We all know that it takes a lot of effort to keep yourself motivated especially without a teacher looking over your shoulder or an upcoming exam to force you to study.  I also think there is a lot of merit to 'public' and 'written' commitments.  If you have not done it yet for Chinese, you should give it a try now.  It's strangely motivating to try and keep up with your own goals when you know people are watching.

With that in mind, let's use this discussion to set your own goals.  By writing a reply below, you "promise" to come back and update everyone on how well you are able to keep to your goals.  When you are on track, come here & take credit for being awesome.  If you are hungover and miss 3 days of studying, also come here & own that problem then tell everyone how you'll make it up to get back on schedule.

Trust me it's strange but it just might work.  Give it a try.

Tips - Suggestions:

1) Be realistic and start small
Goals should be achievable and you do not want to start out failing.  The best thing to do is start with something that you can do now and then come back to update the goal as you're hitting your targets.  Start with a commitment for 1 month, not for the whole year.

2) Think of 'time' or 'numbers' or both
If just studying is the problem, why not set a time to always turn off the TV?  i.e. "I will always study characters for 30 minutes at 9PM" (mine)  Or work backwards from your end goal, "I want 2000 characters by the end of the year which means I need to learn 40 characters every week.

3) Own your commitments
This is mentioned above - the most important part is to just really mentally commit. Don't write something below just to say something.  Think about what you want to achieve & what you can realistically do given your schedule. Then keep coming back & admit how it's going.  If it's really too hard then feel free to revise your goal downwards but commit to keeping a goal on this page.

4) Be specific
It's not very useful to say, "I will study everyday". Instead commit to something very specific that you can't easily wiggle out of.  If your goal is study everyday, it's easy to say those 2 minutes looking at flashcards 'counted'.  The more specific the better. "I will look at my flashcards for 15 minutes every weekday morning while I drink coffee". 

So... what can you commit to?

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My Realistic Language Learning Goals for 2012

  • My short term goal is to keep focused on my Mandarin learning each and every month. This may be difficult between semesters.
  • Study/ learn at least one new sentence pattern and or hanzi a day. I never lack for new material as it is fed to me through feeds and emails.
  • Turn the computer off (or don't turn it on) so as to concentrate on study.
  • Long term goal is to finish my Diploma of Modern Language Chinese study by the end of January 2013.

That's a great idea Brandon! I'm always a bit affraid of making public my goal, 'cause of the fear of failing and making it public, I admit it. But yes, I agree that it is a good chance to be motivated, as well.

Gladly I finally found a great chinese teacher. He says I already know know at least 100 words in chinese and that i should be able to remeber them by now. This made me realize that maybe I'm not putting as much effort as I thought I was...

I still have to sit down and think about a serious study plan for this new year. But defenitely the first goal would be to actually learn and remember all those 100 words per month...

Hi Indira,

I am glad to know that you made a resolution on learning Chinese diligently:) You will do fine, and I hope you will have good moments every time you learn Chinese. Wish you a wonderful new year to come.

新年快乐!

I do plan on posting my Chinese learning goals for 2012, but before I do I thought I'd post some thoughts that you might find helpful.

Learning a foreign language is simple, but not easy.  These are some things to remember when studying a foreign language:  

1. Stop speaking/reading/writing/thinking in your native language and start using the language you want to learn. 

2. There is no substitute for repetition... There is no substitute for repetition...  There is no substitute for repetition...

3. Never let yourself get bored.

A quote on the virtue of making errors:

"An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."  

Niels Bohr
Danish physicist (1885 - 1962)



A quote on the virtue of letting go of methods that do not work for you:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

Check out 12 Brain Rules, then make your goals.  Your brain will thank you.

Good luck with your goals.  Happy New Year!

Matt,

你说得真好,我完全同意。Well said, I totally agree!

 I would like to add  only one little thing --

Love what you learn, learn what you love, and most of all -- have fun.........




Re;
"1. Stop speaking/reading/writing/thinking in your native language and start using the language you want to learn.

