1. Huey Ly

    Thanks for the useful links Richard, those are some great sites.

    I just wanted to add a brief comment though. You can use as many learning tools, online or offline, as you want, but the best method is still just getting out there and using it. You don’t need a year’s worth of lessons to start, just work with what you know. I’ve met a lot of expats that’s been here in Xi’an for years now, but can still barely speak but a few phrases. You’re living in the country for crying out loud, there’s no excuse for you to not get out there and practice the language.

    I took maybe a year’s worth of lessons in the U.S. before moving here, and I can honestly say that I learned more within a month of living in Xi’an than all the Rosetta Stone sessions and private lessons I did in the States. This was because my roommate’s girlfriend doesn’t speak English very well, and I’m forced to communicate in Mandarin almost everyday. The human brain is a natural language learning machine! Have faith in it. Use it often and you’ll be entering the third phase in no time. Really. :)

  2. Richard.李志.

    You are absolutely right Huey. I think with this language you have got to do the study but just as important you’ve got to get out there and use it. That is not always easy I know, but it has got to be done.

    A mate of mine, James, who arrived here the same time as me, just got out there and used whatever language he had, no matter the grammatical mistakes or tonal inaccuracies, and his Chinese zipped on up the scale. I, on the other hand, was hindered by a lack of belief in my language skills and by not wanting to talk a whole load of old rubbish. I was also frustrated that I couldn’t go further with conversations, a couple of simple responses and then nothing. This led me to generally not say anything. It was a slow process for me to break that.

    Everybody is different and there is a whole world of reasons why some take to learning Chinese, some don’t, some drift, and some are intrigued by every nuance, but Huey is right, using this language helps, on so many levels. It is easy and not easy, all at the same time.

    If I have learnt anything while learning this language, it is that we can all learn it. We have just got to find the motivation because, wherever it comes from, you are going to need it.

  3. Huey Ly

    Also, I second the advice from John Biesnecker of the ChinesePod fame that you have to learn how to read and write if you want to truly learn the language. I’ve met guys who think they don’t really need to learn the characters, just learning how to hear and speak Mandarin is enough. Maybe. But really they’re just being lazy.

    Learning how a word is written and being able to write it will help your brain remember the words much better and longer. Otherwise you’re just learning something half-assedly. Learn to speak it, read it, say it, write it. Learn the words thoroughly, in all aspects. Pwn them words, make them your own.

  4. Richard.李志.

    Huey, I personally am not as convinced with the need to write Chinese, if you mean with a pen or pencil. But, I absolutely do agree that you need to be able to read characters and be able to write them using a computer, both are indispensable for learning this language. I agree that the traditional writing of characters helps one really learn them, but it takes up such a lot of time, time I personally believe would be better spent elsewhere in the learning process.

    Cheers for now Huey.

  5. Viv Marsh

    As someone stuck between Phases 1 and 2 of Chinese learning, I find all of this v useful and would just like to add a tip for some really good flashcards – StickyStudy Chinese, for iPhone and iPad. Sometimes you just have to get down and learn the vocab, and I find this is as good as Anki but with the advantage of up-to-date HSK lists. Not cheap, but excellent. Agree re handwriting – it’s a nice-to-have in the age of computers and it really DOES help with understanding and recognising characters (less so with Simplified, obviously, but even so) – but yes, I too would rather spend time practising speaking.

  6. Richard.李志.

    Cheers for the tip Viv, I will check out those flashcards (StickyStudy Chinese). I do hope I find time and motivation to write characters in the future, just for the enjoyment of it. But, we’ll see how we go on that one.

    Good luck with your on going work,

    Take it easy,


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