Episode 177 - Achieving What I Once Found Impossible

177. “Achieving What I Once Found Impossible”

Podcast Duration: 00:55:02

欢迎光临! Welcome!

You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or you can subscribe by copying the following URL into your favorite podcast APP:


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.

177. "Achieving What I Once Found Impossible"

0:00 Affiliate Link & Reviews

Become a Mandarin Blueprint Affiliate

Leave us a Google Business Review 🙂

Leave us a Facebook Review

3:17 Comments & Emails

Christine by Community

Hi there, I am also now at the 2 year mark (give or take a week or two – I started the Pronunciation course in April and the rest of the course on the 4th of May).

Also here to give an update and reflection based on my experience.

I am now at 2772 characters. I am not following the formal Advanced course since it was not available when I completed the Intermediate and by the time it came out, I was already far along in my own learning material that I created, so I am just keeping on with that approach.

That being said, I am still very much involved in the MB part of the course especially when it comes to listening immersion.

At around Level 45 or so I stopped reviewing sentences in Anki. For the past six months or so I had been catching up on reviewing these sentences in various formats. For levels 43 to 49 I just listened. For levels 50 to 57 I created a listening deck in Anki again and am doing listening reviews of these sentences at around 10 or 20 per day – depending on what I feel like. I am about half way through these (I unlock about or 3 per level from 50 to 57 to spread out the focus). 

I am taking a very reading focused approach when it comes to immersion outside Mandarin Blueprint.
After I finished all the Mandarin Companion books and the first two or three of the Monkey King, I started to read more difficult books – firstly some graded English readers – these are available on Kobo and they have English in the first half (for Chinese readers wanting to learn English) and the Chinese translation in the second half. I found these to be really good in terms of getting into the habit of reading and driving me to learn new/more characters. Not everyone recommends these types of books – they are translated and not native, but I found them just at the right level to read to get into more difficult books.

I also read some native Children’s books, then more translated books (not graded) and am currently busy with Harry Potter – which is surprisingly easy to read at this stage.

Apart from I am also working my way through the Little Fox videos – I can recommend Rocket Girl. I went from Rocket Girl to Alice in Wonderland and now on Monkey King on level 5 again, which I am quite enjoying.

What I am proud of:
I feel really proud of the fact that I have managed to get to this level of reading and comprehension. It is becoming easier and easier to read (although yes I STILL use Pleco’s reader with the built in popup dictionary). After Harry Potter book 1 I am going to try native content again from the ‘Heavenly Path’ recommendations.

What is still a challenge:
Listening is still difficult. I can easily watch Little Fox on level 5 and follow most of that, as well as easier animated series (Netflix) such as the Hollows, A Tale Dark and Grimm, Hilda (S1), and some Disney movies (e.g. Emperor’s new Groove). But as soon as something becomes just slightly more difficult than these, I totally get lost. Not close to be able to watch native content such as CDramas without English Subtitles.

Speaking – I shadow sporadically, but I have not even started with trying to speak to anyone yet in terms of language partners or anything, so this is something that I would need to focus on – this is going to be my focus for the next year.

Really happy with my progress – but make no mistake, it is a long journey! 

I have some specific tips and ideas but this post is becoming long so I will post those separately 🙂


Annette by Email

Hi Luke, Phil,

Just officially finished the Foundation Course. I can’t believe it, what a feeling!! I do have to admit that I still need to catch up on the conversation connectors. When they first showed up they were too hard and I decided to revisit them later. Later is now. I figure that will take a week. That and also going over the various GE, GW and GS tags with the sentences hitting me for each category issue all at once and not spread out in the various levels where they become diluted, as in, lost in the sea of other sentences within each level focusing on other words. Once I have gone through that, I will feel and be ready to tackle the intermediate course. 

As a gift to myself I downloaded and installed the Language Reactor extension. I deliberately held off doing so because I figured having the Foundation Course was important and not spend time looking up too many words and making the process of using it more enjoyable. To be honest, I have been itching to do this.

Somewhere in the early twenties levels all the sentence reviews became too much and gradually I ended up re-suspending each levels sentences as I unsuspended the next level. This kept sentences to a nice number. I chose this as opposed to only unsuspending the red sentences. I find reading the same word in different sentences a great help to seeing it in different context and it is placed in different positions within the sentence. It is also nice to have some straightforward sentences interspersed among the challenging ones. 

I never stopped reviewing the Pronunciation Mastery flashcards. There are now anywhere from zero to eight cards a day, usually 2-6. I noticed this past month that the tone pairs, some of which were perpetually very challenging, all of a sudden no longer are. I am not saying there are no cards that do not challenge me, but they are just a few. Obviously my ability to hear the distinction with similar sounds has improved. 

