Finding Time to Study Chinese

What did you do last Saturday? Did you sleep in or get a coffee and read the paper? How many TV shows did you watch Saturday night? Was it worth your time? Time is the most valuable resource you will ever have. You can get more money, another degree or even new friends. How your spend time will become your life. It will become the story you tell your kids and grand kids.

How You Spend Your Time Matters

Every day we make choices that determine the story of our life. These choices become more powerful over time.  Spending your time learning Mandarin or developing stronger leadership skills will impact your life for years to come. Making the right choices about what you do with your time is key to living your dream. Even after you make the choice, following through is not easy. Work rarely stops today. It is hard to disconnect even for a vacation. How do you find time to memorize new phrases or key vocabulary words?

Master the Little Moments

This is one of the keys to your success at learning Chinese or mastering another skill, but you must be organized. What did you do the last time you sat at the DMV for 2 hours? How long did you wait for your last appointment with the doctor? Did you study Chinese or work on mastering another skill? Most people did nothing more than sit there bored. Did you?

What would it take to change this? Two things really: motivation and organization. You need to want to do something more with your life. You must understand that every second you sit waiting is wasted. You must want to do something different. Then do something different.

Develop an “On the Go Learning Plan”

  • Break down the new skill into smaller steps
  • Figure out  what materials you need
  • Develop a schedule

Breaking Down Chinese Into Steps

If you want to learn Mandarin, consider learning vocabulary and patterns. What vocabulary and patterns do you need to memorize this week? What vocabulary and patterns did you learn 4 months ago? You will probably benefit from studying those a little more.

What Materials do You Need?

Consider the materials you will need to learn Mandarin. You can purchase a flashcard app on your smart phone to help you memorize new words. Then practice these new words with the patterns you recently learned. How will you remember the patterns? Can you put them in a small notebook that you carry around with you? You may want to buy an app to help you learn to write characters or bring pen and paper to practice.

Schedule It

How will you spend your time this week. What appointments will offer opportunities to study while you wait? Can you study in the morning over coffee? What about while the kids are down for a nap or during lunch at work? What are your best opportunities this week and when will you practice?

How will you change your life with the new found 30 to 60 minutes you have every day? Will you study Chinese or master another skill? The real question is which choice will improve the quality of your life?

Learning Chinese: Finding the Right Tools for You

If you are as busy as we are, you only have so much time to study Mandarin Chinese. This really means two things. First, you will benefit if you set specific learning goals. How fluent do you need to be? Do you need to learn to write Chinese characters? Second, you will also benefit if you identify the right tools. These tools should support the goals you listed above.

Your Chinese Language Learning Goals

We’ve already discussed how fluent you need to speak Mandarin Chinese. We have even argued that most people should not strive for fluency in Mandarin. We developed our basic 12 week course with the idea of giving you what you need to know to do business in China. You can learn more about what we think you need to know here.

Should You Learn to Write Chinese Characters?

For  most people the answer is again no. You should not invest the time it takes to memorize two or three thousand Chinese characters it takes to write articles. Before you go down this path, consider how you will use the characters. Will you be writing essays in Chinese by hand? If not, consider the alternative of simply learning to read Chinese characters and using pinyin to type the characters into your computer. If you decide that you must learn to write Chinese characters, consider Skritter or another learning tool. We do recommend that you learn to read at least some basic characters that will help you with everyday life. You might consider looking at some flashcard apps on your smart phone.

To be useful an app should include:

  • the English translation of the word (of course!)
  • the ability to see the pinyin including the tone.
  • and include the sound of the word.
  • the correct version of characters for your study.

Comment Below: What Apps Do You Like?