Intermediate Chinese Learning Plateau - Episode 157

157. Intermediate Chinese Learning Plateau

Podcast Duration: 01:03:22

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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.

157. Intermediate Chinese Learning Plateau

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10:48 Comments & Emails

Kairi Shikari by Community

I’m feeling at a loss at the moment. Maybe I’m at a ‘close to a breakthrough’ part of my learning but unfortunately I don’t feel very positive at the moment. The sentences have become a little difficult at this point to understand without really pondering over them. I don’t seem to be able to take in the grammar patterns no matter how much I try. I am tempted to give up all the anki sentences at this point, and just focusing on graded readers and trying stuff out with my italki tutor. there’s just so many structures that I can’t get to grips with, and many that I understand but have no chance in being able to produce in speech. Not really sure what else I can do. I’m also struggling to remember a lot of the vocabulary words. I’ve tried all kinds of links in my mind but simply they’re just not sticking. I think the anki stuff is taking up too much time and by the time I’m done with the sentences I’ve completely lost any motivation to continue learning for the day :-(. This probably has a knock on effect where I know it’s affecting the amount that I should be listening, reading, watching etc. I’m wondering if other people got to this point and whether they have got past it or not. 


Mirko R by Community

Hi there, new member here.

I’d like to learn some Chinese songs, and I’ve asked Chinese people if they could recommend me some famous singers. Alas, the results weren’t exactly to my liking, as I’m not that much into crooners.

I’m sure there are also other kinds of music in Mandarin. Could you recommend some? What I’m looking for is stuff like José Gonzalez, Anne Brun, Georges Brassens, Joni Mitchell, Björk, Jovanotti etc. Jazz, Rock or anything original would also be fine.

Thanks in advance !


Hank Elliott by Community

Hey Luke and Phil,

Love the intermediate course new 60 stories. Any chance of getting the English. Might help with grammar. 


Love it all so much!!


Kate Gans by Email

That makes sense. As you guys have said we will be able to read more content at that point. One thing I am having trouble understanding is how we will encounter the new words we have learned if we don’t see them in specifically created cards. With the curve of forgetting, it seems that we would have to revisit each word to remember it. And with so many new words, thousands, how do we know we will find all these words in context to revisit them. Do you use flashcards for the words themselves and then read various materials with the hope to see them in context?

Maybe in the podcast you guys could talk a bit about what it is like for you, Luke and Phil, when you encounter new words. Do you create a hanzi movie on the spot? Then, how do you avoid re-encountering the word a few months later and having to repeat the process? I am having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around what happens with the learning process as we get to several thousand words.

Thank you to the Mandarin Blueprint team for all of your tremendous work! The new intermediate stories are awesome: the voice actors do a fabulous job and I like how there is a slight pause between each tracking segment. It is great for shadowing and also gives me a split second to understand what is being said so I am not simultaneously trying to understand what was just said and also listening and comprehending the next segment. I also appreciate the ability to tap/click on the segments to hear them repeated instead of having to hit the rewind button. It is a much smoother process.

This course just keeps getting better and better!




James Rogers by Email

Hey guys. First of all thanks for talking about my experience on the podcast at the tail end of last week, that was really cool and I was really encouraged by Phil’s comments. Just had a revelation the last few days as to why reading is so important to learning the language. As I said in my email and as you’ve discussed before listening is the hardest part of the language due to the speed of processing needed to comprehend what someone has said…but it then dawned on me… WRITTEN LANGUAGE IS SPEECH SUSPENDED IN TIME!!! When you read a dialogue you gain the time needed to process the information involved. The more you do that the shorter the processing time must become until you process in real time…you’re then at a listening level I assume! The written language is of course giving you grammar and vocab for speech as well so you’re actually involved and studying both sides of a conversation. It must be why musicians practice scales which at first seems almost unrelated to what they actually want to play but as they pick up speed they prepare themselves for faster movements in the future. Hope that makes sense in the real world and it wasn’t Friday afternoon beer science, lol. Keep smashing it guys. Just starting level 31!!!! 我太兴奋了!Jimmy Rogers


Chris on Level 13 Complete

After listening to your podcast my initial goal was to get here and experience what so many before me have described. It feels amazing to read and understand these sentences! Reviewing individual characters in anki is one thing, but reading full sentences is on another level. My recollection feels quicker and I can already feel my overall speed increasing. These sentence “reps” really seem to be solidifying everything for me.

