The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online course and the Pronunciation Mastery online course. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments from the online curriculum, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning and have special guests.
I agree that mnemonics is the faster and more memorable approach to learning Chinese characters. I also realize that at some point with enough repetition, especially if you can be immersed in the characters in daily life, you will know the character without needing to recall the mnemonic.
However, having tried 2 or 3 different mnemonic systems, they all tend to break down after a certain number of characters. In the Mandarin Blueprint method, the sequence of recall is:
1) Look at the character and try to dissect it into props (which themselves get a bit abstract after a while)
2) then try to remember where have I seen those props in a movie (i.e. which actor was using those props where?)
3) then try to remember 1 of 55 male/female; real/fake people and what those distinctions mean with a modified pinyin table (I was already very familiar with the standard table)
To me, the very unnatural part of Blueprint method is using props as the trigger for remembering an actor and set. Who remembers a real movie by thinking about props?
What am I missing and what advice do you suggest for getting over this hump. I’m only at character 37 and am already growing weary of the random abstract ways to cobble together props into movies.
(From Later Email):
This blog post explains the theory behind props and Chinese character components.
This blog post explains the theory behind actors and Pinyin Initials.
Ok, this category was really hard for me at first.
I now decided to go for Pokémon or Pokémon Gym Leaders. For “yu” I chose “Pyro”, who is called Blaine in the english version. But as a german he is the perfect yu-actor for me! 😀
This blog post explains the theory behind sets and pinyin finals.
This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.
For 玩 – wán, I’ve got Woody (wu-) in the kitchen of my -an set, with the following props: King from “Tekken” (王) and Shrek’s Outhouse from the “beginning” of the movie Shrek (元).
Song in background: “All Star” by Smash Mouth.
[If anyone remembers the iconic starting scene from “Shrek”, they’ll know why I chose the song haha.]
King is inside the outhouse in the kitchen, and suddenly slams opens the door (in time with the “Body” lyric, just like Shrek does). Looking a bit bored, he looks around for something to do. King then notices a giant Woody doll sitting on the bench and starts PLAYING with it.
The lyrics: “… get your game on, go PLAY” are heard in the background.
Keyword : To Request
Actor : Kim Kardashian
Set : The Alfred Hospital
Props : Razor Blade, Snowflakes, Drop
Melbourne had its worst winter in years and Kim Kardashian, who was having a holiday there, had to be hospitalised at the Alfred for having a cold for 2 weeks.
She was at the lobby, checking-in, writing on the special REQUEST form.
She wanted to be in a single room with a sculpture of a snowflake (as “seasonal decoration”).
The receptionist then took a bunch of snow from outside, scrunched em all up, and began to carve meticulously using a razor blade. She then used the eye dropper to drop special blue-dyed chemicals on the sculpture for it to not melt too fast.
Unfortunately, the hospital didnt have any single rooms available, so Kim began to create a scene.
Just then, the hospital lab gave her the good news – she has Influenza!!
She was then sent to the infectious disease isolation room, with her special snowflake sculpture, being totally ice-olated.
Just as she requested.
Keyword : To be Subjected To
Actor : Sean Connery
Set : The Alfred Hospital (My -OU set)
Props : A bald eagle, Crown, Alexander Hamilton.
After losing the Battle of Yorktown, King George III sent Sean Connery (as a British spy) to a neutral location to start peace negotiations with the US.
The US was represented by Alexander Hamilton, and they both met at the backyard parking of the Alfred Hospital, standing facing each other about 2 metres apart.
Sean Connery, wearing a crown, then said that as the messenger of the king, he now would like to concede the war and the US will be no longer BE SUBJECTED TO British rule.
A bald eagle then flew by, grabbed the crown on top of Sean Connery’s head and dropped it on top of Hamilton’s head – symbolically transferring power between the two parties.
“Perhaps I’ll see you in Paris?”, Sean said.
Hamilton smiled – “Perhaps”.*
*SUBJECT to The Federalist Party and the outcome of the next presidential election.
Location: GirlfriENd’s Apartment
Props: Top Hat and Hedge Clippers
My girlfriend and I are in the kitchen of her apartment cooking dinner together and I look outside to see Wolverine in a top hat using a set of hedge clippers to cut the lawn. I ask my girlfriend what is going on and she tells me that she hired Wolverine to take care of her lawn. I ask why he doesn’t just use a lawn mower like everyone else. She tells me that it is part of his CULTURE to use hedge clippers instead of a lawn mower, and she says that everyone in the Marvel CULTURE uses hedge clippers to cut their lawns.
