i'm getting desperate

June 01, 2010, 08:40 PM posted in General Discussion


I am writing this post because right now i am quite frustrated and I am hoping to get some help.
I have been studying chinese on my own for two years and a half now (no teacher, just various methods on the internet and watching chinese tv) and i must say that after all the time i have spent trying to learn it, I am almost ready to give up.
So far i think i have reached a basic speaking/reading level but what frustrate me the most is that after 2 and a a half years of studying it i can barely understand a sentence that might be said in a dialogue in any chinese tv show, I know that progress isn't supposed to come overnight but this is starting to feel pointless....

do anybody have a good personal methodology that they developed to learn chinese that worked for them ? at this point i would take any tip to help me out :)

thank you

Profile picture
June 02, 2010, 02:13 AM

I don't have any quick solution for you.  I have been studying Chinese for about 8 years, and am still learning.   However, I do think that speaking and composition practice helped me.  If you can find some Chinese friends to chat with or exchange IMs with, composing your thoughts in Chinese may help you consolidate what you have learned, so far.  But, the most important advice is be patient.

Profile picture
June 02, 2010, 03:42 AM

Hi darklord06

Seeing as language acquisition is such social activity, it follows that "live" practice is key, not only for consolidating knowledge but also for maintaining motivation levels. It's such a good feeling to interact in the language you've been studying, to communicate and be understood!!

As mark says, a language exchange could be a great way to get in some practice (ChinesePod Teacher services is also an option, too!). I'm sure you'd surprise yourself at just how much you know already.

Also, I think you should avoid measuring your success on how well you understand Chinese language shows. You're not being fair to expect that much of yourself as an Elementary learner!

Instead, maybe you could try our level test? http://chinesepod.com/tools/testsTaking that test every couple of months can be a nice way to measure your progress in reading/listening skills, and give you an indicator of when it's time to try the next level up.

To study alone for such a long time is to be seriously dedicated - so don't give up now! 加油!jiā yóu!

Profile picture

suxiaoya, good to have you back!

Profile picture
June 02, 2010, 08:06 AM

Hi Darklord 66,

It seems we are struggling with the same problem. I have been studying on my own for about two years, using the same approach as you do (no teachers, no university, and so on). I study just for fun, and when the day comes when I don't think it's fun anymore I'll quit. That said, I try to enjoy the process rather than the goal (since I don't have one :-) )

"i can barely understand a sentence that might be said in a dialogue in any chinese tv show"
That goes for me too, and I think it's a bit frustrating.

Given that I have been exposed to english through movies, TV and school for about 25 years and still speak tacky english, I guess my chinese won't ever be even close to fluent unless I actually move to China.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that most of us will need to spend an Awful lot of time to reach any kind of fluency. E.g. my sisters son is just about to become fluent in his native language (Swedish). He practices speaking about 12 hours per day (pretty exhausting to listen to...) learning his first language. I guess the time he will need for becoming fluent is about one year or so. And then he is "immersed" in the language too. I speak chinese about 3 minutes per day and am exposed to the language about 30 minutes per day, at the best. With that in mind I guess it will take some 10 or 50 years for me to become fluent :-/

Anyway, I'm still pretty satisfied with my progress. I went to Beijing last summer and managed to get around there for some days with a Pleco dictionary. The first day my cell phone was broken but two young chinese people let me use their phone to call my family and tell them I was OK. They didn't speak english but we made it with my 5-word-chinese-centences anyway. That was a great experience :-)

Oh, I'm talking too much. A final thought: this radio station (重庆故事广播电台 fm 103.5) sometimes tell stories that even I can understand parts of:



They have story-telling during the day and a show about relations late night. The sound is really bad in the relations show but it's acceptable during the day.


Profile picture

thanks for the radio link!

Profile picture
June 02, 2010, 07:20 PM

wow I am very suprised by the amount of quality answers i am getting here, thank you everybody !

after reading your various replies, it seems obvious to me that i should try to have regular conversations with chinese speakers (the only problem is finding out when and where) and dunderklumpen, your sister's son analogy did put things in perspective to me regarding my roadblocks :), by the way before studying Chinese I studied Swedish for two years "och jag tycker att jag talar svenska ganska bra :) " but let's compare only what is comparable.

And suxiaoya i think your idea of using the level test as a benchmark to asses my progress is very good.

again thank you all for your advices !

Profile picture

Oj, det var överraskande :-) 你是哪个国家的?Hur kom det sig att du började studera svenska? 如果不想这里说就给我发邮电吧,不想发就不发,没关系。 ^__^

Profile picture
June 03, 2010, 02:39 PM

haha ! 没关系 dunderklumpen ! 

我是法国人, I stared stuying swedish in 2001 when i studied at the university of växjö and and an internship after i went back to france to finish my studies and in 2006/2007, i decided to learn it again. jag vet faktiskt inte varför, jag kunde inte förklara det, jag gillar bara det svenska språket... och det kinesiska språket naturligtvis, även om 有的时候中文很难 ! :)

Profile picture