2. There is no substitute for repetition... There is no substitute for repetition... There is no substitute for repetition..."

This is what I do. Also I do mixed sentences. I also I use Chinese thinking when using English words.

A typical mixed sentence. "Some people make a mountain out of a mole hill" is now "some people make a shan 山 out of a mole hill".
As words are learnt so the English portion lessens.

As to thinking, "shopping" is now "buy things". So I don't go the supermarket to do shopping, I now go to mai dongxi 买东西- buy things

Here's the list...

1. Memorize 100 ChinesePod dialogues, including speaking, writing  the characters and the grammar patterns

2. Keep a journal written in Mandarin

3. Understand clearly what is being said in all "Growing up with Chinese" Episodes (there are 75 so far)

4. Understand all the tabs/buttons/options, etc on Weibo.

Hmm...I have given this a great deal of thought...here it goes...

1. 2500 characters learned by Dec 15th 2012

2. 10 min daily chinese conversation.

3. 1 idiom per month

4. 1 chinese song before the new year

Bradon...you are so right about having clear goals...let's see what happens...

Welll..... okay... inspired ny this post i decided to do this http://thegyozadilemmas.wordpress.com/

=]

Hi, I'm new here and I just read this article. Well, I have already set me a goal. I want to be an active Chinese speaker until the end of the year 2012. But I am not clear how I can't get there. I've been learning Chinese for more than 14 months, mostly on my own. And I think I have already a basic in reading Chinese and in writing. But I still have great difficulties to speak even the simplest Chinese. And worse is, that I still don't understand someone speaking Chinese to me. When I want to speak Chinese I just have a blank in my head and all the words are gone. I'm not good at remembering meaningless phrases and I don't like to learn conversations by heart, because in reality the people will give you answers that differ from what you have learned. Can anyone give me an advise how I should set short term goals? By the way, I consider my course book for learning Chinese as a really good one. It's called "Chinese Made Easy" by Yamin Ma and Xinying Li.

I wish everyone here to make steady progress in studying this wonderful language.

You are welcome to visit my website http://www.chinesetolearn.com/

There you will find a lot of useful resources of learning Chinese -- pinyin, tones, grammar, listening comprehension, songs, poems and more:)

As long as you keep practicing it, you will progress day by day.  So, be positive and have fun learning Chinese.

Hi Ma Ji Ya.  I've been studying Mandarin on my own, mostly online, for 5 years now and I can definitely relate to  the difficulties you are talking about. 

The only solution to understanding someone speaking is to listen... a lot.   Check out CNTV's 成长汉语 "Growing up with Chinese"  It's the best thing out there (for free) for learners in their first few years of study.  Each show is 15 minutes long, but the conversations are pretty short.   Don't just listen one time and move on.  Listen to it until you don't think you can listen anymore, and then listen one more time.  Every once and a while go back and listen to old episodes just to refresh your memory. After the first few episodes, the content gets tougher and they speak faster.  Don't give up on it.  Keep going over it until you think you can make out the words that are being spoken regardless of whether you can understand it.

As for speaking, I think the best thing you can do right now is write out a very simple bio about yourself: write about your name, age, where you are from, your family, what you do for a living, what you like to do/eat/listen to, what you don't like to do/eat/listen to, what you look like, what your personality is like, where you live, what is close by to your home, what your daily schedule is, places you have traveled, what you think about the latest news, etc. This is the information you need to memorize and be able to speak without hesitation.  It doesn't need to be complicated, a few sentences on each of these topics should be enough for now. If you need some guidance on how to write your bio, check out Hello-Hello.  It's free to sign up.  The content may be a little above your level but don't let that discourage you.  The lessons are solid and they cover all the topics I mentioned above and more.  You can also send your writing to your "friends" on Hello-Hello and have them check it out to be sure that what you are going to memorize is correct.  (Another site you can submit writing samples on for native speakers to correct is Lang-8)

 

Hope this helps out.  Good luck! 加油!

 

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