Language

A complete archive of all of my posts about language learning.

language

On Comprehensible Input

Posted by on 9:25 am in Advanced, Beginner, Chinese Learning, Intermediate, Learning Techniques | 1 comment

On Comprehensible Input

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a little longer than usual since my last post – I’ve been extremely busy lately! Aside from being a full-time University student, I’ve also been running my own company (or trying to) and doing a lot of work for an organisation called ACYA (Australia-China Youth Association or 中澳青年联合会) for which I’m a Vice-President of the Monash University Chapter. In fact, I’m writing this post from the plane! I’m on my way home from the ACYA National Conference that was held in Brisbane. I met an amazing bunch of people, including many Chinese people with amazing English and quite a number of Australians with flawless Chinese – it was definitely an eye opener and reassurance that reaching a high level of fluency in Chinese is definitely possible. Anyway, on to it! —————————————————————————————————————— So, comprehensible input. What is it? I believe the term first appeared in the work done by Stephen Krashen on language acquisition (if you haven’t heard of him, look him up). Essentially, he devised a model for language learning based around input (reading and listening) as an alternative to the traditional grammar-based approach favoured in classrooms. More specifically, he contends that in order to maximize efficiency in language learning, the input should be comprehensible: meaning not too hard that you can’t understand, but not too easy that it isn’t challenging. I am a strong believer of the input model, as are other many far more accomplished language learners than me. Input, and listening in particular, makes up about 90% of my Chinese learning. The rest is spent learning characters and speaking. In the past 3 months I’ve been trying to average an hour a day of listening, and in that time I’ve progressed tremendously. Like, seriously, my Chinese is infinitely better. I wrote an article about my first month doing this challenge, which you can read by clicking here.   Why an input based approach is so effective: It’s the way we learn our native language. Have you ever wondered why everyone (pretty much) is able to speak their native language flawlessly and naturally? Or why you rarely make grammatical mistakes despite never touching a grammar textbook? The reason is because from your first day on earth, you are bombarded with an intense dose of input. A baby just sits there all day, absorbing the language being spoken around them. The result is that they have a seemingly ‘natural’ feel for the language. The good news is that you can be baby. You have my permission. Take some time out of your day to turn on your iPod and listen and absorb the language, and you will reap the benefits. It’s easy. You’re lazy. I’m lazy. We’re all lazy. From a survival perspective, it makes sense. Humans instinctively opt for the path of least resistance in order to saving time and resources. It is super easy to just turn on some ChinesePod and enjoy. Who can really be bothered smashing out those grammar exercises? And who can keep it up long enough to learn a language to fluency? I sure can’t. Whoever can must have some seriously God-like willpower. It’s fun and it’s interesting. Grammar is not interesting. I’ve always hated those fill-in-the-blanks like exercises most language teachers insist on making you do....

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Speech On Language Learning

Posted by on 5:21 am in Chinese Learning | 0 comments

Hey guys! So a couple of days ago I had a great privilege of speaking at Suzanne Cory High School, which is a selective entry school form years 9-12. Selective schools are great environments (I went to one myself) and are inspiring places to be in. They seemed like a good group of kids. If you’re interested, give it a listen! Click Here to listen to the speech. Dan P.S. Let me know if that link doesn’t work for some reason, but it should...

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Your accent isn’t important. Your pronunciation is.

Posted by on 1:15 am in Learning Techniques, Mindset/Mentality, Motivation | 8 comments

Your accent isn’t important. Your pronunciation is.

