Top 12 Best Practices - Amendment 1 - Key Characteristics of Successful Long Term Study Routines
Ok, you jumped in whole hog, and started learning Chinese. You found Chinesepod, and were thrilled with the lessons, and the content. You were able to speak a few words after shadowing a lesson, and your progress was fantastic. From not knowing even 1 word of Chinese, to knowing a few hundred words in a couple of weeks. You're deliriously happy, learned, and now even a bit worldly.
3 years (or sometime later), the newness of learning Chinese has worn off. In the beginning, learning Chinese was flying down an interstate highway at 100 mph (161 kph). Now, it's hiking through an Alaskan bog in summer, and you're progressing at a snail's pace. You call for B.B. King, because the thrill is gone from Chinese learning.
What gets you through this period will be easily created, easily maintained, study habits. These were the secret habits that you created when you first started learning Chinese. They are as automatic as brushing your teeth, and as simple. They take as long to complete. Here are their key characteristics:
-15 seconds or less to get started, maybe 10-30 minutes to execute.
- performed daily, regardless of vacation, business trips, camping trips, job changes, changes in commuting route, and other interruptions of otherwise stable routines.
-- likely successful long term routines are indeed done right after you brush your teeth, but before you put on your clothes.
- covers the four horsemen of Chinese learning: speaking, listening, reading, writing.
- covers both new material, and a review of old material.
- likely requires the use of an iPod or mp3 player
rootApril 12, 2012, 10:42 AM
Awesome, both stories are nice, NYT link was really illuminating!
Also 30 min daily limit is a good idea, once my daily playlists started stretching to 50 minutes the motivation dropped way down. Gonna think of a way to trim them and restart!
I set a time budget for my Chinese study when I started studying. This has helped me a lot, and I've pretty much stuck to it for almost ten years. I just decided I would give up whatever activities I needed to to make room for Chinese study. For me, making a decision like that put some spine in my motivation.
My routine has varied a little over time. I used to put more emphasis on listening and repeating. Now, I'm more focused on trying to digest new material and work a few new words into my working vocabulary.
In the past couple of years the routine has been pretty stable:
Gather study materials: mostly copy new Cpod lesson mp3s (Intermediate through Media) onto my phone and copy-paste the dialog transcripts into a file that I edit. I listen to the dialogs/lesson banter a few times to try to understand as much as I can by listening. After a couple days, I review the written transcripts and make a list of the words that are new to me. I sometimes supplement with a short essay from another source. I also write a short essay every week, and a couple sentences using the vocabulary from the Advanced lesson for that week.
Then I prepare for live interactions based on the gathered materials. For the Advanced or Media lesson that week, I listen to the expansion sentences, do the matching and multiple choice exercises and read over the transcript until I can read it, somewhat smoothly, out loud.
I use the same materials to interact with a few different people. I try to get 3 to 5 hours speaking practice every week, but no more than two hours with any one person. Each of my teachers has a different style, but I mostly just try to get them to talk with me in Chinese by discussing the lesson content, vocabulary, and correct my reading, and writing.
Any given week, I have three sets of lessons in the pipeline, one that I am gathering materials for, one that I am preparing for my lessons, and one that I am actively using to interact with my teachers. I use my commute time for listening practice. After the first week on a lesson set, I just listen to the lesson dialogs without the lesson banter.
All of my study is in Chinese, except for occasional words I have to look up in MDGB. I read in simplified Hanzi, and input with pinyin.
The overall time commitment is about equivalent to a five unit course, as I remember from when I was in college, about 15 hours a week.
Well, in any ten year span, life always changes. For me, maybe less than some, but I've changed jobs, my kids have gotten older, some of my leisure activities changed, my commute mode switched from driving to riding a subway...
I'm not sure about the "highly effective" part. I've been studying Chinese for a long time and am still not as fluent as I would like to be. I just was in Shanghai and was shown up by someone who has studied less than half as long, but was a full time student living in China for a year and a half.
ha ha, I hear you, pretzellogic. Every time I walk in to a book store and see a title like "easy way to learn Chinese" or some such I am tempted to buy. So far CPod is the only resource that I have found that really works while still feeling "easy." I don't really take full advantage because I rarely do the exercises, but even for casual listening I had an epiphany recently from somebody's post that I need to be systematic in setting a review schedule. I actually think this is so important that CPod should make a priority of creating a scheduling tool that will push a given lesson to the subscriber by e-mail or via the mobile app to help keep reviews on a regular interval.