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Learning Chinese - continued

Since my last post, I’ve spent a fair bit more time on improving my Chinese. Some recent changes to my routine have improved the speed at which I’ve been learning.

[Great Wall at Badaling, China][]


I already use flash cards, but am now spending more time using They run an online language learning program, that includes audio and writing. My accuracy is improving on words I swore I already knew, but turns out I didn’t know that well.

The site also includes badges and incentives to keep you coming back each day. They remember what you’ve been studying and only allow you to study a certain amount each day, keeping your memory fresh. This is a key part to their success. They’ll replay words at the point where you forget them, increasing the effectiveness of your time.


This was so simple I couldn’t believe it. To get good at reading Chinese, start reading Chinese.

It has always been my goal to be able to read Chinese content on the web. However, I had also believed that my Chinese wasn’t yet good enough.

Reading Kató Lomb‘s book was enlightening. She taught herself more than 16 languages. In her book, she outlines her techniques.

The one that stood out for me was her dedication to reading material in the desired language, well before you can fully understand it. Instead, aim for getting the gist of it on the first read. Don’t look up every word in a dictionary, rather look up those that re-occur lots. Then re-read the book.

For the past few months, I’ve been trying to read two books in Chinese. I find both interesting and I’m learning a lot of Chinese as I go. It doesn’t (yet) feel like reading, but more like attempting a crossword puzzle.

When I started, it would take me around half an hour to muddle through a paragraph. Now, I can often get through between a half and a full page.

One caveat, you do need to allocate time to it. I aim for half an hour a day. Kató suggests that you should be spending at least 12 hours a week on learning a new language.

[Shopping, Chinatown, Singapore][]


I read a great article recently on learning Chinese. The interesting part for me was to look at finding Chinese speakers who’s English is worse than my Chinese. This makes sense once you think about it; I just hadn’t thought about it.

I still have yet to action this particular plan, and am keeping it on my todo list for now.

[Great Wall at Badaling, China]: “Great Wall at Badaling, China by gmwils, on Flickr”

[Shopping, Chinatown, Singapore]: “Shopping, Chinatown, Singapore by gmwils, on Flickr”