The majority of hard-core, nerdy, nitty-picky language blogs on the net promote having an authentic-sounding or ‘native’ accent as being the ‘holy grail’ of language learning. I’m looking at you, Ramses. I’m not saying having a decent accent isn’t important, or that your accent isn’t worth working on, but it definitely isn’t as important as many of these other language enthusiasts make it out to be. To clarify, the distinction I draw between an ‘accent’ and ‘pronunciation’ is as follows: Your pronunciation is your ability to pronounce words in a way that makes them intelligible to other speakers of the language. One can have the strongest accent possible, but as long as they are understood, they will usually be pronouncing things properly. An example of incorrect pronunciation would be pronouncing ‘down’ as ‘dawn’. Your accent includes things like your intonation and rhythm of speech. It is anything that makes you sound foreign. The classic ‘accent trap’ is pronouncing things exactly like you would in your native language, rather than actually listening to the way they are pronounced in the language you’re learning, and imitating it. So, as you can see, having good pronunciation is necessary for being understood. Your accent, however, has little bearing on you being understood. You can have the biggest French (or whatever) accent, and people will still understand. People like Ramses are extremely proud of their ‘native’ accents in the second-languages they speak (in his case, Spanish). And rightly so. It’s an impressive feat. However, I think putting too much emphasis on its importance is actually doing language learners a disservice, as it tends to scare them off and instill in them a feeling of helplessness. Ironically, I’m currently in the process of writing a guest post on his new blog, The Language Dojo, about how to acquire a native like accent. If you’re really that intent on pretending to be a native, and on impressing people with your impressive language abilities, then you should probably reconsider your motivation for learning another language. You have to be intrinsically motivated to learn a language, for more profound reasons than mere bragging rights, in order to learn it successfully. He says that you should be working on your accent, and trying to achieve a native-sounding one, from the get-go. Otherwise, he says, you’ll be learning bad habits that are hard to get out of. I actually have a completely opposite point of view about the matter. I was fluent in French before I started developing anything near to a native accent! As many of my readers will know, when I was 15 I spent 5 months in France living with a host family in order to learn French. I came back with a relatively basic level of fluency (mainly due to my terribly inefficient learning methods) and, dare I say it, a shocking accent. I can even prove it! I still have videos on my computer of me speaking French shortly after returning, and they are pretty cringeworthy. And today, well, have a look at this copy of my emails to and from Ramses. Hey Ramses, In response to your post about accents, I’ve decided to send you a short video clip showing my accent in French. Most people can’t tell where I’m from (although a lot think I’m...

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The Secret To Learning Foreign Languages

Posted by on 9:00 am in Beginner, Chinese Learning, Intermediate, Learning Techniques, Mindset/Mentality, Motivation | 14 comments

The Secret To Learning Foreign Languages

You lucky devils. Today I have decided to share with you all the one true secret that I believe is essential to learning a language. Sure, knowing this information alone won’t be enough to learn a language, but you also can’t learn one without knowing this rule. Surprisingly, it is quite logical when you think about it. However, I think that this secret is, unfortunately, largely absent from traditional language teaching in schools and the like, despite the fact that, unless they are native speakers, every language teacher knows this secret and would have had to consciously acknowledge it in order to learn the language that they teach to fluency. Yadda yadda yadda. You guys just want to know the secret, right? What is it, you ask? The overarching rule of successful language learning is that the process itself must be enjoyable. What is so frustrating about this rule is that it is extremely easy to forget. Chinese is my fourth language, and yet I often find myself getting frustrated at myself for forgetting characters, or for not learning as fast as I would have liked – but this is the worst thing you can do. The learning process must, above all, be fun and enjoyable – you can’t force yourself to learn a language. You may be able to mindlessly rote learn a few basic phrases, but to gain any substantial ability to communicate in a new language, the process itself must be enjoyable. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but people often say to me that I must have a gift for learning languages. I hate hearing this, because what the person saying that really means it that they think they aren’t gifted, and so they can’t learn a language. This is definitely up there in the biggest excuses potential language learners make. I always reply that I’m not any more gifted than anyone else. This isn’t false modesty, this is the truth. Really. The reason I’ve been, so far, relatively successful in my language learning comes down to these four things: Language learning is my hobby, not a chore. I’m not learning Chinese to get that big job promotion, or to impress people. I’m learning it because I absolutely love learning new languages and about the cultures of the people that speak it. Nothing gives me a bigger rush than speaking with someone from China about government corruption, the one-child policy or the growing divide between the ultra-rich and super-poor. Call me a nerd. I’m not fixated on the end result. Perfecting a language (if that is even possible) is actually a sad thought for me. That would mean that the journey is over. Of course I want to become fluent, but I am patient and know that it will come with time, as it has in the past. I enjoy the learning process, not just the thought of speaking fluently. Too many language learners have this obsession with getting fluent as fast as possible, but language learning doesn’t work like that. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you can’t enjoy learning, you will quickly get frustrated and stop altogether. This is one of the main things new language learners have to accept, and embrace. I am confident that I will succeed. Because I have before! The...

