the rollercoaster of mandarin chinese

132. The Rollercoaster of Mandarin Acquisition

Podcast Duration: 00:37:00

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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.

132. The Rollercoaster of Mandarin Acquisition

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0:04 Comments & Emails

Anne Giles by Community

Did anyone else, during the Level 3 review, feel almost tearful with relief when Phil urges students to keep going slowly? I realized I have felt such a desperate urgency to make up for lost time. I scrabbled to find a way to learn Mandarin Chinese as an adult isolated at home during a pandemic! The method makes sense and it’s working. I’m able to gather up some of my old scattered learning and add it to the learning I’m now doing.

Before, I looked up each character in Mandarin Companion’s Xiao Ming, Boy Sherlock until I was exhausted. I opened up the ebook recently and discovered I could read some sentences. Maybe I’ll finally find out what happens to the book! The data is in that this is working for me. And now I can just relax and do it. I’m so grateful for Luke & Phil and the community! 


Phil by Email

G’Day Luke, 

I must say thanks for sending the eBook, which I have now read and found very informative. While I have found myself initially excited at the thought of embarking on this greatly anticipated although sadly very delayed dive into actually learning Mandarin spoken and written forms, I am also fearing the Hanza Movie method, but am going to give it my best shot by starting today on the 14-day trial before embarking on the full course.

Married to a Hakka Chinese lady who was born in Papua New Guinea, but educated as a boarder in Australia, we met at a hospital in Australia where we were both nurses. She was taught “Kitchen Cantonese” by her parents who both spoke it extensively at home but never received any formal training, and her parents always ridiculed her when she tried to sign birthday and Christmas cards to them, but would get the characters backward, or in the wrong order. When our children were born we would try to use some common forms of Cantonese with them, which they understood, but as they grew older would say “please don’t talk to me in Chinese”, and avoided giving out their Chinese names on forms or documents, as the local kids would make fun of their names. I was born in Merseyside, England, moving to Australia in 1976 when I was 17. I insisted that our kids would have a traditional English name which we would identify, and a Chinese name provided by her parents, as I strongly feel they need to be aware of their cultural history from both sides of their parents.

I spent the last 26 years working for an international medical company as a Product Manager covering initially the total Asia region (India, China, and all countries below them), which then whittled down to the Asia Pacific region, and then just Australia and New Zealand. During this time I travelled extensively to each of the countries, picking up a few words where I could improve the relationship with the customers and employees in each country.

Spending no more than two weeks in each country made it difficult for consistency, and with so many languages involved. I have taken my wife on holidays to China several times, including once with my mother-in-law, so that she could visit Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai while she is alive. We even located her family village in Guangdong, which she was elated in finally visiting (she was also born in Papua New Guinea).

Now I need to finally knuckle down and earnestly learn Mandarin, so that when Covid is eventually under control and we can travel again, I can do more than the simple greetings, or barter in the markets with the locals without the aid of a calculator ?. Having also been made redundant just over 12 months ago, I feel that some fluency with Mandarin, both spoken and written can only enhance my employment opportunities, although I know learning the technical terminology as it relates to medicine will be a larger undertaking, I need to start biting into that elephant.

Many Thanks again, and I hope this email has aided your insomnia,



Al Roy by Email

Progress Report:

A cool thing happened this morning. I woke up and realized that I’d been dreaming in 中文. First time this has happened to me in this language. Just very simple stuff – but ideas interesting and encouraging to wake up and realize that was going on. The human mind is amazing, how it will pick and poke and prod to ferret out and discover new things, even while we sleep. There’s always a lot more going on than meets the eye.

This isn’t the first time this has happened; I used to dream in Korean quite a bit, almost four decades ago. But it was still a minor thrill to wake up and find out what had happened.

I finally got caught up on my Anki cards last week after a several months-long hiatus when I was working in northern BC on a pipeline project, and just didn’t have the time available to study. Now that I’m finally caught up, I’ve begun reviewing the earlier sentences – just reading through and enjoying the process of filling my mind (and annoying my wife) with Chinese. Flooding might actually be a better word, at least some of the time – rather like gentle cramming.

Having re-entered the arena, I see that it looks like the entire course has been reworked and also reset, so I actually have lost track of where I was at. But I actually like this, as it gave me a valid excuse to really dig into the earlier material. This go-round, it is starting to feel much more natural, and less like a ‘foreign’ language to me, even though the online tests indicate I’m only somewhere around 5 or 6 hundred characters into it.

I am indeed glad that you guys made the lifetime subscription option available last summer, and that I was able of take advantage of it. I was pretty much flat-out broke at the time but jumped on it when I found out that I would soon be working. It is the best investment I’ve ever made in a language course, BAR NONE.



Anne Giles on BONUS VIDEO: The 6 Types of Chinese Character (Part 3 of 3)

I believe that the under 9-minute, Level 5 Bonus video, Types of Chinese Character, Part 3, on its own, is worth the entire cost of the course. I’ve heard this concept explained many times. To *see* it made all the difference.

Luke & Phil!


Hank Elliott on  Honesty 诚实 – Full Story – 90% Comprehension

OMG so much fun reading this story. At native speed, I was able to keep up for about half the story on the first try. I’m blown away. Characters I thought I had forgotten came rushing back into my head the moment I heard them again. I think I got about 90% (of the 90%) the first time thru each half. Then second time thru, I went really slow. Sentence by sentence. Then the third time thru I tried to keep up with the Male Native Speed and it was a mess. I then went back to female native speed and it was nearly perfect. Then I tried the male native speed again, and again I fell apart several times.

