So you’re sitting down to chat over Skype with a new language exchange partner, and everything is going great. You’re exchanging names, discussing work, asking about each other’s hobbies, and then it happens. You’re asked a question that requires a more nuanced answer than you can produce in your target language. What do you do?
Especially in my professional career as a software developer, I am a task completer. I sit down (or stand) at the computer, open my project management software, and start plowing through tasks. This works well because there is a tangible penalty for not completing tasks…losing my job. When you voluntarily undertake learning a skill like speaking a language, golfing, or playing guitar, the only penalty is not progressing. So how in the realm of self-improvement, lacking some intrinsic, inexplicable motivation, do we progress in our learning endeavors? Instead of merely completing tasks, we must cultivate habits.
We’ve all been there, staring at a flashcard and confidently proclaiming “jǐ” when the character in question was actually “yǐ”. Though they may not be perfect, I have developed several strategies to address the challenges of studying Chinese characters.