What to study....

September 17, 2015, 05:09 PM posted in General Discussion

There are so many lessons that cover an immense range of topics. I find my self overwhelmed. I at the point where I just don't know what to study. I feel like I'm just bouncing around and making little progress, because there isn't a progression. I don't know how to drill a certain concept, because there are so many choices. I love this site. I'm just a hot mess. It's like I'm back at the beginning and worndering where I should start. I'm lost. AHHH

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September 17, 2015, 09:28 PM

Peace Captain.

Language learning is interesting in the fact that the more you progress the more you will feel as if you are not progressing. This I think is because when you first start out you don't know anything so all progress is very apparent and it feels like you are learning a lot. But as you get more comfortable with the language this seems to diminish, but in fact is not. After learning the most common vocabulary the uphill battle begins of striving to acquire a ridiculous amount of words, at this point your progress will be less apparent.  What I do now with chinese pod is listen to all the new lessons as they come out, regardless of level. I spend about half hour a day writing characters and maybe 20 minutes of watching whatever content I can find on the internet (shows, music, etc), and speak whenever I get the chance. I often feel the same as you but I remind myself I am getting better and that familiarity with language takes time. I am also studying Japanese and sometimes feel guilty as if I am neglecting my Mandarin by doing so, but I find that studying 2 languages works for me because whenever I get bored of one I just switch to the other.

To quote one of the great polyglots Steve Kaufmann, "Learning a language is the relentless pursuit of words"

Key word "relentless"


Perhaps this will help.



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This is precisely the response I needed. You described more of what I felt than I had conveyed in my post. The feeling of not making progress is quite prominent, because I've learned the basics and so have developed a foundation. Perhaps it would be wise to review the basics while I gather my thoughts about how best to proceed according to my learning style. I'm a very topical and categorical learner. Right now, I'm learning language about cell phones, connection, reception, charging, asking for someone's number and giving a call to someone. Then, I'll move on to something else that's applicable to my language exchange sessions. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I'll certainly digest them and mull it all over and apply what I can. Thank you again.  

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September 18, 2015, 09:51 PM

Hey Captain,

Don't worry, the feeling of being overwhelmed is totally normal. I often experience this myself several times throughout the year and I agree with Paz. You need to stop and realize that the more you learn, the more  you realize you don't know. There is a quote I once heard that goes something like "It's dumb people who think they are smart but wise people who realize how little they actually know".  

When I start feeling like you I stop and focus on the small scale goals. Some examples could be studying "X" number of hours per day/week. Making sure I add all new CPod vocab to my flashcard lists and trying to learn them by the end of the week.  When you start meeting these smaller goals you will feel better and not feel so overwhelmed. 

When I first studying Mandarin around 3.5 years ago I foolishly thought that I would be fluent in 3 years and boy was I wrong haha. Language learning is a lifelong process so you just need to just focus on enjoying the journey and learning everything you can along the way.

Good luck!


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Matt, thank you. This another very apt and wise response. What I lack are smaller goals to charge me.  I have goals that are of a larger scale, such as mastering a certain topic. But, I lack the smaller goals. I thought about taking an HSK exam to push me further into the language and force myself to tackle the language in a different way. I don't know. I enjoyed the quote. I do know that I know nothing more than what I know and that there is always more to learn. When I reach an advanced level, I will not know everything. I don't know even know everything about my own language; I consider myself very apt in English. Anyway, thank you once again. Both responses were very encouraging.