User Comments - dulei

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Posted on: August, Study Tips and Expo Insights
August 06, 2010, 03:48 PM

For remembering the tones, I am very strict during the "a)" part of my review. (See my very long explanation above!) If I miss the tone, I don't get a point. I am a bit lenient in the other stages, but if I miss the tone, I linger and practice, PLUS mark it in pencil over the word "T." I have found that when I talk to people, if I'm 75-80% correct in my tones, they can make out what I want to say. But some people aren't used to hearing non-Chinese speaking Mandarin, and then they really can't understand me if I goof. Then I "spoof" the tones, and copy the announcer style in the Olympics in Beijing. So silly, but hey! Let's have some fun!

Posted on: August, Study Tips and Expo Insights
August 06, 2010, 03:43 PM

Hi John! I'm so flattered you wrote to me, as I'm star-struck from hearing your voice on all the podcasts! The other languages I've studied, in order (from

age 14) are: Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Arabic and Polish. I

think that Chinese is the most efficiently-studied of all of them, mainly thanks to the technologies of podcasts, iPhone apps, MP3 players, car hook-ups,

ANKI, etc. I am hooked up to the language when I'm doing a huge variety of

activities, like folding laundry, for example! Spanish, Japanese and French

give me encouragement for Mandarin, because I give violin lessons to

children in these languages, and get lots of practice. (3 hours a week in

Japanese!!!) As for the Mandarin, one super-kind middle-school boy from Taiwan let me teach him viola in Mandarin, but most of my other students hate to hear/speak Chinese, despite having parents who are native speakers. (So

sad!) So I speak to the parents before and after the lessons, and of course

force them to write down all the vocabulary words I want and need. (I do

that with the other languages as well.) I regret that I've lost my fluency in

Arabic and Polish, but, well, one can only do so much in a day.....

Posted on: August, Study Tips and Expo Insights
August 06, 2010, 03:31 PM

OK, here's how I do my review system. I got the idea from the VOLATS system. Go to for details in other ways to do this.

The IDEA is to review a word every day for 5 correct times; then every 5 days for 5 times; then every 20 days (I shortened it from 25 days) for 5 times. After that, a word has "graduated," and can be reviewed once a year. If at any time, starting in the "every 5 days" catagory a word is MISSED, then it goes back to the beginning.

IN MY NOTEBOOK, I have columns for Engish, pin yin, and the character. On the very left is a column for keeping track of VOLATS review. The catagories above are listed a) b) c) and d).

THE LOGISTICS are thus: I go down a column, looking at the English, and try to remember the Chinese. If I can, I get a tally mark. In b) and c) there are dates for the next time to review. You only need a pencil with a good eraser on it! Every morning, I set the timer, and start going down the columns, only reviewing the words that have the day's date or "a)." It's a bit like speed reading: I first skim down to find all the "a's," and then I skim for all the 8/6's, for example. Each page takes a few seconds to skim, that's why I can cover over 1800 words in under an hour. Here is what it looks like in my notebook: (of course, the pin yin has tones, etc.)

a) /// torture kao da (characters in this column)

b) // 8/11 play hooky tao xue

b) /// 8/7 wasp huang feng

d) dog gou

c) / 8/23 bow hold wo gong zishi

IF I WERE A MORE CONSCIENTIOUS PERSON I would do a review of the characters one day and the English another day, but I do my character review on flash cards.

THIS IS A GREAT METHOD because not only does it really let you know what you know or don't know, but it is a brilliant brain exerciser. I have read a couple of books on brain plasticity, and I know that this really keeps the brain working for memory in general. While my friends complain of forgetting constantly, I have the "curse" of remembering mostly everything! (I am 59 years old.) I credit language review and lots of violin practice to this! Any more questions?

Posted on: August, Study Tips and Expo Insights
August 02, 2010, 01:58 PM

I have read all the comments above, and want to put in my very first comment as a Cpod user!  Chinese is the eighth language I've studied, and I'm into my 4th year. I have been fluent at one time or another in all of my languages, and remain fluent in 4.

ChinesePod has been the greatest aid to fluency since I started this whole business, because I can hear native speakers at normal speed AND non-natives (like John) speaking the way I would like to--all day, all night! (Actually, I listen and shadow in most boring household activities, plus in the car.)

I would like to add my own favorite tips to Pretzellogic's 12 tips above:

1.  I want to be an adult in any language I speak. Therefore, my goal is high, and I always keep it in mind as I try to be as comfy in Chinese as I am in Spanish (my first foreign language).

2. The "bar" approach to conversation/vocabulary aquisition really works: go to a bar/invite someone out to eat or drink, etc., give them a pen and a piece of paper, and start talking with them. When an unknown word comes up, my guest will write it down (character, pinyin, maybe the English) and then I put it into my notebook afterwards. I can always  remember the context, and usually with pleasure!

3. My own spaced repetition strategy really really works: I can review 1800 words in 55 minutes!! I only started this 3 months ago---read about it in Cpod's Community. I do it my own way, straight from my notebooks. No flashcards or computer. I have one personal notebook of my own words that I need/want/crave and another of Cpod lessons.  I can keep adding words---about 10 a day, and keep it all under an hour. If anyone wants my system, just ask!

4. For reading, I do the Cpod iPhone app. The beauty of this app is that you can read the lessons, the expansions AND access endless sample sentences!! It is thoroughly brilliant.  Since I want to be an "adult" in reading too, I'll eventually get a reader, sign up with a private teacher, and get into literature, but for now, this is just fine.

5. Conversing in any language, including one's own, is the ultimate act of improvisation! (I am a professional musician, and I am learning to improvise!) I need strong grammatical underpinnings and a huge vocabulary, as well as---courage!  Last week, in NYC, I went for a few hours to Chinatown. I walked from business to business, and had about 10 fabulous conversations/improvisations. I do this at home in the Washington DC area as well: I know where to go, and even if I have to buy another packet of cucumber seeds, I'll have a great conversation!

6. Writing? Well, there's just not time for everything. I write email and all other stuff in Chinese using the NJ Star program, so I don't memorize how to write my characters. BUT, I am interested in calligraphy, so one day.....

I love love love love ChinesePod. It's so much fun and provides very high level learning.