My First Three Months Of Learning Mandarin

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Sunday, 4 October 2009

Three Months of Learning Mandarin

I started writing this blog just after I decided to commit and start learning Mandarin. In the three months since, I feel like I have made good if a little slow progress. Before people jump up and tell me off for thinking that I have made slow progress. It is not that it is slow, so much as, I haven’t spent and dedicated enough time (that I told myself I would) revising the things I have learnt.

I have certainly thrown myself in at the deep end by starting this blog and forcing myself to keep up with the goals I set myself. Yet, I still find myself wanting to know more, a real craving and frustration that I can’t say anything I want to.

So What I Can Say After Three Months Learning Mandarin:

Basic Greetings,
Basic Colours,
Basic Numbers,
Days of the week,
Basic Foods,
Basic Drinks,
and some basic actions (eating / running / cooking etc)
Most recently some basic items of clothing, and basic household items.

I can say : thank you, I want, I like, I love etc.

And about 70 Daily Proverbs... Although I would certainly not claim that I remember them off the top of my head.

And this is my current problem, I am learning a lot, but the memory recall of it isn’t strong currently. Hopefully it will get better with time.

Discovering Mandarin:

I intended this blog to be a collection of the things I had learnt as a reference point for myself, and for other people who are learning too. It has turned out that through the daily updates and being busy that I haven’t had time to update with things I have learnt quite as often as I had hoped.

I started out writing this blog because I did not have anyone to practise my Mandarin with, and my housemates were both learning Japanese. Truth be told, they haven’t stuck at Japanese at all and my motivation has sunk a little. The people I have met through this blog are very inspiring and have made me continue with my dream and I want to thank you all for the little bits of help you give me daily.

Learning Mandarin - What Now?

The three months I have been learning Mandarin I have learnt more than I have ever learnt in French that I learnt for four years at school. This is largely due to the fact I wanted to learn Mandarin and never wanted to learn French.

I want to carry on learning and actually stick to my commitment of daily learning. I think I am also going to try out the much talked about Heisig method of learning characters. Although, many of the drawbacks are outlined well in Chris' Mandarin Student blog post. I think I would like the ability to know that I can understand a large amount of characters much like Greg’s experience of the theory in Mandarin Segments blog.

I intend to carry on using Rosetta stone for my basic vocabulary and helping to build it up bit by bit, alongside my other research. Also using Heisig as mentioned to increase my knowledge and recollection of Chinese characters I hope that my writing and reading ability will increase with my spoken Mandarin.

So here is to another three months of Mandarin learning, and to hopefully many years of learning Mandarin happily and as excitedly as these first three months.

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  1. Hajar Says:
  2. Hey there,

    We're singing the same song, sort of. IMHO, you have accomplished quite a lot in 3 months time, and honestly, those daily proverbs have aided me tremendously in my pursuit to further increase my Mandarin fluency @ understanding. If you ask me, any progress no matter how little it is ... is better than remaining stagnant with nothing at all. :)

  3. Thanks Hajar,

    I am quite happy that I am doing something, rather than nothing towards my goals. And each little step is one closer.

    Today it has bee made clear to me though, it is hard moving from how I have been learning: very much vocabulary based learning. To full sentence learning.

    Thank you for dropping by again, and I am really glad you are finding the proverb useful too.


  4. Greg Says:
  5. Good luck Charlie - just imagine where you could be in 3 more months!

    Your comment about full sentence learning is really important - vocab studies are useful in addition to sentences, but first focus on getting lots of useful sentences.

    My one post on starting to learn Mandarin I mention the Teach Yourself series, which is 3 hours of useful conversation. My suggestion is play that as much as you can over the next 3 months, whether you concentrate on it or not. It'll stick!

    Good luck

  6. Guus Says:
  7. Keep going Charlie! As a large billboard in the metro here in Singapore quotes: "it does not matter how slow one goes as long as one keeps going".

  8. Thanks greg, I will certainly hae a look at that series. I hope to have made really good progress over the next three months.

    At the very least, having stuck at it, with some enthusiasm.

    When my heisig book gets here, I will no doubt be hassling you if I get stuck, so beware.


  9. Guus,

    Thank you, that sentiment is great. Each little step is still a move in the right direction.

  10. Dan Says:
  11. As a beginner, I'm trying to follow your advice. I'm listening to Chinesepod in my car, making lists and lists of words and phrases at my desk, etc. Since you recommend Rosetta Stone, that is my next buy. Thanks for the help.

  12. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for commenting. I really like the immersive system of Rosetta Stone. However truthfully I have hit a wall with it as it progresses quite slowly and it is tricky to skip on with certain things as it adds new vocab progressively.

    I do really like it, just at times is very frustrating.

    How long have you been learning Mandarin?

  13. Anonymous Says:
  14. Good luck with your learning. You sound like you're in a similar position to me - I know quite a few random things, but by no way can i hold a conversation.

    I often look at Mandarin as being so big and impossible with its tonal nature and characters and I really have to force myself NOT to think along those lines.

    Both myself and my partner are in a similar place with our learning, and like you, we both crave to learn more. It's a slow and difficult process.

    Ever looked at a Chinese toddler whose speaking Chinese and thought...if that kid can learn it, surely i can!



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