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Why Simplicity Is Almost Always Better Than Complexity

Posted by on 12:43 am in Learning Techniques | 0 comments

Why Simplicity Is Almost Always Better Than Complexity

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo Da Vinci So it’s been a couple of crazy, jam-packed weeks for me since I finished semester. I’m on holidays from University for a month at the moment. Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this article, here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve been doing with myself (apart from learning Chinese). I’m gonna take the liberty and pretend like you all care, since, like, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want! Working on my own business. Yep. In the coming weeks (hopefully), I’m going to be launching my own project dubbed ‘Write Fluently’, which will be an affordable essay and assignment editing service for international students, run by Australian University students with high levels of written and academic English. Although it is a for-profit endeavour, I’m not a heartless capitalist and so there will also be a program for motivated economically disadvantaged students to get their essays corrected for free.  Organising volunteering for AMEP (Adult Migrant English Program). Next semester I’m going to be volunteering with AMEP teaching English to immigrants. I was looking for a way that I could give back to the community (that sounds so cliché) and I think I’ve found it. I’m passionate about learning languages and I really think I could give the students some food for thought about how to take charge of their learning and about my own approach to language learning which is quite different to methods promoted in a traditional classroom environment. Opening a Crêperie with a friend. That’s right! I don’t think I mentioned this before, but for a year and a half I worked in a French Crêperie here in Melbourne so that I could hit two birds with one stone – making a bit of cash whilst also maintaining and improving my French (the staff were all French). My boss was an asshole, though, unfortunately, and so I left. Now, though, I’m the head crêpe chef of this new place that will be open soon! Anyway, back to the article. Simplicity Over Complexity As a background to this story, my parents are both University professors/lecturers, and both have a large number of international students in their courses (most of whom come from China, actually). It has come to my attention, mostly because of the test-corrections I’ve been doing as part of my preparation to launch my project, Write Fluently, that many English as a second language speakers have a strong tendency to use extremely complex language, when it is both appropriate and inappropriate to do so. In academic and other University level essay writing, it is more or less expected that people have recourse to a large vocabulary, and there are often a number of field-specific jargon that is used exclusively in particular types of writing. The problem, though, lies in that many students (native speakers included) forget that the main purpose of language is communication, and fall into the false belief that the more complex the words are, the better. In reality, often using over complicated or ‘sophisticated’ words actually confuse and convolute the meaning the author is trying to communicate, to the point where it is sometimes next to IMPOSSIBLE to understand what is written. This is not an exaggeration. The underlying rule of writing is that...

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Beginners: Chinese Tones Explained With Their English Equivalent

Posted by on 2:57 am in Beginner, Chinese Learning, Intermediate | 3 comments

Beginners: Chinese Tones Explained With Their English Equivalent

One of the most daunting aspects of the Chinese language are its tones. And, sure, if you explain them like most native speakers or self-impressed successful learners do, they definitely sound it! You may hear people say “in Chinese, if you change the way you say a word slightly, the meaning can change dramatically!”. Unfortunately, its statements like those that deter many people from learning about this great language and China’s long and rich history. But really, it’s just something that takes getting used to. And, like in all languages, where there is a hard concept to get your head around, there will also be easier ones. Chinese makes up for the difficulty of tones with the simplicity of its grammar compared to, say, European languages. In Chinese, the reason for having tones is quite simple – there are far fewer variations in sounds (about 400) than in most other languages (such as English, which has approximately 12 000), and so tones are used to distinguish otherwise identical ones. Pretty cool, huh? So, What Do They Sound Like?  Firstly, tones are not a completely alien concept for English speakers. In fact, we have them in English! They are just more subtle, and have slightly different meanings. However, the basic idea is the same. Thinking about the English equivalents of tones are a great way of wrapping your head around their use in Chinese. The First Tone – ‘mā’ – is indicated by the ¯ on top of the final. This one is the most difficult to explain, but it is kind of like the sound you may make when you get a fright (‘āh!’). It is a high sound that is distinguishable because it is a constant pitch that does not fluctuate like the others. The Second Tone – ‘má’ – the rising tone, is indicated by the ´ on top of the final. Fortunately, this one is easy to explain! In English, we use this tone, known as the ‘upwards inflection’, on the last word of a sentence when we want to make it a question. Read ‘are you cold?’ out loud. The rising sound of ‘cold’ is the same as the rising tone in Chinese. So, má sounds like you’re saying ‘ma?’. Get it? Good. The Third Tone – mǎ – the low or dipping tone, sounds a lot like when you say ‘Mum!’ when she asks you to do the dishes, except, it dips down slightly lower than we would in English. The Fourth Tone – mà – sounds like when you’re in class at school, and you’re trying to call somebody’s name without the teacher hearing. It’s that ‘psst… Dàn, Dàn’ sound. Now, I guarantee that my explanations don’t completely clear up how to pronounce tones in Chinese. However, for me, thinking of them in this way helped me to accept them as being normal, which is necessary before you can master their use. I think that after reading my explanations above and listening to the tones pronounced individually, you shouldn’t have too much trouble understanding the concept of tones, at the very least. Don’t expect to be able to master them off the bat, though. This takes time, but not much else. Don’t forget that as a human, you have an innate gift for language, and with...

