Episode 166 - Beginning is more than half of the whole Chinese learning Journey

166. “The Beginning is More Than Half of the Whole”

Podcast Duration: 01:22:19

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

166. “The Beginning is More Than Half of the Whole"

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13:34 Comments & Emails

Liam Llamazares on Level 58 Review

Hey guys! I finished your course recently, thank you so so much for putting it all together!! At around level 48, I stopped learning words through the course and just learned the characters. Using your method I have also learned some more characters than are on the intermediate course while I wait for the advanced course. I know around 2000 characters now and can pick up any fiction book and recognize almost all of the characters (is this reality?! XD)! I use LingQ which you guys recommended it and it really helps with quickly looking up words and saving them for later reviews in Anki. I don’t know most of the words but am slowly learning them and they seem to stick better due to reading them in context (another of your useful tips). This is only the beginning of the journey but as Aristotle, and my wise father :P, like to say, “the beginning is more than half of the whole”. Just wanted to thank you guys again for making all of this possible! You are making many people’s dreams come true and for anyone looking ahead know that with consistency and enjoyment to guide you you can do it as well.

Thanks again!!!


JOHN CRAMER on Navigating Phase 1 Level Reviews

Thanks for the shoutout, Luke! By the way, I want to share with you and Phil that Mandarin is my seventh language to learn and acquire. I grew up speaking English and Greek, then studied Spanish, Italian in school and minored in German in college. I studied in Austria and lived in Germany for many years and achieved fluency in German. While in Europe, I also learned some French on my own, though I am not fluent. I’ve tried various methods to learn foreign languages: books, recordings, tutors, classroom instruction, movies and TV shows, and most recently, YouTube. But, by far, the Mandarin Blueprint method is the most effective way I have discovered learning Chinese. An additional benefit to this method is that it has also reinforced my understanding of the other languages! For example, I can use words and concepts from other languages to form mnemonic connections, which I can’t do in English. And these connections reinforce my conscious recall of words and phrases in different languages, especially since I do not use them every day. So keep expanding the Blueprint and designing new products. I’m digging this method!

Thank you Luke and Phil!


Kolia on Level 22 Complete

I’m currently on a 21″ inch screen and the “All words” section of the Overall Character & Word Learning Progress page pretty much fills the whole of it now. It looks massive 🙂

I passed HSK3 many years ago so I supposedly knew much of it already, but now, I know that I knew nothing at that time. Now I KNOW these 307 characters, up to the stroke orders. This is amazing.

And life in China actually became even more enjoyable, any Chinese written on a wall becomes immediately an opportunity to identify props in them, they don’t look indecipherable anymore, quite the opposite.

You can be proud of your work, you’re going to unlock so many Chinese speakers over time.

Thank you!


emma ? on Set the Scene -A 8/13

At this stage every time we are recalling a movie should we be actively trying to recall the scene? Some characters I do know already but I do go through the scene any way just to keep it active. My average time on each movie card on Anki at this point is about 4-5 minutes is this normal? Also when reading is it normal to pick apart some of the props you see in order to recall the scene? Like how does it work for most people when you see a character that you recognise in order to recall?

Just to add that I am really enjoying how this works and picking these sets and people to make films and scenes. It’s really hard sometimes but I am loving doing it!! And to be able to remember each part of the character via props is just so clever.


Dan Malleck on The “Living Links Logic” of Chinese Word Learning – Part 2

I have to say this very long process for each word is really disconcerting. Spending so long coming up with a mnemonic for each character makes me want to go back to rote memorization!


Thomas Brand on Level 37 Complete

I appreciate the hints, and I have applied these methods quite effectively to the 1000 or so words taught in the Foundation Course.

Phil’s instructions in the video at the beginning of this level were to just read the sentences and move on. Not to go through the mnemonic and card-adding procedures for each one.

It may well be that I’m unusually dim. Are most course users able to understand and recall each of those new words reliably after seeing them once?


Anne Giles ? on Make a Movie 像

Two questions.

1) In English, when comparing two things, some things are considered similar and some things are considered interchangeable. A simile expresses a comparison between two things that are similar, often using “like” or “as”: “Anger is like a full-hot horse, ” and “Fluent as the sea.” A metaphor expresses the idea that two things ARE each other: “Juliet is the sun.” Does this concept – that some things are like each other vs. some things ARE each other – exist in Chinese?

2) When comparing two things as like each other, it seems as if we have two choices: ​​一样​ yīyàng​ (Level 16) or ​​​​像​ xiàng​ (Level 29).

Chinese Grammar Wiki offers this example using both:

我 像 你 一样 大 的时候,还 不 知道 手机 是 什么 。
Wǒ xiàng nǐ yīyàng dà de shíhou, hái bù zhīdào shǒujī shì shénme.
When I was as old as you are, I didn’t know what a cell phone was.

