The first thing that comes to my mind when starting this second post of my ongoing Chinese Learning Blog, is to acknowledge and thank the overwhelming positive support I’ve received so far! It really means a lot and is extremely motivating for me. This is especially true because the aim of this site was to help other learn from the lessons I learned during my Chinese learning journey.
If you haven’t checked it out already, head over to Chinese-forums.com. It’s a great place with a wonderful community to learn and discuss everything about the Chinese language.
This week my Chinese learning wasn’t as very productive as I had taken the time to travel during some holidays from work. I visited Florence for a few days with a quick train journey over to Pisa.
I had set off with a few Chinese novels downloaded and some flash cards ready to study during my visit. However, the beautiful scenery and delicious food was enough to distract me and honestly that’s okay too.
One reflection I had over this period is that learning anything, and especially a difficult language like Chinese Mandarin, is that it is most definitely a marathon and not a sprint. I’m sure there is a lot of research in this area, but I’ll summarise it with my opinion rather than citing the facts.
I believe its better to spread your learning out and do a little, often; rather than a lot, rarely. Keeping words fresh in your mind and coming back to them time and time again really helps to cement it into your brain. This is key for moving words along the continuum of fluency.
No doubt that, if you’ve been studying a while, you’ve come across this phenomenon of levels of understanding a word. For examples, there may be some words which you can hear and won’t even have to think about. 你好 for example. This is the first thing most people will learn and they will come across it often, meaning that it’s buried deep inside your brain.
Other words, will require some internal translation or thought when you hear them. The crux of understanding a language is moving as many of the words from the “active” part of the brain to the “passive” part of the brain.
Studying and encountering a word often is the perfect way to do this, and spreading out those encounters is especially important. Let’s consider two situations.
#1 you learn a new word, and you spend 3 hours reviewing this word over and over again
#2 you learn a new word and you spend 15 minutes reviewing this word every day for 12 days.
In both situations you are studying for the same period of time, but #1 is likely to burn you out quickly, moreover won’t help to cement the new word into your vocabulary.
It’s also worth mentioning the idea of “revenge studying”. By this I mean if you miss a session, it’s okay to catch it back up another time when you have a bit of space, but don’t punish yourself.
I’ve seen learners miss an hour of study, and in their guilt push themselves to study for an extra 2 hours to punish themselves for missing it. Your motivation should always be positive when it can be, and this kind of self-punishing won’t be productive for you or motivating. As with most things in life, it’s important to forgive yourself and move on.
The moral of the story, to myself more than anything, is to not worry if you miss the occasional session of studying. Life often gets in the way. It’s far more important to be consistent over a long period, allowing for the occasional hiccup.
One response to “Chinese Learning Blog #2 – The Importance of Consistency”
Agreed. Consistency applies to too many things in our lives 🙂Loading…