202. A Homeschooler’s Experience of Mandarin Blueprint

Podcast Duration: 00:57:14
What I Prioritized to Become Fluent || Podcast No. 202

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2:13 Comments & Emails

Kevin🐰克文 by Community

Hi Everyone, 
I am in my 40s and I have recently moved last autumn from the Philippines to Shanghai. I live in the international Biyun community of Jinqiao, Pudong. I am an international school teacher who loves my job and lifestyle. 
I am still very much a beginner at Chinese; I am on Level 17 and on 197 day flashcard streak. Recently, I started one-on-one lessons at a school nearby, I Love Mandarin which has been challenging. I am enjoying the MBM approach daily but I worry about if I can really become all that fluent in the long run. I lived in Japan for 10 years and I never really became proficient as a Japanese speaker or reader. I believe that the MB method is making difference this time around. I am looking forward to this summer to step up my studies and join the Challenge. If anyone lives in Shanghai that would like to meet up, let me know. 

I am curious to know if anyone uses Ximalaya for beginner Chinese podcasts or content? 


Dennis Catana by Email

Hey Luke,

Thought id give my 2 cents on this that may be helpful for intermediate learners

Something that’s helped me a lot last year for learning Spanish, immersion wise, was trying to speak to native speakers a specific non-language learning environment, via VR (Virtual Reality). I join Spanish speaking world/servers and do my best to speak only Spanish, wether it’d be a Coop working environment (VR multi monitor setup), gaming or just to chat. I made some rules for myself, including: if they speak English, try not to give in (never resort back to English, if they try, just say I can’t speak English well (luckily I speak some other languages to be more convincing here)) Im both doing the things I enjoy (gaming or just casual hanging out) and talking about everyday things all built up on what I studied and more.

I found this SUPER boosted my learning, without having to leave my home, and with almost no risk of embarrassment (anonymity and ability to just log out. Over time it really built my confidence), and it gets quite close to simulation in person interactions. Playing ’never have I ever’ in Spanish only karaoke club to break the ice, learning to salsa dance in a virtual group class, then making a friend, veering off and just chatting about their interests and hobbies. It’s hard to an imagine a more efficient way (even compared to real life!, the volume of people and ability to travel through space digitally, is of course, much faster).

I treated this almost like a ‘class’, allocating 1 hour minimum and approaching and speaking to at least 5 different groups/people per session. Was super fun.

I noticed there’s the equivalent for Chinese worlds/servers. So it may be helpful for those deep along their journey looking for a way to be immersed.

If you’d like to hear more about my experience with this, just let me know!




Kevin Swan by Email


Thank you for the thousands of hours you have invested to bring us this system.

Having tried to learn Chinese off and on over the years, memorization has been the biggest roadblock for me. I used many apps for spaced repetition, had teachers issuing homework and explaining grammar, and worked hard to memorize hundreds of words—but I continually forgot definitions, pronunciations, and tones. To learn writing, I studied radicals and their meanings and diligently wrote the characters hundreds of times, only to find an hour later that I’d have to look up the characters again. My maximum input was about three characters and six words daily, which took two hours. Despite all this, could not keep the vocabulary in my head. I usually gave up somewhere around HSK2.

This morning, using the MBPM, I learned 17 new characters and 36 new words (contained in 33 lessons) over the course of about 1.5 hours. Based on these numbers, your method is at least 5x more efficient than what I used before—and I remember what I‘m inputting. After an input session, I use Traverse to check recall and see if any movies need tweaking. I breezed through with only a couple of errors. Even though I’ve been doing this for a while now (Level 19), I still marvel at how easy it is to recall tones, pronunciations, and definitions—and quickly reproduce complex characters like 慢, even though I only wrote it one time when it was introduced in the lesson.

Oh, and bonus…I’m having fun.



Holly Tan on Level 12 Complete, Phase 2 Complete!

Thanks Luke and Phil! I often think I can’t believe how many thousands of videos you’ve made – what an enormous effort. Am so satisfied to get to this point and feeling a real deep sense of fun / delight in learning Chinese, maybe for the first time 🙂


Renee Medved on Is Language Learning Hard? (Feat. Matt vs. Japan)

Been watching Chinese drama’s for a few years, for the most part exclusively. I have been looking for something to help learn the language, but I don’t just want to speak it as with any other language, reading and writing are a huge factor. Lots of questions have been answered in your youtube video’s, which makes me want to learn more. I have learned the hard way and the no retention way of learning language. I am excited to see what y’all have to offer in starting the process of learning the language. I know a few words due to watching drama’s. I have been going over pronunciation of sounds, as I think this might be my biggest hurdle. After listening to your youtube video’s I now have a better understanding. I keep listening to them. Just starting the journey into language learning and don’t want traditional learning, I fail and don’t retain that way. Translation on drama’s I watch isn’t one to one and wonder what I am missing. Learning the language to me means being able to not just speak it, but read and write it. This is the first program I have seen that brings all aspects together. Looking forward to see what all this program has to offer.


Melissa Niesen 🤝 茉莉 on Now Just LOOK at how SOLID that Foundation Is! Phase 5 Complete!

