Welcome to my 90 day Mandarin Challenge. It is officially now day 26 and time is going far too quickly.
With nearly 30 days of my challenge already complete, how am I doing?
Well after some initial panic early on I made some changes. Read on to find out what I did and why…
something had to change!
I started off this challenge in much the same way as I have studied before.
So for the first week I happily carried on in the same familiar way hoping that at some point over the 90 days the change would suddenly happen…..drum roll…..fluency!
Now obviously this is a little unrealistic! How can I expect different results from the same approach I have taken before. Yep Crazy thinking!
So I made some changes.
First of all I had to get more focused with my schedule of what I was doing and when. I am using multiple levels of Glossika as well as going through different Chinese Pod lessons so I wanted to make sure I am spending the time wisely.
When looking at what I was doing I realized far to much time was being spent on material I already knew. Just variations in sentence structure, could it be better of course but it was not challenging enough to push me to where I want to be.
Staying in the shallow end of Chinese, practicing to perfection simple sentences isn’t going to move me on as fast as tackling more challenging lessons which may take me several days to fully understand the whole sentence (Glossika Fluency 3 or Daily Life).
Initially it felt too hard but after going through the spaced repetition on Glossika’s GSR I finally got it.
But was it worth the effort?
Yes! Moving into more challenging language has had an almost immediate effect on my understanding.
The dots are joining up!
Really give it a go, push way into not having a clue what its about apart from the odd word. (You still need something that is comprehensible to link it all up,also I am speaking from a speaking and listening perspective)
Another massive part of the Puzzle this first month has been POWER CHATS!
Okay so Power Chats are my name for super condensed speaking practice.
Language Exchange is awesome but sometimes it just eats up your day. If its an hour for each language plus getting to the meeting point thats 3 hours.
So I thought for this challenge I needed to change tactics.
Enter Power Chats.
I got in contact with some friends who had no interest in doing language exchange as their English is already at a high level.
I asked them if they would mind speaking to me on Line or Skype for 5-15 minutes everyday or as often as possible.
Surprisingly they said yes. No need for any English.
So for the last 10 days I have had at least one person to speak to every day for an intensive. Its intensive as there is NO English allowed, we do our best to go in circles in Chinese until I understand, OR they understand me.
This refusal to go back to English has been a vital ingredient of what makes these power chats so useful.
I highly recommend giving them a go or changing the structure of your language exchange.
Maybe do alternate days or different times with just one language and come back to the other language another time.
But not having to speak English in the same session before or after my Chinese means I have extra energy and drive for the Chinese conversation.
I also found the smaller amount of time to be more effective than the hour I used to do in Language Exchange.
Its super tiring speaking and tying to listen intently over an hour, often I would loose focus towards the end and miss a lot.
So now doing 15 mins in most sessions is super easy to stay focused and tune into all those little words I am missing or miss pronouncing.
Add to this it is far easier to get people to talk to you every day if its only for 15 minutes. So you can schedule multiple people every day, this way progress is super quick as we are getting to speak the language multiple times a day, every day.
Summing Up Week 4
Right now I feel I am on target. I need to stay uncomfortable in what I am learning as if its too comfortable then I am pretty much just wasting time.
As Peter Sage says ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’.
So for the next month at least I want to add more Power Chat partners as this is what will make the final difference in my challenge.
Even if its only 5 minutes it still really helps as its the amount of time actively speaking rather than the passive study time that ultimately counts.
But I am still doing a lot of study and currently pushing through Glossika Daily life series which is a lot more challenging than I expected and also going through Chinese Pod intermediate lessons to try and gauge where I am and what I ‘should’ know according to their progress levels.
I want to thank everyone who is helping me with this challenge and apologize for the truly lame conversations in Chinese. I promise to find some more interesting topics!
Until next time please like, share and say hi on facebook.
If you would like to take a look at all the resources I am using then here you are….(But remember people before products!)
Resources For My Challenge
Chinese Pod – These guys are super awesome. Not only are they as nice and friendly in real life as they appear on their videos but the material is really useful and fills in many of the gaps discovered in daily life. Excellent for understanding how to put it all together.
Fluent In 3 Months – This is the site of Benny Lewis. The inspiration for the challenge. His forum is a great place to keep yourself accountable and build confidence in your language learning. Watch his welcome video here.
Glossika Mass Sentence Training – This is what has made all the difference for me. Using mass sentences allows me to learn lots of new words and easily remember the vocab and the usage. Absolutely ground breaking program from Mike the founder.
Mimic Method – Musical accent-training is a one-stop shop for everything a language learner needs to get months of practice speaking their target language. Honestly this guy! He speaks multiple languages looks like a model and has an awesome video on his page showing how his method works…I am honestly not jealous 🙂
Taiwan Government E Learning Portal – Online video to assist foreigners in Taiwan to learn standard Mandarin. Surprising how good this is!
FSI – Rumor has it that the US Government used this program. It’s all free so take a look, it has lots of languages available with a lively community.
Chinese Pod 100 Free Lessons – You can sign up for 100 free lessons and see if it works for you. I recommend it as it helps take what you have and make it practical for daily life.
Mimic Method Free Course – Take his FREE course here. Super entertaining and really unique approach.