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?
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!
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 viki.com, 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 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQqbdnAgoRmYhfPJgYB9YQxDsNQ-ErQBd
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?
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.
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！！