Thursday, October 9, 2014

90 Day Language Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese - Day 15

I haven't written anything or posted any videos for a few days, but rest assured, I have been practicing!  

I am still doing Pimsleur everyday for 30 minutes and have reached Unit 15!  It is hard to believe that I have been consistent for two whole weeks.  Even when I was studying Mandarin at the university last year I wasn't this intentional with learning the language.  What I enjoy about Pimsleur is that it is a slow build, but it's not totally boring either.  In most audio courses that I have listened to, it is strictly vocabulary drilling and phrases.  Pimsleur seems to do it all at once in a very natural way.  I had read that you should listen to Pimsleur or other courses when you are not doing anything else.  In other words, no driving or distracting activities of any kind.  At first I didn't think much of that, but I actually agree with it wholeheartedly now.  It is very difficult to learn a language in a passive way, at least it has been for me.  I really have to concentrate to have it sink in, and if I zone out or get distracted I may miss something and become confused before I know it.

Anyway, I like Pimsleur a lot so far.

Memrise is also going really well right now and I have stuck to that every day as well.  The more words I learn the longer each session is, but I am definitely making some progress.  I just completed HSK 2 vocabulary today in fact!  151 words planted in my mind.

This brings me to 348 words (and some phrases) stored in my memory somewhere.  Memrise tells me that they are in my long term memory, but we'll just have to see about that.

I can honestly say that I think I have a good program going on here and am looking forward to the end result.  If it's even possible, I think it would be great to have finished Pimsleur Mandarin I, II & III by Christmas and to have about 2000-3000 words or more stored in my memory by then as well.  I am also going to make more of an effort over the next few weeks to have more conversations in Mandarin so that I actually use what I am learning!  I will try to post more videos as time allows.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

90 Day Language Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese - Day 10

Another good day!

Pimsleur was good too!  I'm feeling good about this language learning thing!

Friday, October 3, 2014

90 Day Language Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese - Day 9

I am still going strong!

After a rough few days of language learning, today was a good day.  I did Pimsleur Lesson 9 and really enjoyed it.  I am really liking the spaced repetition that Pimsleur does, and while some words are difficult to make out at times, for the most part it is a very well done product.

I am also really glad that I changed from 500 Characters in Memrise to the HSK course.  It is so much more gratifying and I really feel like I am attaining more of what I want.  In just a day or two I have already completed the HSK 1 vocabulary, which I was very familiar with.  The one problem is that I learning all of this vocabulary in Traditional and now I am learning it all over again in Simplified.  They aren't too different so far, but there is enough of a difference to throw me off sometimes.  It feels good to plow through a whole unit though!

Finally, I started having conversations with some people on iTalki yesterday and have been writing in Chinese back and forth.  I have no idea what they are writing some times but Pleco has saved my life more than once so far.  I even had a 40 minute conversation with a guy in China that was mostly in English, but we said a few thing in Chinese as well.  Good times.

Here is the video summary of the day.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

90 Day Language Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese - Day 7 & 8

It has been a very busy couple days which means that Chinese learning had to lose some priority.  I still did Pimsleur yesterday, but that was it.  Not Memrise.  This was actually a good thing because I think that the 500 Characters course I was doing was not really coming through for me.  I discovered an HSK course instead that gives me full words instead of single characters, which is much more beneficial for my level.  It's more enjoyable and less tedious.

Language learning is a real challenge, and doing it every day is, as Steve Kaufman puts it, an endurance run.  Think "marathon".  I suppose that at this point I have been learning Mandarin Chinese off and on for about two years.  In my language journey I have hit many walls, and sadly I can't remember getting over some of those walls in the time I have spent on this language.  I still feel that I have to think really hard to form sentences and so I am wondering if Pimsleur will help give me some confidence there.  Ultimately, I just want to be able to look back at these 90 days and see some real change.  Real growth.

Here's hoping!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

90 Day Language Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese - Day 6

I hope this starts getting easier soon!

Seriously, this challenge is going to melt my brain into goo before the year is up.  Pimsleur taught me a few cool things, and I wrote down most of what I learned in this lesson today:

Would you like to eat something
No, but I would like to drink something
Yes, I would like to eat something
I don't understand what you are saying
I don't speak well
Where is Long Peace Street?
Do you know?
No, I don't know.
Not located here
Not located there
Where do you want to go to eat? Ni xiang qu nar chi?
My place (wo nar)
I would like to go to your place to eat.
I also would like that.  (ye)
when? (shenme shihou)
now (xian zai)
When would you like to eat?
later (guo yi hua'er)

There are other things as well, but this was mainly what was taught.  Memrise is a really great tool, but it is probably the most challenging, tedious, and time consuming portion of my study.  My hope is that I will be able to do some more enjoyable things with my learning once I know a little more vocabulary (ie. watch movies, read books, etc.).  Here is my current progress in Memrise thus far:

Check the video below to see me fail miserably at speaking.  Good times.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Daughter the Language Learner

I have been borrowing Mandarin learning materials from the local library like a mad man lately.  One of the things that I borrowed was a video for kids called Learn & Play with Mei Mei.  Imagine a Mr. Rogers type show but teaching Mandarin to little kids.  It's fun and all four of my kids watch it from seven years old down to two years old.

At the dinner table tonight, we thought our youngest daughter, Morrow, was singing a song while she ate.  We were wrong.  She was actually counting from 1-10 in Mandarin!  She can't even count from 1-10 in English yet, at least I don't think she can.  Maybe she's holding out on us.  Anyway, I wanted to try and get her to do it on video so we could remember her skills.  She's cute either way.

90 Day Language Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese - Day 5

I decided to try to get my language learning done in the morning while I was feeling a bit more energetic and that was a good idea.  I don't know if I would have made it through Memrise otherwise.  I did charactes 275-300 today both for the English translation and the pinyin.  This was a beautiful sight to see...

I am realizing that I tend to mess up characters that look very similar.  I am sure that quite a few people have that problem, but it really bothers me.  One stroke added and it's a completely different word!  Anyway, Memrise is always a bit of a slog, but feels good when I finish it each day.

Pimsleur added a bit more today, this time introducing the word 想 (xiang3) which means to think, or to like to.  The sentences that were practiced in the lesson were ones like 你想吃一点儿东西吗? 我不想,可是我想喝一点儿东西。 Basically, that means, Do you want something to eat?  I don't, but I would like something to drink.  Chinese is interesting in that it can be very complicated, but very simple at the same time.  It's tricky like that.  More tomorrow!