I am thrilled I’ve finally finished the foundation course!! After a couple years of working on and off with a tutor, I started the pronunciation course 21 months ago, but I’m still having a blast learning Chinese, in no small part to this course. I have a lot of things I do to learn and stay interested in learning, but Mandarin Blueprint is the backbone of my method. During those 21 months I worked a full time job (that my studies are not an official part of) and had life happen in a few big ways, but I kept at it, because I had the Blueprint to come back to every time.

Phase 4 was killer, partly because of its length, and partly because that was when my life outside of Mandarin learning was really challenging me. There were times when I wasn’t sure I had it in me to continue, but the encouraging messages from Phil and Luke always seemed to show up at the right time.

Many thanks to both of you! Onward!


Clayton Rabenda on MAKE A MOVIE 或

Is it bad to use a homophone? I’ve already done this for “but” and I was thinking to do this again here by using “oar”… I’ve also tried to work the “real” meaning into the scene but the focal point, the “special effect ending”, of the scene is the object, in this case an oar.


Richard Wade on Pronunciation Primer (For Beginners)

Luke. This is both an impressive and informative video. Well done. As a beginner who has had a look at some ‘beginner material’ it is clear that pronunciation is very important and a crucial starting point. Thank you for laying out the pinyin system. Although my brain is now soggy with all the new information, the main ideas are there and should be strengthened through regular input.
Thank you also for offering this introduction course — it gives a sense of what the MB course offers, which is what I was looking for. Xiexie. Richard


Tony Garcia on Level 2 Complete

I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to look at a character, say “I don’t remember what that means”, and actually have a method of retracing my memory steps to FIGURE OUT what those squiggly lines mean again! Like the tone, letters, the ability to actually investigate meaning without looking it up is SUCH a huge deal for me because I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate memorizing things, but I love stories!


Kevin Swan 凯文🤠 on 这儿 in Context

I live my life here.

What does the 自己 add to this sentence? I want to translate it as something like, “I live my life here alone.”


Tony Garcia on BONUS: DON’T Make These Mistakes Learning Chinese

In high school, my Spanish teacher saw me doing some conservative dance moves in my chair, silently mouthing words to myself. We were doing a test on the capital cities of South America. See, she knew that boring memorization needed help, so she had already taught us the cities with a cheesy rhumba beat to “sing along” the city names to.
But that wasn’t enough for me.
The next day, she asked me what I was doing, and I bashfully explained that I made dance moves that had meaning associated with the city’s name meaning or sound.
La Paz was a couple of peace V’s
Caracas was as if I was holding maracas
To keep in time with the music, Montevideo sounded funky so I scratched an invisible DJ turntable
Brazilia was such a stupid name that I just firmly nodded my head twice, like someone who was super proud of having come up with it.

So I went through each embarrassing mnemonic dance move, and she was so thrilled that she had me teach it to the class, and last I heard she went on to teach that dance to every class from then onward.

I graduated over a decade ago and I still know more South American capitals and their correct country than my own USA capitals. xD


Stephen Lam on 吐 in Context

In the sentence 我早上吐了,下午没吐. This word 吐 means to vomit, but it could also mean spit. If the sentence is spoken, you would know by the tone which was the intended meaning. But if I read this sentence, how would I know which was the intended meaning? In the context of this sentence, it could mean either one.

2nd Comment:

In normal situations, I would agree that if a person is sick, that they might vomit. But what if the person is a child who could get a written report from school and used the word 吐 in a text message. Depending on which word was the correct one, the parent would have to either discipline the child or need to care for the child’s health. How would you clarify which one? Is there another word or use the word in a unique way that the meaning is not ambiguous? I don’t mean to be difficult here, I just a firm believer in having clear communications helps everyone.


Tony Garcia on BONUS: Don’t Try to Figure Out Chinese Learning ON YOUR OWN!

Having been mostly homeschooled, I found it an interesting difference:

When you’re teaching your child, you need to think “how can I get him to understand?”
When you’re teaching someone else’s child, you think “how can I prove to the people who are paying me that my teaching is effective?”

Now some teachers happen to stumble across a jetstream that accomplishes both, but unfortunately that’s because of an exceptional teacher, not an exceptional instructional method.

Here we find that you two have both: exceptional teachers with an exceptional instructional method. It’s why I’m here, staying here, and supportive of this whole thing. It falls right in line with how I’ve come to understand the world in my lived experiences up to this point. 🙂
So often I’ll not only remember a thing, but remember where I learned it too.

I know the Spanish word “puerta” to mean door, because for SOME DUMB reason I always think of a man running around screaming “LA PUERTAAAAAA!” as if the building is on fire. I don’t know why.

I know the English vocab word “propensity” because right after reading it in the dictionary, I heard a man on stage say it a few days later. I still remember the building, the side of the audience I was on, and my feeling of astonishment that I’d hear a rare word like that used all of a sudden.

I know what a Pareto distribution is because my statistics friend explained it to me and then Jordan Peterson used it as an answer to a question, where JP spread his hands out as if he was holding an accordian. That motion has nothing to do with the distribution shape, but I associate the two now.

These sorts of video file attachments are on toooooooooons of random crap I know.

So why not intentionally create them too? It just makes sense.