I have to confess that I really like Anki. I like the versatility / customization of it and that I can tweak cards just the way I want them by changing font size or bold/not bold, colours, moving a Pronunciation card rather than creating a new card (不但), etc. I know I have to transition to Traverse and although I have downloaded the legacy Anki decks for the intermediate course I will check out Traverse so that I can make a smooth transition once I have to. I completely understand why you need a proprietary platform as opposed to Anki. You will hear no argument from me on that, after all, you want your business to survive (although a part of me wishes it could have been with Anki). The odd day here and there for some reason I cannot log in to your website (with or without VPN), the login page just won’t load (although one of those days was my service provider being offline for the day, so not you) and having Anki separate and available offline has been the saving piece that has allowed me to not miss a single day studying. 

Awesome course, and I am getting to the point of overcoming my reluctance to write something on a completely public FB page, you deserve the endorsement,



Jelena Lu on Now Just LOOK at how SOLID that Foundation Is! Phase 5 Complete!

So excited and proud! Thank you for this opportunity to achieve something I once found impossible! Thank you for videos and content that provide clarity and boost motivation! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


Abigail on Three Little Pigs 三只小猪 – Paragraph 2 第二段

I’m struggling to translate ‘吓得不轻’. Does 不轻 mean they were frightened not lightly, ie. a lot?


Andy Williams on 分开 in Context

In the sentence 我们分开后很久没有见面了, is the meaning changed if you use 以后 instead of 后 by itself?



Annette Bicknell on Vocab Boost 知识 正好 不但 不得不 不一会儿 那会儿 那时候 这时候 那样 怎么办 同样

我读中学那会儿还没有手机。What is the interpretation of 读? I looked it up searching for alternate meanings and could not find anything that made sense. Is it a rather colloquial expression? How does “to read/study” turn into “being at” or “at”?


Lyuboslava Jordanova on Cao Chong Weighs The Elephant 曹冲称象 – Full Story 90% Comprehension

I have a question regarding one part of the sentence: 小孩儿们看到大象都开心得又唱又跳
Will be there any difference in meaning between 开心得又唱又跳 and 开心地有唱有跳。 Does the first phrase means “singing and dancing with joy“, and the second one “happily singing and dancing”?


珂兰 on Vocab Unlocked from 民

中国人民具有善良、热情等特征。 Is the 等 in this sentence “indicating the end of an enumeration” as per Pleco? I assume it means “Kindness and enthusiasm are particular characteristics of the Chinese people”. 等 here does not imply “and so on” as in “kindness and enthusiasm and so on”, right?


Brian O’Connor on 行为 in Context

In the sentence 你儿子的这种行为给别人带来了不少麻烦 (That type of behavior from your son has gives people no small amount of frustration), what function does 带来 serve? Wouldn’t it mean the same if the sentence were 你儿子的这种行为给了别人不少麻烦?


Sal Phillips on It’s a Word! 白

Why does “干” in “我们白干了这个工作” change to fourth tone?


Lyuboslava Jordanova on 成为 in Context

May I ask what is the difference between 成为 and 变得?

Thank you in advance!


Thostuart on Anny 老师 Review: Simple Final A

Really like this course on several dimensions, including its ‘tone’, its andragogic approaches to learning Chinese, its heady combination of fun and linguistic focus, its multi-media illustration and reinforcement of pronunciation, its lightness but effectiveness when it comes to explaining grammar points and the like, its page-turner enticement for the learner to continue, and the way the whole blueprint is packaged together.

I’m wondering whether I will receive a reply to my comment on Anny’s pronunciation of 他 sounding to me like ‘cha’ rather then ‘ta’, something which I’ve found perplexing. The last communication indicates that my comment has been removed – and looking at Anny’s 老师 Review of Simple Final A, it has indeed been removed. Have I somehow missed your feedback on this matter?


Brian O’Connor on 行为 in Context

In 行为的改变才会带来结果的改变, I don’t find a word that means “only.” It seems to be “Behavior’s change will bring result change.” Is “only” implied in the idiomatic phrase?


Seong Tan on 跟 in Context

How is it that the word for heel also means “with” or “and”?


Eileen H on 每(个) in Context

I’m a little unclear on when 要 means “to want” vs. the way it’s used in many sentences. For example in 爷爷每年都要来我家住一个月, how would you instead say “Every year 爷爷 wants to come live with us for a month”?