What up guys! Based on popular demand I’m going to start doing weekly (or so) Chinese lessons. I’m going to do things a little different from what I see around the internet when it comes to Chinese learning. Instead of trying to teach you Chinese, I’m going to teach you HOW TO LEARN Chinese. A subtle but very important difference. Let me start with my history of language learning, instruction and study of Chinese.
My Language Learning/Instructing Background
The reason I’m going to give you this background if for a few reasons. Most importantly it’s to let you know I’m somewhat of an “expert” when it comes to language learning and acquisition. I also want to show you that learning a language is an ongoing project that will require a lot of work. You might hear stories of people who have learned such-and-such a language in 6 months but I guarantee you that they either have a crappy grasp of the language, they worked REALLY hard OR they have a system they used which they learned form learning another language.
Hola! Coma Estas? Me LLamo Casey.
Before we even get into Chinese I want to talk about my experience with Spanish. My first experience with a foreign language was in grade school. I went to a Spanish immersion school, so I had all of my subjects in Spanish. This is important because I believe it trained my brain to think and communicate in a language other than my “mother tongue.” This made my process for learning Chinese easier and perhaps different than what you may encounter if it’s the first language your attempting to learn. That’s not a problem. I’m going to be teaching you HOW to learn, not how I learned. 😉 The problem with most classes and systems is that they only address one learning style, I’ll be showing you how to find yours. OK… Back on topic…
I had my first Chinese class back in 1998. My first semester of college. I LOVED it. It actually ended up being the only class I got any credit in that first semester and the only class that I went to the second semester (I don’t recommend taking this approach to college 😉 ). This is where I learned the basics of pronunciation and how to read pinyin. Pronunciation and pinyin is the MOST important things to master in the beginning of your quest to mastering Chinese. In college, besides learning pinyin and pronunciation, I learned some basic vocabulary and grammar. Not NEARLY enough to be useful in a real Chinese speaking situation which I learned really soon…
A Journey to the East
In 2002 I traveled to Taiwan and quickly found out how useless my years of study were. 😛 So I embarked on some EPIC studying. It was also in Taiwan that I started teaching English and began learning the complexities of teaching a foreign language (now my language was foreign!) I was on a mission to figure out the most efficient way to learn Chinese and I believe I found it (for me anyway). It was in a program called [Supermemo]. I won’t go too far into the details, but Supermemo is a flashcard management program that allows you to memorize a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. So I spent 4-6 hours a day creating databases and memorizing flashcards for like 8 months… Epic. 🙂
After that I spent about a year taking classes at various Universities and language schools. Classes suck (to me anyway). They’re good for keeping you on point about studying, and it’s nice having other people studying with you but… classes suck. If you want to know the schools I went to, here they are in order:
After all of my EPIC studying and classes I ended up teaching at a school where my coworkers had pretty terrible English. I (thought I had) pretty terrible Chinese so I had them use their English. I would often times mess with the kids using my terrible Chinese and one of the coworkers caught me and was like “Hey! You speak Chinese!” from that point on, everyone spoke to me in Chinese. It was hard catching everything at first, but then… It got easier and easier. And then… I was a badass! 8)
What Does The Scouter Say About His Power Level?
Now that my speaking was pretty good, I needed to improve my reading. Reading is pretty tricky in Chinese because it’s hard to find stuff that’s at your level. Even kids stuff can be really hard. When I first arrived in Taiwan (2002), I bought the first book to Dragon Ball and I was like “Yeah. I’m gonna read this!” It was SOOOO hard. After epic studying, classes and being forced to speak, I decided to try Dragon Ball again (2006). It was still pretty hard, but not nearly as hard as it was before. SO I decided to muscle through it (since I mostly knew the story) and… I did it. I read the whole Dragon Ball saga in Chinese. Now I felt even more badass.
Where I Am Now
I moved back to the US in 2007 and… I haven’t really done any studying and only a little bit a teaching BUT because of how well I absorbed the language while I was studying, I’m still able to hold a conversation and read basic stuff. I think I’m going to pick up some books and find some things to listen to on YouTube to keep things fresh for when I return to Asia. 🙂
I’m going to give you guys some basic homework to do every week. This week’s homework is pretty simple. Just let me know in the comments here (or on the video):
Why do you want to learn Chinese?
I wanted to learn Chinese because I was going to move to China and be a Shaolin monk. 🙂
What is your experience with Chinese language (any classes you’ve taken, etc.)?
You just read mine.
How much time a week (or day) can you dedicate to practice?
Everyone wants to learn Chinese, but how much are you willing to put into it? You’re not going to learn JACK SHIT watching my video once a week (or any videos once a week). You’re going to have to do a lot of self-study and practice outside of the videos (I can help you figure out what the best way to spend your time is).
Comment below and see you next week.