Everyone is busy these days. Everyone. I was thinking about how difficult it is to find time to work on projects like studying Chinese. Here is how I prioritize the different aspects of learning Chinese. I am not suggesting that you try to do everything in each lesson, but these should be your priorities as you prepare for class. Spend 15 minutes a day studying and prioritize as follows:
Start with vocabulary.
I recently read a great book on learning languages. (By the way, here’s a great blog on learning languages.) My main takeaway was, you don’t learn languages when you don’t understand what people are saying. So study vocabulary first. If you don’t understand the basic vocabulary being used in the lesson, you will be completely lost. On the other hand, if you at least understand most of the words, you will have the opportunity to learn much more during the class.
One of the best ways to study vocabulary is flashcards. You can use vocabulary building apps like Pleco.
Next, have a look at the grammar.
Start with how the pattern works. How does the meaning change? Now consider the following: When would you use this pattern? What vocabulary words would fit well in this pattern? Practice saying it. Practice saying these questions and answers as much as you can. You want to make these flow like second nature.
Once more with a focus on pronunciation
Now review the material and focus on pronouncing everything properly. Start with the vocabulary. Get the town down for each word. Then move on to the patterns. Practice the flow of tones for the sentence.
Last review some old lessons.
We know that reviewing material over a period of time helps you transfer this material into your long-term memory. Take advantage of this. Try to spend 15 to 30 minutes a week on older material. This will ensure that you continue to move forward. Again focus on old vocabulary first and then grammar that works well with that vocabulary.