Weeks #5 and #6 Progress Reports

on Feb 26, 2015

While I’m sitting here writing this report, I keep hearing this song in my head over and over again:
The wheels on the bus came flying off, flying off, flying off, the wheels on the bus came flying off…

So if you were wondering why weeks #5 and #6 are in the same progress report, now you know.

Zuckerberg’s Mandarin

on Feb 23, 2015

Last week, my social feeds blew up with news of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posting a Lunar New Year video greeting. Much like his Mandarin news conference in Shanghai, the U.S. news media delivered massive praise for Zuckerberg’s “fluent Mandarin.” In a lot of cases, news reports noted significant improvement from the press conference to the Lunar New Year video. However, if you dig into the comments on the videos and dive into some language learning blog posts, you will find a great deal of criticism, some of it quite vicious. Given the wide range of opinions, I felt like adding my voice to the chorus.

It’s Okay to Lie

on Feb 20, 2015

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?

Week #4 Progress Report

on Feb 12, 2015

Well, it’s been an interesting week, and as I’m posting this progress report for Week #4 on Thursday of Week #5, you can probably guess that I’m behind yet again. It took all day Saturday to catch up all of the tasks I had left incomplete for the week. And now this week, I seem to have made life even a bit more complicated with an ankle injury. Of course, I guess the injury will give me more time for Chinese since I can’t exercise as much, and it also allowed me to renew my love of left-footed driving. I wonder how you say left-footed driver in Chinese. Anyway, onto Week #4’s Progress Report…

Cultivate Habits, Not Tasks

on Feb 12, 2015

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.

Week #3 Progress Report

on Feb 4, 2015

Do you think Full-time Job, Chinese, Running, Biking, and Swimming is too much? Week #3 proved hectic but productive.

8 Strategies for Learning Chinese Characters

on Jan 31, 2015

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.