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It’s time to leave the surface

Even though I live in Taiwan, I’ve had the feeling for a while now that I’m just cruising on the surface, rather than truly immersing myself in the language. I use all kinds of floaties to avoid submerging (such as using English to write this post or read books, or using Swedish to chat with friends). I realise that I spend a fair amount of time using Chinese in class and speaking with friends, but since my overall learning strategy is dependent on covering huge amounts of material, I need more.

I haven’t properly explained my overall learning strategy here yet, but this is not the place to do it. In short, though, I try to learn as much as possible (pure quantity) as fast as possible, and then care about usage and grammar later. In other words, I spend almost all my time studying learning new words and grammar patterns, without spending time learning how to use them. As soon as I have studied a word or pattern, the idea is that I can then pick it up in conversations, books and so on, gradually building up a feeling for how a particular part of the language works. I’ve found that I really need to see words in Chinese before I can truly learn them, simply listening to someone explaining what a word means doesn’t work very well.

Needless to say, this strategy requires that I listen to and reads a vast amount of Chinese, because otherwise large chunks of the words and patterns will be left in some sort of limbo where I can probably understand them, but have no way of using them on my own. This is very similar to how native speakers learn in the first place, and it it’s identical to the way I’ve learnt English (just check the Literature page and you’ll know).Quality is important, but quantity is essential. A native speaker needs many, many years to learn the language properly, I’d like to speed it up a bit.

In my attempt to emulate a native speaker’s learning environment, I’m not going to cut all connections to the surface and the berathable atmosphere of English and Swedish, but I’m gooing to imerse much more than before. For instance, I’ll stop reading and listening to English (except for the Economist) for a while, focusing only on Chinese, which means there will be a lot fewer reviews here for a while. I’ll continue writing about other topics here in English, of course, and I’ll also continue with some writing projects in Swedish, but from now on, I intend to spend a lot more time reading and listening to Chinese. Close the hatch, prepare to imerse!

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