Walhallavagen

Just an ordinary girl's life

Tag: chinese routine

Chinese Full Immersion: Weekend 1

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I usually have a lot of ideas for my language learning studies, but I often fail at following up with them [reason No. 1 is the ‘this idea is so good, I want to wait for the perfect moment to apply it’ kind of mind-frame]. Can anyone relate?

Well, I’m happy to say that, for once, I did follow up and actually put into practice one of those project. So, this past weekend I finally experienced my first Chinese full immersion study session.

What is a CFI?

This is surely not my original idea. I think the first time I came across the concept of full immersion in language learning has been by reading Khatsumoto’s blog, but honestly I don’t think it’s his original idea either.

While I don’t think that full immersion with books, anime, dramas, comics etc can substitute more structured forms of learning (like textbooks), I do think that being surrounded by different mediums and tools in the target language can be extremely beneficial – and I also think it’s something I’ve definitely not been doing enough as of lately.

Basically, CSI for me means two things:
1. dedicate an insanely amount of hours to study my target language over a pretty short period of time
2. use a great variety of resources (like those above-mentioned)

What did I use for CFI?

I think the kind of resources I use will vary with time [also to keep things a little more interesting/challenging], but in this particular session I used a combination of what I’ve been doing regularly in the last couple of weeks and a few new stuff.

My regular resources:

  • Duolingo – I’ve talked about it several times (flaws and glitches included) so I don’t need to go into much details here; it’s my very basic source of vocabulary/sentence pattern, plus a low level listening practice (basically, getting used to tones and inflections)
  • Learn Chinese 888 – They have a youtube channel and also a website with the dialogues transcripts; I use this resource as listening practice (obviously) as well as for vocabulary and sentence pattern
  • Remembering Simplified Hanzi – this is the system I personally use for characters review, but it’s not the only nor surely the best one; I’d say that it’s pretty similar to a radicals-based learning system, and the two pretty much go hand in hand

Ad hoc resources I used for CFI:

  • Chinese Grammar Wiki – this is a staple in my learning routine, though not something I would refer to everyday. I think a good grammar immersion is very helpful in boosting my confidence with the language, so I thought it was something worth using during my project.
  • Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Dictionary – I’m usually not a huge fan of this kind of ‘thematic’ photographic dictionaries, but I think that their value mostly depend on how you use them. I picked up this one at the library and I thought to give it a try. I’ll review it separately, but for now I can say that I’ve enjoyed broadening my vocabulary in certain specific sectors of interest (like skincare and makeup).

I also wanted to make use of my Netflix subscription and watch On the Children with subtitles but in the end I didn’t have the time to do so. I’ll save it for the next round!

How did I like this experience?

I honestly enjoyed myself immensely. Though I was motivated to do this, I also expected to have to push myself to a certain extent – but it turned out I really really wanted to sit down and study Chinese so that wasn’t even necessary. I appreciated the opportunity to use different kind of resources and different mediums, and instead of feeling like my study was all over the place I had the impression it was actually all coming together. So overall was a really pleasant and rewarding experience.

Notes for Next Time

Because, yes, there definitely will be a next time! First of all, I realised that, even if you have 2 entire days at your complete disposal, there is a lot of time you can’t actually dedicate to study – even if you want to. Basically, life has this very bad habit of getting in the way 😝 So, yes, I need to be realistic about how much I can get done without being disappointed by the fact that no, I can’t study for 12 hours straight.

Another thing to take into consideration, though it may sound funny, it’s the weather. This past weekend I knew that the plus one had to do some work from home, so we didn’t have anything specific planned; plus for once the weather decided to cooperate (when for some reason we can’t go out much during the weekend there’s usually a blistering sun -.-), and it actually decided to rain for two consecutive days 😏 this gave me the perfect motivation to grab my blanket-and-tea combo and get down to study!

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We are now pretty close to the end of August and I can feel the taste of fall in the air already. Autumn and winter here in the north of Europe mean a lot of long, dark, cold days – perfect for hot chocolate AND full immersion language learning sessions 😎 I haven’t scheduled my next one yet, but if it keeps raining like this I fathom it will be pretty soon!

 

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Kickstarting Spring: current study workflow

Not that I can call the current weather exactly spring tbh (we’re expecting snow tonight – AGAIN), but yes, even if I keep wearing the same clothes I’ve actually been wearing for the last seven months, I can still feel the change in the air. Plus we have so many hours of light during the day now that loafing about in blankets and darkness is not an option anymore.

Since last week I’ve been working hard on my Chinese study routine, polishing and refining my workflow and the kind of resources I want to use at the moment. I know that if I want to successfully handle HSK3 I need to broaden and deepen my knowledge at 360 degrees – studying just for the test is not going to work anymore.

So I’ll just leave all HSK3-related resources (apart from listening tracks) for the last stage of the review process while I try to delve into vocabulary and grammar.

I’m following a pretty easy, quick and (for the moment) effective workflow:

  1. vocab/ grammar practice on Duolingo with notes. I talked about how I’ve changed my approach to that app in my previous post, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. I listen to the audio, jot down any vocab / grammar pattern / characters that I want to focus on, and then constantly review previous materials to keep my memory fresh.
  2. listening practice with ChineseClass101 on youtube with notes. I discovered that CC101 has a YT channel with some interesting resources – specifically, long audio tracks divided by levels in which you listen to a dialogue first and then pick up the right answer among the pictures you see on the screen (example here). My listening skills are still pretty low but I’m working really hard on them right now.

As I said in my previous post, I have to avoid focusing too much on keeping on always the same routine. I think for the kind of study sessions that I have the ideal would be one week of focus on grammar and vocab (plus listening), followed by a week of focus on reading (plus listening). I was reading an article about the importance of continuous input this morning, and I was considering starting using LingQ for my combined reading and listening practice. Anyone who has used the app and has some thoughts about it?

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On a totally random note, yesterday I finished reading the third book of the Bitterbynde saga which brings me to exactly ten books finished since January. I know that compared to the reading pace of many book-lovers out there it sounds almost ridiculous, but for me is a pretty good achievement. Even more so since I’ve actually enjoyed all the books I’ve read this year!

I’m also on episode 15/16 of Hello Monster/I remember you, which means I’m preparing myself to be on mourning once I’ve finished watching it. Can I just list one more time all the things that make this K drama absolutely amazing?

  1. plot
  2. OST
  3. character development
  4. mental thriller vibes
  5. character interactions
  6. strong female lead
  7. AMAZING bromance
  8. mystery and suspance
  9. a sense of ‘reality is more complex than just black and white’
  10. casting
  11. EXO references
  12. and I could go on and on

I need to watch more crime and psychological thriller-style dramas. As usual any recommendation would be more than welcome.

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On another random note, I would like to do some spring cleaning and decluttering but since I know I’ll live in this place for just another 4 months I’ve lost all motivation ._.

Anyway, I just had a peach and lime 150 gr yogurt (is it yogurt or yoghurt in English?) pot as you can’t truly have spring without some peachy flavour in your life!

 

Weather: (kind of) sunny
Listening to: Spaceinvader – Acceleration
Drinking: Starbucks peach iced green tea
Currently reading: City of Fallen Angels (Shadowhunters 4)