Can you help disambiguate ​​​​像​ and 一样? If so, thanks!


Kolia on 江 in Context

Which reminds me of the amazing Chinese TV show 大江大河 (aka ‘Like a flowing river’) , which I would recommend to anyone wanting to practice their Chinese and learn about China during the economic reform period (end 1970’s to 90’s). It’s available on YouTube, even with English subtitles.


Brian O’Connor on Level 13 Complete

Bravo on level 13 guys! So helpful and so much fun (hard work too, but enjoyable work, which is the key to perseverance.)

My only wish was that we had already made movies for the top-down words that were used most often in Level 13. I would have loved to have already had 他, 在, and 你 in my movies, for example. But the good thing is, I can now read these! (Although I can’t remember how to write them yet.)


ronald kirshner on It’s a Word! 但

may i ask a question about how the MB system is suppose to work . we just learned the character for “daybreak ” . so we developed a movie scene for this character . then we made a prop from this character ,in this case it was a rooster .

at this early stage of learning , when i see a character in a sentence or even in flashcards i sometimes have to stop and think about the meaning of the character . as i conjure up the meaning would the MB method dictate that i think of the movie scene that built the character or would it be prop that the character becomes (rooster).
i understand that it is not as formalistic as i describe , and i also realize that at some point there will be no thinking . however i am interested how you would have us build our character recognition .
as always , thank you for a wonderful product


Philip Dong on 多 in Context

Hi Luke and Phil, in lesson 22, the sentence, 他对这件事不想多说; can it be written as 他对这件事不想说的多 instead?


Philip Dong


Brennan Pimpinella on Make a Movie 诉


My question is unrelated to the make a movie for 诉.

I am currently shadowing a virtual audit in China with work. The audit is being performed entirely in Mandarin and I am picking up on something that I have a question about.

When someone is reading a string of numbers out loud, for example, 20200005193, the 1 is not pronounced yi first tone. They are saying “yao” but I can’t grasp if it is yao first tone or second (confident it is the first tone, however). Would that be how you say 1 if it is in a string of numbers, say a serial number (like how two of something is 两 and not 二) or could this be a case of it is just another way to say 1.

布倫南· 皮姆平內拉


Ómar Yasin ? on 狗 in Context

In the second sentence:


Is 从 here indicating that the dog came from (or away?) from the door?


Chris Young on 最近 in Context

What’s the function/meaning of “”过得” in 你最近过得怎么样?If I take those characters out, I get the general meaning of the sentence, but I’m struggling to get what these add.


Chris Young on 后来 in Context

In this sentence “后来,它们生了一只小狗,我叫它“小白”。”, would the last part more accurately be “I call it Little White”, as in that’s the name I gave the puppy when it was born and how I call it now? As opposed to “我叫了它“小白”, “I called it Little White” meaning that’s how I named it when it was born.

What I’m getting at is whether there’s a “了” after “叫” implied in the original sentence because we established that we’re talking about the past and the whole text is about the past, so we can leave it out. Or if we’re currently talking about the puppy, and only the bit about the birth is in the past, in which case the last part is present.

I know this is getting into the weeds, but I feel like I can understand the basic meaning of sentences now (!!!) so I’m trying to get some of the nuances.


Micaela Ellison on 名字 in Context


When I first read this sentence, I thought 了 would be pronounced “liao.” But then I realized if that were the case, the sentence would likely be 另外一些人的就记不了. So can I also say it that way?


Mirko R on 份 in Context

I have a question regarding 把面包平均分成两份儿
Pleco tells me that 平均 is an adjective, so why is it not
把面包平均地分成两份儿 ?

Micaela Ellison on 认真 in Context

你一定要认真工作。This appears to be the adjective + verb combination. But I’m thinking it’s not because there’s no 地. Is 工作 actually a noun here?


Micaela Ellison on 问题 in Context

你有什么问题吗?I thought you could also simply say 你有问题吗?If so, is there any difference in meaning?


Micaela Ellison on 真 in Context

Is 真的 a compound word? I recall people using it often as a response. Similar to saying “really?” after someone makes a statement.


Seantay Hall on 手机 in Context

In this sentence, “你看,这是我才买的手机” I would have naturally used 刚买的。Is this okay? Are they completely interchangeable?


kym Thomas on Vocab Unlocked from 指

with this sentence, 在中国吃饭时用的是筷子,不是手指 I’m confused by 时用的 is it time and time?


Philip Dong on 多 in Context

Hi Luke & Phil. In level 22, the sentence 这里环境很好,多少人想来呢!The translation shows it as: The environment is really great here, loads of people are wanting to come! I translate 多少 as “how many”, so would it be ok to say 这里环境很好,很多人想来呢 instead?

Philip Dong


Mirko R on 到 in Context

I don’t understand the function of the 正. Does 正穿着 mean something like “at that time wearing”?

Thanks in advance!

14 December, 2021