTV during meals or when I want to relax (more passive). Study one week of the edX intermediate grammar course per week. 

 

SPEAKING

 

While my speaking is improving just by living in China, I will also spend more time shadowing TV shows and audio books. I haven't spent much time working on this beyond daily conversation. I will be doing a couple weeks at Keats in Kunming this summer. I hope to work on pronunciation then. 

 

Goal: continue focusing on fluency in daily life while working on accuracy by shadowing TV shows and audio books. Further investigate using 锵锵三人行 and the materials created by fellow learners on this site. 

 

GRAMMAR

 

My technical knowledge of Chinese grammar is lacking. For this reason I am taking the edX intermediate course. While native speakers say my Chinese grammar is good, I'm pretty sure what they are saying is "it's good enough that I can understand you" and not "you make very few mistakes." I find that when speaking, my grammar deteriorates the most when I speak too fast. I will focus on slowing down my Chinese speech (with out demanding patience from my listener) and see if I notice any improvements. I've tried lang-8 paired with a daily journal but did not enjoy it too much and found the effort in time put in wasn't breeding good enough results. I'm not as clear on how I can improve my grammar at this point. Suggestions would be appreciated.

 

WRITING

 

I work on writing when I work on my SRS notecards. I use Anki and pair every word with one or two sentences. I always write down the sentences to practice 汉子 as well as learning the strokes for the new character. I will continue doing this. I have tried doing a journal as well, before, but found I didn't have enough time in my day to maintain it without sacrificing another part of my study routine.

 

VOCABULARY 

 

I have spent a lot of time expanding my vocabulary in the past. I spent so much time (years) thinking that if I just knew all the words, reading and writing would somehow be easy. What ended up happening was I knew a lot of words and their translation but they had no fullness to them. They were each individual ideas floating around and unconnected to other words. Eventually, I noticed what was happening and I had to backtrack and focus a lot on reading, watching, and consuming content. I started at a very low level and built up. At this point I am trying to add words at a much slower pace. I don't take new words from everything put only certain designated things. Currently, my source of vocabulary is 《草房子》and "life". I study life vocab through the pleco notecard system. I will export 《草房子》vocab to Anki and follow my normal procedure of adding a couple example sentences, as well. 

 

Goal: Spend at least 20 minutes a day reviewing vocabulary from《草房子》. Learn (get fill in the blank right 3 times) 20  words from the "life" deck on pleco each weekend.

 

 

I will try to do an update at the end of each week and evaluate what's working and what isn't working. 

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xit

This week was so-so. I'm getting all the new vocab from a textbook (it's finally catching up to me, the fact that i completely ignored all things related to politics and economy...need to learn the basics now). I was kinda busy (or maybe lazy T.T), so didn't get much done. Butttt, something amazing still happened. I was able to read 5 (read: five) pages in one hour  8) . How amazing is that? I just hope it wasn't a one time thing. I'll see how today goes.

 

I downloaded a new audio book app, so I usually listen to that before falling asleep. I did a 听力 part, wasn't as terrible as the reading part last time. I got 37/45. Overall, my chinese sucks big time. Thankfully, I still have a few months to improve. Hope I can make it.

 

Also had a voice call with a friend who also studies chinese. This was the first time in a while that I've actually spoken chinese. My pronunciation is really bad, but I could still form sentences. So, maybe all this reading has helped a bit.

 

Everyone seems to be complaining how chinese tv shows suck, well I have to disagree. I've recently started Ode to joy, and am loving it. I'm watching it with english subtitles though, so can't comment on how useful it is for listening practice.

 

Next week is going to be busy, but I'm hoping it motivates me to study harder. I think I've established some minimum daily study habits, so it can only go up from here, right?

 

EDIT:

 

Just finished my one-hour-reading-a-day challenge for today. 5 and a half pages in one hour!!! It seems my speed really is improving. I actually have an app on my phone, took note when it buzzed, and kept reading till I finished the 6th page. I feel like this part had more unknown words, but my goal here is just to read, so I'm happy as long as I can follow the story line. Today's reading felt unusually smooth, like it's starting to feel like I'm reading more then one character a time. There are some words where I don't even know how to pronounce the characters, but somehow know the meaning. I still can't just glance over stuff, but it's getting much easier to just hmm see stuff...

