Episode 171: New Course: Habit Building Bootcamp

171. New Course: Habit Building Bootcamp

Podcast Duration: 01:18:54

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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.

171. New Course: Habit Building Bootcamp

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12:54 Comments & Emails

Cindy QTrinh Nguyen on Building the Chinese Habit (This Video is Life-Changing!)

Wow. That hits deep and certainly speaks to me – “Who am I MEANT to be?” It’s not just about the end-goal but it’s the habits built along the journey, it’s the process, it’s learning more about myself, my capabilities and very importantly, my identity which I’m still searching for. I’ve been lost for a few months and trying to find my foot back in the door. I think this course might be it.

Just thinking about the final goal and where I want to be at the “end” of this journey felt very overwhelming. Each day I kept thinking about this and how much more time and effort I had to put into studying Chinese which I never ended up doing enough to the point I was satisfied with, but doing so blinds you to the fact that each day, there’s that 1% progress. That’s why what you guys said made so much sense (it’s not all about the goals!). The work put into achieving your goals on a day to day basis may definitely seem insignificant but when we look back months and years later, it’s definitely a big leap from where we’ve started. I’ll take this to heart, thanks guys for these wonderful reminders and encouraging us to look at it from another perspective.

This video had great food for thought, thanks again!


Lisa Overly by Email

Hi Luke and Phil,

Here’s a bit of an update about how the course is working for me, now that I’ve finished up level 13, a little background as to where I was when I purchased it and why I purchased it.

So I purchased the course on Cyber Monday. It was my Christmas gift to myself after looking at it for a year! ;D I’ll be 55 next month but OMG all day long I was giddy with joy like a little kid should be on Christmas!

Let me back up though. For one year I had already been dabbling in Mandarin. I was a VIPKID teacher for 3 years (still am contracted but no students on the global platform) and had many regular students that had had over 100 lessons with me. On topof that, I was certified in all 8 major course levels, 24 extra supplementary courses they offered, and was even a Rural Education Teacher for 4 semesters (taught remote classes in rural Chinese schools).

I was highly rated as a VERY strict pronunciation teacher and had huge success completely changing the way my students were speaking, and sometimes in a matter of 5 minutes. I even taught many parents while teaching the kids. But I lost count of how many kids I made cry though cause I just was relentless about helping them. They weren’t used to working so hard in their classes!

I greenscreen using Manycam so I’d pull up the google translator many times a day (behind me) to help facilitate some of my lessons, especially with my older students. I’m a classically trained pianist so I type very fast and could even carry on conversations with parents, when needed, this way. Also, my students and I would have better conversations at the end of class because of being able to do this. So all that to say, I was already seeing sentence structures.

I decided to start trying to say a few simple things too like, “Can you read it?”, “Let’s go!”, “Great job!” etc. with the lower levels to help them through their lessons.

It was a total riot watching their faces when I’d throw in some Chinese. It was like throwing a big wrench into their brain machine. They loved it so much when I’d try more difficult sentences that I’d fumble through and of course since I was a HUGE stickler on pronunciation with them I got it served right back to me! We had loads of laughs and I have acquired so many good memories this way! My regular student “Lulu” whom I’ve had the longest tried to teach me the funny “u” sound. She was like, “I’m not saying oo!!!!!” lol I told her she was being a very bad teacher because she was yelling at me! hahaha

She says that her Chinese name is so difficult to say that not even Chinese people can say it correctly. So that’s my ultimate goal is to say her name correctly finally after over 4 years! hahaha

I was right at the 6,000 lessons completed when the Chinese government made their ridiculous educational law in 2021, which was a huge blow to thousands of teachers. So, I miss all of those kids dearly! I still stay connected with over 40 families throughout China on WeChat and have one student I still teach independently.

This one boy student is now in middle school, watches a ton of American movies and Chinese movies so he was the perfect person to help me with the list of 30 curse words. Most of them he said were very outdated and lame. LOL We had a great time laughing our way through these this past Saturday. We have figured out how to connect through Dingtalk now.

Over the past year though, I have studied a little extra on my own just for the fun of it. My older students would tell me that my pronunciation was very good and even some parents would ask me if I speak Chinese! That was SO cool and encouraging!

I had a new student one day that I was teaching. The father was there in the room behind her on his phone. I said something in Mandarin, and he quick turned his head and just stared at me on the screen. hahahaha

My degree is in music education with a proficiency in classical piano so that has really helped me out a lot so far!

btw.. I hate English with a passion (especially grammar) but I found that I LOVED teaching pronunciation! I basically had to make my own pronunciation methods because VIPKID did not support what I was doing at all. I’d use every page of their lessons as jumping off points to correct pronunciation and teach it. I was a bit of a rebel!

