Week #3 Progress Report

on Feb 4, 2015

As should be evident by the delay in my Week #3 Progress Report, it was an incredibly busy week. In addition to Chinese, I’m also training for a 25K trail run, a marathon, and a late Summer triathlon. My Chinese class is often out and around Tulsa on the Riverpark Trails or up at Turkey Mountain (which isn’t really a mountain, btw). As far as classrooms go, though, Turkey Mountain is pretty nice.Turkey Mountain Trail Running

Other than flashcards and class, I fell behind on each of my daily tasks, but by the end of the day Saturday, I managed to catch up.

Study 5 Podcasts Per Week

I studied the following podcasts during Week #3:

Elementary podcasts, even those Ken and Jenny tell me are Upper Elementary, are proving not so challenging except for acquiring some important vocabulary. While acquiring vocabulary remains a necessary and important goal, I think I need more challenging dialogues to keep me interested. So for Week #4, I have 2 intermediate podcasts on the docket.

One other thing I’m doing with my podcast selection is trying to pick content that includes vocabulary Emma is teaching me during our weekly class. I find the cumulative exposure to new vocabulary means less time drilling the same vocabulary with flashcards.

Daily Reading

Beyond various online reading, I added the children’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See to my reading list. Learning different types of animals may not be a high priority, but the repetitive sentence structure helps a lot with exercising the muscles necessary to speak Chinese sentences fluently. It also happens to include a series of tones that I find particularly challenging.

Conversation Practice

My friend Noah, the voice of DianHua Audio Dictionary, called last week, and we had a chance to catch up. During his break for Spring Festival, he’s going to try to call a few times each week to help me with conversational practice. I still want to add some language exchanges to increase the amount of practice each week, but it’s great to be able to spend time practicing with Noah.

Noah and I will be watching IPartment / 爱情公寓 and discussing the episodes during our calls. If you’re familiar with Friends, IPartment has a similar feel to it, and whether you understand the language or not, it’s enjoyable to watch. IPartment is beyond my current Chinese level, but it will provide Noah and I good conversation material beyond asking each other about work and family.

Chinese With Emma

Emma used to be one of the Mandarin teachers at my children’s partial immersion program here in Tulsa. Through the past few years, my family has had the opportunity to spend time with Emma outside of school and get to know her personally. I feel very fortunate she is working with me on my Chinese.

Beyond helping me with my Chinese, Emma runs a popular Youtube channel where she posts Chinese learning videos. Here’s a fairly recent video from her channel:

Though we’ve only had 2 classes so far, I think what has impressed me the most about Emma’s approach is that she always keeps you thinking. You can’t slip into rote memorization of a dialogue. She throws in new questions and answers along the way to make sure you’re understanding the lesson, not just reciting from memory.

Spaced Repetition Flashcards

I think I’m finally clearing my backlog from several years of ambivalent studies. Instead of seeing 200 cards at the start of each session, I’m now often seeing only 30-40. The plan now is to begin adding more words on a daily basis.

Progress Videos

I’m pretty sure I warned you that there would be more excuses this week, but I’m sure I’ll have something done by next week. Of course, it’s already the middle of “next week” as I write this, and just between you and me, I haven’t shot any video. But…I’ve thought about shooting video…