Chinese New Year Study Plan

Well, I just did it – I enrolled in a six-hour-a-day Chinese immersion program for five days of CNY. I figure it’ll force me to do something productive, and keep me from staying up too late.

It’s ironic that since I arrived in China my Chinese has gone straight to hell. I had much more time to study and write characters and attend after-work classes in Taipei. Here, my schedule is too erratic and intense; weekends are my only chance to study, and honestly, I just don’t feel up to it after working so hard during the week. I won’t give it up, but I am sad to have to resize my aspirations to fit reality.

Meanwhile, we all know another 30 hours or so won’t make a huge difference, but it’s way better than nothing, especially when I’ve got nothing better to do.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

Hi there!
Where do you take these classes? Does the school have a website? Can you keep us posted, tell us if you think it’s worth it?

Thank you

February 16, 2007 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

Keep it up, Richard!

February 16, 2007 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

30 hours won’t make a difference, but if you view it as a running start on a steady learning program of 30 minutes a day after you’re back at work that will make a difference.

February 16, 2007 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

TThanks for the encouragement. Marianne, an ad in one of the expat rags popped out at me yesterday – it said they were offering a 5-day intensive program during CNY. Name of the school is Frontier in Dongzhimen. It cost 800 rmb and there are five people maximum in the class. We’ll see what I get out of it.

February 16, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

太巧了 see you there

February 16, 2007 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

Echoing Kevin’s sentiments, if you really want to master Chinese, schedule a regular time into your week, and don’t ‘skip class.’ I don’t know what level you are at or what materials you use, but amongst my large collection, I’d recommend:

Contemporary Chinese (????)
four levels from real beginner to high beginner/low intermediate; text includes both simplified and traditional versions; audio quality of CDs far superior to the tapes that accompany college texts and the dialogs aren’t as boring

An Elementary Chinese Reader (֐΄ ????)
written for overseas Chinese and foreigners with some oral ability, the book aims to strengthen fluency in reading characters

Say it easily (???ھ͋?)
a series of 4 books with CD that teach common colloquialisms and conversational gambits; very practical and authentic, according to my Chinese friends. The only drawback is the CD doesn’t have tracks, so there’s no way to skip to the phrases you want to listen to.

In case you haven’t bought materials with listening CDs in China yet, please be advised that the CDS may be removed from the books and kept at a front counter or a counter somewhere in the foreign language section. At the Xinhua store in Qingdao, I paid for the books and then showed the receipt and the books at the CD counter.

Routledge Grammars Basic Chinese: A Grammar and Workbook

If your knowledge of Chinese characters is less than 300, I’d recommend spending a few kuai on a set of flashcards for kids. I taught myself to read and write characters in Korea by using flashcards and writing practice books made for elementary kids. Once while browsing through materials in the kids’ section of Xinhua, a Chinese man next to me started cracking jokes about laowai buying kiddie books. I gave him a look that said STFU, and he did.

I presume that you are still a beginner, so I’ve listed only materials for that level.

Good luck! If I can learn Chinese in Korea, you can learn Chinese in China. JUST DO IT!

February 16, 2007 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

Think of this course as a “surge” (heh)…sometimes that’s all it takes. I find that learning languages comes in spurts rather than by purely linear progression. In China I’d find that my Chinese would go up a notch (granted, I had a lot of notches to go!) just by participating in a conversation group for an hour or two.

February 17, 2007 @ 2:10 am | Comment


The characters didn’t appear in the previous post, so I’ve uploaded images to Flickr of the materials in case you’re interested:

February 17, 2007 @ 2:12 am | Comment

Richard – five days of intensive Chinese WILL make a difference. And as Kevin says, it’s a great way to start.

I think the new Practical Chinese Reader – the updated edition, without Sige Xiandaihua references – is quite good. They do a good job of introducing and then reinforcing vocabulary. It’s put out by BLCU, so if you can’t find it elsewhere, they will have it in the school’s bookstore.

February 17, 2007 @ 3:06 am | Comment

Sonagi, thanks for the suggestions and the flickr image. I would say I’m now an advanced beginner – I recognize about 700 characters but I can’t say I’ve memorized them – a lot of them I can only read in context. After a very intense effort in my final three months in Taipei, I can hold a conversation at the level of a 3-year-old and have no trouble chatting with the taxi driver.

I appreciate all the suggestions for the books and CDs. I’m just worried about when I will find the time to use them. I have about 10 new Chinese Pod lessons on my iPod that I haven’t listened to once. I used to be a paying member, but can’t give it the time to justify the price.

I’ll try to offer a daily report of the classes. That’s one thing I will have time to do this week – blog.

February 17, 2007 @ 10:05 am | Comment

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