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Episode 182 - 3050 Characters Learned & Goodbye China!

182. 3050 Characters Learned & Goodbye China!

Podcast Duration: 01:11:22
182. 3050 Characters Learned & Goodbye China!

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9:39 Comments & Emails

James Rogers by Email

Hey Luke and Phil! It has been accomplished!!! I have finished learning (probably more accurately unlocking as I think a few more reviews and some consolidation is needed, lol) all the characters thus far in the illustrious Mandarin Blueprint Course. I finished a few days ago but the joy is finally sinking in and my overloaded brain couldn’t formulate and email, lol.

I wanted to finish before the one year mark which I managed to beat by almost 4 weeks in the end. I can’t believe that it’s been a year and that I’ve actually done it. Thanks you both soooooooooo much for all the work to make such a wonderful course. I’m sure there’s lots that I could say about the journey but I’d like to make a few comments to (hopefully) encourage those who are nearer the start.

I spent a lot of time at the beginning calculating how quickly I needed to get through the characters to reach 3000+. It often lead to me feeling overwhelmed, especially at the beginning when you have to spend a minute just trying to remember who your ‘h’ actor is or where your ‘ou’ set is! So frustrating! I found it particularly hard emotionally when I got the end of the foundation course thinking that I would be able to read a lot of Chinese content…and then couldn’t…and then the end of the intermediate and still felt like I couldn’t. I’d also get overwhelmed when I’d hear comments to the effect of ‘learning the characters is just the start of the journey ‘ it already feels like a mammoth task doing that to then think you’ll have to learn the language after it really got on top of me at times…

So just a few points that may encourage you if you are feeling like this. I have spent about 1.5 hours a day for 11 months on the MB course. In the last month I’ve learnt 600 characters…. that’s 20% of the course characters!!!! I’ve not even put in more time. But as you get further along the line you need to learn less props so you’re more familiar with components and you see more phonetic connections between characters. It does get a lot easier. But much more thank just learning the characters I unlocked loads of sentences to help me get a feel for the language. I can now read Chinese (and understand a reasonable amount) and write Chinese characters! In a year! I think anyone can do the same. Traverse says that I’ve done 50,000 reviews in 6 months! That has to all be going in.

The real enjoyment of the whole process comes from immersion though. I will be honest I was slow off the mark with immersion as I didn’t get what Phil and Luke meant by it and didn’t get the value in watching or hearing stuff that I didn’t understand. I really do now. I listen for a few hours everyday while at work window cleaning and it’s really starting to sink in. I would often get disheartened when I’d hear other people say that they are somewhere in the later part of the course (sometimes in levels before me!) and now they can watch a Chinese film and understand most of it…I still can’t. It’s just the reality for me. My understanding increases very slowly all the time but at least I understand parts of films and programs now. Content I’ve heard a number of times I can really get what’s going on. I’d love to be able to say that getting to the end of the course means you can understand all Chinese that you hear but that’s not my experience…but it will be one day. It can’t not be. I listen everyday!

Something funny I have noticed is that when I watch Chinese dramas with my wife and we use the English subtitles, so she can understand I sometimes hear the end of the sentence in Chinese while reading the start of the sentence in English…and my brain gets what going on before the subtitles even finish. The brain is incredibly designed!

I’m using the new Fluent Forever app and loving it! Thanks for the interview with Gabe! It’s exactly what I needed. Connecting the pictures to concepts and sentences like we did in the foundation course is really good fun and so effective. The language is huge…but so are the characters…and I’ve done that…just small wins everyday get you there.

I’ve got 6 months more study and immersion time before I can afford a tutor and really look forward to speaking with someone. I’m a very impatient person…but once I started just focusing on what I needed to do today…the time passed and the improvements came. Have a goal for what you need to do each day…but don’t worry about calculating where it will lead you…the process isn’t linear, it’s accumulative.

The tip to listen to something in another foreign language when you get disheartened is also great. Listen to Cantonese! It’s hilarious how you understand none of it. Focus on what you’ve learnt and what’s coming up this week not all that you have to learn.

