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I want to share my thoughts and some tips I've picked up during my own Chinese learning experience.
I haven't contributed to this site in a long time, the last time I did, I was plodding through language study on my own living in Brighton, UK (2010/2011). Now I am living in Beijing, China.
I have found that the best way to learn Chinese is to build a habit. You need to stick with your learning process until it becomes a routine, a habit. Something that you do a little or a lot of, everyday.
I am guilty of it myself, sitting on Chinese blogs (like now), moaning about studying, complaining about it not sinking in, having discussions and debates over word uses, getting distracted by this website, then this book, and then a different BETTER website and a different BETTER book!
Simply for me, the only way you are going to learn Chinese, is to use it, and create a habit. Not through amassing a ton of different techniques and talking about them.
I haven't posted in a long time, and I want to post now because I am excited about a resource I found awhile back and have recently stuck with. It is a language learning website called Memrise. It has really reinforced my belief about picking a set amount of resources and sticking with them.
I'm sure you have all head about it before. It is a flashcard based learning platform for many languages including Chinese mandarin. It is based on you owning and growing your own word garden.
You plant some words, harvest them , then water them. Learn, revise, review. The website helps get those characters, pinyin and sounds into your long term memory, it tests your memory and then let's you know when you should next study them again (Watering). The better you get at answering the correct questions, the less you will be tested on a word. Some words don't pop up for months, but don't worry, you surprise yourself with how great your recall is. You can also add your own memes (Pictures, sayings, graphics to help you make an association with the word to remember it.) or collect ready made ones.
Memrise's teaching pattern is unlike anything I have ever used. I have incorporated it into my daily life, and it has become my habit, not a passing fancy or light hobby. I have email notifications to let me know when it is time to harvest (revise) my newly planted words, and when it is time to water (review) the old ones.
I cannot explain the difference this has made in my day to day life here in Beijing. After my first week of using Memrise, I was able to order a ton of food, not get lost, and actually feel like an adult human being out here.
They are still working on improvements, but the creators listen and work hand in hand with the site users, they still use numbers for tones, but i'm sure this will change in the near future, and it is worth putting up with. There are useful busy forums, and the community is brilliant.
Oh also... IT'S FREE.
That's all from me now :) Thank's for listening to my excited ramble.
P.s. By all means go on blogs, share knowledge and discuss! But don't always count that as your study time! Interaction and exploration of the language and it's resources is incredibly important, but it can also be used as an excuse to not actually do any study and put new words into your brain.
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