language mastery podcast

110. Language Mastery

Podcast Duration: 01:27:15

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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.

110. Language Mastery

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13:00 Comments & Emails

Jonathan Glazier on “Level 18 Complete”

I really appreciate what Phil was saying in 108. Grinding vs. Gear-Shifting. I have the sort of mind where I need to know things I don’t get, so I do find myself referring to Pleco probably too much when reviewing sentences.

I was just looking at:

A: 我们结婚吧!
B: 在中国,女人20岁以上,男人22岁以上才可以结婚。
A: 那我们再等一年

Thanks to you guys I did “get” most of it it, I was prompted to remember that 吧 is indicative of a suggestion so 我们结婚吧! is let’s get married, etc. all thanks to MBP methods. But I couldn’t remember or reason what 才 was doing there, so I did have to look it up, I needed instant gratification!! I had my movie fixed firmly in my memory, in that it was keyword (or concept) “just now”. I needed to know how 才worked in here. Of course, it makes perfect sense, “only then”.. (can they get married)! But I just couldn’t move on until I got that straight. Does this make me a grinder, and should I just relax and shift-gear? This always happens when there is a diversity in the meanings of characters, I just have to know there and then!


Katrin Smith by Email

Hey Phil:

Thanks again for your quick response and answering all my questions. Very helpful as usual.  It’s always so encouraging to know that you and Luke are just an email away from answering any question.   It’s an awesome part of the overall MB package.   

While the Hanzi movie method is not working for me I do continue to use the props to help me construct and remember my characters.   Each character has a summary page which used to have actors, sets and scenes but now I use that space to record additional meanings for the character if applicable as well as additional vocabulary made with the character.   This along with a photo of how the character is written in steps is a perfect one page review for me of each character.

Unfortunately, I have to memorize the tone since I don’t have a “set” location to cue me.  

But this is how I’ve had to adapt and so far so good.  I read your article on how to immerse yourself and I’m doing my best to immerse. My iPad has been switched to Chinese as the main language, I listen to at least 2 hours of Mandarin TV a day and I also listen to contemporary Mandarin music.  I pick up the local Chinese newspaper but still can only read every 6 or 7th character.   I’m not confident enough yet to wonder into our local Chinatown but once I  get to 1000 characters that is my goal.

Anyway, I’m rambling on.



Marek Kasperski by Email

Hello Gentlemen,

Thanks for the opportunity for giving feedback.

Firstly, thanks for a world class learning experience.  I have tried learning Chinese using a few methods, all of which I did not complete. MB is the first method that I am eager to continue and therefore my motivation is intrinsic, so enjoyable.

Pronunciation is so important, and your short but informative videos are just what I need to get the pronunciation just right.  I am managing it OK, getting better each day.

ANKI is just great. I teach Mind Mapping in China, and review is a big part of one of my sessions. The review is as important as learning something new. ANKI is on another level.  Providing one is honest with the assessment of how hard or easy it was, sets you up for success. I am loving it and do my ANKI every day.  It is really helping.

I am not sure whether I should be learning the Chinese characters at this point.  Should I be learning to write them, recognise them, or just wait to learn the another time?  I think I lost the memo on that one.

Is it possible to reset each deck to start again? I would love to go over everything again, especially when I travel and have loads of time on my hands.

Overall, 5 stars (out of 5).  I believe you are both on the right track, and the pricing is also OK.  I will be sticking with it.

I look forward to getting back to China and practicing with my very patient hosts.



Peter Hird by Email

Hi Luke & Phill

I have always wanted to learn new language. I had heard that if you master one language learning another after that would be easier again, so I chose Chinese to be another language being it was the second hardest next too English, “do the hardest first the easier will be even easier”.

A Chinese friend from church was starting a study group up to learn Chinese so I thought I would join up. It wasn’t long before I realised that I would never master this language, let alone another, but I decided to persevere anyway. 

The group kept getting smaller and smaller until it finally disbanded after a couple of months. By then I was fully captivated in the language and culture so I decided to keep going with the text book he had given us to use. 

I started finding courses and podcasts online and sporadically studied for the next 20+ years. 

As a ballroom dance teacher I have had plenty of Chinese students to correct me along the way. 

It’s only now that I have started on your course that I realise where and how they were trying to help me. Most of the Chinese people I deal with come from Southern China and didn’t have Beijing accents, that made it even more difficult (I am definitely not allowed to use the R ending, ie its 哪里 not 哪儿。

During lockdown in Melbourne I started exploring podcasts again and happened upon your course and then looked further into it. After watching the first few videos I signed up to a subscription thinking I had found the best way to acquire this language. Now that I’m through to level 5 I can definitely say this is the best way, I can even see me mastering Chinese in the not too distant future.