Do you think it’s because he speaks a little faster, or the tone of his voice, or what? But his native speed is often harder than hers in many stories, for me anyway! Any thoughts?!


Rick Angleland on Vocab Unlocked from 花: 花园

A google image search finds entirely western-style gardens and parks. Not a single traditional chinese garden. Would the same word still be used?


Hannah Sloat on  (BONUS) Principle vs. Reality in Mandarin

I’m learning to communicate better with my love. My previous girlfriend and I were together for 18 years but her English was flawless. She’s from Shanghai. So I just never bothered learning really. I lived in Shanghai for 3 years and been back many many times but still never felt to urge to learn until I met my now current girlfriend where it’s a lot more important to learn. I’m loving your course. With this and talking with her all the time I will become fluent.


Linda O’Brien on Make a Movie 要

I love hearing Luke’s comments. His voice is soothing and he always adds more than someone’s make a movie.


Al (泰光) Roy (王) on BONUS: Connector – Reasons & Actions with 因为…, 所以…


Upon reading this, I find that it resembles something else in English; at least in my own mind. 是因为, as it appears in the second sentence above, has a similar feel to ‘is (the) reason for…’ (as opposed to saying ‘because’) whatever comes after it.

Can’t get enough of this. I feel like a sponge lately!


Jason Pon on  饭店 in Context


How does the 点好了 work in this sentence when describing that the food is ready?


选好了 xuǎn – Chosen successfully
买好了 mǎi – Bought successfully
吃好了 chī – Eaten successfully (satisfied)


Alex Sumray on Make a Movie 围

Reaching here feels like we’ve just made the long slow climb up the best rollercoaster at a theme park.

We’ve now made it towards the inevitable plummet. What awaits in our Chinese learning journey is 又 scary 又 exciting. If anything comes from this it’s that maybe next time I can order that rollercoaster ticket in China, in Chinese! …(though not literally, I can’t stomach them, that was just for sake of analogy).

Cheers lads, it’s been fun.

23:18 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.

Tim on Vocab Unlocked from 总: 总是

Willie Nelson song “you are always on my mind”


Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 差: 差不多 – 差点儿

差不多 – You’ve heard of playdough, now try CHUBBY DOUGH, it’s almost the same thing, or good enough. 差点儿 – Sorry, I almost hiT’YA DEAR


Hank Elliott on Vocab Unlocked from 泼

活. Alive, Lively
泼 Splash
活泼 A lively splash= VIVID, VIVACIOUS. more simply perfect

25:52 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters. Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 实

Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 洗

电影: 洗 Shaunda (xi-) is in the bedroom at my childhood home (-Ø)
when suddenly she gets squirted with a blast of water but she doesn’t see who did it. Then it happens again…was that a Super soaker (氵) and Usain Bolt (先) running around squirting me. After he does it 10 more times. He stops, so I guess you should get WASHED UP now ??‍♂️


Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 解

Janet Jackson (ji-) is in the gym at Barton Elementary (-e) where there is a race competition going on. The horn (角) blows and the race is on. Wait someone has played a trick on Janet. She grabs her knife ? (力) and reaches for her tied up runner, her cow (牛) to let it free. Janet loosens the rope with the knife and then UNTIES the cow to catch up in the race for the win.


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 售

Sh-actor, the cook, gets in at -ao set’s backyard (4th tone) where the turkeys( 隹) are kept. As soon as Sh-actor enters in, they immediately cackle (口) raucously so hard to make a sales (售) pitch so that the other turkeys instead would be picked up by Sherwin …for dinner. When the Sh-actor gets one already, then they all calm down. The shòw is over. 售(shòu).


Kairi Shikari on Make a Movie 集

(note that all my actors, tones and locations have different categories)

JI ACTOR – my friend Jenni.
LOCATION – bedroom of my house.
TOP PROP – Blathers (the owl from the Animal Crossing game who collects items you gather and displays them in his museum) BOTTOM PROP – a tree (here it is has shrunk down in size)

Jenni heads upstairs to my room where Blathers the owl is staying. With a small tree in her arms, she says ‘here you go, I have GATHERED a little tree for your collection. Blathers flies onto the top of the tree and perches there, looking pleased, and says ‘marvellous! if you manage TO GATHER anything else, please return!’


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 勿

WONDER WOMAN is in the BATHROOM of my CHILDHOOD HOME working out with two large SWORDS. She’s working really hard, and working up a real sweat. But one of her arms is in a CAST and thus bothering her and slowing her down. So she has to REFRAIN from swinging the sword in that hand. After she reaches the end of her routine, she REPEATS it from the point she drops one of the swords until the end (REFRAIN in music).


Will Raley on Make a Movie 涨

涨 zhǎng To Swell

1. Jerry at -ang’s Living Room
2. Jerry fires his Bow (弓) at ET (长)’s head
3. ET’s head begins TO SWELL
4. Jerry pours his Water Bottle (氵) on ET’s head to cure the SWELLING (涨)


Will Raley on Make a Movie 赶

赶 gǎn To Catch Up

1. Greg at -an’s Living room
2. Greg is moonwalking with Michael Jackson (走) and Michael Jackson tells Greg TO CATCH UP
3. Greg grabs a Cactus (干) and whacks Michael Jackson with it to slow him down
4. Greg now CATCHES UP (赶) to Michael Jackson