fail at chinese

142. Am I Doomed to Fail at Chinese?

Podcast Duration: 01:01:02

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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.

142. Am I Doomed to Fail at Chinese?

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22:32 Comments & Emails

Canadian Defector by Community

New purchaser here! 

My story

When we lived in California I made several good Chinese friends, but it never occurred to me start learning.  (We live in the Kansas City area now.)  I’ve long been a fan of Kung Fu movies and about a year ago enjoyed watching the entire Eternal Love 10 Miles Of Peach Blossoms series on Netflix.  By the end I could recognize a lot of words and the thought “you could do this, you could learn Chinese” wouldn’t go away!  After fully exhausting Duolingo I didn’t know what else to do to keep learning… and I’ve been struggling with actually remembering what I’ve learned.  I’m fortunate to have friends I can chat with in Mandarin on a weekly basis, but it’s embarrassing because I rely too much on my notes, and my tones have needed serious help.   Time to find a better way to learn.

I found Mandarin Blueprint through the pins I’ve been saving to my Pinterest board.   I just blew through all of the free content, started using Anki and I decided to take the plunge before the sale ends.   I’m hopeful this will be just the thing I need to master what I’ve already learned and to continue on my learning journey.  


Ric Santos on Vocab Unlocked from 脾

By now as I reach the end of Level 48, I thank Luke and Phil for the particular talent of the Mandarin Blueprint Method teaching only what is needed to move on…steadily forward. Their task is not to overload us learners with a complete volume at once.

I say this because it only in these past lessons 2 lessons that I learn very weird characters readily and with ease ( because the right moment has come). So to Luke and Phil, THANK YOU for what you DID NOT teach in the earlier lessons. Surely there were those who question: why you did not include this, or why have you omitted that, or why are topics are incomplete, and so on. We would have been overwhelmed, discouraged, frustrated and most probably discontinued.

An example of this is “啤“. This is the first time I succeeded to write it correctly, using “cracked” as a hint word. This led to a cereal that is not perfect, and although not perfect, it was not discarded totally. Rather it was brewed to be drunk as beer. So, similarly spleen also cleans “damaged” cells…giving the body a renewed force. So, thank you again for not teaching everything at once, and allowed Mandarin to grow in us.


Chris Lewis on 天 in Context

I love Chinese and learning with you guys! I can’t believe how simple the language is when you know a few things. Oxygen is just these two characters: 气 (air)and 羊 (sheep). I realize it’s not a requirement, but my y actor is in the living room looking out the window of my friend’s house at the millions of sheep sucking up all the air, and subsequently, there is no oxygen for her, and she passes out. Even the word cardio is locked in too. Thank you Mandarin Blueprint!


Matt Shubert on 别 in Context

I’ve heard that 别 is just a shortening of 不要, could the first sentence be even more compressed by saying “别这样,我们别分开“?I could imagine a sentence like this being said in a rushed, panicked way, so the less words the better for the tone (assuming it’s correct) 🙂


Eileen Roberson on MAKE A MOVIE 干

If I am not immediately ‘clicking’ with the movie making method, am I doomed? Does that mean this course is not for me?


William Beeman on Vocab Unlocked from 探

Could you guys say something about the construction Vb le Vb like 探了探 in this example? In reading, I see this often, and of course it is comprehensible, but could we have a clearer reading on its use and the meaning as opposed to Vb le, or just the Vb by itself? Thanks!


Rick Angleland on 火 in Context

Re: 我拿出一支蜡烛,点上了火。
Is 点 specifically meaning “to ignite” here?


Rick Angleland on 重 in Context

Re 你要重做 would it also be correct to say 你要再做?


Matt Shubert on 空气 in Context

Hey guys,


What’s the 中 doing there? Is it just specifying the air right here, in the middle of us, is the “area” that smells bad (not necessarily the air around us, across the room, etc.)?


Christopher Weeks on Vocab Unlocked from 以: 可以 -以为 -以上 – 以下

Does 以上 and 以下 work with regards to height limits for rollercoasters?
e.g. You must be above/below this height (or weight ) to ride the attraction?


William Beeman on Vocab Unlocked from 掉

I don’t quite get 请你把车头掉过来. Is it Please turn the car around? Please make a U-turn? I especially don’t understand 车头, (car-head? car-front? front of the car?) Can you parse this?


Matt Shubert on 往前 in Context

Could the sentence here, ‘一起往前走‘ also be taken metaphorically? Like saying “let’s move forward together as a [team, nation, family, etc.]”?


Jason Pon on 尤其是 in Context

Is there a particular difference between 特别 and 尤其是?


Jason Pon on 那就 in Context

Are 只有。。。才 (only if….then; the ‘essential condition’ & ‘desired outcome’ construction) similar to 只要。。。就 (as long as…then)? Or is 只有。。。才 more ‘strict’ in terms of meaning?


Jason Pon on 一…就… in Context

As a refresher… 开没开 (verb没verb) is the past version of verb不verb, right?

52:14 Vocab Living Links

This section covers “Living Link” mnemonic techniques to remember Chinese words of two or more characters. Here’s a video explaining the theory behind it.

Tina Clark on Vocab Unlocked from 几: 几个 – 十几 – 几百 – 几千

For 几个 I thought of that game where you guess HOW MANY jellybeans are in a jar. Would that better for 多少?

Tina Clark on Vocab Unlocked from 几: 几个 – 十几 – 几百 – 几千

Thank you for the speedy reply! I’m going with cupcakes in a bakery for this one (“HOW MANY do you want?”) and I’ll save the jellybeans for later.


Jeremy Marie on Vocab Unlocked from 每: 每(个)

I found this particularly difficult to objectify. For anyone that would like some food for thought, a phone book could be said to hold every phone number in a particular region, or a government entity that might know everything about you.


Christopher Neil on Vocab Unlocked from 小: 小时 – 小心

Googled 小心 and up comes images of signs with ‘caution, wet floor’ 小心地滑. Another quick win considering that 地 ‘ground’ is the last character we learned.


Gavia Arctica on Vocab Unlocked from 声: 声音

I used to watch the singing competition The Voice a lot so this one is clear: that characteristic and easily recognizable red turning chair from The Voice.


Tina Clark on Vocab Unlocked from 总: 总是

Lovesong by the Cure: “However far away I will always love you…”

57:18 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.

Jessica m on Make a Movie 异

After his divorce with Melinda Gates, Bill goes on a date with The queen. (I guess if you have that much money, you can make anyone go on a date with you). They get in the backyard of North Woodland on the deck. Bill tells her, “we were too different. We just drifted apart. She wanted to open the foundation. I’m a libertarian. I even fought to keep the vaccine patents from being given away. Here is my Gadsden flag to prove it. Don’t tread on me! and he proundy runs around carrying the flag.


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 理

Li-actress at the living room of the (3rd tone) of the -null set. She thought all along that the king (王) rules with logic & reason, only to find out that it was a computer (里) doing all the work for him when the King brought his computer with him. But the king was just using logic and reason; he practically owned the whole village (里) including the living room (3rd) in the – null set where Li-actress lived. Logical-lì (理).


Will Raley on Make a Movie 增

增 zēng To Increase

1. Zack Snyder at -eng’s Front door
2. Zack needs to INCREASE the size of a Wedding Cake (曾) he is delivering
3. He adds a load of Soil (土) to the Wedding Cake which INCREASES (增) its size