Thank you to the both of you for putting the time and effort into this course and because I never liked studying or school thanks for making it so much fun! 

I look forward to seeing my Chinese students after lockdown and receiving praise for my improved accent, they may even forgive me for having a Northern accent because it would be more correct, like a Chinese person with an English accent would not be corrected in Australia, like they would if they had a strong Chinese accent.

Once again 谢谢您!

Peter J Hird


Jerod Cox by Community

Hey guys,

I didn’t know where to leave this but I am curious Phil and Luke why you didn’t do a W for an actor.  I was doing Wang and thought that it would have been great to have a W actor vs the imaginary Wu actor as grounds keeper Willie from the Simpsons.  Maybe I am missing it.  I Taught English in Taiwan and Mainland China.  Now  I am hoping to get back to Taiwan, Shanghai, Jining, or Shenzhen.  I took Pimsluer and Rosetta Stone, but this program is incredible.  I have been trying to do “Fluent Forever”, but this program puts it all together.  Thank you for the effort that has allowed so many of us to unlock the Orient.



Nick Sims on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 没关系

Amazing. I have been saying this to my tutor but didn’t truly understand the characters and now I KNOW the characters and it just clicks.


Ric Santos on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 下班

Sentence # 3. Could 才 be giving a meaning that Each day only when it is very late at night does he get off work ?


Ric Santos on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 加班

最近年轻人加班的时间越来越长了 , if 长 also means “long” can it also be meant that the hours of working over time are getting LONGER and LONGER ?


Jason Pon on It’s a Word! 要

Up to this point, I’ve always been curious what the difference between 要 and 会 are for the purpose to express happening in the future. I believe both have the meaning for ‘will/going to’, but they 要 also means ‘to want’ and 会 also means ‘to understand/know’.

Pleco says that 会 is ‘be likely to; be sure to’. So does this mean that 会 is used in situations that it is with more certainty, with an intention attached, and 要 is more general purpose future looking?



Jason Pon on It’s a Word! 楼


Why is there no 在 preceding 住, consistent with what we’ve seen thus far?


William Beeman on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 出来

你出来了么? Is 么 a misprint? 吗?


Ric Santos on It’s a Word! 课

( Just for the sake of using 的)…Would it be correct to also say 我喜欢上中文的课 ?


Nacho En on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 您贵姓

I’m a bit curious about this sentence. Do you know why it used “expensive 贵” and “surname 姓” together?


Ric Santos on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 变得

Comparing sentence # 3 of the lesson just before this :

最近几年,中国的变化很大, can 变得 be used instead of 变化? And back to this current lesson , can 变化 be used instead of 变得 in 希望中国变得更美好。?

For me it seems that the in the first sentence, it 变得 may be used; but in the second sentence, 变化 might not be specific enough, while 变得 seems to say that the change is internally generated.


Ric Santos on It’s a Word! 花

In #3, realize that 约会 an activity of 2 persons, that is why 和 is used: the boy and the girl dated. In English, the dater is the subject and the dated is the object , ex : He dated Her. I found this out when I was writing a short sentence in chinese: 他约会她 (?); Perhaps 他和他一起去约会 is ok?


Ric Santos on It’s a Word! 宽

In the past lesson’s sentence: 吃药都没用, and in the above 你的解释是没有用的, is the 有…的 optional without changing the meaning?


Jason Pon on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 对不起


When I was attempting to translate the sentence for the first time, I was thinking of 以前 with the meaning of ‘before [action] is done’. But then I saw in the translation that it means ‘before, in the past, this has been done’.

Is 以前 used as well to mean ‘before [action] is done’. For example… ‘Before I go, I want to say bye’? Or is there another word for that.


Matt Shubert on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 一边

I’m struggling with the last sentence and how both uses of 一边 are changing the meaning. How is the example (“我一边在学校学习,一边在公司工作“) different from the same sentence with 一边 removed
(“我在学校学习,我在公司工作”)? Is it just to put emphasis on the fact that you’re in school while also working at a job?


Jeff Johnson on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 儿子 – 日子 – 勺子

So I have Ozzy as my z actor and Momo from avatar as my indicator for 5th tone. So anytime zi is used to indicate a noun, they are in the next room looking in. Ozzy points to the thing and tells Momo “that is a noun.”


