How precise-a routine should a Newbie have?

December 02, 2009, 10:39 PM posted in General Discussion

I've been with ChinesePod for quite a few months now, but it's taken me a while to develop an actually structured "plan" (with the help of a first time premium subscription! I took the plunge, and so far it's paying off miracles! ^.^) 

But how precise/strict should I be with myself in 'getting things right' before moving on to a next lesson? Because I'm worried if I'm too 'strict' with myself, I'll actually hold myself, back rather than doing the opposite, because I won't be progressing as fast as I'm able to. Do you see what I mean? 

So should I be saying stuff like "I won't move on to the next lesson until I can read, write, speak and 'listen' to all the key vocab and most of the supplementary vocab"? Because that would be satisfying but I'm thinking a little too unreachable at this point? But the thing is, I'm worried that if I do just concentrate on purely speaking and listening Mandarin, (although I would progress quicker because the writing wouldn't hold me back) I'm worried that it'll take me far longer and far harder for me to go waaaaaay back to the beginning and start to pick up the writing :/ and that I'd be very disadvantage because I won't be able to read and write anything :/ The reading I'm especially concerned about because we may not write much these days but we definitely need to learn to read, especially fellow Poddies' Mandarin posts!

So sorry for such a long winded question, but I'm not sure what I should be 'aiming' for each lesson, if that makes sense? If I did just leave the writing and reading for now, and didn't actually formally set aside time to learn, would it still come to me slowly purely through exposure on ChinesePod or would I have to properly learn? My priorities are in this order: lean to 'listen', learn to speak, learn to read and then learn to write.

So what do you suggest? I'm a very confused and worried Newbie! :S 


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December 02, 2009, 11:09 PM

That's the question I asked myself (mostly in the past) nearly every day or two - am I doing enough? shall I go on? shall I repeat? is this level too low/too high?

Forget all this.

Learning should be fun. Do what you like most. Try something new. If the lesson is boring, go to another one.

The only things I try to do more systematically is to (1) learn the characters - see here - and to (2) repeat stored sentences in my SRS: "Anki".This helps me a lot, as the program knows what I need to repeat.

Just do it (something) - but every day!

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December 03, 2009, 01:52 AM


I agree with ilovechinesep0d above, but I'd add this to it:

Focus hard on the language you can imagine yourself using in China or in Chinese conversation.

This means you should definitely work hard to master language like, "what's your name?" and "where are you from?" because these are stock conversation pieces. Certain vocab, however, may be lower frequency, and you shouldn't get too hung up on it, lest it kill your motivation.

To be clear, we do work hard to make all language we introduce high-frequency, but there will always be a bit of a range. Use your own judgment to keep yourself engaged and interested.

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December 03, 2009, 05:28 PM

Thank you guys for your advice ^.^

I think you're right; if I learn the things I want to learn rather than what I feel obliged to learn, then I'll enjoy learning Chinese far more ^.^But then I think to do that, like you said John, I should focus on the language I would use in Chinese conversation so I'm guessing typical teenager things! hehe

I think I'm just worried that if I don't learn certain things now, and just learn things all over the place, then I won't create a 'solid foundation' and I'll find it a lot harder to progress :S

It's like Spanish at school. I've been learning it for four years (and I'm certainly not fluent but probably equivalent to a ChinesePod Intermediate level ^.^ hehe) but because the first teacher I had didn't set a solid basic foundation (like gender of words, una un etc and just all the very basic things!) as she just assumed that we knew it straight away because we were in the top set French class. So that has effected me even now, since I still make stupid mistakes and can't get my head round some basic things because I was never really taught them or didn't think I needed to set aside time to learn them >.<

But that's what I love about ChinesePod; I can feed my love of languages but at my pace! ^.^ I think I'm just worried if I skip around things, then I won't have a solid understanding in, say, a few years time :S 

So do you I could still easily pick up certain things later on if I just learn the small chunks I'm gonna be using now with my friends now?

Just seriously confused about what order I should be studying anything Chinese related in! But like you said, John, if I learn the basics (I was talking to my friend at school today using the basics and she could understand me without me telling her what I trying to say! yaaaaay! :D) then hopefully everything will fall into place :/