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Chinese proficiency report 3

It seems incredible to me that two months have passed since my previous proficiency report, and since very much has happened in that time, I feel a need to write a third report about my progress learning the Chinese language. If I wish to use these reports as a means of evaluating and planning for my studying, I have better start writing more often. Perhaps once a month would be enough, which would but the language reports on par with the general monthly reports. I still think it is a good idea to keep these two things separate, though, since studying Chinese is by far the most important thing I do nowadays.

Above, I stated that much has happened recently, and I mean that in many ways. First and foremost, my Chinese ability has improved enormously in these two months. I will try to pin it down more accurately in the summary at the end of this report, so for now it is sufficient to say that I keep learning ever faster, or so it feels at least. I still spend lots of time studying, but in a somewhat different way than before (see my recently published articles about learning Chinese: attitude, new characters and revision). The most important change is that I now invest much less time in learning to write and much more time on learning to read and pronounce characters. Doing this, I have increased the number of characters I learn in a week enormously. Speaking with 瓊玉 and other people (in class or elsewhere) has of course been of great help.

That being said, I am constantly polishing my study strategy. For instance, I have begun to read a lot more than before (that is, books apart from our text books). This is something I will do much more in the future, and I am quite convinced that it will expand my vocabulary faster than any other way of studying. I also plan to write (writing stories or something; I do not mean practice writing characters) much more, since that is somewhat similar to speaking, but with extra time to think things through. If I know how to write properly, all I need is to be able to do it fast, and, voìla, I can speak (this is of course a simplification; please do not take it literally).

To sum things up, I will decrease the time spent on learning how to write characters and instead invest it in learning how to read and pronounce even more characters. Computer-aided writing will also hopefully boost my knowledge of how to actually use the vocabulary I learn. As usual, I will round things off by a summary of each of the four parts of language proficiency:

Speaking: My appreciation of the difficulty of speaking Chinese has changed for each report, but last time I regarded it as a big problem. Today, I do not. I think speaking is what I do best. I can usually express what I want to say, especially if given some time to think. My pronunciation also seems clear enough for most people to understand without much difficulty. Furthermore, I have lately felt a flow, allowing me to create longer and more complex sentences without requiring much time to think. I can speak for extended periods of time without having to stop.

Listening: Listening is the problem. I understand 99 % of what the teacher says and roughly 90 % of what 瓊玉 says (this is not because of differences in pronunciation, but more because my teacher generally speaks slower and use easier words compared to my girlfriend). However, when speaking to most other people, I am completely lost if no context is given. If I ask a question, I generally understand the answer, but if somebody says something to me, I invariably need to ask them to repeat their question. I have listened to many hours of Chinesepod and tried to focus on listening, but it is very, very hard. If people speak perfect Mandarin, it is fairly easy, but people do not, so this remains a big problem. 慢慢來!

Writing: Learning how to write Chinese is not difficult; it simply takes an awful amount of time. With an altered system of revision, I will be able to study more efficiently. As things stand today, my writing is slightly better than my speaking (see above).

Reading: Reading is steadily improving, but my great effort to learn characters faster is as yet only one week old, so hopefully I will have more progress to report next time. My Chinese is not good enough to read newspapers, instructions in public buildings or fairy tales for fourth-grade elementary-school children, but if I am lucky, I can get the gist of an instruction or a story.

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  1. Jason’s avatar

    it’s “fairy tales” i think you want :) but I just have to correct something since I’m so jealous of your progress, your environment (girlfriend + lots of classes), and most of all your self-discipline. Keep up the good work and good luck!


  2. Isabell Barrling’s avatar

    Hej hjärtat!
    Du är för disciplinerad. Det har ju alltid storasyster tyckt.
    Lite för lite alkoholrelaterade missöden. Glöm inte när jag söp bort plånboken tredje dagen i Australien eller när jag fick syrgas på en av flygresorna. Inte så roligt då, men en rolig historia att berätta vid väl utvalda tillfällen.
    Glad att du har träffat en tjej i min ålder…Det är ju något visst med den här årgången.
    Saknar dig massor och märker att du behöver stora syster spark i röva.
    Nu är det du som ska ta över när jag är ansvarsfull morsa och allt.
    Familjen Barrling kommer att sakna dig som tomte i år…
    Puss och knull
    Issa kissa


  3. Emma’s avatar

    Hej, vilken imponerande blogg! Ska läsa lite mer om dina reflektioner kring att lära sig kinesiska – jag kan säkert lära mig någt =) Kul att se dig och flickan – själv är jag i Taipei med min (taiwanesiska) pojkvän och pluggar mandarin sedan fem mån tillbaka. Ha de bra, lycka till!