It’s time for my monthly language learning strategies update and I’ve decided to combine it with the monthly goal post I share as a part of Weekly Wishes. Due to the transition I mentioned earlier, I think it makes sense to combine the two since both posts are goal based.
This post was created as part of The Nectar Collective linkup.
Friends! It’s April which means that it’s M’s and my wedding anniversary! I cannot believe it’s already been another year. Last year we spent it in Venice, Italy and this year… well, I’ll let you know soon!
I’ll start with my goals for the month and how I did on last month’s goals and then share my language learning strategies.
My April Goals // Weekly Wishes
Last Month’s Goals
- Get through some of the “Watch Later” language videos in my Youtube queue. I started to do this pretty late in the game so I didn’t get through as much as I would have liked but I did get through some of the language videos I saved. You guys, Dan Rock is hilarious. If you’re looking for short French language videos, check out his Questions pour un ricain vlog.
- 7.5K steps per day. Yes! I didn’t think I could do it, but I managed to achieve 7.5K every day except one (I had a gig, didn’t get back until too late to run, and my pedometer had already reset for the day).
- Finish reviewing HSK Book 1 and score 100% at least twice on the tests. Does a 97.5% count? I finished up all the tests and passed all 10 on my second go.
- Finish the First 500 Words and HSK Level 1 Memrise courses. I finished HSK Level 1 but not My first 500 words. 500 words is actually a lot more work than I anticipated (it’s really 1,000 if you count the pinyin and the character).
- Finish converting my artist website over to WordPress. Check and check. I still have a few small updates but it’s done!
- Stretch everyday. Most days…
- Wake up 20 minutes earlier. Yeah, no. Other than getting up 10 to 6 once a week for my Mandarin lesson I failed at this. I tend to be more productive at night – it’s when I run, catch up on my vocab study, get an Assimil lesson in, and relax with M. Getting up early just doesn’t happen for me when I stay up too late. So I’m scratching this one. Definitely am not a morning person. Plus, trying to do this just made me so tired.
This Month’s Goals
- Get through some more of the “Watch Later” language videos in my Youtube queue. I still need to minimize my digital life as badly as I do my physical one. I have so many Mandarin language lessons I want to see!
- 10K steps per day or 70k per week. I’ve managed so far this month and I’m not giving up!
- Start taking the practice tests for HSK Book 2.
- Finish the First 500 Words and start HSK Level 2 Memrise courses. It really bothers me I didn’t get through this course last month. I WILL FINISH IT!
- Have a super awesome anniversary. More details on our plans soon!
- Finish my Assimil Mandarin Tome 1. So that I can get Tome 2 🙂
- Continue to minimize. I’ve been working on this behind the scenes, maintaining my get rid of one object per day since I instated that goal one or two months back. I have so much stuff still despite all of the efforts I’ve made to minimize. I’m slowly working through it all but I think it’s time for another big purge. The one item a day is just not cutting it.
My Language Learning Strategies and Updates
Here are some of the changes I’ve made to my language learning methods from previous months:
- Weekly lessons for Mandarin and bi-weekly lessons for Croatian (an improvement from not so many lessons last month)
- Conversations with myself (because I haven’t had time to socialize with real people as far as language goes :/ )
- Practice tests
- More Assimil – I’m really trying to finish the first Tome
- #IGLC hosted by Lindsay Does Languages
- Lots of Memrise
- Growing Up Chinese
- Trying out the classroom environment
Weekly Lessons for Mandarin and Bi-Weekly Lessons for Croatian on iTalki
More often than not I’ve been able to keep the majority of my Mandarin language lessons completely in Mandarin. There are still times when my teacher needs to explain things to me in English, but I’m getting much better at holding basic conversations in the language. Croatian lessons, on the other hand, are still mostly in English. It’s odd considering the fact that I began studying the language so much longer before Mandarin, but my ability in the language is still at the Beginner level. Our lessons are spent struggling through cases and grammar and I still haven’t really learnt any vocabulary (which is hard to do until after you’ve learned enough grammar as the words have so many variations). I’m trying not to grow frustrated with where I’m at with Croatian, but it’s getting rather difficult not to.
