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The 2021 Aims and Objectives Progress Topic


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Woodford

With the year about 1/3 over, I have read a couple of books and have reached over 16,000 total vocabulary flash cards. My ambitious goal for 2021 was to go from 15,000 to 20,000 words, but even if I get halfway there (17,500), I'll be thrilled. My SRS flash card review is about 175 per day (rather painful), and I feel like the return on my investment is diminishing--the better I get at reading, the more slowly I improve.

 

I feel like my listening skills are starting to mature, so I have a strong urge to lay aside reading for the summer months of June - August, stop adding to my SRS cards (which will dramatically reduce my daily review quota, perhaps from 175 to 80 or less), and spend my study time just listening. I imagine I'll be using YouTube, and I'll have a routine like the following each day:

 

1. Listen to a new 15-minute segment of audio without Chinese subtitles, then again with subtitles, then again without them

2. Listen to yesterday's 15-minute segment, first with subtitles, then without them

3. Listen to the 15-minute segment from two days ago, without subtitles only

 

The whole process will take 90 minutes, which replaces the 90 minutes of reading time I have now.

 

By September, I hope I'll have a greater ability to casually listen to Chinese podcasts as I go about my day, and I hope to start reading again with my eleventh book (Qian Zhongshu's "Fortress Besieged," which I expect to be somewhat challenging).

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imron
12 hours ago, Woodford said:

My SRS flash card review is about 175 per day (rather painful), and I feel like the return on my investment is diminishing

If SRS reviews are painful and you are reading regularly, you might as well just delete your deck.  There will be little-to-no negative impact, and significant positive impact.  See here for the reasoning.

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Woodford
4 hours ago, imron said:

If SRS reviews are painful and you are reading regularly, you might as well just delete your deck.  There will be little-to-no negative impact, and significant positive impact.

 

It's indeed something I've thought about a lot! When I was less mature in my Chinese study, I tried learning all 5000 HSK words in a year using SRS, with four different Pleco score files (writing, listening, reading, speaking). Of course, I've since learned that there's nothing magical about HSK vocabulary lists, and my time would have been better spent elsewhere (for a certain stretch of time, I had 800-1000 SRS repetitions a day!). Now, two and a half years later, those cards are almost depleted. It's just a 15-minute-a-day review.

 

My other word list has 11,000 additional words I got out of books. Some of them are quite obscure, antiquated, barely have an entry in any of the Pleco dictionaries, or (and this is a funny thing I've encountered) represent words that I don't even know in my native English language (one fun example is "isotropy," 各向同性). When I read English, I don't often bother looking up words I don't already know. But when learning a foreign language, I feel obligated to do so. Ironically, my Chinese vocabulary might outpace my English vocabulary someday.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Woodford

I have now undergone the first week of intensive listening practice (90+ minutes a day) with Chinese YouTube videos, and...wow. A bit more work than I thought. A lot of new vocabulary, topics, accents, and speaking styles. I can almost never follow along with a speaker until I replay the video with the help of 字幕 (though sometimes I can understand large chunks, and that keeps me going). I guess it also provides me with the opportunity for reading practice (speed-reading practice, no less)! New vocabulary piles up in a queue, and I only introduce it to my SRS review at about a rate of 14 cards per day (i.e., about 5000 a year) to keep things from getting out of control. My eventual goal is to not need captions and to not need to review things over and over, but it does feel good when I learn the words and watch the video for the third/fourth/fifth time (and I can now understand it). That's when I feel that sense of "immersion." And it's delightful and strange.

 

A friend from Tianjin suggested that I watch the 中国通史 series, warning me that "it might be hard." He wasn't kidding! So many historical terms, and so much lavish narration filled with chengyu. At least the speaking is slow, crisp, and clear.

 

I don't entertain any super high hopes (I've come to learn that learning Chinese is a slow, long-term endeavor), but I hope that little by little, the spoken language will become clear to me. 

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alantin

I didn't make official new year's resolutions in the beginning of the year but intensifying my Chinese study ended up as a goal for the year. I've increased my one chatting practice with tutors from about 2 per week to 5 to 6 week and I also committed to doing at least 10 minutes reading, 10 minutes listening and at least some writing everyday. I have also changed two of those sessions with tutors to HSK5 grammar study with the tutor. Before I haven't really studied any grammar patterns and instead trusted on only picking them up naturally. It has been working well but I find that after going over a few new grammar pattern a week with a tutor, I'll suddenly see and hear them all around me.

 

I have kept these habits up for about a month now and it feels to me like they are working well to help me get more natural at using the language. Especially chatting over WeChat is getting easier and easier and I can now have all of my sessions with the tutors completely in Mandarin without resorting to English. I have very little trouble understanding my tutors even though they have very different approaches to how speak to me. One obviously considers what words to use in order to keep new words to a comfortable amount while others just seem to speak like to any friend and don't seem to be trying to dial down difficulty. However understanding youtube videos or television shows or movies is still impossible for me without stopping to read the subtitles.

 

The 10 minutes rule is also working wonders. I now tend to listen to at least an hour or two and read for 15 minutes or more. I'm going to keep these targets at least for the foreseeable future and keep to the 5 to 6 chat sessions for at least the next two months and maybe dial them down again in September after holidays. I expect to be a lot more conversational by then.

As a goal to strive for, passing HSKv3 band 4 or band 5 next spring would be awesome. Currently getting passing scores in HSK5 but need to increase my reading speed to be able to read everything in the test within the given time.

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imron
9 hours ago, alantin said:

The 10 minutes rule is also working wonders.

Habit beats motivation!

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Tomsima

My goal for this year is to reach a shorthand writing speed of 150 words/minute. The skill is indirectly related to Chinese in that I use it in C-E interpreting (which I am still bad at, but seem to be slowly improving). 

 

Coming up to halfway through the year and I'm currently writing at about 70-80wpm. Getting over 100wpm is proving to be some serious psychological barrier. Happy to say I now mentally see the English shorthand symbols for many common words/concepts when they are said aloud in Chinese, as an automatic response similar to how you might see characters or words as they are spoken. A great feeling!

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imron
17 hours ago, Tomsima said:

as an automatic response similar to how you might see characters or words as they are spoken.

Glad I'm not the only one who does this.

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