Studying Tactics

Hi everyone! First time posting on here! I have been trying to study Mandarin over the past couple years on and off, but I seem not to be able to find a consistent (also maybe fun/interesting) method of studying. I have been kind of hitting a rut lately and was interested if anyone could detail how they study (youtube videos, textbooks…etc). How do y’all stay engaged and keep chugging along?

I appreciate any and all help!

1 Like

Hi Dana, thanks for posting. Always great to welcome new students.

I must admit - ruts are probably a lot more common than talked about. We all get them and it’s perfectly natural. I think understanding this is important so we don’t beat ourselves down too much.

When in a rut I like to listen to music and podcasts in my target language on a walk personally.

A little stroll around for 30-60 minutes is a great way to clear your head and stay in your own head space. Music and podcasts just allow you to enhance that all important listening. Staying familiar with the language is important so even when we lack motivation to study, we can walk, listen and absorb.

I think this helps a lot more than we realise.

It’s only a small tip - but I hope it helps. I’m sure they’ll be plenty more coming your way as we have some expert language learners on this forum!

Best of luck and enjoy the ride.


1 Like

Hi Dana,

I know it’s hard to keep the momentum going… when I feel too lazy to study, I look for a good film or TV series in Chinese. LTL main website has some good recommendations for what to watch.
I subscribe to the paid up version of, and Netflix has some good Chinese films too.
Youtube has some great series too.

My favourite of all time is Dou Ting Hao 都挺好
It had generations of Chinese sitting at home every week and arguing over each episode. It’s that interesting, and also fun, and moving. You learn a lot about social and family relations in China, and the main character is a strong woman, not always the case in Chinese TV.

I also really enjoy graded readers books because you can always find one that is just right for your level.
And cartoons, or mangas (manhua!), also keep me motivated. I wish I could find a specialist bookshop in Belgium that sells them because from aliexpress it’s an arduous process.

It keeps my learning personal and subjective. I learn what I want to learn because I have a personal connection to certain words or certain subjects.

That’s the rule, isn’t it with languages, keeping it personal and connected to you?

1 Like

There are some Chinese comedies TV series… and it’s a bit of an acquired taste… whether you can put up with them, is really personal. But there’s one that I find really silly and funny, and I can tolerate. Even laugh out loud.

It’s both on Netflix and viki.

On Viki it’s called Fated to Love You Fated to Love You | Taiwan | Drama | Watch with English Subtitles & More ✔️
and Netflix it’s You are My Destiny.
The main thing is you want the 2008 version with its crude humour and sex jokes, its country bumpkins occasionally talking Hokkien (I think it is Hokkien, it’s in Taiwan).
The 2020 is horribly sanitised with boring actors.

The original one has Joe Chen and she’s a great comic actor, fearlessly ridiculous. What a pity that she’s mostly been employed as a romantic lead elsewhere.

I learn new vocabulary just watching her,好奇怪!

1 Like

Great shout! Also very much enjoyed this. Equally light-hearted is an old comedy called 家有儿女 (Home with Kids in English).

I think it’s available on Youtube.


Hi Dana,

I feel the same as you, and there are times that I want to give up as it feels impossible to be fluent or comfortable in Chinese. Sometimes life gets busy and I don’t have much time to study, then all of a sudden I forget words that I’ve been learning etc. It’s quite frustrating.

Recently, I joined a language exchange app and have made some Chinese friends. I find talking or texting with them helpful, as I get to practice my Chinese with real people, and I also get to learn some colloquial ways of saying things. They are also very keen to practice their English, so it works out well for both sides. To avoid wasting time or talking aimlessly, I usually set up a time with them (for example 30 minutes phone call on Saturday, 15 minutes speaking Chinese and 15 minutes speaking English). It has helped a lot and kept me going. Besides, I get to make new friends, who I am keen to meet when I visit China one day.

One downside is, of course it’s not that easy to find a language partner / friend who shares the same goal and who is committed. At the start, I did spend quite many hours in the app chatting to different people and figuring out what they want to achieve. Some people are very friendly but their level was too high / too low and it wouldn’t be fair for one party if he/she has to help a lot and doesn’t receive as much help from the other person. So to find someone who has similar level to yours is also important.

Hope these helps and all the best with your learning! 加油!!



Thank you everyone for your recommendations! I will try them all out.

When I am lazy/busy,

  • I still study Duolingo for 5 minutes a day. In any language, it’s just my memory for languages. (My streak is now 1100 days long).
  • I review my vocab, at least a 6 minute portion of Hackchinese.
  • I have a weekly lesson with a teacher or speak with an online friend.
  • I am confident that I will get better and good enough, even if it takes many more years, at least I am maintaining my level.

When I was a university student, many of my class mates used to create post-it with the words/expressions they struggled to learn and they sticked them everywhere in the house (on the fridge, on the mirror… everywhere!). This could be useful to remember some of those difficult characters that we always forget!

That’s really useful! There are post-it in LTL Schools for things like “fridge”, “microwave” etc so when students use it they see the characters every time :+1:

I remember someone saying they were putting up post-it in their bathroom/toilets so they don’t have a choice but to look at it :laughing:

1 Like

Same! I covered our apartment with them earlier this year to try and remember as much Mandarin and Japanese as possible before travelling.

Some times, old school is genuinely best!