Keeping up with the Chinese – Weeks 69 and 70

It is a rather hackneyed observation that the pace of modern life for those who want to “get ahead” is frenetic. You´d better work and study hard, because there is a determined Chinese kid somewhere anxious to take your place. For the past 24 years, Chinese GDP has grown at annual rates between 6% and 14%, and will soon overtake the US as the world’s largest economy.

Recent headline news tells us that the Chinese are currently building islands at lightning speed in the South China Sea, threatening to make competing territorial water claims a rather moot point. Nations interested in pursuing competing interests better not blink.

Everybody needs to keep up with the Chinese.

I’m trying.

Well, more accurately, I’m trying to attain some image of the good life—a collage, perhaps. Raising my daughter, intense work at my public service job, including extensive international travel, evening Law classes, guidance to the company I founded, managing my farm and tree plantations on weekends. And, of course, learning Chinese. It’s been hard to squeeze in the Chinese of late.

My word list has taken on much greater relative importance, for three reasons. A couple of months ago, before my Law classes began and things were much less hectic, I decided I would start adding two words per day, instead of just one. I have fallen way behind. Second, as the words pile up and the database keeps growing, there is that much more to review. Lastly, I’m devoting much less time per day overall, so keeping up with the Chinese word list requires devoting a much higher proportion of my total time than before.

This past week, I watched Dragon once again, since so many words from it popped up for review in my database. In addition, I listened to the Mandarin songs I have memorized about three times while driving—Nan Zi Han, Boonie Bears intro song, and, from Little Dragon Tales, Ni Wa Wa, Zhao Peng You, and Liang zhi liao hu.

I’m enjoying my experiment as much as before, but time constraints mean I’m struggling to keep up with the Chinese.

At this point, you should not be surprised by an announcement I have to make. While for 67 weeks I faithfully wrote one blog post every single week, without fail, I will henceforth make my posts biweekly. I need to save time, at the very least until my Law semester is over (in July). I will return to weekly posts only if one of the following things should occur:

  • Blog readership begins trending upward again—significantly
  • The blog begins to be used much more extensively at The Natural Language Institute
  • My schedule becomes more relaxed, and I have more time.

Like just about every blogger, I would love to have people anxious and drooling expectantly for my next post, and ever-increasing hordes of readers flocking to these pages. On the contrary, to date, I’ve found that if I don’t actively mention my blog on forums and message boards, readership will not increase. There is no momentum.

Nevertheless, I’m very happy to share my experiences with my few regular, faithful readers, and with the many more who chance upon my blog each week. Cheers!

14 thoughts on “Keeping up with the Chinese – Weeks 69 and 70

  1. adventisthomemaker says:

    Well, I for one look forward to your posts! I’m glad you’re still making progress, even if it’s not as fast as you want. Good luck!!

    • Victor Hart says:

      Thanks a lot! It’s great to talk to a fellow traveler. I hope you’re making good progress these days.

      • adventisthomemaker says:

        I’m trying! I only have a week left of assignments in my intermediate course and am hoping to have those wrapped up in the next couple of days. I’m not sure where to go from here, though, as the course doesn’t have an advanced level (not that I’m even intermediate level by any stretch of the imagination). I think I need to add in more time with native materials. I’m still plugging along on my Mandarin show and that helps a lot but I think I need to start some lang-8 participation. Whenever you’re ready to try writing in Chinese, lang-8 is a great resource!

      • adventisthomemaker says:

        I finished my intermediate course and wrote up a blog post about it. Here’s the link, in case you’re interested.
        I wrote a post on lang-8 and realized I still have a long way to go. It takes me 15 minutes to write five sentences. :) And they are still kindergarten level sentences. 10,000 hours to fluency sure feels a long way off.

      • Victor Hart says:

        It sounds like you are doing great. Being able to write anything, let alone full sentences, is amazing! Are you writing in Chinese characters?

        I think you are overestimating the time it takes to fluency. Of course, it depends how you define fluency. I have estimated that it should take 4,600 hours to reach professional working proficiency in Mandarin (other languages would hardly take 1,000 hours).

    • adventisthomemaker says:

      Yes, I’m writing in Chinese characters. I tackled Japanese for two years and used Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji book. It gave me a huge head start for Chinese, especially since I’m wanting to be able to read the same books my Taiwanese daughter reads (traditional hanzi). I joined a challenge for the month of June to read Chinese materials, things written by Chinese speakers for Chinese speakers. I committed to 1/2 hour a day on top of my other studying and I’m curious to see if it pushes my Chinese up a level or even 1/4 of a level. lol

      • adventisthomemaker says:

        Hopefully this doesn’t violate your experiment… but if you take a quick scan at the corrections on my latest post, you’ll see I have a LONG way to go. It’s easy to skim down the page without actually reading anything, just look at how much red they used when making corrections. lol

  2. adamf2011 says:

    I’ve slacked at posting these last few weeks, maybe partly out of laziness but also partly out of choosing to use my time to learn Thai instead of to write about learning Thai. (I can be a pretty slow writer, and even a short post can get fairly time consuming). I like blogging but…ya gotta choose your priorities.

    • Victor Hart says:

      I understand completely. Your method for learning Thai and experiences in-country are very interesting, so I hope you will keep up the blog, at whatever pace you can.

  3. Greta Browne says:

    Your announcement doesn’t surprise me – I’m actually glad you can take a flexible attitude toward your blog. That being said, I’ll root for your readership to increase.

    • Victor Hart says:

      Thanks! As you know I enjoy writing for my blog, but I think once every two weeks is more realistic in terms of my goals and available time.

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