Episode 197. Mandarin grammar and pronunciation Q & A with Luke

197. Master 3000+ Chinese Characters in Just One Year (part-time)

Podcast Duration: 00:31:38
Advanced Chinese in Just One Year || Podcast No.197

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2:00 Comments & Emails


James Rogers by Email

Hi Luke and Phil, it’s been a while since I touched base with you guys and thought you might like to hear how things are going for me.

First of all I want to thank you again for teaching me 3000+ Chinese characters! It’s amazing to think that at about two hours a day I managed to learn to read a lot of the most useful Chinese language in a year! That’s about 5 years quicker than it took me to learn my native language, lol! It’s an incredible gift to have and I don’t think I could have done it without you. I had been doing the Heisig books but being given all the tools to break it down a lot more, connect the pieces A LOT better (I didn’t have to go back and learn pronunciation!) as well as embed all the reviewing into the course was invaluable. It really is a world class course.

So I finished the course in June last year and have just been ploughing my way through as much content as I possibly can. I did find that it’s one thing to know two characters, it’s another thing to know the compound word…but slowly I’m getting there. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of stories since June and it’s paying off. I had a few speaking lesson in July but was really disappointed in myself, I just couldn’t process fast enough and couldn’t output well enough. I felt I just needed more input time so decided delayed speaking lessons. I found a new tutor in November…

She has been fantastic for me. She’s so patient and reassuring and this time I found that I improved quite quickly. Within 4 weeks I was getting most of what she said at Native speed! The outputting has taken a while to get into, some of it is learning how to use what you know and not just trying to translate from English. As Luke has been saying recently simple sentences that are correct beat more complex incorrect sentences hands down. I love every lesson.

I signed up to ChinesePod about a month ago to get some good conversation exposure as I was finding a lot of what I was reading was great, but not as useful as conversation material as what I really want to do is talk with Chinese speaking people. I really like ChinesePod, the content is great and I’m picking up a lot of phrases after many times of listening to the dialogues on repeat. In a month I’ve read through and learnt to understand about 140 dialogues which I think is invaluable.

I made some Chinese friends last August and I could speak a little with them but didn’t get much of what they said…we went to go and see them again in January…the difference was huge! There was a few times I caught them out as I was able to understand what they said, that was pretty cool.

All in all I’m loving learning Chinese and I’m just relaxed into it now, taking in as much as I can and it’s working. We have some friends in Taiwan who we are going to see for 8 weeks next January, we’ve will have been saving for over three years and I’ve been learning Chinese with that in mind…and I’m starting to feel that I may be fluent enough to really enjoy it.

Thanks again, hope it’s going well at Mandarin Blueprint HQ’s. Jimmy.


Christopher Dolman on Make a Movie #3050 – 掷

Wow. Made it. It’s strange to think that when I started with Mandarin Blueprint it didn’t even have a character #3050. But we knew that’s where we were headed and back then, to reach this point seemed like the summit of Mt Everest.

Now I’m here, I think it seems more like I’ve arrived at Base Camp, having trekked from the Bay of Bengal. Quite a journey, steadily putting one character in front of the other.

Thanks so much to Phil and Luke for synthesising different fields of knowledge to create this approach which has made it possible for me to become so fascinated with this language.

Thanks to the other MBs for your posts and inspiration, especially those in the early days including Chad, Dom, Julian, Ija and William. They’re the real legends of language learning!

Thanks to all my Actors, I couldn’t have done it without you. There’s too many to name but you know who you are.

Now, I’m looking forward to setting off from Base Camp and gaining some altitude pretty quickly – putting time into active listening, revisiting all those short stories and expanding my world of comprehensible input. That’ll be fun. And I’m looking forward to those flashcard review decks gradually trailing off too!

Thanks again Luke and Phil – I’m looking forward to staying in touch with MB!


