My Chinese learning journey

My Chinese learning journey

by Lou Salomé -
Number of replies: 0

大家好 (Hi everybody),

I'm Lou, a 40-plusser, with a sweet tooth for languages, ever since I earned my degree in linguistics, about 20 years ago. 

At that time, I also started studying  Japanese, but soon realized the language was not for me, as I hated hiragana and katakana and would by far have preferred writing everything in kanji, which probably explains my present fascination with Chinese. smile

I started Chinese merely out of curiosity for a language with a non-Roman script, but soon got completely hooked. 

Self-learning seemed the best way to go. Of all the languages I've studied, Chinese is probably the one that is less fit for studying in a linear and formatted way, as is too often the case when you join a brick-and-mortar course. 

After having tried a few on-line courses, I chose Tianxiang Li's course as it's by far the best course I've found, for the following reasons:

- the fact that the course is structured by HSK-levels is a real asset, as it makes it possible to study by objectives (HSK exams) instead of simply based on (self-inflicted) daily or weekly plans. Clear objectives are fundamental when you study on your own, because it is far more difficult to remain motivated otherwise. At the same time, if a course's plan is too strict, not allowing you to stray away whenever you want to dig deeper into a problem, you will miss out on what makes Chinese so unique as a language, namely that researching one thing will lead you to the next and so on. By allowing us to study by HSK level, but giving us complete freedom within the lessons to study in the order we choose (which is not possible with most other courses), or even to study two levels at the same time, this course does exactly that. 

- I particularly appreciate the fact that the owner of the site is very responsive whenever we post a question on the forum. I must add that it would be beneficial to all of us if we were a bit more active and posted more questions, as we can learn a lot from each other's questions. 

- the grammar points, whether within the lessons or on the forum, go far beyond basic explanations and often stimulate us to dig even further into the matter. 

- the site is user-friendly and well-structured, and more importantly, all levels and lessons are easily accessible from the same place you've logged into (unlike a few other courses I've tried). 

I spend quite some time looking up vocabulary, grammar and love finding out more about the etymology of the characters. My bookshelves are becoming more crowded by the second! I'm becoming a total addict! Haha! One of the things I love most are the 成语 chengyu.

Among the other apps or websites I use are Duolingo, because I like the drill exercises, the spaced repetitions, comments (and billboards), and Drops because it's fun like an on-line game and because it allows you to study vocabulary by topics (clothes, colors, sports, etc.), and Pleco to look up stuff. 

I've really tried to work with Anki because everybody recommends it, and also created some decent decks, but it doesn't work for me, because I can't learn vocabulary out of context and I hate the fact that I have to check-in on a daily basis. Instead, I use a kind of personal logbook where I pen down all the things I research, whether vocabulary, grammar stuff, characters or radicals and the logical links I find between them, and that works much better for me. Unfortunately, I don't spend anywhere enough time for my listening comprehension and conversation skills. Any tips or suggestions you may have to improve these would be highly welcome! 🙏

Wishing you all the best on your journey!