Archive for November, 2011

On Saturday and Sunday I will concentrate on my weaknesses and again listen to the Chinese dialogues. I do not believe in learning lists of vocabulary anymore and I do not believe in learning too many characters in one sitting. I do believe in learning this stuff ONCE and keeping it for life.

I will make an effort to familiarise myself with at most 50 characters. I have already been doing so during the week. With ANKI the questions are in English, the answers are in Chinese characters followed by the audio in Chinese. I listen to it once, then listen to the audio a second time while reading the Chinese. I also highlight new words in both the English and Chinese as a way of reminding myself that I will have to dig a bit further to find the answer. This can take a while, so if you decide to do so too then I suggest you do it this way:

  • Listen to your lessons and familiarise yourself with the dialogue, learn the lesson
  • Take a break, and then revise by putting the dialogues you need in Anki.
  • You don’t always need to copy the whole Chinese dialogue. Sometimes, I put in key words in hanzi as prompts, to me, the most important part of Anki is the audio. So use Anki regularly, and when you find the lesson too easy, then you can switch to working on your writing. Listen to audio then, write it and check your errors.

As for pinyin, I don’t know how to spell correctly in pinyin and I am learning the Chinese tones by ear only. I don’t know if people are taught this way but so far it is working for me and the sounds don’t seem that difficult.

Actually that’s not always the case.

I had some difficulty with 直,然後轉。Go straight, then turn left.

Zhí zǒu, ránhòu zuǒzhuǎn

I figured out that sometimes it is important that I learn what certain words meant as well as the pronunciation. I got quite confused, I had to take it, one word at a time. listen, repeat, say it in English,  listen, repeat, say it in English then visualise.

I hope this helped.

Week 1 task accomplished: Abs beginners lessons one to 25. 

Week 2 task: Review lessons one to 25 dialogues,learn vocab, learn to write dialogues.

Chinese learning diary. Next post: Second week of zhongwen.  Previous post: Fourth week of zhongwen


I signed up for a free basic account with Chineseclass 101, completed Absolute beginners level 1: lessons one to eight on Monday. Several blogs by Chinese learning folks mentioned this site. I checked it out and must say each lesson is not only straight forward but also quite chewable and relevant!!!

I realise that the best way for me to absorb the new information is to listen to the lesson several times, listen again and repeat the sentences aloud,  learn the meaning of certain words in context , listen several times until I understand the sentences. To help with word recognition, I use Anki to create audio flashcards of each lesson, and flashcards of sentences, (Questions and answers) flashcards but this may be quite time consuming to some. I am doing all this in the hope that by the beginning of next week, I will be hearing whole sentences instead of words.

For example:

Q. 你叫什么名子

I knew ni (you) and shenme (what), so I could infer that this was a question. By Wednesday and after a lot of hearing and repeating, I not only learned more or less what each word in the sentence meant, but I could identify the sentence as a whole. I practised by repeating aloud, imagining the context,  and changing the pronouns. ‘What is your name? What is his name? What is their name?’ and so on. Yes it is tedious, maybe i’ll find another method soon.

By Wednesday, I ‘learned’ a few colours with Mandarin4kids1  and NYChineseLearning as well as counting with tistranslation and Activechinese, all on Youtube. Anki is a great programme to use when reviewing, however, I think doing so everyday or every two days is a must for me. 

By Thursday, I completed Abs beginners level 1 to lesson 25 as well as animated elementary lessons 001 to 004 on There are many words that I have encountered that I have never seen before (which is quite normal!) or are made up of  characters that I can recognise. Therefore, I made a list of the words that seemed familiar to me as well as a much smaller list of words that are alien to me to work on during the weekend writing sessions.

On Friday I concentrated on the last five lessons. I put the last seven lessons on repeat. I listened to them at least four times during the day then continued with the rest of my life 🙂 I must say I am going through a trial and error moment but I really do think just concentrating on the sounds and general meaning will help in not forgetting things. 


Today would have been my best friend’s and sister’s birthday.

One cannot begin to describe who she was and who she will remain to be in our hearts.

One thing is for sure you believed in living life to its fullest.

One thing is for sure we thank your parents for bringing you to this world.

I thank my parents because without them we would not have been sent to the same school.

I thank our love for lacrosse, netball, and Parisian boys, without these daily activities we would not be who we are Today.

I thank my mother for my Nigerian nationality because we were able to meet up during the holidays.

Life is not easy but life is also what you make it.

So this letter is not just for you Anana, it is also meant for all those that made you you and all those that can relate or will soon be able to relate to your story.

You are what I can’t explain but when I feel it, I start singing The hills are alive with the sound of music

You always laughed at me when I did that, I hope you will continue laughing every time I break into a song!

That is what you are to me ma belle

Now that your seat in life is vacant, I hope you won’t mind some of us taking it one day at a time.

Yours was a bright light you know, it is only natural.

27 Nov 1983 – 30 May 2011

Stay connected!  Let’s see what’s happening in China!!

The Chinatravel blog

The Lost Laowai Blog . The expat blog

Skritter’s Top ten famous LAOWAI, includes a fellow Nigerian Uwechue Emmanuel

Enter the WORLD OF ZON. Learn Chinese and Chinese culture with this multiplayer game.

Read expats’ blogs living in Asia, Africa and beyond. Check them out.

Lady Laowais here

When do you stop?

When do you stop studying a language? What is your long term goal?

Some Mandarin learners use the HSK test as a way of determining their proficiency level, however there is a difference between acing a language test and being fluent in the language.

That said, I have taken note of the vocabulary I am suppose to know at HSK level 1 and will tick off the words learned from the list at the end of each month. If I end up knowing > 75% of the list of words comfortably then maybe I will attempt the HSK 1 test.

HSK_Level_1_(New_HSK)   <— download the list

HSK with sound:

My long term goal would be to understand Chinese TV (history documentaries) and read history books for secondary school kids.

Q. What are you going to use to track your progress?

What is HSK?

According to Wikipedia: ‘The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, abbreviated as HSK, is the People’s Republic of China‘s only standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiencyfor non-native speakers, namely foreign students, overseas Chinese and members of ethnic minority groups in China. It translates literally to “Chinese Proficiency Test” ‘.


If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people” Chinese proverb