Conversations with Myself
I talk to myself in Mandarin quite a bit. In my head for the most part – not out loud! Unless I’m in my car of course. I’ve been doing this so much so, in fact, that my first response to simple questions is often in Mandarin and not in French or English (which would be normal for me). I was listening to a podcast for another language and realized about ten minutes in I was responding in Mandarin and not the desired language. Which, of course, I only noticed because I stumbled into a word I didn’t know in Mandarin that I knew in the other language and it struck me as bizarre. Code-switching is becoming a problem for me and I’m going to need to do something about it soon. I still also self-translate. I talk to M in Mandarin and then translate what I’ve said to him so he can understand. It’s a bit desperate (and annoying for him), yes, but it’s good practice.
I finished up the HSK Level 1 practice tests and succeeded in achieving a passing score on them all the second time around (the first time I only passed a few). It’s encouraging because it shows I’ve improved and that the goal I’ve set for myself might not actually be out of reach.
I’m trying to finish up the first Tome of Assimil because I will be able to purchase the second quite soon. I’m about halfway through (I haven’t been very consistent in using this resource). They’re incredibly helpful – you get to see and hear the language all at once with bite-size lessons. I try to ignore the pinyin and just read the characters as I listen. It has helped me to better associate the Chinese word with the Chinese character rather than the English word with the Chinese character which is what I was doing in the past.
I participated in Lindsay Dow’s Instagram Language Challenge again this past month, this time sharing cultural tips as part of the linkup. It certainly helped me to learn more about the culture of the language I’m studying and I think that’s incredibly important when learning a language. You can expect my summary post soon!
Spending Time with Memrise
I’ve become pretty obsessed with Memrise ever since they’ve added goals. I don’t know why, but it’s a pretty good motivator for me. And I’ll study until my 6,000 or however many points everyday just because I don’t want to ruin my streak! That and they have HSK specific sets and that’s helped me with my practice tests.
Since I have been working towards getting 7.5k steps in each and everyday, I have had more time to catch up on movies and television. I watched several Mandarin movies while I ran this past month and I’ll talk about them soon.
Growing Up Chinese
I recently discovered Growing Up Chinese on CNTV and I have since made my way through almost all 100 of their lessons. Some of it is far above my level, but I think that it’s sometimes good to try out material that is a little more challenging than usual. I’ve learned some fun cultural tidbits and idiomatic expressions!
I am subscribed to several great language podcasts, but I haven’t really spent any time listening to them in the past several years. Last month I was listening to a book on Audible, but now that it’s finished, I started to listen to language podcasts once more. During my commute to and from work, I can get through as many as 8 lessons (at about 15-20 min each) and so I am able to work through a lot of material each and every week. I don’t retain what I learn as well as when I have a notebook in front of me, so I aim for lessons that are more of a review of what I already know than lessons with things that are new to me.
Trying Out the Classroom Environment
I’ve been out of school for a while now, and if I’m totally honest, I kind of miss it. I recently discovered a Chinese school in my area so I decided to go check it out. They kindly let me sit in on a class for free to see if it was a good fit for me. The teacher was incredibly knowledgeable, but the students were at very different levels. I’m still undecided, but the next school year doesn’t start until next fall so I have plenty of time.
Resources I Used This Month
So, a quick recap on the materials I am using.
What I’m Using to Learn Mandarin:
- iTalki Lessons – Honestly, this is the best investment I’ve made.
- HSK 1 Practice Tests
- Growing Up Chinese
- Antosch & Lin
- Various Podcasts
What I’m Using to Learn Spanish:
What I’m Using to Learn Croatian:
The Biggest Lesson I Am Taking Away from This Month
Every Minute Counts
I’ve found that the things I’ve invested my time into have made a really big difference in my speaking, reading, and writing abilities. I still have a long way to go with my comprehension, but it’s because I haven’t invested as much time into it as I should have. The skills that you spend the most time on are the ones that are going to progress the most. Every minute counts, so make the most of the time that you have and spend it working on things that need improvement.
That’s it for me in April. What are your goals for this month?
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