Learning the tones was a no brainer for me and in fact I had to shut off those flash cards since I’d already studied that all year. I flew through the pinyin chart in a matter of a few days too since I’d already been working on that a bit during the paste year. And I did need help with the “ch, sh an zh” sounds as I just wasn’t getting those. I was sooooo happy that pronunciation was thoroughly explained! Thank you!!!

So… I started out using the Traverse beta cards (stupid me shoulda realized that “beta” meant ya’ll were gonna switch them. Duh!), then went to Anki and now I’m back to Traverse which has been a whole thing in itself to deal with but I’ve managed through that. I’ve not missed one day of flashcards in 2 months.

I did push through the vocabulary a little quickly for level 13 since I was really excited to get to the sentences! I Should have taken just a couple of days to get those new words in my head a little better.

Overall, I’d say I was able to understand about 95% of the sentences and was pretty pleased with that! I stopped reading them outloud but I’ll go back and do that before I move on to level 14. I’m a highly visual learner so the Hanzi Movie Method has been perfect for me!

I’m also doing great writing out the characters! I post photos of my practice sheets on WeChat for my students to see and I’m getting rave reviews! Funny thing, is that all of my older students told me not to learn it. They told me it was way to difficult even for them. So to set a good example, I’m showing them that it’s never too late to learn something you want to learn! “Learn to love to learn” has been my educational motto!

I’ve not tried to carry on a conversation with them yet since I don’t have enough sentence structure to do that but that’s coming and I know that I have lots of eager Chinese kiddos and families that will be so happy to talk with me “Teacher Lisa AAA”. And I can’t wait to blow them all away! Sunglasses

I have a 10 year Chinese visa that I’ve not used yet and my goal is to diligently plow through and test for HSK6 and HSKK6 before I make a trip over to several cities to visits students. I want it to be loads of fun and not annoying to travel in China.

My ultimate goal though is to put together my own pronunciation course for Chinese folks. I’ve learned SO much after teaching over 6,000 lessons and can help them so quickly to speak amazing English!

So far I’ve LOVED everything about this course and am so impressed with the work ya’ll have put into hacking learning Mandarin and continue to make it the best that you can! Bravo!

So all that to say, your had work and diligence (and nice discount! xo) is allowing me to make even deeper connections and friendships with so many people that I love and that love me,… all over China!

Adding a few photos to warm your teacher hearts!

Loads of love and luck!

Lisa Overly


Lynn Ford on Make a Movie #2000 – 裸

AHHHHHH!!!!!!! 2000!!!! I cant even believe, not for one single second, that I actually made it this far ! Woohooo!!!!! Less than a year ago I knew 0! What a wonderful feeling to have reached this milestone. There really is no better way to learn characters than MB Movie method! Well onto the Advanced Course, hoping to make my way through that before my 1 year anniversary of starting the foundation course. Knowing 2k characters is wild, but over 3k? I cant wait! Thanks my dudes!!


Liana Pigeot on Level 17 Complete

I just finished this level just at the end of my first month on the course (conveniently Traverse makes it easy to know how long I’ve been doing it), and it’s really nice to be past 200 characters. It’s something that I definitely thought unachievable for me until I got into this course.

I’ve also recently realised that I can now express quite varied things in Chinese, probably very clumsily but still, all those words we’ve learned add up to a lot of concepts.

Another satisfying thing is starting to look at other Chinese content, or random Chinese shows/movies with subtitles. While I can’t really understand much of what’s being said yet, it’s fun to pick up and recognise some words being said, or read known characters in subtitles and see how often those high frequency characters do come up. (Little tip: The “Language Reactor” chrome extension is an amazing way to watch netflix and youtube with double subtitles for language learners).

Anyway, just dropping this comment to thank you for this method. Learning characters looks like a daunting impossible task at first, but with the combination of a good method and a focus on building habits and spaced repetition, it turns out that the hours and days of work add up to great progress. Now that I’ve done 200, I can imagine reaching 1,000 in the not-even-that-far future.


Sydney Felix on  这个 in Context

只有这个办法了。the translation state: This is the only way.

as I understand, le(了) should indicate either past tense(past action) or it should signify some sort of change, I don’t see any of these indications in this sample sentence. I wonder why is there still le(了)?