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20 Things You Should Be Able To Say To Kickstart Your Conversation Skills

Posted by on 7:48 am in Beginner, Chinese Learning, Intermediate | 4 comments

20 Things You Should Be Able To Say To Kickstart Your Conversation Skills

Learning the most commonly used elements of speech in the language you are trying to learn can put you miles ahead, and can make you seem far more competent than you actually are. Sure, looking at word lists for the most frequently used words can be helpful, but knowing how to use fundamental structures such as who, what, why etc is essential to any meaningful conversation. Here is a list of 20 such things words and structures that you should focus on learning ASAP: 1) Who – Shuí   Tā shì shúi? Shúi pèng le wǒ de shǒujī? 他是谁?谁碰了我的手机? Who is he? Who touched my phone? 2) What – Shénme   Zhè shì shénme dōngxi? 这是什么东西? What is this? 3) Where – Nǎr Cèsuǒ zàì nǎr? 厕所在哪儿? Where’s the toilet? 4) When – Shénme shíhou   Nǐ shénme shíhou lái de? 你什么时候来的? When did you arrive? 5) Past tense – None in Chinese! Add le or guò depending on the context. Wǒ mǎi le yī shuāng yùndòngxié. 我买了一双运动鞋。 I bought a pair of sports shoes. 6) How many – Duōshao  Nǐ de xuéxiào yǒu duōshao xuésheng? 你的学校有多少学生? How many students go to your school? 7) Why – Wèi shénme   Tā wèi shénme nàme bèn? 他为什么那么笨? Why is he so stupid? 8) Because – Yīnwèi Yīnwèi wǒ xiǎng xuéxí Zhōngwén. 因为我想学习中文。 Because I want to study Chinese. 9) Therefore – Suǒyǐ   Suǒyǐ, wǒ qù le mǎi zhè tái zhàoxiàngjī. 所以,我去了买这台照相机。 Therefore, I went to buy this camera. 10) To, by, with, from , for – Dào + Bèi + Gēn…yǐqǐ + Wèi le Wèi le gěi nǐ zhè jiàn líwù, wǒ cóng xuéxiào gēn dìdi yǐqǐ dào le zhèr. 为了给你这件礼物,我从学校跟弟弟一起到了这儿。 In order to give you this present, I came here from school with my brother. 11) However – Shénme bànfǎ dōu kěyǐ Nǐ xiǎng zhīdao zěnme zuò zhè ge gōngzuò? Yòng shénme bànfǎn dōu kěyǐ. 你想知道怎么做这个工作?用什么办法都可以。 You want to know how to do this work? However/whichever way is fine. 12) What kind – Nǎ zhǒng  Zhè shì nǎ zhǒng diànnǎo? 这是哪种电脑? What kind of computer is this? 13) Want to, plan to,hope to – Dǎsuàn Wǒ dǎsuàn qù Zhōngguó. 我打算去中国。 I plan to go to China. 14) Which – Nǎ ge  Nǐ xǐhuān nǎ tào fángzi? 你喜欢哪套房子。 Which apartment do you like? 15) Should, must, could – Yīnggāi Nǐ yīnggāi chī diǎnr dōngxi! 你应该吃点儿东西! You should eat something! 16) Even if – Nǎpà Wǒ jīntiān bìxū zuò-wán zuòyè, nǎpà wǒ bù shuìjiào. 我今天必须做完作业,那怕我不睡觉。 Today I need to finish my homework, even if I don’t sleep. 17) Although – Suīrán…dànshì  Suīrán zhè shì hěn zhòngyào de, dànshì wǒ bu xiǎng zuò. 虽然这是很重要的,但是我不想做。 Although this is very important, I don’t want to do it. 18) Try to – Chángshì Wǒ yào chángshì yí xià dāng lǎobǎn. 我要尝试一下当老板。 I want to try to be the boss for a while. 19) It seems to me – Hǎoxiàng Nǐmen dōu hǎoxiàng hĕn máng. 你们都好像很忙。 You all seem very busy. 20) For example – Bǐrú  Wǒ xǐhuān hěn duō yùndòng, bǐrú lǎnqiú. 我喜欢很多运动,比如篮球。 I like lots of sports, for example, basketball. There you are! Hope you enjoyed it. I feel that a mastery of the above is extremely important, especially if you’re a beginner trying to push into the intermediate level. Let me know...

