Learn Chinese Through Ever-Expanding Context

The Mandarin Blueprint Method course is broken into 6 phases. Each phase expands the context surrounding the piece of language that you’re learning. So, here’s a quick rundown:

Phase 1 – Character Components & Individual Chinese Characters Only

Phase 2 – Use the characters and components to expand the context to words of two or more characters.

Phase 3 – Use the components, characters & words to expand the context to individual sentences.

Phase 4 – Use components, characters, words & sentences to expand the context to paragraphs.

Phase 5 – Use components, characters, words, sentences & paragraphs to expand the context to full stories.

Phase 6 – Chase fluency & literacy!

I spent way too long in “Phase 3” as an intermediate Chinese learner, i.e., individual sentences. You need more context, and you start to get that in Phase 4 of the curriculum.

Why You Must Expand Beyond Individual Sentences

Imagine you never added a paragraph-length context to your study routine. You’d have a sequence of review sentences something like this:

“I love little kitty cats. Jerry was a great man but sadly couldn’t overcome his fear of peaches. Where’s the closest sporting goods store that sells artisanal toboggans? No one who has been to Sichuan province thinks the future is doomed. Is she upset at me because I admonished our goldfish?”

Heck. Each sentence is fine by itself, but they make zero sense together. Don’t you want to know more about why he admonished the goldfish?

Delving Deeper – Paragraph-Level Grammar

Chinese context learning Phase 4-Paragraph

The meaning of a sentence can change from the level below (words) and the level above (paragraphs). However, Grammar textbooks (blech!) tend to focus exclusively on how adding words or word order changes the meaning of a sentence. Therefore, the contextual and emotional significance of a sentence can also vary depending on its location within a paragraph.

For example:

Sentence by Itself: I’ll never leave.

Used in Paragraph #1:

You mean so much to me. I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I’ll never leave. Will you marry me?

Used in Paragraph #2:

You don’t stand a chance of escape. Even if you escape the confines of this cell, my memory will haunt you forever. I’ll never leave.


We hope that illustrates just how much a broader context matters. It influences the message, but more importantly, its capacity to engage you emotionally is higher than a single sentence.

If you want to ensure that you build context logically and methodically, sign up for The Mandarin Blueprint Method. Get started on your 14-day free trial here.

Best Way To Learn Chinese
2 March , 2020
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