Chinese talk / 6

by Julia

I’m troubled. [In a very John Cage way].

After years of language learning, I’m still not sure on how to approach a certain kind of vocabulary study.

In my current textbook [as in almost everyone I believe] there is a vocab list at the beginning of every new unit. They provide the pīnyīn, the 汉子, the Italian translation and a couple of examples of use for each idiom.

Some of these examples (very often they’re not even example sentences, just very essential expressions) don’t add really anything to what I can already grasp from the dialogue, others are actually useful and I would like to remember and review them.


I already transfer pretty much all the new words from each unit into my Anki deck, together with a few sentences from the dialogue that I consider idiomatic or useful to remember in any case. I don’t really want to spend all my time writing up phrases in Anki, it would become too much time consuming.

The paper lover that is in me of course is screaming at the top of her lungs ‘get a damn Chinese notebook!’. I’ve tried to avoid this since I’ve started selfstudying – don’t get me wrong, I *love* using notebooks and jotting down words and example sentences. I actually have a lexical notebook that I’m using to exapand the knowledge on the different topics I find in every new unit. I’m not much inclined to start a new notebook because I’ve done this before and I’ve seen that for the sake of memorization, spaced repetition systems are way better for me.

At the same time, I actually don’t feel the urge of learning by heart these few expressions – I would just like to review them from time to time to have a little extra insight. So in this regard, a paper notebook should work fine.

I’ve also been wondering whether to make a list of the different measure words I’ve found with their different use [ex. 一本书,一本画报,一本杂志 etc.], but here too, I dunno. I’ve been trapped in the list-making obsession way too many times with Japanese and none of these experiments have gone well. I’m not very keen at the idea of embarking in the umpteenth destined-to-fail project that would only lead me to waste time (and paper). I should have learned by now that if something hasn’t worked in the past, there are really few chances it will now. Still.

I’m disappointed by my inability of being enable to foresee whether these projects would work or not, and I’m frustrated because I really don’t know what I should do about this.