I signed up in August of 2020 during an exceptionally busy time in my life. I just couldn’t pass up the lifetime offer having complete confidence in your method. I just recently started a consistent study schedule and I’m blown away with how quickly I’m progressing. You guys are the best! I love this course and I look forward to it every day. I am addicted!


Rose Black on Level 33 Complete

But I really love grammar though…. I understand that it’s best to aquire the language naturally, but to me grammar is really the most interesting thing in a language.


kym Thomas on Spread the Word!

Thank you, Phil and Luke, Amazing course so far. I have difficulty keeping my attention span for more than 15-20mins. So I cannot learn via traditional methods. I didn’t think I could ever learn a new language. And yet here I am able to read and write sentences, also write and understand 596 Characters. Cannot wait to learn the next 2000!!
感谢 你们


Rose Black on Phase 5 Story

Because in the video 花仙子 is a diffrent color, at first I just read 他们每天吃花仙子 and my brain just stopped there, so I was shocked, but then I saw the rest 给他们带来的东西 and it made sense xD


Oscar Haglund? on Vocab Boost 实习 果实 真实 真正 天真 天上

What is the purpose of 并 in 实习老师的工作说起来并不简单?


Mirko R on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 认识

I may have missed something, but how do I know when the second part of a word changes its tone to neutral?


Daniel Uhl on 办 in Context

I have trouble understanding:


Are there also alternative meanings to that sentence?


Annette Bicknell on 和 in Context

A suggestion: It would help if the top down words were listed before the English translation.

I scroll just enough to read the Chinese sentence, then turn it over in my head for what it means unless it is instant and then look at the translation. If there are characters I do not know, it doesn’t help if these are below the English sentence. That takes away the ability to make sense of what I read before seeing the translation.


Hussein Abdulqadr 侯赛因 on 打电话 in Context



在上面的对话, 一个人说“ 我早上给你打过电话,但是你不在。”

他为什么没说“但是你没在” ?不在和没在有什么区别呢? Hopefully I asked my question correctly in Chinese 🙂 .


Ceri Woods on 开始 in Context

Just curious why you sometimes use western numbers instead of the Chinese characters in certain sentences? 🙂


Annette Bicknell on 手机 in Context

你看,这是我买的手机 – why is there no 了 to indicate the past tense of 买?

If omitting 了 is possible for past tense, would it be similar for future tense too? If so, could the sentence not be “Look, this is the cell phone I will buy” (imagining someone browsing an online store or similar talking to a friend).


Evere on 和 in Context

How do you know 我和一个儿子早上过来 is future tense and not past tense please?? i.e. if the speaker is saying this in the evening, the morning would be over for them and so a simple past tense would be used, right? could this sentence be one of such instances and thus be translated as past tense? Thanks!


Evere on 想 in Context

我的儿子早上想吃面,不想吃面包。Just to confirm, this is what my son usually wants to eat in the morning (a habitual action) as opposed to what he wants to eat this morning (a one off action), right?

59:26 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.

Chris on Vocab Unlocked from 总: 总是

For an image for 总是 I went with a dog waiting by the door. My dog would hear the garage door open and would ALWAYS be waiting to greet me.


Raiyan Syed on Vocab Unlocked from 切: 一切

一切 sounds like “each” so a mnenomic could be EACH and EVERYTHING


Ceri Woods on Vocab Unlocked from 办: 办法

In my head I often translate this as ‘solution’, is this alright or am I setting myself up for bad habits? For example I translate 这个办法还行 as ‘this solution is ok’ instead of ‘this way of dealing with it is ok’… *is* this ok? lol