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Cid

Ahhh, i've been slacking off a bit with my updates! Still keeping up with my lessons though! This week i made some pretty good progress with the intermediate ChinesePod lessons. I've also started using the Say it Right series a bit more now to try to work on my pronunciation. Tried a bit of handwriting with ChinesePod's Skritter function but i don't have too much time to sit down and actually practice writing so i didn't make too much progress there. But i can feel my vocabulary expanding and i'm definitely getting more comfortable when it comes to listening to intermediate dialogues! 

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Ino75

Good to see people studying here!

I have just finished a 90 day challenge : I did at least 1 hour of Chinese everyday for 3 months, usually I did between 1h30 to 3h a day (videos, reading, speaking). I don't think I have really improve but at least I maintained the level I had when I was in China, which is a good thing. Now I guess I can slow down a little bit and practicing my Chinese in a more relax way!

 

About Chinese TV show, indeed it is not easy to find interesting stuff out there, so I am usually watching Chinese version of foreigner stuff. If some people are interested in anime, I am watching GTO (Japanese anime) in mandarin, it comes with simplified subtitles. This anime is more for teenagers/adults rather than for kids. It is on LeTV.

I am also watching the Chinese version of a Korean TV "real" show (We got married/ We are in love in China) - 我们相爱吧 on Jiangsu TV (it is on Youtube). The season 1 is over and now it's season 2. Personally, I think GTO is quite good for listening, the speed is decent and characters help if you get totally lost. "We are in love" is more real life situations, people have different accents so it is good to deal with accents from Beijing, HK, Taiwan... I find it quite useful.

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艾墨本

This past week was a bit messy but I'm overall happy with my progress since I had such a busy week.

 

Reading

I was able to get through my weekly goal of reading 20 pages in 草房子 but most of that was done in a couple days. The reading went smoothly and I'm appreciating Pleco more and more. I exported the words to Anki and added helpful example sentences pulled from Pleco's dictionaries. I even made use of a few of the words over the weekend, and not the ones I was expecting. Like, just after reading the section on 将一轮's 笛子 I ended up watching a performance where one of the performs showed off their 笛子 skills. @xit, your timing your per-page-time inspired me to do so as well. I realized i'm at about 6-8 pages an hour. You've inspired me to try to increase this as well. I know in English I read about 20 pages an hour, which is often considered slow. So, I'm thinking 10 pages an hour in Chinese is a good aspiration, especially since a page of Chinese tends to be more information than a page of English.

 

Vocabulary

I didn't do as well as I would have liked with regard to my Anki schedule. I only studied 3/7 days and each time I only did the minimum. Actually studying vocabulary seems like it is going to be the hardest part for me. Historically, though, it has also been the most rewarding in that a properly studied word can be used in my daily life. 

 

EdX and Grammar

I'd like to say I didn't have time for this this week, but it'd be more accurate to say that I prioritized watching a few other TV shows (GoT and S.H.I.E.L.D.). I'm finding it's hard to sit down and study EdX after teaching.

 

Writing

I started picking out words during meetings and writing them down just to review how to write them. I listen for words that I can't instantly pull the image into my mind and write it a few times. If I know a words meaning but have forgotten how to write it, I'll also write it down. This has the added benefit of making a two hour long meeting a little more entertaining and rewarding.

 

Listening and TV

I managed stick to my goal of going out with Chinese friends once a week. I ended up going to a friends place and he gave me the tools to practice calligraphy and then we chatted about buddhism and the different levels of religiosity in China (re: Buddhism). TV was less successful this last week. @xit, I checked out the first episode of Ode to Joy. You are right, it is pretty good. I will stand by my opinion that it is hard to find Chinese TV of this calibre. What actually pushed me over the edge was when it appeared in the Sinocism newsletter today. He linked to this article. It's an interesting read. That said, a major reason I struggle finding good Chinese TV is that I find the romance in it to usually be ridiculous and the drama even more so. 

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stapler

Over the last week I've made the following changes to what I'm doing.

 

ChinesePod

 

I'm still always switching between the intermediate and upper intermediate. I realise what my main annoyance is. The intermediate podcasts have the vocabulary I want to learn (every day stuff like office supplies) but there's just way, way, way, too much English. The upper intermediate cuts down on the English, but the topics are so esoteric I feel like I might even have trouble discussing them in English - the technical aspects of photography, styles of Chinese architecture, etc. Ughhhh. There needs to be some kind of level that is all Chinese but with the content/topics at the intermediate level. In the end I think I'll mainly stick to the upper intermediate lessons just to get a decent amount of Chinese input through the conversation - even if I struggle a bit with the dialogues.

