Chinese talk / 4

by Julia

I’ve finally managed to get a week with less work and I have all the intention of using my new spare time for enhancing my Chinese study.  I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that you can’t become proficient in a language if you don’t put a considerable amout of study hours during your week. That’s discovering hot water, I know.

But actually more than that I’m realizing the importance of putting in hours of good quality study, together with a clear and detailed plan not just of what but also and more importantly of how you’re going to approach the language. And this is pretty obvious too, but you know, it kinda takes time to feel things on your own skin.

Especially now that I’ve embarked on the self-taught language journey I simply can’t wander around using different kind of sources without an aim or a purpose, because seriously, this is just wasting time. So yes, I need a plan and I need to start being more proactive.

So now I’m going to grab my textbook back and start again following that path – it may not be the best textbook out there but it’s not that bad either, and at least it has a pretty clear internal structure that I can follow in this first phase of study. As I said before I know that there are a lot of resources (and very often good ones) that you can find for free on the internet, but I already have the experience with Japanese in this regard and I seriously don’t wanna go down that road again. Many resources are definitely a good thing, but 1) they can become overwhelming 2) they can scatter your effort among too many different pieces leaving the feeling of a non-consolidate type of study. So for now I’ll rely on the few tools I already have.

The goal for this week is to be able to put in at least 2h of study for every day that I’m at home [which is, 4 days this week]. I know that most people say it’s better to do a little every day but honestly the days I’m at work are not really the best for me to engange in study time, and I’m finding very little productive the 10 minutes of anki that I do in my morning commute. Of course if I can keep up with that too it won’t do any harm [quite the contrary], but in 30 minutes a day I cannot reach the necessary concentration to really retain new words and grammar points. Plus I’m not going to study for 2h in a row anyway.

So here’s what I’m planning to do:

  • About 1,5h of grammar study, broken down into several different activities
    • reading the dialogue at the beginning of the unit [out loud]
    • listening to the CD
    • identify the set phrases in the dilogue and learn them by heart
    • do the translation excercise of the unit
    • do every other exercise that I find useful in the unit
    • post my work on Lang8 to get feedback
  • About 30 minutes of oral exercise with Chinese Class 101 lessons [again, repeating out loud is essential]

I know that my major weakness in every language is the oral part [both listening and speaking] so I’m doing my best to be brave and exit my comfort zone made of just grammar and hanzi. I’m actually completely putting of my characters study – I try to remember how they are read but not to memorize how to write them down. Let’s see how this system works!