The Mandarin Blueprint Upper Intermediate Course - Episode 161

161. The Mandarin Blueprint Upper-Intermediate Course

Podcast Duration: 00:37:22

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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.

161. The Mandarin Blueprint Upper-Intermediate Course

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8:41 Comments & Emails

Richard Ashbrooke by Email


I meant to reach out last week to clear up the transcontinental, ‘click’, sound that would have sent shockwaves around the globe. That, ‘click’, was that moment, when everything (suddenly) fell into place whilst navigating Phase 3. More succinctly, I could:
– Understand tones, words and context of a FM Podcast that I listen to (;
– I can read Chinese sentences from differing sources. Admittedly, there are some characters that I’ve never seen, however, I could figure out the context (9/10 times, I was correct);
– Whilst eavesdropping at Chinese restaurants, I could understand (not all) but grasp the general gist of the conversation;- Even navigating Traditional text (yes, someone tried to trick me), I could still understand the meaning of a sentence.

Having said that, all ‘other’ courses that I’ve tried in the past, I stopped. Where Mandarin Blueprint differs is keeping the interest level up, provides the (much needed) motivation at low times (thanks Phil!), Bonus Videos are a valuable MUST, cultural tidbits within the course provide insight, which, I wouldn’t have access to, SRS has kept me honest (daily), Community engagement is GREAT (keeps the ideas flowing and provides differing perspectives) and here is the kicker, I know which tone, how to write, read and speak. Sure, I’m not a native BUT I wouldn’t be where I am without Mandarin Blueprint.

I’m about to embark on Phase 4 today, who knows, the next email maybe in Chinese.


Quick update. I went to karaoke last night with a Chinese couple that I haven’t seen for at least 15+ years. Naturally, they were singing Chinese songs, to which, (and this is where I’m so excited), depending on the song, I could sing up to 80%!

Sure, I’m not at the stage of knowing the meaning as I’m not able to process the meaning but, I could sing. Admittedly, singing the slow songs were easier than the fast.

I never ever ever thought I would be able to do this. Challenge has now been set for our next session to sing an entire song in Chinese … game on!



Ómar Yasin ? by Community

Hi all! I feel I can go ahead and introduce myself now as I’m half way through Phase 3, and it really feels like I can stick with this.

I’m Ómar, an Icelander living in Canada. I was lucky enough to visit China for a couple of months in 2019 (just before COVID!), spending time in the north-east and south-east of the country. I was traveling with my partner who speaks some Chinese and got to meet her extended family. I truly enjoyed my time there and am looking forward to going there again. Maybe I will even be able to say a bit more than “yes, that one” and “one beer please”.

Mandarin is the first non-Germanic language I spend any real time with and it is a challenge having no frame of reference. I do speak a few Germanic languages, but studying Mandarin is a lot more work for me. I sometimes have those off-days where almost all the Anki cards seems to be new. Having those days is demotivating but going into the forums does help bounce back.

I’m excited to be entering the reading phase. In my previous (non-Mandarin!) language studies this is where I can really feel the difference. I don’t think I would have believed myself only a few months ago if I told myself I’d be reading actual sentences in such a short time.


Ramon Bernardo on Welcome to Phase 3 – Simple Grammar

I am so proud of myself for getting this far. Although I have not been doing it as fast as others might have been doing it but I am taking the “scenic route”, I am enjoying the journey. I am very excited for this new phase. Looks like the course is laid out very well. Well done guys !


Linn Bjerkseth on Nighttime Beauty, Daytime Witch 巫婆与美女 – Paragraph 1 第一段

Reading stories instead of random sentences has really cranked up my motivation to a whole other level. I really want to know what happens next! For a moment there I was just enjoying the content, and almost forgetting about the fact that I was reading the story in Mandarin. I’m looking forward to the day when I can sit down with a whole book and just read. What suddenly came to mind is the scene near the end of The Matrix, when Neo is facing Agent Smith and Morpheus exclaims: “He is beginning to believe.” Not so many months ago this text would have looked like nothing but matrix code squiggles to me, but now I’m having a blast reading and understanding it. Listening is gonna take a while still, but it’s also getting better!


Mirko R on Level 16 Complete

Great job, guys!

I have no problem understanding the phrases when I review them in Anki, however it is a whole different story when I listen to the audio files only. The comprehension rate drops from 95% to about 40%. I guess this is normal at this stage? Or is there anything I should specifically do to work my listening comprehension?

Thank you!


kym Thomas on Vocab Unlocked from 酒

Had a breakthrough here with 红酒是红葡萄做成的.

All I did was read the sentence once, then checked below for the meaning of 葡萄, I read the sentence again, and immediately understood the sentence without having to translate each singular 汉字。 for me it’s another massive motivational push. MBM thanks again!!!


Melissa Niesen ?? 倪茉莉 on The “Living Links Logic” of Chinese Word Learning – Part 1

I love the idea of adding “funny” to the search to find more outrageous images!


Annette Bicknell on 哥哥 (gēge) in Context

What would you say if you are talking to someone about their brother, knowing they have a brother, but not if it is an older or younger brother?
What about someone talking about his twin brother (I know that person is technically either born before or after the speaker, but they are the exact same age)?


Mirko R on 中国 in Context

I understood this dialogue when reading it the first time and feel like Lao Tzu himself now 😉


Oscar Haglund? on Vocab Unlocked from 志

A quick google search seems to show that “Gay” is a by far more common use of 同志 than “Comrade”


Lauren Gathman on 桌子 in Context

Is there a difference between 手机 and 电话?is 手机a cell phone and 电话 one of those more traditional phones?


Annette Bicknell on 再 in Context

我没懂,你可不可以再说一次?I see that it is the “verb 不 verb” construction in a yes/no question, but why not 可以不可以? Why is it 可不可以?

Is it only correct in the form of your sentence or can both be used and the omission of the first 以 is simply how people speak?

31:14 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.

Chad Ressler on Vocab Unlocked from 拉: 拉肚子

you have to use Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber for this one


Annette Bicknell on Vocab Unlocked from 以: 可以 -以为 -以上 – 以下

Suggestions that may help trigger ideas for others:

可以: “If you are an adult you can buy a lottery ticket which may allow you to win big money” and a picture of lotto tickets.

以为: a side by side photo of Biden and Trump after Biden won and Trump lost the election, but mistakenly thinks he won.

以下: 1) a stress barometer with the needle at “moderate” and where lower is better. 2) Mallard duck with ducklings following.

以上: 1) an image of the Alberta (province in Canada) Covid curve currently as that level or higher is a huge problem.

2) An image of a scientific paper with a diagonal “stamp” saying “The Above-mentioned” added in PowerPoint and made into a photo. It is a phrase I have read many times in science texts.


Seong Tan on Vocab Unlocked from 西: 东西 – 西边

My Mandarin tutor told me that in the old capital Xian, the markets to buy things were located in the East and West gates.


Keith Evans on Vocab Unlocked from 楼: 楼上 – 楼下

楼上 : The meaning seems pretty straightforward, but to help remember character order – When starting down low (Lóu) you need to be strong (shàng) to make it all the way UPSTAIRS. (Inspired by your LOW SHOT.)


Keith Evans on Vocab Unlocked from 最: 最好

At Sears many product was offered at ascending price levels, with their qualities was labeled: GOOD, BETTER, BEST. There’s also the slang “mo betta”


Ceri Woods on Vocab Unlocked from 随: 随时

used a picture of a 24hr shop here… I sometimes struggles for pics so thought I’d share