Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Jan Finster

2020 COVID-19 and studying Chinese: curse or blessing?

Recommended Posts

Jan Finster

I have followed the stories of several users on this forum during 2020. I know some moved from China back to their home countries. Others could not start their degrees. Yet others may have lost their motivation to learn Chinese altogether...

Personally, I planned to go to Taiwan for another couple of weeks to self-study Chinese and I had several seminars scheduled in mainland China. On the other hand, since I could not travel and I did not need to prepare any seminars, I had quite a lot of spare time to study Chinese. As I outlined in my "Goals of 2020" thread, I am not happy with my progress, but I wonder if my progress would have been worse without COVID!? 

 

What is your personal take on this? Looking back, what was the impact of the pandemic on your Chinese learning journey?

  • Like 1
  • Good question! 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Singe

I guess the answers to this will be variable but 2020 was the best year for my study for a long time. The first time I was able to step back from the rat race for a while and do something I've been wanting to for years. Life has been so full on with work, family etc but now there are no kids at home we are both able to spend time on things we love and are passionate about. Lockdown enabled me to get a plan together. In fact, although I'm pleased we managed to get to grips with COVID early in the piece down here, unfortunately when I got back to work in May, it disrupted my Chinese study again. (I only say that tongue in cheek as I am acutely aware of the stress many of you must be under right now with the disruption you are all having to your plans and life in general).

 

Anyway, today I have my first online lesson, in about 3 hours. Actually a little nervous, which is ridiculous, but very much looking forward to it. The whole process of study is so different than it was when I first started. Blimey, when I started Chinese study, there were no forums like this around and certainly no ability to do online tuition.

 

So, all in all, even though lockdown was short, it's had a snowball effect for me and I now really have some momentum.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tomsima

I'm certainly very 'results-driven' in my study, if that makes sense, so as soon as I realised I wasnt going to be able to get back to China for a while I really started losing motivation to push up my specialist vocab. That being said I've read a lot more Chinese books than ever before in the last year, but that was more just for relaxation than study. I did manage to pick up an old goal though - shorthand - which requires a significant time and energy input to get over the early steep learning curve over the first few months. I'm now pretty good and reading books written in shorthand, but there's no way I'd have had the time without covid and all the endless lockdowns, so thats been a great silver lining.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
杰.克

The Chinese language students of the university that I work at have been negatively impacted. All were forced to return to the UK from their year abroad in China around March 2020, and don't look like they will be allowed to go back any time soon. Plus they are all still paying the average UK university tuitions fees, which is high. They still receive tuition online, but it cannot compare to the experience of living and learning abroad. I feel very very sorry for them. International students across the world have had a gut-wrenching 2020. 

 

Personally I can't say it has had any impact on my Chinese studies, I have continued at a steady pace. I did however manage to convince a family member to start Chinese classes. Id been working on them for some time, and the pause that lockdown offered gave the perfect opportunity. Suffice to say the family member is utterly loving it, and has thrown themselves into learning with a gusto I envy!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Balthazar

A large amount of the little time I have dedicated to studying Chinese over the last 2-3 years has been utilized on my commute to/from work (listening to audio while walking, reading short TCB articles or other random content and reviewing flash cards while on the bus). I have been surprised to see how tightly these routines have been connected to the activity of commuting (it's not like I couldn't still do exactly the same things during the same time at home). I have done a poor job of replacing these routines with new ones, but have recently made it a priority to do so (e.g. read one article while drinking my morning tea, one article after lunch).

 

On the other hand, my evening reading has been maintained and I've watched a lot more of Chinese TV than I did previously.

 

Overall for me: The jury is still out.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
amytheorangutan

Working from home definitely has a positive impact on my Chinese progress. I have more time now I can dedicate to Chinese and other things I enjoy doing that used to be taken up by commuting to and from work. And because I don’t have to commute to work I don’t feel as tired after work and can read or listen to Chinese contents whereas before Covid I would be too annoyed mentally from being piled up like sardines on the tube for 50 minutes to do anything productive after work. During Covid I consistently manage to squeeze in almost 2 hours of Chinese into my daily routine listening to podcast/audiobook/chinesepod, reading graded readers and native materials, skritter reviews, working on my pronunciation etc. Before Covid a great day would be if I can motivate myself to put in 30-40 mins of half ass attempt.
 

While my speaking is still lagging behind, in term of listening and reading I definitely can see improvements. In 2019 I struggled to understand Upper Intermediate Chinesepod lessons and now I can understand quite well their Advance lessons and when I listen to native content podcasts as long as the topic is not specialised or too formal, I generally understand quite a lot of what’s going on. Reading native contents is still a bit of a struggle, my comprehension is generally at 91-92% but definitely an improvement from 2019 when I only read graded readers. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jiaojiao87

I am currently remotely attending a Chinese Program at Tsinghua University.  I've wanted to attend something like this for a long time, but because I'm already way past grad school, have a job and a family, and Chinese is nothing more than a hobby, there is no way I would have the opportunity to live in China and attend one of these programs.  Sure, I'm super busy; I work all day and study/attend class all night, but at least I'm able to attend.

 

The silver lining of Covid for me has been that it has forced these programs to consider remote offerings, allowing people like me (hobbyists with unrelated careers) an opportunity to participate.  I'm sure the impact on actual students has been quite negative, though.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Takeshi

Wow, I'm surprised people are saying it's a blessing. I guess it depends on your study style.