 

Radio and TV

 

Yesterday something pretty wonderful happened. I turned on a Chinese radio station and an interview was just starting. The guest was a Taiwanese who moved to Australia (and to my city!) when she was very young and had return to Taiwan to pursue a music career. I understood pretty much everything she said with ease. I think this was because while fluent, her vocabulary was basic and she spoke slower than the hosts. If only there was an "ABC" podcast! Listening to this interview made me even more determined to focus less on reading and developing an "extensive" vocabulary and instead really getting a better handle on the more basic, everyday, language. For example I hear people use 因素 all the time, understand its meaning, but would never use it myself.

 

I watched around 7 episodes of Pokemon but  there's a lot of technical Pokemon vocabulary that's a bit of drag. I've switched over to Doraemon (哆啦A夢). See how it goes. It appears to have a similar kind of vocabulary/complexity without the more technical Pokemon terms.

 

Recording Speech

 

In the last update I mentioned I was going through Glossika. I'm still adding all the sentences but I've massively expanded the scope of what I'm doing. I'm going through my textbooks and writing down all the useful example sentences (particularly sets of sentences that demonstrate how to use a particular verb, adjective, etc) and recording them 5 times over the course of a week or two like the Glossika sentences. Here's an example of the sentences I'm coming from copy of the Practical Chinese Reader:

 

post-57919-0-06318400-1464139433_thumb.jpg

 

There's nothing on this page that I can't understand. My problem is that I would never use say, 堅持 or 加上 in my own speech. My goal is by recording these sentences over and over, and by listening to my recordings, I'll get use to actually using them. It definitely works with Glossika sentences, which are even more basic. So I don't see why it won't with these.

 

Speaking, recording, and listening to my recordings seems to be really effective for ingraining vocabulary and, more importantly, its usage in my mind. In fact I like this so much I'm doing it for the other language I'm learning!

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Flickserve

@stapler

Regarding the chinesepod with too much English, why don't you stick the recordings into audacity and edit out the English? Then export the sound file again with only just the Chinese dialogue....ignore me if it sounds like rubbish...ouch

I have been going at a much slower rate compared to most others on this thread. I have been reviewing a couple of online lessons. Previously I tried to be a bit smoother with delivery and less concerned with my Southern Chinese twang (for want of a better word). It seems that I am perfectly understandable and can hold a simple conversation. This week, I decided to use audacity and Praat again and analyse my tones again comparing to standard mandarin. I rediscovered I still can't get a good first tone making my voice monotonal and the cantonese influence is a bit too frequent for my liking. I haven't played with praat for over a year. This time round though, what is better is my listening skills and this helps my self-correction. Although I can only sometimes hear the wrong tones when I speak, I can pinpoint my own unknowing weaknesses and subsequent corrections faster with praat. I only have done a small number of sentences this week but have achieved a different level of satisfaction. As an example, when I said 今天, the 天 went to a lower pitch. Perhaps this is due to English as a first language, cantonese as a second language and hearing imperfect (but still understandable tones by local HK persons trying to speak Mandarin). In my own practice time, I was able to correct it and have more concious insight into my correction. The next sentence happened to start off with 明天. This, for want of a better description, sounded like a third and neutral tone combo (rather like cantonese) instead of a 2-1 combo. I was pleased about the greater speed where I could identify the fault. And yes, I do know 天 is a first tone but it seems it never comes out like that in a real conversation .....:( Maybe now, I will get it right more often. :)

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stapler

@ flickserve - basically I'm too lazy!

 

minor update: had a really bad day. Tried to listen to some TV - GTO as Ino75 recommended - but it crushed me. Suddenly the huge feeling of "1000's of hours, many years, still can't even understand any kind of TV". It's very demotivating. I'm really starting to doubt you can learn Chinese outside of the country without the constant noise, interaction, etc. it seems like I'll never get enough practice and experience to get a basic level of fluency/communication where I can just enjoy using the language without it turning into a wall of noise. Ugh.

 

Time to have a break until my morale recovers.

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