Just to give a heads up - this is a rather long post.
Things are progressing well. I have had to scale back the study efforts a little bit on account of having to do full time college starting this week. I don't expect to make the types of gains in reading that I have been making in the past few weeks until Classes are over in the summer.
I have almost finished studying the 520 flashcards from last week, expecting to add the final ten today. I will begin to make the next batch either today or tomorrow. Last week I added 100 flashcards. Ten of which were words that I previously learned, but found myself having trouble with. The remaining 90 were new terms. This week, I am adding about half of that. Currently, I plan on adding 50 words. 45 new terms, and 5 are words that I learned already, but are mixing up with newer terms, or other things to that nature. I am also in the process of converting the worst of the handwritten cards to the printing method discussed in the last email.
This has been a marginally better week than normal for speaking Chinese for me. I made it through 5 lessons in 7 days. My ideal is to do more like 10 lessons in 7 days, but that may be unrealistic. What I have tried is doing a new lesson every day, and redoing a lesson that I have learned previously. Currently, I have my lessons arranged in something I call 'books'. Each book has 10 lessons. My first three books consist entirely of newbie lessons, and starting at the fourth I have one elementary lesson thrown in. I don't necessarily have one elementary lesson in every book, but I have no more than one elementary in each book up to book 13. Starting at book 13, I am adding both elementary and newbie lessons as they are added to the site.
As I just mentioned, I am attempting at least two lessons per day. One new lesson and one old lesson. I want to take a moment to describe this more specifically.
For the new lesson I do each day, I have two goals. The first goal is to be able to say all the vocabulary in the audio review when prompted with the english word. At this point, I am not trying to say it right away, I just am content with being able to say it even with a brief pause. So what I do is I listen to the word, pause the ipod, and say the chinese word. My focus here is to say the word paying attention to sound and tone to get it close as possible to the way the model says it. The second goal is to be able to understand the dialogue within the lesson. At this stage, I am less concerned with meeting the second goal than I am the first. This is all I am trying to do at this point when listening to new lessons, and I attempt to achieve this by listening to the entire show at least once, and typically listening to the audio reviews as many times as necessary to I reach the first goal.
For the old lesson I do each day, my goals are different than the new lesson. I find that I can usually state each of the terms in the audio review, after the first time through. I do the audio review with the goal of saying all the words perfectly without using the pause button on the ipod. I also, at this point, attempt the phrases. I am not necessarily concerned with being able to recall the phrases at this point, because the phrases often have vocabulary that I havent been introduced to yet. I just want to practice using the phrases. The goals for the old lesson I do each day are not as clearcut, but the overall intention is to be better at doing the lesson afterwards than I was before doing the lesson that day. For simplier lessons, I might be able to do it perfectly. For others, it may not go so well.
I have a system for keeping track on where I am in my lessons. My tracking system has a number of steps. Like I said earlier, I have the lessons arranged on my Ipod in books consisting of ten lessons each. So this means that the first step in the tracking method is to change the album name that is assigned by Itunes when I download a lesson from the site to a name that I select to arrange it into the books. For example, if the default album name is 'show' I change the name to 'Chinesepod.com book 01'. I do this for the audio review (fix), the show, and the dialogue. This makes for 30 files within one book (or album), and keeps the lessons in a managable manner.
The second step in the tracking system is to change the name of the lesson. There are three objectives that I am trying to reach by doing so. The first is that I want the three files for the lesson to be grouped together. The second is that I want to distinguish between the show, the fix, and the dialogue. The third is that I want to be able to remember what the lesson number is when I change the track number (Ill get to that in a minute). So I use a format that go something like this;
old file names might be -
Newbie - I'm cold!
Newbie - I'm cold! (Fix)
Newbie - I'm cold!
As can be seen, there is no indication of lesson number, or which is the show or dialogue. I might change the file names as such -
Newbie - 286s I'm cold!
Newbie - 286f I'm cold! (Fix)
Newbie - 286d I'm cold!
Notice how it is easy to tell what is what and what the lesson number is? I like it much better.
The third step is to change the track number. Now that the lesson number is listed in the file name, I can change the track number to a number that makes better sense. This allows me to arrange the lessons within a book as I see fit. For example, in book 6, I arranged all the internet related newbie lessons, I.E. (surfing the internet, sending emails, and chatting online) into a group by modifying track numbers.
The fourth and final step, which can be best taken after the previous three have been taken, is to utilize the rating system that is built into the Ipod to keep track of how many times I have reviewed a lesson. So after I do the new lesson in a given day, I would 'rate' that lesson with a 1-star. After doing the review of the old lesson each day, I would change the lesson from a 1-star to a 2-star.
All this may seem complicated, but it really is not. These changes can simply be done by using the 'get info' option that is found on the right mouse button menu when right clicking on a file. All these fields can then be changed as such. I hope this is helpful to someone. I can certainly say that having a book of ten lessons with thirty files is much more managable than having 300 lessons or more in an album.
I have also undertaken a plan on writing the characters, and studying the pinyin chart. As far as writing the characters, I plan to simply go through my 'learned' stack and practice writing the term on a sheet of paper. I might write only a few characters a day. For the pinyin chart, what I did is downloaded the chart from the website, and started making flashcards for the different sounds. I plan on buying a four sided dice, and adding five to ten sounds per day. What I would do each day is shuffle my stack of pinyin flash cards, and draw a card. After drawing the card, I would roll the four sided dice to see which tone I would attempt. Suppose I rolled a 3. I would then attempt to pronounce the term in the third term, and play back on the pinyin chart to see if I am correct. I would repeat until I get it correct. My plan is to master the pinyin chart by the end of April.
Well, I have written alot. I wanted to describe the work I have been doing on the site since I have started back in November. I must say that I have been at it everyday with the exception of a week during December when I was having difficulties. I am happy with my progress, especially my progress with reading chinese characters. The speaking stuff is coming around too, but it is slow and more difficult for me.
I guess at this point, I want to know if these weekly updates are meaningful and useful to anyone. I do these updates mainly for three reasons. First, it gives those who have been around for a bit an idea of the work I am doing and the results I am getting. I have received good feedback that has influenced my study habits thus far, and I hope to receive more. Secondly, I describe what I am doing in the hopes that newer people may read this and be able to use things that I have learned in my experience. I simply want to be helpful. Finally, I find it reinforcing to show my progress each week. It helps me keep going, knowing that I will give an update each week showing how I have improved.
With that being said, I don't mean to add clutter to the board. If these updates are not useful, or if they are irritating, I will stop doing them. Just send me a message through the chinesepod mail system, and if several people say that they are either not useful or irritating, I would promptly stop posting to the community. The last thing I want to do is be a nuisance.
Guess that is all for this week.
Please goto this link if you would like to see a screenshot that illustrates what I have been discussion in this post..
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