Teodor Ruokolainen on Level 58 Review

I’m finally here! The intermediate course has been an interesting journey. At the end of the foundation course, I had just started to dip my toes into easy immersion materials. But I’m amazed what I can understand now. Previously listening to the podcast茶歇中文 was a real struggle and I had to constantly look up words. Today I have listened to all 61 episodes, and it is easy! I don’t know every single word, but enough that I can easily follow along when using transcripts (and even without when I do passive immersion).

This is not to say that I am fluent. I still struggle to comprehend other immersion material. In some cases, it’s due to a lack of 汉字 knowledge, but often it’s a lack of vocabulary. I often find myself understanding 99% of all characters in a text but still not completely comprehending the full picture. It’s a pretty surreal experience that 汉字is not necessarily the hard part anymore. Who could’ve thought? This is mainly due to me not spending a lot of time with the unlocked sentences, I simply read them once and continue. But I’m confident that I’m able to catch up if I continue to be diligent with my immersion and maybe revisit some old sentences if needed.

For some data, I started the Intermediate course the 20th of December 2022. I initially kept a pace of 10 new characters per day. At level 45 I started a new pace of 20 characters a day. This was also around the time when I stopped adding new sentences to my review. It’s nice to be able to have a higher tempo but it requires me to immerse a lot more as mentioned earlier.

Another thing I noticed during the intermediate course was that my visualization skills really has improved. During the early stages of the foundation course, it was hard for me to form scenes in my head. I had to be really careful when choosing actors and props to make sure that they were really distinctive in my mind and had a clear usage or behaviour. I also couldn’t animate my scenes, instead I had to form still images in my mind, preferably constructing a “snapshot” that contained actors, props and meaning in one. That was really challenging.

But now I don’t stress about it at all. I can choose any prop I want, as long as I’m familiar enough with it. I can even form all the “special effects” such as zooming in, slow motion and changing camera angles.

I wanted to bring this up because I don’t think this is highlighted enough in this program. We are not only improving our Chinese, we are also improving our visualization skills as well. This is of course not only useful for Chinese, but for almost anything in life as memory athletes has shown us. Training visualization gives us the tools to remember anything we want. Maybe we need to use different techniques to encode data, but the main principle of visualization is still the same.

Anyway, thank you Luke & Phil, as always, for creating such an amazing platform. See you in the Upper Intermediate course!


John McCann on Pick a Prop for 十

This is my second go-round with MB. I now can make this my priority, was in the hospital off and on since Dec. 25, 2022, and my doctor wants me not to be over-active (I am not working, and am on disability), That said I have put aside all distractions- the biggest was studying two languages at once (French, which I am much more advanced in), however, am taking Luke’s advice about making learning Chinese my #1 priority (along with health). Despite the fact that it is possible to study French and Mandarin, there became the “time” issue. I made the decision to devote 2 hours a day to studying Mandarin (maybe more)instead of an hour on French in the am and Mandarin in the Pm >I struggled with the Hanzi movies because I made them too complicated. I am a visual person, as my vocation is a Chinese and Japanese art historian. Am only going to focus on Mandarin and try to keep my movies memorable! I took the time, very valuable to do revision on the pronunciation segment. Wish me luck!


Teodor Ruokolainen on Vocab Unlocked from 蓝

Haha, yes I agree with all the others about 汉语蓝图. Thanks for the laugh!


Gabriel Perera on (BONUS) How to Develop Great Study Habits Part 4: Belief

Thank you guys – really starting to feel some momentum.


Jen Soccorsi on (BONUS) The Language Learning Tripod Part 1: Attitude

Thanks for sharing about conversations/listening to opposing views in Chinese culture. This makes me even more excited to acquire Mandarin and engage in authentic conversations because often in the West, I’m holding my tongue!


Lancelot Everyman on Choose Your Challenge

I’m going for Insanity!


Dean Depenbrock on 想 in Context

Does 我想你了 have a romantic connotation or is this something one would say to friends and family members as well?