 

For me, it's definitely a curse. I'm not a really self-sufficient studier (I don't "study" languages in general), and I really rely on my environment/everyday life to naturally get the language exposure I need. But in the covid world my "environment" I created where I used Chinese has been breaking apart.

 

I used to go to Mainland China very often, and now I'm unable to do that. But besides from that I barely leave the house now, and pretty much never talk to people (in any language actually); I spend most of my day using Japanese more than anything else, and I can clearly feel my Chinese is slowly deteriorating (especially spoken). I still read/watch the news in Chinese, and occasionally read novels or watch dramas, but I'm just not as interested in Chinese content really. Sometimes (like once every couple of months) I have online nomikai with friends and stuff, but it doesn't help that it's harder to catch things over teleconferencing software artifacts as compared to real life, so I find I'm more nervous and not as proficient a speaker in these situations (add in all the messiness of people butting in over each other's speech because you don't get the paralinguistic cues as clearly as well).

 

Maybe I need to use more Tiktok and Weibo.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg
On 1/5/2021 at 2:07 PM, Jan Finster said:

What is your personal take on this? Looking back, what was the impact of the pandemic on your Chinese learning journey?

 

It killed my journey dead in its tracks. My reason for learning Chinese was to live in China on a more or less native footing. To be able to do Chinese things in a Chinese way.; to enjoy what life in China had to offer. That is impossible now and in the short-term future. 

 

When I arrived back in the US a year ago, I naively thought it was just for a few months. But the pandemic has gotten progressively worse and the US has not favorably distinguished itself. That failure and the increasing general anti-China sentiment here will likely combine to put the US at the end of the queue when the doors of China do eventually open later this year or the next.  

 

I've managed to put in a little effort reading the news in Chinese and occasionally watching a Chinese movie or TV show. But it is a struggle. My heart isn't in it. I was in love with China for many years; but the affair has just about ended. 

 

It would probably be smarter to adopt an optimistic "long view" and hunt up conversation partners on line and read novels and so on to try and keep the language skills alive. But at this point I would have to beat myself with a stick to actually carry out that sort of plan.

 

Pretty sure my China days are over and the language is part and parcel of that. It has been a fun adventure, but it's finished. Goodbye 中国 and goodbye 中文。

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jan Finster
2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

It killed my journey dead in its tracks. My reason for learning Chinese was to live in China on a more or less native footing. To be able to do Chinese things in a Chinese way.; to enjoy what life in China had to offer. That is impossible now and in the short-term future. 

 

When I arrived back in the US a year ago, I naively thought it was just for a few months. But the pandemic has gotten progressively worse and the US has not favorably distinguished itself. That failure and the increasing general anti-China sentiment here will likely combine to put the US at the end of the queue when the doors of China do eventually open later this year or the next.  

 

I've managed to put in a little effort reading the news in Chinese and occasionally watching a Chinese movie or TV show. But it is a struggle. My heart isn't in it. I was in love with China for many years; but the affair has just about ended. 

 

It would probably be smarter to adopt an optimistic "long view" and hunt up conversation partners on line and read novels and so on to try and keep the language skills alive. But at this point I would have to beat myself with a stick to actually carry out that sort of plan.

 

Pretty sure my China days are over and the language is part and parcel of that. It has been a fun adventure, but it's finished. Goodbye 中国 and goodbye 中文。

 

Thank you for sharing this. I have followed your posts for a while and I am shocked and saddened to read this. I do not want to "artificially" cheer you up, but lets see what the future holds.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve
9 hours ago, abcdefg said:

When I arrived back in the US a year ago, I naively thought it was just for a few months. But the pandemic has gotten progressively worse and the US has not favorably distinguished itself.


naive? I think nobody could have predicted how poor the US response has been. Dare I say crime against humanity by the leader? 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PerpetualChange
10 hours ago, abcdefg said:

When I arrived back in the US a year ago, I naively thought it was just for a few months. But the pandemic has gotten progressively worse and the US has not favorably distinguished itself. That failure and the increasing general anti-China sentiment here will likely combine to put the US at the end of the queue when the doors of China do eventually open later this year or the next.  

 

I've managed to put in a little effort reading the news in Chinese and occasionally watching a Chinese movie or TV show. But it is a struggle. My heart isn't in it. I was in love with China for many years; but the affair has just about ended. 

 

This is similar to my experience, but I have been back several years and the plan to go back someday was a longer-term proposition. But, yes, it's hard to articulate. Ever since I moved back and got a job with a company that has nothing to do with China, there's been sort of a dread of futility around where my life was taking my and whether there was any place for my former sinology life in my future. Over the last year, that dread has become the main focus. Over the last 6 months, the thought to just quit all together and forget about it has entered my mind on a regular basis. I'm not sure why this is, but the distance between the two cultures and the increasing unwillingness to work together has just gotten worse, and even though I find that very regrettable it affects my motivation.

 

In terms of increasing my study time because of the lack of other things to do under covid, I thought that would be the case, but it was not in the end. As it turns out, even getting a couple hours back each day from my commute and other things I would be doing otherwise did not mean that I suddenly had a lot more time for paying attention to studying. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...