Weekly Update #1

My first weekly report. I think it’s best if I list what I’ve been learning and where from, as well as for how long so I can keep a rough running total of my time invested in learning Mandarin.

From my earlier post about my current level in Mandarin, the total was around 400 hours. I’ve decided not to include the time it takes for me to do technical things such as create Anki cards, check my grammar book, or look up characters on my phone, though this probably adds up to a few hours over 7 days.

So here’s what I did this week.

New Practical Chinese Reader 2


I bit the bullet and opted to get the second in the series of this textbook that many consider to be one of the best series for self-studying Chinese.

I knew before I bought it that there was no pinyin for the dialogues from the second book onwards so it would be a real test of my reading ability.

Well I’m happy to report that I can read about 90% of the characters thanks to my efforts with Skritter! I’ve taken the approach of looking up characters I don’t know, if they aren’t in the ‘New Vocabulary” list after each dialogue, using the Pleco handwriting addon , then saving them into a new Anki deck.

I’m debating whether I should go through and chop up the audio and put all the sentences into Anki as well as new words, but I’m already concerned with my increasingly long queues and also how much time it will take to create the cards. Will see how things go on that front.

So far I have completed the first two lessons which involved listening to all the minute or so dialogues multiple times. I also read out loud the conversations and read through all the grammar points.

Time spent: ~10 hours

Skritter


Not much new to report on the Skritter side, still getting in an hour a day and wading through the HSK 4 list slowly but surely. I have noticed my retention rate is decreasingly slightly and I’m having trouble remembering newly learnt words now my list has grown to over 900 characters.

I’m going to get into a habit of spending more time on each new character, which will hopefully save time in the long run and improve retention.

Time spent: 7 hours

ChinesePod


Focused on a few intermediate lessons, reading the transcript and listened several times to each. I don’t feel I’ll be progressing to the upper-intermediate level for quite some time. Staying patient though.

Time spent: ~3 hours

Anki Reviews


It’s getting a little tiresome to clear my daily queues now, for the main deck I use on average it takes me 27 seconds to answer a card. This is due to many of them being very long sentences in English that I’m then saying out loud in Chinese.

Exhausting to get them all done in one sitting but I definitely feel like it’s doing something for me.

Time spent: ~11 hours

Skype Lesson


Had a decent lesson this week. The way I’m reviewing my Anki cards as mentioned about is really paying off, I feel my comprehension is increasing and I could answer the tutors questions much faster than I did previously.

The lessons usually consist of reviewing a few things we’ve learnt in the past, then bringing some new sentence structures into the mix. A lot of new food vocabulary added too, I’m not going to focus too much on memorising it because they were largely names of actual dishes in China.

We worked more on the 一...就...(yī…jiù…) structure, which you can use to state when something happens right after something else (you can tell I wouldn’t make a good teacher)

So far I have completed the first two lessons which involved listening to all the minute or so dialogues multiple times. I also read out loud the conversations and read through all the grammar points.

For example:

我一喝啤酒就头疼,脸红。

hē pí jiǔ jiù tóu téng, liǎn hóng

Once I drink beer, I get a headache and blush

My teacher obviously said this, not me.

Time spent: 1 hour

TV and Film Viewing


I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to watching Chinese speaking shows and movies. I have been watching these when I’m too damn tired to do anything else. I struggle to understand much but recognise plenty of words, so I hope it’s doing something at least on a sub-conscious level.

I’m excited to have found a show called ‘Happy Chinese’ which I believe is made with Mandarin learners in mind, and it does seem a fair bit easier to tackle than others I have tried.

Below is episode 1. My favourite thing about this is there’s no stupid laughter track dubbed on top, which makes it 100x more watch-able for me. I think I’m actually getting a bit addicted to it. Nice short episodes, quite funny and there’s little segments during the show that explain some Chinese grammar and vocab.

Time spent: ~8 hours

Week total study: 40 hours

Goals for Next Week

  • Improve the way I handle newly added characters in Skritter to make them stick better.
  • Cut down the time I’m spending on Skritter and use it on things I consider a greater priority, especially now I’m getting reading practice from NPCR.
  • Get more Chinese Pod listening done
  • Work on the next two NPCR lessons, and re-listen to the first two lesson dialogues
  • Prune my Anki decks, removing or modifying any cards I feel are redundant, as I have a number of cards that are very similar to each other.

I plan to change this weekly update format to include video too so I can better show what I have learned, but I will wait until I’m in China so I’ll have more to talk about, rather than similar things every week.

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