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Words That Don’t ‘Stick’

Posted by on 6:10 am in Advanced, Beginner, Chinese Learning, Intermediate, Learning Techniques | 0 comments

Words That Don’t ‘Stick’

As any seasoned language learner will tell you, sometimes you come across words that simply don’t ‘stick’ in your brain. Others, too, seem to stick easily and often effortlessly. Why are some words committed to memory effortlessly after the first hearing, while others continue to torment you after several conscious attempts to learn them? This can be because of several reasons. The main two would be: You don’t understand the word properly. Did you hear the word in context, or are you simply trying to rote learn it from a word list? Words that you see in conversations or other authentic material are, in general, far easier to remember, as the context serves as a cue for your memory. When learning Chinese, it can be useful to learn the meaning of the individual characters that make up the word (just the Pinyin is fine for speaking). Also, if you don’t understand how it’s used, you’re unlikely to remember it, or, at least, you won’t be able to use it. And if you can’t use it, what’s the point, right? The word doesn’t have enough perceived importance. If you don’t really care about a word, or, subconsciously or consciously, aren’t fully convinced that it’s worth learning at this point in time, then you probably won’t remember it. If you believe the word is essential to your survival in the language, then believe me, it will stick. The clear solution here is only learn words that are actually important for your current level. It makes no sense to learn the word for ‘biotechnology’ in your target language before you learn how to say ‘where’s the toilet’? Even if you are a scientist-type, the latter is going to be more important as a beginner learner. That’s not to say that learning complex words aren’t important – they are, but only when you’re at a higher level and looking to have more profound conversations with people. How Do You Make Words Stick Like Superglue? When I was in High School, one of my favourite subjects was Psychology. We learnt a lot about the brain – in particular about sleep and memory. I thought that it was so relevant to be learning how to learn things. Without boring you all too much, let me just say that the important things regarding memory that you should know is that your short-term memory can hold about 9 items. After that, without a proper ‘mnemonic device’ (memory technique) you will start forgetting them. I think the short term memory can store information for about 30 seconds, too. Therefore, you gotta make a word sink through to your long-term memory in order for it to stick. The best way of doing that is through mnemonic devices. You can read more about them on Olle’s blog Hacking Chinese here, and here. An example of a mnemonic device I have used: To learn 游泳 (to swim) – I broke down the characters into their individual parts, and then made a story. The first character, 游, I broke down into:氵(water) 方 (used a lot in characters to do with places) and 子 (child). The second character, 泳, has the water part again,氵, and the other part looks like the full character for water 水. So, my story was ‘To go swimming, you need a place with...

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Absolute Beginners Guide to Learning Chinese: The Start of the Journey

Posted by on 11:53 am in Beginner, Chinese Learning, Learning Techniques, Motivation | 6 comments

