Chinese talk / 2

by Julia

In the last few days I’ve been reflecting a little about my course of study in Chinese and I’ve realised I need to push it more. Since I’ve engaged into my anki monthly challenge I’ve been focusing too much on it, devoting my time almost entirely to review my vocab. Well, I don’t think I’m gonna go anywhere this way.

Spaced repetition systems are useful not to forget certain words you don’t come across very often but that is good to remember anyway. At least, this is the way it works for me. For example, I was watching a drama yesterday [The fierce wife] and someone said something like ‘your work makes me feel very jealous’ and in the middle of a phrase like this I could at least catch the word 嫉妒 – a word I’ve been repeating over and over with anki and that I would surely have forgotten otherwise. So, in this regard, anki is nice.

On the other hand, my level of language is not gonna improve of one bit if I keep overlooking grammar. I said I wanted to review all lessons we covered in my Chinese class but I’ve stopped right after a few weeks the course was over. I guess my problem is the fact that I generally don’t like textbooks. This is something I inherited from my Japanese studies – they made us use textbooks from the 80s and then my Japanese friends just laughed at certain expression I learned in the books. So yes, I’ve learned to distrust textbooks to a certain degree. But I also know I cannot deny their importance.

I know context is essential. It’s perfectly useless to know how to say ‘jealous’ if I’m not able to make any sentence with it, and that’s what a textbook is for. I prefer to split the process of learning vocab and grammar because it’s just too much for my brain to handle at once, but then when I begin getting familiar with the words I have to deepen the knowledge through grammar points and dialogues.

It’s not easy because when I’m home I get sucked down by the study for my board exam [13 October, brrrrr] and anki is just an easier and quicker activity to carry on, but I don’t want my Chinese to remain at this [crappy] level forever. I knew that self-study was not going to be easy so I have to be really committed now. Time to roll my sleeves up!