Finally thanks Luke and Phil. Incredible course, it really is and 加油 fellow MB’s


Emma Tang by Email

omg feed back is awesome thank you. i knew i had some issues with x q j but i couldn’t figure what it was! it just never sounded right. i was previously pronouncing x far too similar to sh and now i think i’ve gone the other way lol. also i felt like a lost cause with the -ü and -uan lol but hopefully your advice will make that sound slightly better! once i was able to read and speak faster some pronunciations went backwards so i really appreciate you taking time out to help me before i get into bad habits. it took me ages to stop pronouncing “a” like an english person lol we have such lazy ahs.

in answer to your questions, yes, i am complete beginner. my family are chinese and i’ve always wanted to learn but never got far because traditional classes just dont fit how i learn and i never enjoyed it. mandarin blueprint was how i started properly. i signed up mid october last year. before that i literally only knew 你好吗,我很好。 and not even in 汉子 just spoken. i used the course pretty much in complete isolation and was very religious about it for about 5 months and got to level 21, did my anki every day until maybe a couple months ago when i got a tprs tutor on italki (she is awesome) and unlocked listening comprehension. now i spend a lot of time watching stuff entirely in mandarin from my tutor and other native content creators on youtube. because this is super exciting i’ve neglected my anki and the course slightly, but i am now back on it so that all skills keep increasing! i also use duchinese a lot i love reading stuff on there, im reading the three kingdoms at the moment which is just mind blowing that i’m able to read a proper story. basically i consciously get a ton of input every day, hence why when i came back to the course to read i was like wow this is easy let’s actually use this to practice pronunciation instead and see how i can make that better- i properly appreciate the feedback thank you.

happy for you to use it because even if it’s not perfect, it’s because of this course that i’ve got to this point so far!



sarah bardin on Level 22 Complete

I haven’t been super consistent but I keep coming back to my studies and as I rewatch ‘The Rational Life’ (a super cute series for any students who want a Chinese show to watch btw) after quite some months, I now recognise how much more I can understand and recognise of the language. Not to mention I can speak a little to my husband and MIL. I’m really happy with the progress and don’t think it would’ve been possible with a traditional course. Thanks so much, guys!


Teodor Ruokolainen on Make a Movie 九

Woho! 475 characters later and I’m finally able to count to ten! 😀


Ken on Vocab Unlocked from 充

Thank you much not only for answering my question but for sharing some very useful resources. I really appreciate it, very much! I have actually also researched and tried to understand them on my own first, at times, I just find myself confused and overloaded so your help means a lot.


Annette Bicknell on How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Speak? (Feat. Matt vs Japan)

Re. “cross talk”
This is not as simple as Matt makes it out to be. As mentioned in other posts, I grew up bilingual and was surrounded by people growing up who spoke either of the two languages to varying degrees. Some were as fluent as I, others less so. When speaking to someone using both languages, but each of us having a preference and speaking in the “cross talk” Matt talks about, you really have to consciously speak the language you choose. I have noticed over the years doing this with three languages in various ways with different people that there is an inherent (going back to the stone cave?) urge to be on the same page, as in literally speaking the same language and wanting to adjust to be in sync. I have caught myself switching and have had others switch to what I spoke too. It’s an interesting psychological thing that perhaps someone has an answer to, this incredibly strong urge to want to speak the same language.

On another note, some languages are inherently more polite than others in the way you address people, in the terms you use. For example, I noticed the Chinese language puts oneself first and then everyone else, siblings, friends and whoever they include in what they are doing. Same with English quite often. In German I grew up with “der Esel kommt zuletzt” meaning, you mention everyone else first and yourself last to keep things polite (the quote actually means “the donkey is last”, the donkey being yourself. You can google this German expression). Another example is how in the 1970s and 1980s Danish had more or less eliminated the polite third person plural pronoun usage to address a stranger whereas the German language was in a transitional stage where you never knew whether to address someone with the less polite second person singular “du” or the conventional polite “Sie”. You could inadvertently either be rude to someone or come across as antiquated choosing the wrong word. No wonder with languages evolving and connotations languages have to adjectives that one’s personality might seem different in a different language.


Annette Bicknell on Delving Deep Into Chinese Society to Learn Mandarin (Feat. Scott Draper)

Wish you had the option of unclicking the English subtitles or that you also included the Chinese spoken words, in Chinese, in the transcript. It would be good learning material as it seems to be straightforward, not crafted for learning, just everyday talk.


Matt Shubert on Level 38 Complete

说实话,我觉得白酒比别的强的酒(比如whiskey, tequila) 很好喝,哈哈哈 – 烈酒 or 烈性酒


Christopher Weeks on Vocab Boost 成分 成就 早已 早就

I am struggling with my understanding of this sentence.
I am literally translating it as…
To use ,cold/hot exchange method, can let , new houses, not good elements, to release faster.