Absolute Beginners Guide to Learning Chinese: The Start of the Journey

I recently received an email from a friend of mine who read my blog and really enjoyed it (if you like what I’m doing, let me know! Seriously, it makes my day), but who was still hesitant about making the first step in beginning the journey of learning Chinese, for the simple reason that he did not know exactly where to start. From his message, I understood that he was also unsure about what this journey entailed (for it is a journey, albeit an immensely enjoyable and rewarding one, if done correctly), or what to expect along the way. This article is for all of you in that very position. This is for all the complete beginners who don’t know where to start, particularly those that are on the fence about whether to start learning Chinese, or any other language, at all. There are 7 days in the week, and someday is not one of them. I will break my advice down into Myths, How to Begin, Essential Qualities of a Successful Language Learner, General Tips, and Motivation. This is a long, long, article. I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible. You have been warned. ———————————————————————————————————– Common Myths and Excuses About Learning Chinese (And Other Languages) I’m not talented or smart enough to learn a language. This one is particularly prominent in people who once tried to learn a language, but have since given up. This is common where people have learn a language for many years at school, but who didn’t really learn anything. Now, firstly, it’s important for me to say that your success in school language classes are not at all representative of your actual ability, as these programs are designed to cater for a large class and do not take into account the different ways people learn (which is essential in language learning, where some techniques that work for some simply don’t work for others). They are also generally not very fun, as they tend to be geared toward passing exams and having perfect grammar, rather than actually being able to communicate in the language. Some language classes can be fine, too, but in order to really learn anything, the student is required to venture further and engage with their learning on their own. The only way you can ‘fail’ is if you give up for good. Humans have an inherent ability to learn languages, we have always been good at it. Throughout history, it has been commonplace for people to be bilingual – speaking their mother tongue as well as languages from neighbouring tribes and villages. In fact, the majority of the world today are at least bilingual, if not multi-lingual. And there’s no reason you can’t be, too. ‘Monolingualism’, speaking only one language, is a phenomenon that is actually predominantly confined to the Western world. We seem to have adopted a mistaken belief that learning other languages is both impossibly hard, but also unnecessary for English speakers due to English’s status as the current lingua franca. The truth is that learning a language has never been more important, due to the rise of countries such as China, Brazil and Russia, as well as because of the increasingly competitive job market arising from globalisation. I’m too old to learn a language. Many people have heard claims...

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One Month Challenge: How To Change Your Chinese Learning Habits in 30 Days

Posted by on 10:55 am in Advanced, Beginner, Chinese Learning, Intermediate, Learning Techniques, Motivation | 18 comments

One Month Challenge: How To Change Your Chinese Learning Habits in 30 Days

Lacking motivation? Keep putting off that Chinese study? Haven’t learnt a new character since you bought that World of Warcraft expansion pack? One month challenges are for you. I first heard about them online a couple of months ago, I think in a psychology journal (I can’t remember which, sorry!). Anyway, I read that habits are formed in around 30 days (less in some people), and that by setting yourself a goal of doing a specific task every day for a month, we are likely to assimilate it into our life as one of our everyday activities. So, armed with this newfound knowledge, I set out precisely one month ago on my first One Month Challenge: to get 1 hour of Chinese input a day. Studying seriously becomes so much easier when it becomes a habit. Lemme explain. What is a habit? And why do we have them? People like to believe that they have absolute free will over their actions and behaviours. That they are the one master of their destiny. In reality, most of our behaviour is hardwired into our subconscious – we don’t notice, of course, but a lot of what we do is governed, and explicable by reference to these unconscious processes of the brain. An example of this is psychological addictions, such as addiction to drugs such as marijuana that, chemically, have no physically addictive qualities. Specific behaviours develop and strengthen over time. In order to use it to its full potential, we must recognise that the brain is a muscle that must be trained, just like the muscles needed to physically carry out the brain’s messages. The reason you cannot immediately play a guitar the first time you pick it up is not only because your fingers can’t physically perform the required movements, but also because your brain doesn’t have the capacity to do so yet. Over time, your fingers develop ‘muscle memory’ that allows them to quickly snap from chord to chord. Your brain simultaneously develops the neural connections associated with playing the guitar, without which you would not be able to play. We can extend this to the question of why people procrastinate. Why do they seem unable to stop themselves? In case you don’t see where I’m going with this, I’ll spell it out for you: they have gotten into the habit of procrastinating and cannot just simply, well, stop. They need to train their subconscious to ignore the temptation, and their conscious mind will follow. How does this apply to learning Chinese? We are creatures of habit. If you can commit to doing a bit of Chinese every day for one month (30 days), then this action will become a habit, one that will be much easier to maintain henceforth than if you study only sporadically every few days or weeks. You won’t even think twice about getting your daily dose of 汉语. It will seem almost automatic, and, in fact, it kind of will be, as this behaviour will be determined by your subconscious as part of your daily ritual rather than as a tedious task you’d rather avoid. Chinese won’t be something you put off. Of course, of equal importance is loving the learning process, but don’t get me started on that –  that’s a post for another...

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