Three Years

June 16, 2011, 11:51 AM posted in General Discussion

I just noticed on my wall where it says the date that I joined and the current date. 今天刚好是我第一天注册的中文博客 - 今天是我中文博客的生日!(Today was the day I first registered for ChinesePod - it's like my Poddie Birthday! Wow, apparently I need more practice writing...that was hard and probably not accurate!)    :D  So I thought it was a good time to think over my progress.

In the past three years:

  • I've progressed from Newbie to solidly Intermediate using pretty much just CPod.
  • Started using Skritter which has improved my character recognition exponentially!
  • Traveled in China and though I didn't understand very much that people said, managed to get around on my own for about a week-and-a-half.
  • Lived in Hong Kong where knowing some Mandarin came in surprisingly handy in the area that I lived (if they didn't understand English - I'd switch to Mandarin).
  • I have started reading Chinese research journal articles - no kiddie books for me haha - because I need them for research. This has been excruciatingly painful and I rely heavily on Google Translate, MDGB, and Nciku, but it is good for vocab building and for reinforcement.
  • Sadly I feel like I'm in a slump now - but I'm still pushing forward. I imagine everyone goes through times when they feel like they're not really absorbing anything - I feel like that with my listening right now.
  • Still not practicing speaking - but I work on tones and word recognition with my Anki flashcards. I'm still just too shy to try with my colleagues here in the U.S. :/ My travels in China were good at forcing me to speak some - it was hard to speak though when I didn't understand what people were saying.  

So thank you ChinesePod! You've been my main resource for learning Chinese and I've learned so much in three years, which is amazing as I've never taken a single class!  I guess I've come a long way from when I first thought Chinese was unintelligible.  :)

Profile picture
June 16, 2011, 12:11 PM

祝你生日快乐...great post Cinnamonfern. I didn't realise that you'd been with CPod that only came up on my radar about a year ago, but of course your Chinese was already good then so you must have been a bit of a lurker, hehe.

It is interesting how these milestones do cause one to stop and reflect, where you've come from, where you're at, where you're going. I do the same thing, and it's not a subscription thing for me. I think it's a worthwhile process to because you know that there have been areas you've been neglecting, or at least I do and that you should tackle them. I think that also helps with the slumps. So it's interesting that you mention skritter because writing for me was the big area I had neglected. Not only do I want to have a more rounded knowledge of Chinese and thus have the ability to write in it as well, but as you have alluded to with your reading, I also feel that I'm at a stage where neglecting learning to write could well hold me back in other departments. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed skritter this last week. I've picked up a ton of stuff. I learnt the radicals first, and as I go through each new character now its amazing how much knowing the elements tells you and how easy it makes them to remember to both write straight up and recall later. I'm paying much more attention to them now. I think tingyun said something very true recently when he said you can sort of look at the characters in a general way and recognise them but that's not good after a while.

Yeah, I imagine reading the research stuff must be very challenging. I guess you're adding those specific terms to your flashcards and skritter.


Anyhow, well done cinnamonfern. It's great reading about your progress. :)

Profile picture

Thanks for the reply Baba! Yeah - I guess I was a lurker. :) I actually didn't read or do much on the site itself (other than making vocab lists) until I started Intermediate (about 10 months ago) because I didn't really have questions about things until then.

I love Skritter. I'm glad you're enjoying it. I wish I wasn't so far behind on adding new words from my vocab lists though. I find and add new words faster than I can review them. :)

Profile picture
June 16, 2011, 12:22 PM

oh, and the other thing I meant to say was this. As I said I have similarly been reflecting on this myself recently, and I was thinking about native kiddies learning Chinese, and how different that is to we foreign adult second language learners. I was thinking how they say it's much more natural for the native kids, they just soak it all in. But, I was thinking, if you were to look at it as a race, that we kind of get a head start, because we can learn to say 妈妈 and 爸爸 pretty much day 1 whereas it usually takes a few months before babies start to say anything clearly intelligible. So I think after 1 year we're pretty much well ahead, after 2 years hopefully still so. Now as we approach 3 years there rate of language aquisition is going to start being exponential whereas with we adult learners I guess it depends on a number of factors including the amount of time put in. Anyhow, I was just reflecting on where would be the crossover point..where the average native kid takes over the average foreign learner [if there is such a thing ]. Are there cases where the foreigner just stays ahead all the way to fluency and beyond?

Profile picture
June 16, 2011, 12:26 PM

Interesting post cinnamonfern.  re the listening point, I'm in the same boat, just keep plugging away at those transcriptions - this is the one thing that for me has made a noticeable improvement!  However, making time to keep doing them is proving challenging the last couple of weeks...Chris.

Profile picture
June 17, 2011, 03:58 AM

Hey cinnaomonfern - happy ChinesePod birthday! You really have made impressive progress just working with ChinesePod - that is kind of amazing, good on you. 

Your writing here gives us an opportunity to practice writing!: '今天刚好是我第一天注册的中文博客 - 今天是我中文博客的生日' - no I don't think that it's quite right but mainly because of how you attempt to express yourself. I think one of the first things to do is to consider how a Chinese person would express this. A few possibilities: (1) say the actual date when you registered; or (2) I registered three years ago; or (3) This is my registration 周年 (anniversary.)  Also, in reality they might see this 'joke' about a birthday less funny than we do - but I'm not sure about that. I just haven't heard a native speaker make that kind of joke, unless speaking in English. Then lastly, Chinese writing is much more succinct than English - native English speakers tend to put in far too many words! 

Most of the writing we see on this site (even by the teachers) tends to be expressing the spoken form of the language; the world of Chinese writing is like another dimension. I think of rooms with fairly thin walls - you can hear what is going on next door, but you are in another place - like in a Chinese painting, with lots of spaces between the splashes of ink and colour. 

I have no anniversary, or I try not to think of it. I date my first efforts at learning Chinese from early 2005. I have recently made a bit of an effort on writing; it is probably the hardest thing I have attempted but I really enjoy it.

Profile picture
June 17, 2011, 07:23 AM


所以今天是你的ChinesePod三周年纪念日。I am very very proud of your achievement. Don't be discouraged by the current slump which you don't seem to be. As you said, it's a common experience. The important thing is to find some aspects of the language which still excite you and concentrate on those.