Any clues or context to enhance understanding?


Ioanna Pappou on Level 2 – From Confusion to Comprehension

I’ve just starting immersion with an anime series and I want to have the mandarin subs (both characters and pinyin – especially pinyin) in text, yet they are incorporated (hard) and I don’t know how else to find them. Does anyone know a way or has any recommendations?
Thank you, very appreciated!


Andy Williams on 不像话 in Context

Hi, My native Chinese friend has told me that 不像话 can have a very strong meaning and I get the impression should only be used in the correct way and in the correct circumstances. Can you comment on this? Thanks, Andy


Matt Shubert on Vocab Boost 实用 使用 运用 作用 应用 应当 应付 支付


Is 所学 just a shortened version of 所有(的)学, as in “all that you’ve learned”? Or is 所学 a fixed phrase? I couldn’t find anything in Pleco that would indicate the latter but I may be missing something.


Actually, I did a bit more digging and found this article: https://www.chineseboost.com/grammar/suo-structural-particle/

I see now that 所 has a usage as a particle that extends beyond just the 所以 and 所有 we already know, to mean “that which is [verb]”. So I guess 所学 is literally “that which is learned”, so this sentence would be “apply that which you yourself have learned to solve problems”.

Let me know if I’m missing anything here, this would make a great grammar point article if there’s not already one later in the course 🙂


Bertha on Compound Final OU: 藕 ǒu

Hi !

So, when Lú kè says “I love EATING lotus root,” shouldn’t it be “wǒ ài zài chī ǒu” to turn eat into a verb? Because his version I think translates to “I love to EAT lotus root”?

Please correct me if I’m mistaken.

I love the lessons thank you 🙂


Annette Bicknell on Learning About Chinese Culture Directly Through the Language (Feat. Andrew Methven)

Make no mistake, English speaking countries have plenty of cultural references that as an immigrant you don’t understand if the phenomenon happened before your time and wasn’t a thing where you were. Most of the ones I hear and don’t readily understand are based on TV shows decades ago.


The Liquid Pickle on Pick a Prop 从

Would it ok if I use the two props from cóng as this prop? I used a cake with two teepees on it for the prop/s in the last character, so would it be ok if this cake was one prop instead of two teepees? Thank you!


Francislainy Campos on 所以 in Context

I like the course and have recommended it to a few of my friends, but for a while now I feel I should provide a bit of honest feedback on how I’ve been feeling about it lately. This can be deleted after it’s read and I hope it’s taken as a constructive criticism.

I’m struggling with the sizes of the sentences. Getting over 100 of them to review every morning, them being as big as
男人又说:“ 其实这三颗种子是死的,它们开不出花。大儿子和二儿子为了公司,选择换了种子来骗我。但是小儿子选择了诚实,所以他没有花
uses up all the time I have to learn Chinese during the day and it’s becoming a bit demotivating. I don’t think they should be given as options to add for the flashcards. These sentences are both hard to read and also very hard to shadow when they take 16 seconds or more. And by the time we get to the 所以 part, I’m just too tired to understand what I’ve read. The bigger context confuses me more than helps me. Like why we’re talking about seeds and stuff. I know, this is part of a bigger story, but when I’m just trying to understand what 所以 means, it becomes a huge diversion. Surrounding words with such big sentences personally is having a bit of a counter effect on me and pushing me away from the course to the extent I’m really considering whether I should renew my subscription or just stop it here. Even though we know most of the characters here, I don’t see this piece as something we could call “comprehensible input” as we don’t have the other parts of the story yet, so I feel it could be given to us broken down in more smaller chunks.

And yes, I know we can choose to remove some of the sentences from the reviews, but still, doing this can give us a feeling we are skipping material, so I’d prefer not to get them appearing on Traverse at all, or ideally broken down into smaller chunks. Counting the periods here, this could have become at least six or more difference sentences rather than this huge one, which we’ll get to read anyways when we get to the whole story, but then it would be only once rather as a reappearing flashcard.
That’s it from me. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps somehow.


Micaela Ellison on 越来越 in Context


Since this is an example sentence given for the word 越来越, is 越长越 a typo? I can see how 长 also makes sense here to mean the more the baby grows the better looking it will be. In any case, it seems that 越 can be followed by either a verb or an adjective. Is that right?