Gavia Arctica on Vocab Unlocked from 通

他是一个语言天才, 通8种语言
I suppose 种 and 门 are alternative measure words for languages?

种 here sounds like “types of languages” to me although it obviously means just “understands 8 languages”, Could it be 门 as well? That sounds more like “8 units of languages” to me, although I would not translate it that way.

Just wondering if it is just a difference in the “feeling” of the sentence or is there a specific reason for using one or the other?


Richard Ashbrooke on 老人 in Context

It may be that its 5:48 am but I can’t understand the use of, 多 in:



Sriram P C on BONUS: Relator – Towards What Direction with 往

Question: Regarding the phrase 飞往成都的飞机, is 往成都飞的飞机 a grammatically correct phrase ? Does it mean the same ?


Sriram P C on 进去 in Context

Since I am at “Vocab unlocked 进去 “, I assume that the first sentence 你先进饭店去, 然后我们再说。is also grammatically correct with 进去 instead of 进 i.e., 你先进去饭店去, 然后我们再说。Is there a difference in meaning ?


Evere on 开心 in Context

Please could you remind what 得 is doing here: 儿子生活得很开心。Thanks!


Lyuboslava Jordanova on 够 in Context

Could you briefly explain the usage of 了 here:

Thank you!


Anne Fielder on 一起 in Context

Word Order

I thought I had understood that place follows subject so I am confused by:
Could I also say


Ómar Yasin ? on 嗯 in Context

Is it likely I’ll see this character in written language a lot? I get the feeling it a bit of a filler word?


Annette Bicknell on 猪肉 in Context

然后我说只吃猪肉的话,长大以后就会长成一只猪。I see 只 before 猪 at the very end as a measure word for animals like we previously used for a dog, but you had 头 as a measure word specifically for larger animals in sentence 我在门口见到一头猪。哪儿跑出来的?Is is flexible as to which measure word to use?


Andy Williams on BONUS: This Secret Will Put You LIGHT YEARS Ahead in Chinese

In your chart which illustrates the different components of MB, pronunciation comes first. MB stresses that output happens last and when ready. Part of learning pronunciation however involves speaking the sounds. This seems to be output and contradicts the MB method stress on output last. How do you explain this?



Evere on Vocab Unlocked from 系: 关系 – 联系

What can help memorise that 系 in 联系 is 4th tone while it is 5th in 关系 please? Other than flash cards, mnemonics or rote learning, of course:) Thanks!


Gavia Arctica on Vocab Unlocked from 典

Please help…. I don´t get this one…


Matthew ODONNELL on Pick a Prop 丩

When you look this up on Pleco, it us listed as an old variant of jiu1, meaning to untangle like an old vine.

Should we be using the traditional meaning relevant images during the build process of this system so that they are there for future (more learned) use? Picking random images is fine, but shouldn’t they be shaped a bit more towards the actual meaning of these elements?


Thomas Brand on Vocab Unlocked from 集

Aha! I see this 集 character at the start of all the Chinese shows I watch. 第一集, 第二集。。。
Knowing that we’d learn it at some point, I never bothered looking it up. Inch by inch, the veil of mystery over the Chinese language recedes.


Makai Allbert on 约完会就分手了

“反正是我喜欢的样子” – why is ‘反正’ necessary? I understand this phrase as “anyway”, so it seems like he’s saying “anyway, the type I like”. However, nothing contradictory had been mentioned (like maybe, “I know I should care about brains, but *anyway* she looked good).


Lily Lok on MAKE A MOVIE 干

I would like to substitute the real male and female characters with fictional male and female characters mainly becasue the scripts I created in my head are very abstract and I’m finidng that it takes extremely difficult for me to imagine real people performing such scenes.

Is it okay if I used my own catagories? I will still be applying the same principles (i.e. Actors, Props, Sets, Script, Special effects), just in a more tailored learning method for my own memory.


Jimmy Rogers on Make a Movie 衫

Character 1,500! We’re much more than half way there! I think a lot of compound words from here on in will be made of these first 1,500 characters….hence why they are so common but I might be wrong. It feels like we’re counting down from the half way point and that is a beautiful thing! Starting to feel some serious progress now. Well done everyone who’s made it this far up the mountain. We shall be victorious…or driven to insanity, lol.


Annette Bicknell on Vocab Unlocked from 星: 星期

Thought I would use an image related to the Chinese Golden Week, but then saw that everywhere it seems to be 黄金周 rather than using 星期. Is 星期 predominantly used when referring to the actual days of the week and that is why Golden Week uses 周? Looking around online it seems they are interchangeable.