Ric Santos on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 没想到

Following the lead of 听不到 and other verb+result verbs, I just thought that 没想到 could also describe someone’s level of thinking that is so limited that made it impossible to reach the desired behavior or never arrive at such a result. For example ” A very self-centered contagiously sick person 没想到 that his going home prematurely would infect his whole family.” is this correct? and Instead of using 没想到 , could 他想不到…be used in my example sentence? Sorry, for this question, but I was just thinking some results might never be reached or arrived at. I’m appreciating how the Chinese language these verb+results very nicely.


Ric Santos on BONUS: Special – Emphasizing Details with 是…的

One week into the foundation course, I was so eager to learn about the “Shi-de” topic that I specifically asked for this lesson so I could right ti right away. Luke did email to the shide lessons.

Needless to say that even up to this point now I don’t understand it quite well at all.- it is not the fault of Mandarin Blueprint.

But I am NOT adverse to the “shi-de” anymore because I see it all the time, I hear it all the time and I read it all the time… it is THERE all the time. In fact I am getting used to it. In fact I am even using it without much thought in a few sentences I venture to make. From time to time I use it for possessive nouns and past actions of what the Guest did in that sentence.

What I am sharing in my experience is this: just listen a lot, read a lot and absorb a lot. And one final thing : the Mandarin Blueprint is very gradual in its dosage of inputs, and I + 1 is good enough. Thanks again to Luke and Phil.


Ric Santos on 我和爸爸

About a month ago I Iistened to Luke’s encouragement to SHADOWING. Well, I took the piece that was offered there and it was this : 我和爸爸 ! I went to thru this peice for a week: reading, listening, shadowing and PERSPIRING ! In my rush I FAILED to read the smaller print “Level 25” ! I was at a lower level at that time ! I thought the new words and phrases was part of the I+1 method. I thought I did well…but in reality I did not.
Had I taken the readings for the level where I was at that time, I would have fared better…also because they were shorter! – But that’s water under the bridge. My error !

However, the lessons prior to Level 25 REALLY prepares me to face
squarely and readily 我和爸爸 !

There is indeed MUCH thought and MUCH experience involved in making the MB method.

So moving forward, I trust the MB method, because Luke and Phil went through these difficulties themselves. They are saving us many unnecessary troubles ahead. Whatever we study now…WE WILL SURELY MEET THEM AGAIN, so learn them well now…and Anki will remind us in due time.

William Beeman on 我和爸爸

I appreciated the many sentiments about this story. I think of
the Harry Chapin Song “Cat’s in the Cradle” also made so famous
by Cat Stevens. Here is the YouTube link.

But I do have a grammar question

In 我才发现我一点儿也不讨厌我的爸爸, I know all the words, but I can’t see what function 一点儿 serves in the sentence. It seems it could be left out. Can you enlighten me?


Miya Moo ANKI DECK(S) INSIDE *MUST WATCH* How to Review with The Mandarin Blueprint Method

What’s your guy’s opinion on doing other methods alongside MB, like sentence mining?


Jason Pon on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 最好

I have two questions.

1) 最好 is a separate word here but in the lesson for 最 by itself, the sentence 妈妈是最好的 was used which also has 最好 but had a completely different meaning of ‘is the best’. Was 最好 used in this sentence with the same meaning as ‘had better; it would be best” or is that a different meaning due to the specific context of 妈妈是最好的.

2) 最好 sounds a lot like 还是 or expressing ‘preference of an alternative’ as it was learned. Can they be comparable in this sense with each one being used in different contexts? Or would you say they are completely different.

1:21:58 Movies! 

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

Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 此

Christopher Walken is in my childhood bedroom dancing around a stop sign that’s in the middle of the room. He has a ladle in his hand and he’s singing the ol Fat Boy Slim song he did a video of in the 80’s, I hear him singing “you can blow with THIS, or you can blow with that”. each time he says THIS he bangs on the stop sign with the ladle. You can blow with THIS (smack), you can blow with that. You can blow with THIS (smack) you can blow with that” ect….


Georg Lohrer on Make a Movie 执

Jason Staton (The Transporter) appears in the kitchen of my i-site. He wants to pickup a big foam-finger to be transported. But the client wants to change the good. Now a medical pill needs to be transporter. No way. Jason PERSISTS on rule #1: “Never change a deal.”


Georg Lohrer on Make a Movie 京

Julia Roberts meets in front of my eng-set an old man. She barely recognizes the bewildered and irritated looking, obviously senile man – it’s Winston Churchill. He still carries the atom-case (to enable the ignition of the nuclear/atom-bombs – atom=uttermost small, microscopic 小). Julia gets really frightened. As Winston asks her for the direction to the CAPITAL, she completely freaks out.

20 October, 2020