For 随 – casual, I’ve got Stewie Griffin (su-) in the kitchen of my -ei set, with the following props: Giant Toothbrush (阝), Red Carpet (辶) and the doll Annabelle from The Conjuring (有).
Upon CASUALLY entering the kitchen in the middle of the night in his pajamas, Stewie, clutching his toothbrush, turns the light on and notices that Annabell is sitting on a Red Carpet right before him! He shrugs his shoulders and stoically smashes the doll with the toothbrush resulting in a CASUALTY
For 字 – letter, I’ve got Mark Zuckerberg (z-) in the bathroom of my Childhood Home, with the following props: Macaulay Culkin (子), and an Australian Cork Hat (宀).
Mark is standing mindlessly in the bathroom when a LETTER slips underneath the door. Intrigued, he picks it up and uses one of his lizard claws to open it. Suddenly, out comes Macaulay Culkin in a Cork Hat.
Location: Father-in-law Ed’s House (Backyard)
Actor: Joey (brother-in-law)
Props: Road and Emperor Puyi
We are all down at my father-in-law’s house shooting a commercial for the Mandarin Blueprint. My brother in law Joey is the client in the commercial and Emperor Puyi is standing on a road. The commercial begins by saying that the road to Mandarin fluency is long. My brother-in-law then walks up to Puyi and says, “how can I travel this long road”? Puyi holds up a laptop and you see the Mandarin Blueprint website displayed. Puyi smiles and says “with THIS”.
For 宝 bǎo – treasure, I’ve got Bruno Mars (b-) in the bedroom of my -ao set, with the following props: Australian Cork Hat (宀), and a giant Greenstone necklace (玉).
Bruno’s standing in the bedroom when he sees a giant Greenstone necklace and an Australian Cork Hat. Curious, he puts on the necklace first, and then the hat. Suddenly he feels this urge to dance the way he does in his song “TREASURE“. The room then transforms into the set for the music video, complete with backup dancers, lights and everything!
Keyword : Annoying
Actor : Freddie Mercury
Set : My Anatomy Lab
Props : Olympic torch, Page torn from a book
Freddie Mercury was meticulously writing songs at the hallway of my anatomy lab, enjoying the peace and quiet that he needed in order to concentrate.
Suddenly Rami Malek entered the the room, holding an Olympic Torch in one hand and a script book in another, practicing “We Are The Champions” out loud. He was surprised to see Freddie in the room; explained that he’s playing him in a movie and kept on asking him to correct his singing.
Freddie was annoyed with the fact that an actor, who couldn’t carry a tune was being paid to play a fake version of himself.
Rami continued to sing off-key, slighly off-beat, driving Freddie up the wall.
Freddie then snatched the script book from Rami’s hand, tore out a few pages and set them on fire using the Olympic torch.
Rami, scared, quickly left the scene, and Freddie went back to writing.
He then reflected on what just happened – it was so bizarre, that he wondered if it was real life or just fantasy.
Keyword : To Compose
Actor : Zazu from the Lion King
Set : My Other house
Props : Jason Momoa, a saw
Zazu was accompanying Jason Momoa at the backyard of my Other house, giving him advices on how to write songs for the character 作 in the Mandarin Blueprint method.
Jason, holding a saw for inspiration, was humming along, then suddenly burst out laughing.
Zazu, perplexed, then asked “Why the laugh, sire?”
Jason said “I wanted to compose a song with either the suggested props of a saw or my ex-wife (my first love). I accidentally ended up writing something that could mean both”
Zazu then asked “Oh what’s the title of the song?”
“The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”
Hey William, I really really really love your prop of a boombox for 西 and went to create a story for this character. I originally didn’t create one because I knew the character already, but this inspiration came in because of your prop suggestion and I’ll share it here to inspire others :
Keyword : To Want
Actor : Idina Menzel
Set : My -AO house
Props : Boombox, A pink top
Idina (still in the bathroom of my AO house) had an idea. Since ABBA already has its ‘Mamma Mia’ musical, and Queen has ‘We Will Rock You’, she wanted to do the same for the Spice Girls.
She then put on a pink top to play Baby Spice, carried a boombox on her shoulder and started to tell the story from A to Z.
“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want?”
She didn’t go wasting her precious time and quickly got her act together so she could be just fine.
P/s: Little that she knew, Spice Girls already had a ‘Viva Forever!’ musical that flopped on The West End.