“Outside noisy, inside empty”

The fourth week of my Chinese learning journey is underway. I have completed two out of four levels of the Absolute beginners section. If you manage to log  unto chineseclass and see what I have covered it may seem as not much. The lessons are on average 30 seconds long. I have been listening to the lessons over and over and over… I really can’t stress enough how many times I have listened to the ‘voices’ on my mp3. The result is satisfying, I remember the majority of the set phrases in their proper context instead of knowing sentences by heart but not knowing when one would use them or the actual meaning of what I have just said. My plan for this week is to spend the week reviewing the two levels while reading the Hanzi (Chinese characters) as well as listening to the next season.

I got the idea of listening repeatedly to dialogues from articles written by a school in Thailand on what they call automatic language growth. They advocate listening for a year without talking and apparently that works. I on the other hand listen a lot, then listen again and scan the vocab, followed by listening and repeating the sounds that I hear. I rarely translate, I just understand. Talking to me would mean that I would have to translate what I want/feel into words. My Chinese is pre-basic, unless the vocabulary is used in a specific setting I will have a hard time memorising and then using the vocabulary.

I was quite disappointed to see that the last two lessons of the Survival phrases season were what they called a list of ‘high frequency words’. What they did is they gave you the words in Chinese first followed by the equivalent in English. THAT really made me very uncomfortable, I felt I was back to my old technique of mentally translating things and memorising words… Starting in english first followed by the Chinese gave me the necessary time to ‘create a film in my mind’. †

I wasted a lot of time on these last two lessons and I can assure you that I will forget the list of so-called high frequency words within a week unless I find a way of making up sentences (which is not my job) or hope hope hope that by the end of this week I will come across dialogues showing me how and when to use the vocab.

Task for this week: Revision

This week, I will review both levels by creating vivid scenarios that I will write down on pieces of paper or card. Each card will start with”You are… in a taxi and you want to get to (insert any town here), imagine the scenario and play it out”… then imagine different scenarios within the same scenario. For example, ‘you are inside the taxi and the driver does not know how to get to where you have to be, please direct him to (insert landmark or address here)… and so on. If I want to be even more imaginative I may just print out the Beijing underground map and imagine I am going to the different stations by Taxi.

In terms of names of places, I know (how to read and say) Beijing, Shanghai, country China, Dongqing (Tokyo) and country Japan. I will either wait for my place names to appear in my lessons or learn what “Paris, London, New York, Lagos” are in Chinese. They are useful places to know.

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