Finally on the pronunciation track + Combining Goals

In the last post I talked about starting over and some more resources. This is an update since then and I am happy to share with you that I am almost done with the first CD, and the confidence in my pronunciation if not the pronunciation has really grown. I love those moments when my voice corresponds to the tones and I KNOW i’ve hit the target.

It is really important to remember that you should try and maintain your normal tone of voice. Singers or singers in training and vocal coaches will recognise this. You do not have to sound LIKE the chinese person you are listening although for the first 2 days you will have no other choice but imitation. But later on you will start experiencing an unnatural vocal stress, avoid it, consciously use your normal voice just make sure that the tones are right.

Check out http://www.sinosplice.com/  for more help on tones. Also for great iPad app reccomendations.

The second thing is that it can be discouraging to listen to boring content over and over again. Discouraging because its inane and you will feel like there’s no way you can get to more complicated stuff if even this takes a lot of time. Nope. Tonal languages are effing hard for those not born into them so get used to it. So what did I do? I combined it with something else i’m working on right now : losing weight. That one’s a real nightmare. So I just plug in my iPod and keep walking and listening to the Mandarin to focus away from the physical effort and so far its worked. What amazing is how you can finish CD1 (of teach Yourself Mandarin Conversation) in under an hour.

So thats about it for my audio update, I realize I need to play catchup with my Hanzi but I love how its balancing out. The priority this time is to figure out a way to really keep track of my learning and proper goal setting since the last one didn’t work out at all.

Thankfully italki and QQ are really helping out with finding language partners.

Starting again – Guilt and Gumption, Contests won and moar resources!!

The star of this entire post has to be Fluent Flix. I’m going to not write about it because it is just that awesome. On to the story..

So it has been almost 1.5 months of study break but not quite. I have spent the time looking at other methods of learning, occasionally revising the Hanzi i’ve learnt. Work, illness and general blues and procrastination have kept me off a routine but in the past couple of weeks i’ve started to make it up.

First by listening to a lot of : Teach Yourself Mandarin Chinese Conversation 

I was avoiding these conversations because they sounded cheesy and lame and after learning 2 languages you think you’ve seen it all but repetition works. Make sure you are doing some chores or walking on the treadmill while listening and loudly repeating these phrases, once you’re in the groove, it’s hard to get out.

Second, a huge shout out to Moses McCormick who announced a contest where you had to put up videos in your native language for a chance to get to study with him for a year, 6 months and 3 months respectively. Unfortunately, I didn’t win but Moses gave away 2 levels of an FLR course of your choosing and also 1 hour of conversation with him to all the participants. How generous is that! My one hour was spent mostly talking about how to learn and practice tones, racism, language difficulties, latin languages, why Moses does what he does. I didn’t even realize how the hour passed and he was so nice about the whole thing. Hey, I got the FLR levels 1 and 2 for Mandarin (yay!) and I highly recommend it although its not fitting into my schedule right now.

In more good news, I won a Livemocha contest giving me a gold key access to every language course for a whole year! Best thing ever! That contest has passed but they’ve started a new one, you must go check it out and best of luck! Livemocha is where I started my language learning journey and I found some really good friends there that I found to this day and a lot of opportunity to practice, I highly recommend that website.

Sign up for their facebook/twitter page or feed their blog link into your reader to stay updated. The blog carries a lot of great language learning advice as well usually.

Moses suggested a 3 hours/day learning schedule. 1 hour learning, 1 hour speaking to a native, and I forget what the other hour was for. But I ran into my “how do I find a native to practice with? problem” Moses said he’d help me out, but I went ahead and found some on my own.

Sign up to Italki first. And/Or Lang8. Then get QQ messenger. Bam! More natives (and such nice people!) to talk to than you can handle. Funnily enough, after getting serious enthusiastic commitments from some for daily practice I immediately proceeded to lose my voice which was a real bummer, but hey there are a lot of them. The best thing is that QQ is full of bored teenagers always online and ready to practice their english and explore new cultures.

In other news , I really love the way online learning trends are going especially for adults (like me). I’ve been wanting to catch up on my formal education for a while now and I highly recommend :

Udacity
Coursera

Aw heck, just go to Class Central. Enjoy!

Also, try Ribbonfarm for some serious miscellaneous reading.

PS : I just integrated Evernote and Dropbox and this blog is going to get better now as I’m planning to invest in some technology so I can stay connected to my resources and write anywhere.

15 day break update

So as detailed in one of the previous posts, I had to take a break from studying from RTH and revise what I had learnt. This turned out to be a difficult thing to do because once you take a break, it is hard to be productive,especially once you have settled into a routine. Many times I thought about whether I was doing the right thing, and maybe it would have been better to maintain that perfect pace of 15 Hanzi per day. I kept on doing anki for a few days but even that petered out in a few days and the studies came to a grinding halt apart from the occasional exposure to the audio. That added to more pressure at the job and international travel made things more hectic.

But the truth is, the change of atmosphere has done me good, now I can relax and start again stress free. Reading what is written at the start of Lesson 11 makes you realize that it was the right thing to do. You are not in a race. This is something you do because you enjoy it. And this is very important to me as this is one of the few things in my life that I will do to my satisfaction, from start to finish, in a thoughtful and consistent manner.

Remember, Chinese is your friend.

So, having found a nice place to study and a few more days in hand of my mini vacation, tomorrow I begin revising the 222 Hanzi and with 4 more days in hand, let’s see how it goes!