Chinese Talk / 17

by Julia

I feel like I finally figured out what I wanted to be concentrating on in terms of Chinese study activities.

My No. 1 problem was that, whathever I chose to do, I felt I wasn’t progressig. I started studying grammar and see I didn’t practice enough – mostly because I still don’t know enough vocabulary to make intelligent sentences. So I started reading texts in order to expand my vocab, but I was having a hard time asI barely knew many of the characters. I was practically chasing my own tail.

I know I cannot focus on everything at the same time, but I couldn’t find a way of concentrate on something without feeling the urge of filling also all the other other gaps.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it looks like I found the balance I was looking for. Until the next crisis of course.

My current routine consists of 3 steps:

  1. bus/commute time = I listen to HSK audio tests on my iPod touch. Listening is definitely my weakest point in any language [yes, even worse than speaking] and it takes hours/days/months for me to become reasonably familiar with the sound of the language. Just to make it clear, I’m supposed to be an upper intermediate learner and I’m struggling to understand HSK2 audio .___. Yes I could complain about the lack of listening practice in the Chinese classes I attended but it would be pointless so I won’t. Plus I know I’m dull when it comes to listening skills. Considering that I would like to take HSK3 next year (ah!) tons and tons of listening practice will be required. I surely cannot submit the application and then start practicing listening a couple of week before the exams. I know that to feel enough confident I need to start months ahead so here I am. Practicing.
  2. luchtime = Remembering Simplified Hanzi + anki. I usually eat my homemade bento by myself when at work [thankfully, I’m not much of a smalltalk lover], and considering that in the basement where the canteen is there’s no phone signal I cannot watch planner related video during my lunch break – hence the study session. Having the book in pdf format is *extremely* convenient, I’d definitely wouldn’t be able to carry it with me back and forth every day. I just use my iPad for both reading it and testing myself with anki after every study session. I feel like I really need to increase my character knowledge before everything else, I seriously cannot handle learning grammar and vocab and characters everything at the same time. I’ll talk about this in the upcoming posts.
  3. nighttime = vocab study. If I don’t know enough vocabulary, I cannot read. And I cannot make sentences to exercise grammar patterns. And I cannot understand dialogues and audio files. I practically cannot do anything without vocabulary. I know that many advise against mere rote memorization but honestly learning words by context is not something you can always do if your grammar knowledge is not advanced enough. I found that I wasted a lot of time trying to understand the meaning of the example sentences I was using to learn new words so I just gave up on it. On the wake of prepping for HSK I found a deck on anki which should have all the vocabulary up to level 4. It’s very complete – it has the word [characters and pinyin], image, audio of the pronunciation, example sentence, audio of the example sentence, meaning of the word and example sentence, dictionary entries of the characters forming the word. If the example sentence is easy I’ll use it to remember the new word, if I find there are other words I don’t know I’ll just stick to the new vocabulary and leave it for later on. Learning vocabulary increases my listening skills and learning characters increases the ability of memorizing new vocabulary. Easy, uh?

I know this system could be considered a sort drawback. I’m not really learning the language, only bits of it – I’m basically still not able to communicate. But I don’t consider it wasted time. My memory works at a very slow pace and I don’t really see to point to overdo it when I know I simply can’t handle it. So yes, for now, I can say: I’m happy of my study.


Drama status. This weekend I had a full immersion of The Good Wife Korean version – and honestly I’m kind of loving it. I’ve been watching season 2 of the original series recently, so having a look at the Korean version has been quite interesting. I love the characters and the slighly darker feeling of the drama. I watched 8 episodes in 3 days (uh) which is basically half season, I’m curious to see how it’s gonna end because I can feel it would take a different turn from the original story.