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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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  • 2 weeks later...
BearXiong

Here's my almost-half-year update.

 

1) Have 150 hours worth of voice calls on HelloTalk.

I've done 126.8 hours as of today. Logging hours and making this goal has motivated me to spend more time on this than I would've otherwise. Lesson learnt: log hours to track progress and keep motivated!

 

2) Learn 4 new words per day in Anki.

I bumped it up to 5 and have stuck with it. One thing I learnt is that in the past I was too conservative with my Anki answers, i.e. tapping 'hard' when I should've tapped 'good'. By being more aggressive with my answers I can learn more in less time with little impact on learning quality. 

 

3) Go through 500 new characters in my Anki deck.

Done! I've now gone through 4000 characters in my Anki deck which I'm super happy about. I know the 3000 character figure gets brought up a lot but I can honestly say there's a pretty big drop in unknown characters encountered while reading when going from 3000 characters to 4000 characters.

 

I watched 10 minutes of 御赐小仵作 (ep 14, 25-30min) and encountered six characters not in my deck: 驸瑾栾黔稷觑. The first four appeared in names and by the 14th episode I already knew their pronunciations without putting in conscious effort. I asked one native speaker and they knew all 6 characters. All in all, there's still many characters to learn to get to native-level character recognition but I'm happy with this small milestone nonetheless 😁

 

4) Watch at least one episode of some TV show a day.

I've missed a few days here and there but I also binge watched some days so I guess it balances out.

 

Edit: Coincidentally, 觑 turned out to be the 4003th character in my character deck (my character deck is premade based on weighting various frequency lists).

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  • 3 weeks later...
calculatrix

So, now half of the year has passed. Time for a review.
 

On 1/12/2021 at 10:06 AM, calculatrix said:

Finish the last three weeks of "Chinese for HSK2"

Done

On 1/12/2021 at 10:06 AM, calculatrix said:

reward myself with a good Chinese grammar book

Bought. Read. Twice.

I like grammar.

 

Then I tried to work with Heisigs book. But it did not work for me. Absolutely not. Maybe I will give an analysis in an other thread.

Then I bought "Discover China" volume 2, did the first four lessons and gave up.

The reasons for that are quite silly and trivial:

First, the book is (as its title says) too much focused on travelling through China, which made me grumpy. We have a pandemic and travelling is impossible. So all these dialoges about  "in the taxi" "at the reception" "the terracotta army" feel so strangely theoretical.

Second, the pages are too glossy. When I used a higlighter to mark text I always got colored fingers. That also made me grumpy.

 

Then, in another thread in this forum @somethingfunny and @mungouk tought me a bit about effective learning techniques and pointed to the HSK Standard Course series.

So I tried the HSK3 Standard Course book, and that is great.  Well structured. 

I first created three sets of Anki Cards (took me three days):

One set with words. These I learn in both directions, from and to Chinese, and writing. To see the words in context I also have all sentences containing the respective word on the back side.

One set with all sentences, here I only learn from Chinese to pronounciation and translation

One set with charaters on the front and all words containing the character on the back side. Here I try to remember as many words as possible for the character.

That works. Currently I am pre-learning the words of lesson 15, have read and worked through the grammar of lesson 13, and have done all the exercises up to lesson 7 (ok here I am a bit lazy. Maybe next weekend I will do more 🤨).

 

I also rewarded me with some graded texts: The rainbow bridge starter bundle for Pleco. I like the stories. I do only read them. No learning of words, no exercises. They are the cherry on my cake which I do for fun and not for learning.  

 

I still have no plan, what to do, when I have finished the book.

Maybe the Coursera-Mooc for HSK3 to solidify everything.

Maybe a second grammar book (it's always good to have a second opinion).

Maybe a real life course. Post-Covid.

I think, even when the pandemic is over, I will try to find time to continue learning Chinese.

It is sometimes hard, often boring, but so much fun.

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Tomsima
7 hours ago, calculatrix said:

Then I tried to work with Heisigs book. But it did not work for me.

 

Always a good reminder how different people find success and failure in learning in such different ways. I absolutely thrived on Heisig, finished both books and continue to use the method for new characters to this day!

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Jan Finster
8 hours ago, calculatrix said:

Maybe I will give an analysis in an other thread.

Please do!

 

8 hours ago, calculatrix said:

Then I bought "Discover China" volume 2, did the first four lessons and gave up.

The reasons for that are quite silly and trivial:

First, the book is (as its title says) too much focused on travelling through China, which made me grumpy. We have a pandemic and travelling is impossible. So all these dialoges about  "in the taxi" "at the reception" "the terracotta army" feel so strangely theoretical.

Second, the pages are too glossy. When I used a higlighter to mark text I always got colored fingers. That also made me grumpy.

 

I know you did not mean to, but this had me rolling on the floor 🤣

I can totally see how "traveling to China" must feel like reading "how to survive quicksand". Not something we will have to worry about for a while...

 

8 hours ago, calculatrix said:

It is sometimes hard, often boring, but so much fun.

True words!

 

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